Monday, August 02, 2010

Serving in St Paul

In August of 2008 I found myself tearfully saying goodbye to My Sweetie, BuhBuh and Little Dude and setting off to serve on a youth mission trip with The Boy. I was going along for both the experience and as just one of the adult chaperons. I remember how affected I was by after the experience from both being with the youth and reaching out to helping someone in need of help.

The youth pastor at the time use to joke (well, maybe she WAS serious) that I was going to take over for her when she left. I would laugh, thinking she'd be around for awhile longer so that I could learn from her some more.

I remember when the announcement came that her and her husband, also a pastor, were being re-appointed. I choked back tears as I sat consoling one of the youth who had decided to come to church for the first time. I kept saying, "God, I'm not ready to take over"

Last Sunday I again found myself saying goodbye to my Sweetie, BuhBuh and Little Dude to head off to serve on another mission trip with The Boy. But this time, I climbed into the drivers seat of a 15-passenger van, this time as the leader not just a parent chaperon.

During our time in St Paul our group served in a variety of ways. Some of us helped serve at the Salvation Army Preschool and in Nursing Homes. Some of us helped our host church for the week prepare to hand out 400 backpacks of school supplies and organize 200+bags of groceries to send home with the kids who came to the church every afternoon so they'd be sure to have some food over the weekend.

We also helped with some yard work of some women who were no longer able to care for their yards themselves. We also spent our afternoons hanging out playing and reading with kids of the Boys and Girls Club East.

We all had to assist in meal prep and building clean-up a couple of times during the week.

In the evening there were activities unique to the St Paul area like a visit to the Cathedral,

and History Museum.
We listened to a speaker on poverty and did some eye opening activities. We had a community cook-out

and watched break dance and popping competition, in a church which removes the pews from the sanctuary to make it a dance floor once a week.

We also had a pizza picnic at Indian Mounds Park.

After our evening activities we had worship and sharing and heard a message.

We ended our evenings with small group time with our youth groups.

It was an exhausting schedule. Coffee was essential....

But, the work was rewarding and I saw God working through each one of my kids throughout the week.

I saw bonding between my kids and I saw new friendships with other youth who were on the trip from other churches as well.

I really looked forward to morning devotions where the only thing I needed to do was sit and be with God. I know, I can do that at home, but often times I don't make time for that....I'm working on that.

My favorite time during the trip was during the Thursday night foot-washing ceremony. The staff came out and washed each of the adult leaders feet and prayed over them. Then as adult leaders we washed our youth's feet and prayed over them. What a blessing it was to do that one-on-one with my kids. The kids were all pretty emotional after that so when we went into small group time I decided to literally throw the "pre-written" list of questions over my shoulder and just let them share whatever they wanted about their week.

As we got back in the van Friday morning to come back home, all of those kids expressed their sincere appreciation and gratitude for bringing them on this trip.

I may not have been ready to take over a year ago, but God has sure provided me with everything I've needed in order to do so.

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