Well, it's been just over a month since we've been back from our week-long summer mission trip. It's been quite the wild ride (in a good way) ever since and it's about time we shared about it! So here goes...
After several months of planning, preparation, and fund raising, we were ready to hit the road for our 2010 mission trip. We were Washington, D.C. bound with 8 window-painted minivans, 40 high school students, 8 adults, charged walkie-talkies, and our rubber band bracelets (reminding us to remain "flexible"). On the way there stories were swapped, music was shared (blared?), games were played, bracelets were woven, candy was eaten, gas was pumped, inside jokes were created and lasting friendships were definitely made.
We organize our mission trips through AIM (Adventures In Missions), which has several sites all over the country (and beyond). This year we stayed at the First Baptist Church of Alexandria, Virginia, which was just outside of DC. It's also right near T.C. Williams High School (where Remember the Titans took place), which was pretty cool to see. We met our AIM leaders (who were awesome - shout outs to Doug, Melissa & Sarah!) and our group was raring to get going & start our ministry.
During the week, we were split into seven teams – the same teams we had prepared with leading up to the trip. We did different things during the day and always met back together in the evenings for a debriefing time. It was always SO amazing to hear what the Lord had done during the day in so many different, unbelievable ways. We always ended (and started) each day with a time of worship together. Gregg Hampton was our worship leader—we were incredibly thankful for his insightful, inspirational, spirit-led style. That guy has truly been blessed by the Lord with ability!
Seriously......this post could be 12 pages long with all of the countless stories of amazing things that God did in and through all 48 of us during the week. It's hard to narrow the list into a "short" post, but here are some of the highlights of our whole group:
- a few groups ran a Vacation Bible School in a public park
- visited several hundred homes, door-to-door, to give invitations for kids to come to the VBS
- talking/praying/giving water to homeless people that are generally ignored—really showed them love/attention
- talking/praying with people who work in DC: groundskeepers, electricians, office people, security guards, etc.
- handing out water bottles at the National Mall (it was SO HOT! got up to heat index of 107° one day)
- striking up conversations with people everywhere: subway, airport, monuments, mall, grocery stores
- taking donuts into a laundromat and talking with people – bringing smiles to their faces
- you never know who you're going to run into: Ambassador of Albania, visitors from all around the world, retired FBI agents, Director of Homeland Security...
- canvassing over 600 homes, knocking door-to-door to invite them to a local church and give them Bibles
- testimonies were shared with all types of people by many students and leaders
- students prayed with people all over the DC area – and people from DC even prayed for us!
- we prayed for the decisions of our government, right in front important government buildings
- some prayed for the end of abortion with red LIFE tape over their mouths (standing in the gap for the unborn who can's speak up) in front of the Supreme Court building for an hour (this has been going on every day for the last six years! read more about this » )
- prayer walks (just walking around & praying for anyone/everything you see) in the projects and all over the DC area
- "Ask the Lord time" where we just ask God what he would have us do... amazing to see how He can orchestrate things together!
- in so many situations within our group during van rides, meal times, down times, site-seeing times, sleeping times and random times: memories were created, tears were shed, hugs were given, decisisions were made, hearts were changed, God was revealed, stories were shared, friendships were strengthened
Now, reading all of the things on this list may sound really cool. You may think, "Wow, that's amazing!! How did you do all of that?" The truth is, they were some of the hardest things most of us had ever done...DC was tough! The people there were on-the-go, plugged into iPods, swiftly moving to their next site-seeing adventure, had very "important" jobs they felt they needed to get to, were very well-dressed and busy, etc. You only had a couple seconds to make a connection with someone—and we prayed that those few seconds would turn into a couple minutes. We had students/leaders covering each other in prayer as we took turns approaching doors of homes and seats of subway trains. Our odds were not good, that's for sure. Even when we were seen praying, it was not always well-received. We pushed through it.
The overall theme of our week was OBEDIENCE. At the end of the day, it really didn't matter how many doors we knocked on that weren't opened, or how few people we actually got to pray with...all that mattered was that we were obedient to God's call for us. Success was measured in our motives—nothing else. When doubts and discouragement slipped in, we were often reminded that we were, indeed, right where God wanted us to be, doing exactly what He was calling us to do. It didn't matter how pointless it seemed to us. We'll never know the lasting impression it may leave on people there, but we certainly understand the lasting impression that "humble obedience" had on each of our hearts—and in our lives.
1 Chronicles 28:9-10
"And you, Solomon my son, get to know well your father's God; serve him with a whole heart and eager mind, for God examines every heart and sees through every motive. If you seek him, he'll make sure you find him, but if you abandon him, he'll leave you for good. Look sharp now! God has chosen you to build his holy house. Be brave, determined! And do it!"
We weren't able to make very many serious pictures while doing relational ministry...just doesn't seem right. Takes away the impact, you know? But here are some fun photos of the group if you want to check them out: