Notes From the Mission Field
Sleepy but excited, 41 middle school students and their adult leaders piled into four vans at 5:30am last Saturday morning. Destination: Opelika, Alabama. Two long travel days later, the group entered the state the only way anyone should … by blasting “Sweet Home Alabama” over the walkie talkies. Then it was time to get down to work. Breaking into four teams, the students helped the Eastern Alabama Food Bank where they sorted and packaged drinks and food breaking an all-time record by packaging a whopping 674 bags of pasta to be shipped off to those in need. The teams also put their energies to the Way2Serve Ministry’s warehouse where they helped organize and sort supplies and clothing in addition to helping with lots of other projects. Team members worked with Habitat for Humanity in building a shed, painting and installing a roof. And, they fixed windows and paint on a local resident’s home in the historic section of the city.
Sans all personal electronic devices including their cell phones, the kids worked long and hard days but manage to have fun, too. A photo scavenger hunt, dinner with a luau theme that included a hula hoop contest and a genuine southern BBQ were just some of the recreational highlights.
Most importantly, were the many wonderful connections the students made with each other and their leaders as they broke into small groups each night after sharing a message and worship. Trip Book Journals were kept by the kids helping them process some tough questions, topics and experiences that arose throughout the mission trip. Emily Crews along with Caitlin Knight and Paige Dickinson brought a moving and enjoyable musical element to the daily worship time.
God always shows up in amazing ways during these mission trips, says HOPE’s Youth Pastor, Dave Falcone.“We had a really cool experience at the end of one of the work days,” Dave said.“It had been raining pretty hard all day at the Habitat for Humanity home site. So, when there was a break in the weather, our group sat out on the newly paved driveway and began playing a game together. They were soon joined by the future homeowner and her daughter, a 70-year old volunteer and a kid who had gotten in a little trouble and was completing community service hours.
This multi-generational and multi-ethnic group of people from different social and economic backgrounds and experiences connected for a time to find joy, laughter and commonality in the simplicity of a game. Loving each other up in the process.
God IS good!
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