My favorite 15-year-old niece left on her first senior high mission trip yesterday. She and a group of forty-ish students and adult leaders boarded the old blue school bus (and other support vehicles) en route to Henryville, Indiana, to assist with disaster relief following the recent devastation left by a tornado. She watched Connor earlier in the week and we talked about her upcoming trip.
Lindsey (my favorite 11-year-old niece) asked which of the mission trips mentioned the prior Sunday in church that I had been a part of. I thought back to Jamaica, W. Virginia, Philadelphia and Kentucky. The first two trips I attended as a student and the second two I attended as a leader. Each trip was so special for such different reasons but I immediately had visuals of people I’d met or grew close to during that time. We met new people all over the place during our trips whether it be at a bible school (I was proposed to in Jamaica by a 16-year-old boy); the market (where I was nearly robbed); our mission headquarters (where I met some amazing staff people); or at our work locations (where we did our best to repair homes and churches that so desperately needed physical labor love). Others were students on our own mission team that we would never have expected becoming close with; this happened to me several times and I can honestly say that each of them still holds a really special place in my heart.
I told Alyssa that what I would encourage her to do more than anything was to write it all down. I wound up buying her a little journal (even though the little angel remembered to grab one) and wrote a note to her on the first page. I told her to note the places she went, the foods she ate, the smells that emanated over the course of the week (stinky boys’ socks, anyone?!) but more than anything, the people she met along the way. That way, when she’s old and forgetful like her aunt, she can go back to that little journal and be immediately brought back to that one special week … a week that could change the course of her life.
It reminded me why I have this blog (and why I had my old one). I have a terrible memory. It’s getting worse every day, to be honest, and I don’t want to forget. I want to have a place I can go
ten forty years from now and be immediately brought back to a moment in time when CJ said something funny or lost a tooth or when I was going through a really difficult period and then, somehow, got out of it.
I feel fortunate to also be praying for one student in particular this week and the whole experience is bringing me back to each of those four weeks where I felt God like none other. I’m praying for my buddy (that’s what I’m calling her) daily, but similar to my own mission trip experiences, it’s probably going to affect me in a bigger way than I would have anticipated. I just wanted to be sure to write it down … I’ll want to remember this later.