We're back (all of us)
It was a moving trip, and even upon our arrival, with smiling faces and warm hugs waiting for us at LAX, the first thing we did, after greeting our loved ones, was talk to the coed team to compare notes on the shared experiences.
How did it feel for the first timers/newbies? They asked about Jim and Shirley... how did the experience feel to any/all of us?
I'll say this much. Even after 6 years of making these trips, Evergreen knows how to welcome you home. They bring joy and significance to your time and effort away.
You have no idea how much our faith and love grew, both for our fellow man, for each other, and for God and His plans.
I looked at the blog entry for Jim and Shirley's morning inspiration, and to see the clip from the end of "Lilies of the field," it kind of makes you tear up. Knowing that Jim and Shirley were packing up that day, and driving away....
Day's wrap up
Church at Mosaic was good. In some ways, visiting some other churches would be nice to absorb the local flavor, but we've been happy there, the pastor seems to have a good heart, and trying to lead his congregation in the right direction. They are part of an acts 29 network... and I haven't fully read their doctrine statement, but if you get a chance, there you go.
During service, we realized that Kev, the new friend we met on site Saturday, was sitting right in front of us. Brad had asked him to lead us in the morning prayer, and that's where we found out that he had been looking for a church, and now, here he was, answering the team's invitation to join us. We were able to hear a bit more about his life and working away from his family, and we prayed for him.
Lunch at a local sandwich/salad place with the mighty trio of Brad, Paul and Denise. There was a point in our conversations where we all forgot we were there to eat when we realized we hadn't been served our food yet, that's how sweet our time with them has always been. We'll miss them dearly.
No big prayers, no big speeches, just friends having a goodbye lunch. It just feels natural.
Got to the airport, check in, flight delay, modest trot to the connecting flight, arrive LAX. We had spoken to some people on the plane, talked about our trip/mission, made some connections. I didn't hear any earth shattering stories from any of the guys on the team, but maybe that's it. It's not that it's becoming old hat, it's just becoming a natural part of our lives. We intentionally talk to people, try to find out where they're at, and if we can, try to bless them as natural and necessary. Sometimes that means a major life event, sometimes that means letting them know that there's hope in God. It's natural. This is the way it's supposed to be.
We arrive home. Saw some tears fall as spouses and families reunite. (The single guys get hearty pats on the back :) ) As much as we've been welcomed back before, each time is moving. We've been living on an island for the last week or two. A very confined-can't-get-away-from-each-other island. But it was an island of purpose, of heart, and yet, we're sad to separate from each other.
It's not natural
Now, it doesn't seem natural to not get up, put together a sandwich, hear an inspirational devotional for the day and jump into a car with vigor and purpose. We will not be working on something, and be able to turn around and call out for a tool, assistance or guidance while working on a house. It's no longer there.
For two weeks, we saw how our small contributions moved towards a greater goal. Working on a house can be work, but when you look back at the end of a week, you can see the progress, but while you're in it, it just seems tedious, daunting or even insignificant gesture.
With this mission, we've been able to see how things have progressed. The house, our relationships, our hearts for people, our sensitivity to hear and respond to God. Sometimes you don't see the progress, but a week or several years later, you can see it if you get the big picture.
Thanks for another year of letting us go and represent you and your prayers. You and your families, you and your God.
It's humbling, and stay tuned, I suspect some of the guys will want to post stuff as they reflect on the trip.
Thank you to all who have contributed to this blog this far, and for you for reading it. I've told some people it's a little self-serving as well. I drop into here from time to time to try and remember what I was feeling at the time, to see Steve's mustache disappear from the first trip. To remember how good God has been. I hope you can too.
(Note, we should be updating some of the bucam movies in the next week or so, so check back in :) )