Monday, August 16, 2010

Cleveland Mission Trip: Day 5

            This was our final full day at the Nehemiah Mission.  We got ourselves up and moving with the anticipation of not quite knowing what our assignment would be for the day since we were done with all we needed to accomplish at the City Mission.  So we were relying on the leadership of the Nehemiah Mission to give us jobs to do.  Jim is the head guy that runs the mission.  He had two sights for our teams and we ended up doing a lot of hard work!  My team went over to an elderly lady’s house.  She has let her house get out of control so much that the city of Cleveland wanted her to clean it up.  Our job was to paint her porch and clean up her backyard.  I got a team of boys going on the porch and then went to go see what the backyard looked like.  It became apparent to me right away that nothing has been done with this backyard in years.  Many of the bushes have grown to be as large as the trees.  In fact the teens got into an argument as to whether or not these were trees or bushes.  I assured them that we were dealing with bushes that have not been trimmed in a long time.  All of the bushes and trees connected at the top to form almost a cave-like feel in attempting to get to the very back of the yard.  So the hedge trimmers were set aside for a chainsaw instead.  I took a chainsaw to the backyard attempting to level all of the bushes and tree branches that were out of control.  We hacked down a ton of foliage.  Several hours were spent just bundling the branches in 2 foot length bundles.  Also, we spotted a lot of poison ivy in the backyard.  We tried our best to keep our distance but eventually several of us realized that it was a hopeless cause and chances are we will suffer.  The good news is that to my knowledge, I don’t think anyone got any reactions to it after the trip. 

            While we were working hard on bundling, there were many neighborhood kids outside in their front yards trying to escape the heat by starting a water fight.  It was fun to watch the water fights escalate.  Eventually one of the small kids made eye contact with me and I motioned with my eyes to throw water at one of my teenagers.  The kids got the hint that that would be a great thing to do and everyone would have a good sense of humor about it.  So they set their sights on Tyler and went after him first.  Then the attacks kept coming until just about everyone was wet.  And it was cold water too!

            As we cleaned up our sight and began to get ready to head back to the Nehemiah Mission, our elderly lady we were helping came out to talk with us.  This is when she approached me and said, “I didn’t even know that people like this even existed anymore.”  This floored me.  I asked her if she had any family and she said no.  She never married or had kids.  Just before we left we took the opportunity to gather together in a circle and lift her up in prayer.  She was really moved by our teens and all that they have done to help her out.   It was awesome.  The other team did a lot of similar type work cleaning and painting someone’s property that needed help.

            That evening we had another special guest speaker: my dad!  It was fun again to introduce him to our youth group.  He spoke heavily on stories related to missions, but then he wrapped it up with a challenge to live fully into what God has called you to do.  He did a great job.  He was very impressed by our teens and adults that he got to meet.  Afterwards some of the teens were laughing at how similar I was to my dad in mannerisms, speech patterns, body image, etc.   

Once he left we had our final group meeting to process the entire week and how it will affect our lives back home: our family life, our school life and our church life.  This is always a very critical part of the mission trip to help the teens realize that the purpose of a trip like this is to establish new ways of looking at our lives.  It is NOT about doing a mission for one week out of the Summer and then forget about it until the next adventure the following Summer.  Instead, these trips help to instill habits and behaviors that can help us to learn to serve in every context of our lives.  It was a really good night. 

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