A week of missions in Mississippi

Wow, where do I even begin! Has this week actually come and gone already? Holy Moley!  Well, I guess I’ll just start by running through my week, and I’ll highlight the things that stuck out to me, and I’ll post another blog going a little deeper about why those things stuck out to me. SO! Let me go back to last Sunday…

Sunday morning, Kelsey (an intern) and I got to the church around 3:45 and we registered kids and had a short talk before we left. Klint gave us a week verse: John 3:30 “He must become greater; I must become less. He also gave us a phrase to remember throughout the entire week– “It’s not about me.” We left the church parking lots around 5:30 for our LONG drive! On the way down, we had a boy and girl start “going out” around 9 AM and, after telling the boy that missions trips were about God and others, not about relationships, he agreed that I was right and they “broke up” around 4 PM on the same drive down…and it just reminded me of the concept of dating and the opposite sex in middle school. But anyways, we kept driving, and it took us almost 19 hours to get there!! Wow, talk about needing patience! I’m so thankful that God protected us that whole trip, since there were 4 vans and only 4 leaders who were allowed to drive. We had to be 21 to drive the vans, so Kelsey and I couldnt drive. So the 4 drivers couldnt switch off, but had to drive the whole 19 hours! When we got to the church around midnight, we went straight to bed!

Monday morning we were off to the work site which was about 30 minutes away from the church we were staying at all week. The house had been, for the most part, put back together pretty well since the hurricaine 9 months ago, but we were there to paint the trim and repair a fence for Harry and Carol Ann Chamberlain, the owners of the house. Even though the house didnt look devastated at that point, you could see how much we were blessing that couple just by looking at their faces. We were used as a blessing more than we could probably ever know. After working, we came back to the church and ate lunch, and then headed to a YMCA about 10 minutes away to take our showers. That night after group devotions, I had some time to hang out with some girls, as well as help a girl through a difficult situation..and through all of that I started to really form some good relationships with them. I see myself in those girls when I was that age..and I thank God for developing me into who I am now… He has brought me so far!  I was reminded of the power of words and how uplifting or destructive they can be, especially to a middle schooler! It also reminded me how important it is that we, as leaders, invest time into their lives and be strong spiritual influences in their lives.

Tuesday we had the same schedule, except all of the leaders noticed that this day was really rough. A lot of arguments, put downs, and ridicule came up during this day. I was reminded of those days in my life…friendships, boys, and how every crisis in life seemed earth-shattering . We changed some of the curriculum about missions and in our group discussion time we talked about loving our neighbors, and focused on Ephesians 4:29 about not letting any unwholesome talk come out of our mouths. Slowly the kids started to grasp that concept. But that night things started changing. The boys had gotten done with their showers much earlier than the girls, so Klint (the JH pastor, and only guy leader on the trip) decided to bring the boys back to the church and they would finish preparing the supper for that night, which was spaghetti, salad, and garlic bread. WELL…that idea went off with a bang! The boys got so into the idea of preparing supper for the girls, that they started coming up with more and more ideas of ways to serve them! When the girls got back to the church, the guys met us at the vans and “escorted” us to the bottom of the stairway (that led up to all of the girls’ rooms), the door to the dining hall was closed, and the girls started freaking out! You should have seen them upstairs! They were screaming, putting on nice clothes, putting on makeup, doing their hair, asking us leaders what was going on…one of them even said “they’re being NICE to us..its scaring me!!” To which i replied “Guys that are nice to you and go out of their way to impress you are the ones you SHOULD be attracted to! Don’t go for the jerky ones!”  When we went down to the dining hall, the places were set, our cups were filled, and they served us dinner as we went through the line…they also came around to refill our glasses and clean up when we were finished. The boys were amazing, and it really set the tone well for the rest of the night and emphasized the importance of serving others. It also reminded ME to set my standards high in what types of guys I look for…I shouldnt be “used to” the jerky ones…because there ARE gentlemen out there …just like the lesson that these girls learned that night.  Later that night I went to the store with Ailene Banks (one of the leaders) to pick up a few things, and I learned SO MUCH from her on that short trip to walmart and back…as well as riding with her and Kelsey on the way to the work sight each morning. She taugh me so much about life, love, leadership, parenting, and being a wife . A few things I learned that night was the true meaning behind the phrase “Vengence is mine, says the Lord” as well as the importance of knowing scripture in life ..as a leader, a mom, etc.

Wednesday we also had the same schedule with working on the house and showering, etc. Klint and a few kids stayed a little longer to try to get the fence further along, but we all met for showers in the afternoon and that night we went to a place called “The Shed” and it had some AMAZING BBQ!! Wednesday was definitely a better day for the kids…when someone would put another person down or gossip, the other kids would remind them not to use any unwholesome talk…it was awesome watching the kids actually “get it.” We also saw the “cool” group of girls befriend a loner girl and decided to do a make-over on her and it was awesome to see the acceptance between them all. That night we had quite the drama when a few boys saw 3 men walking across the street in the woods, and supposedly one flashed a gun…but no harm was done. It scared the kids a bit, and we reported it to the police just to keep an eye out for 3 guys…but man, that news spread like wildfire through the different groups of kids. It was all okay, nothing happened at all, but it was good to know God was protecting us even if something fishy was going on.

Thursday we finished at the house and cleaned up the church and headed to Memphis, TN that afternoon and stayed at Bellview Baptist Church that night…it was a HUGE church! It was a blessing that we got to split up the drive instead of driving all 19 hours again!

Friday we left early in the morning and we finally got back to the church around 6:00 PM…and i was sure ready to be back!

I learned a lot about parenting and leadership on this trip…Ailene Banks, and another leader on the trip, Pam Wing both had kids on the trip, so i got to watch them both parent their kids…in two totally different parenting styles , and I got to see the results of both. I also got to see different styles of leadership and the outcomes of those leadership styles as the kids responded to them. I also learned how to better work with challenged kids who demanded high levels of attention or who had trouble focusing their attention spans.

All in all, I think I may have learned more during the trip than even the kids! Everything from leadership to humility to parenting to being a Godly wife to being a servant and so much more. I had a great time and got to know all of the kids so well, and Im so excited to work with them for the rest of the summer!

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