Lessons from a Mission trip: Everyone needs a site coach

Group Mission trips, over the years have taught me many lessons about my faith and life. I learn from students, adults, and staff that I get the pleasure of serving with for the week. It is an intensive week of service that makes me slow down and listen to what God is doing in and around me. Over the next couple of weeks I am going to be writing about things I learned this year.

I want to tell you that this week challenged me in ways I haven’t experienced in a lot of years. I had the privilege of meeting and serving a wonderful resident named Ellen. She was a great faithful woman who had a hard time getting around. She needed a wheel chair ramp so she could get up and down to her home and bring in her groceries. So on Monday we went to work. Things were going well. We got the previous steps out of the way and ripped out bushes in less than 10 minutes. I had a student on my crew who was a hurricane of energy. I thought to myself, we will bust this thing out in a couple days. I was excited for an amazing week. Then Tuesday came. We started digging holes with the post hole digger because the auger hadn’t arrived yet. We dug for 5 hours to make our first 6 holes in hard clay. The Auger arrived (yeah) to finish the last 10. Wow I thought now we are moving. This is all going to be great. Two days of things going right.

Then Wednesday and Thursday happened. Many of the holes we had dug were not straight. I wasn’t paying enough attention to the details and well we had to pull out shovels and post hole diggers to get the holes lined up Wednesday. Thursday was probably the hardest day I have had on a worksite in my 17 years of Work Camps. We as a team made so many mistakes that the whole day was spent screwing in things and then removing them because we messed up. I removed and installed 12 lag bolts. Holes had to be moved again. one of the platforms moved and had to be put back. By the end of the day we had a broken post hole digger and I was beyond frustrated. I took my crew and another back and thought I will need to go back out so I can cement the last posts. Then it started raining, and I couldn’t go back out.

I was so broken that afternoon that I believed that this would be the first time is 17 years that I wouldn’t finish a project. Ellen this woman who I promised to build a ramp for would be let down. I was so frustrated I took it out on a few students who I yelled at over reacting to something they did and then went back to seek their forgiveness. It was a rough day.

The next morning I was getting breakfast and I saw my site coach. These are the red shirt people who are there to help you get your project done and figure out solutions. They are amazing people who go from site to site helping people problem solve. Jeff said to me “So did you get the posts cemented in?” I said “No we didn’t because of issues and rain, and I said their is no way we are going to get it done today.” That is when he did something that changed me this week. He looked me right in the eyes, and smiled, a smile I had seen all week. He said Steve I guarantee we will get it done today I promise you. It was what I needed in that moment. His confidence in what Jesus could do in this moment is what I needed to push with my crew and, another who would join us, and get it done.

For me in that moment Jeff was Jesus. He may never know it, but he had a profound impact on me this week. I don’t know about you, but maybe you are in a place where you feel you can’t keep going and everything you thought you know is falling apart. Maybe it is your marriage or your faith, or your job, or whatever, but you don’t think you can keep going. I pray God brings you a site coach to be Jesus in your life. A site coach like Jeff who walks along side you and picks you up in the hard days. We all need people in our lives who will be Jesus when we need them.

We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus.

Romans 15:1-5 ESV

Routines…New, Old and Changed

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I have worn more sweat pants over the last four weeks than I think I have in my entire life. These last few weeks have been trying to figure out my routines.  Things are not the same a they were before the stay at home orders.  I would say in some ways it has been good and in some ways it has been difficult.  Certainly things I tried to do early in the process are not happening nearly as often today.  Things like wearing dress pants and dress shirt even when I have to come into the office has been lost as the weeks have gone on.  Even getting up early to be in the “office” (my kitchen table) by 8am has not happened.  Some things are never going to be the same.

17 Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where will you have us prepare for you to eat the Passover?”  26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the[c] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”  Matthew 26:17, 26-29 ESV

As I was thinking about it this week I was thinking about the Lord Supper.  How Jesus took something they had been doing in the Passover/Sabbath meal and tweaked it.  He took something in their routine and made it that much more meaningful.  I imagine the very next week when they got together for Sabbath meal they sat in awe of the moment it could never be the same. They couldn’t look at it the same way. When those disciples sat together and ate the meal together everything was different.

Lots of things we have done these last few weeks will not be the same.  Hopefully you and I can consider some new routines that glorify Jesus.  I know for me one of those things will to be to appreciate the power of being together in worship and most especially the gathering around the Lords table.  I also pray for me that this routine of being in the word more outside of class will continue into the future.  What are the things in your new routine you want to keep?  What things will you cherish more?  What things do you want to get back?  Jesus comes to bring change, may that change help us all grow in our trust in Him.

This isn’t how it is supposed to be…One day we will do this right

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Today I had the opportunity to sit in front of my TV and be a greeter at Church. This isn’t how this is supposed to be. We had some technical difficulties, and the feed was missing sound for the first 10 minutes. This is not how this is supposed to be.  I had technical difficulties at home with my TV, and I participated in the service through a 4″ phone.  This morning all I thought was,  “This isn’t how it is supposed to be.”

During the service, once it got working, I had some friends from Church text me about the tech stuff and sent me thanks for it working. I had nothing to do with fixing it, I just let the team know at Church it wasn’t working. At the end of our conversation, one of them said, “I can’t wait until I can see my Church family again.”  I agreed this isn’t how this is supposed to be.

Although there is a lot of good that has come from all this, not the least of which is churches and people sharing Jesus online, I cannot tell you how much I want to be together with people in worship. This is not how it is supposed to be. I look forward to the amazing moment when our community can be together again. It will be a great moment for our people and for me personally. I love people, and I can’t wait to be together again.

I had a thought today; even when we get back together, even when we get together and pull out all the stops and it feels like heaven, it won’t be.  This just isn’t how it is supposed to be. You see one day, when this is all over, we will gather all together, in person, in our resurrected body for worship that will last for eternity.  It will be beyond amazing, and it will be beyond everything we have ever experienced or seen.  We will hug our loved ones and celebrate Jesus like we can’t even imagine.  That is the day we see a little here but will see more fully when Jesus comes again.

I pray as we go through these days that we are reminded that this isn’t how it is supposed to be, not just in worship, all of it.  Jesus changes everything, and I can’t wait for it to be just as He said it will be.

13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

15 “Therefore they are before the throne of God,
    and serve him day and night in his temple;
    and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.
16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
    the sun shall not strike them,
    nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
    and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Revelation 7:13-17 ESV

School is coming…finding rest in the chaos!

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School is coming…For some it is already here…For some parents it is a great day, for some parents their will be tears .  For some kids it is a struggle filled with anxiety and for some kids they just cant wait to be back at school with their friends.  It is a mix of anxiety, joy, fear, and excitement for a new year.

One things we will all experience this year is the busyness that comes with a new school year.  It seems to me that every year, sports gets more intense, classes get harder for kids, the schedule for ministry even seems to get more and more intense.  All these things may be amazing opportunities for learning, exercise, friendships, and fun.  These things can make it almost impossible to have opportunities to share a meal, share your day, or just find times to be home and slowing down together with your family.

Somewhere as a family we all learned that to be the best parents we have to run, run, run.  We have to be in everything, be there for everyone, and give our kids the most experiences possible.  I am here to tell you we are all wrong on this front.  Yes experiences for our kids are great.  It is important to give them times to succeed, and fail, to find joy, and sadness so we can help them navigate those moments before they become adults.  The thing I think we miss is how can we also teach them to rest.  How do we teach them to slow down enjoy life with the people God has put in our lives.

This fall our Church is starting something new. We are calling it Family rest nights.  The second and forth Wednesdays of each month during the school year we have opened the school and Church schedule so that no events happen in the building after 4pm.  We want to model for families to be home and with each other gathered around His word. I love food so for us it will include a meal.  We plan to send out emails with devotional questions, scripture readings, and prayers for the family.  The goal is to help model family times of rest.  My prayers is this will help families slow down and be.  Slow down and be in the presence of each other and Jesus.  I know I need to have those times of rest. Join us in resting in Jesus and growing together as a family.

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer (Acts 2:42 NIV)