This past week I went on a mission trip to Moore, Oklahoma / Oklahoma City. This would be my fifth mission trip. To give some background, last year was supposed to me my, along with many others, last mission trip because we were heading into a new chapter of life- college. This didn’t sit well with me, so I decided that on the last day home, I would bring up the option of asking Next Step Ministries to stretch their age limits so that we could go one last time! Obviously, they said yes! So God brought us to good ol’ OK.
I woke up at 3:00 A.M., took a quick shower, and headed off to church to start on a 12 hour long journey to the home of Toby Keith.
It was 5:00pm and we finally arrived to our destination! (although it only felt like a 6 hour car ride with the amount of time I slept!) As we pulled up, the whole Next Step staff was jumping up and down to see us. What a way to start the week! We all knew from the start that this was going to be an amazing trip. At night we did our first night of worship which consisted of a Next Step Ministries worship team- which was amazing- and we found out our site crews for the week. My crew consisted of 2 adult leaders from my church, 1 other youth from my church, and 5 people from SouthPark’s church (the church we were staying at during the week).
Monday – Thursday
All of these days were work days. We started the day at 7:00 A.M. with a musical awakening by one of the worship team members and headed off to breakfast by 7:15. You don’t really need time to get ready when all I’ll be doing during the day is getting dirty at my work site! After breakfast we had a 15-20 minute quiet time for devotions, which I thought was wonderful besides the fact the silence made me tired again! After devo’s, we headed off to our worksite!
My worksite was at a house that was being turned into a place for women with children to go when they have no where else to stay. Our site coordinator told us an inspiring story about how he met a women with a daughter and a son who had to live in their car. Why? Because the homeless shelters split the males from the females, and this mother did not want to leave her son behind. He knew that God was calling him to make a difference for not only that one woman and her family, but many other single mothers as well.
My crew and I were putting ‘mud’ on the walls AND CEILING to add texture to the walls. Yes, the whole house was being texturized. Why? Because the walls are so imperfect because they slant in some ways and have bumps on other spots, that the texture helps hide those imperfections. Putting mud on the ceiling was quite the project, as about 1/3 of it ended up on my clothes, legs, arms, hair, or face. After the mud dried, we would paint primer on the walls and then a creme color paint (which also went on the ceiling..)
During the first day, after finding out that we’d be doing this for the rest of the week, it was easy for me to look down on what I was doing, thinking “wow, all I get to do this week is paint some walls while others from my church get to break down walls and build a roof” .. but I quickly came to realize that what I was doing was just as important. It wasn’t a competition on who was doing the hardest work, or who was doing it in the worst, most hot or most dusty conditions. We were all being hands and feet for our God, and that is what is most important. Each job at each site was bringing good to the community, and isn’t that why we went there in the first place?
For a nice change of pace, at 10:30 A.M. Monday – Wednesday we would go next door to La Mision. This place was open to the community. It held a prayer service at these times every week, and also provided a place for kids to go during the day. It even included a small health care clinic for those in need! Everyone there was so grateful that we were helping rebuild their community- we gave them hope. After this, we’d go back to work.
We would spend roughly 6-7 hours at our worksite everyday. This seems like it would be exhausting, but something just keeps you going! Whether it is the community, friendly spirit around us, or just God providing us with what we need, we all got through it.
Monday – Wednesday I spent my days mudding, priming, and painting. Fortunately, on Thursday I got to spend my whole day cutting and installing drywall and insulation! I got to use some cool knives, screws, an electric drill, and a pretty violent staple tool. While I was at peace with painting for another day, this was a great privilege! I’m lucky that the Next Step staff was so patient, because it took me a few tries to get the skills right – plus the screws were drilling against my fingers, leaving little scrapes every time! (Don’t worry- I put on safety gloves once I noticed). Overall, my time at the worksite was phenomenal ~ As usual!
P.S. A roughly 4-6 month kitten visited our site two days. It was adorable.
Once our work for the day came to a close, we’d shower in our shower truck and head off to dinner, worship, and church time. What a few amazing days- you can’t get any better!
Free Day Friday!
On our free day, we went to see the OKC bombing memorial and we went to a water park. Seeing the memorial was an amazing experience. While the event was a tragic one, I was able to pray over those that were lost, and it felt great. I knew that the spirit was with us there.
The small chairs represented the children who lost their lives, and the large chairs represent the adults. I had the privilege to pray over these people and their family/friends.
When on a mission trip, I don’t worry about things. I don’t need to be on top of it all. I don’t miss home like I would if I were to go somewhere else for a week without my phone. God has a special way of working through people on these trips, and it continually leaves me feeling amazing. While this was my officially last mission trip as a youth member of Peace Lutheran Church, it will definitely NOT be my last mission trip.
Here’s to many, many more!