Projects are a big part of these trips but more important are the relationships that are formed in the process of the work.
The relationships established with the home owners are wonderful as stated in the previous two posts but the enhanced relationship with God and amongst the other team members is absolutely priceless.
First and foremost, it’s incredible to watch people grow spiritually and increase the intensity of their relationship with God.
Alot of us go with the “human” thought that we’ll be blessing the people of New Orleans. While that may happen, God sees to it that working with and for those people ends up blessing us more in the process. It’s incredibly humbling to go to a complete stranger and say to them “I’m here to serve you, what can I do?” The bottom line is, God is much more about growing us spiritually than He is about what we’re doing while there. The work is only the vehicle. While reflecting is when we see that since we stepped out of our box, God has blessed that step tenfold.
To further increase spiritual growth, there are 25+ of us living for a week or two(in some cases) in 1000 square feet with only two bathrooms. If two bathrooms for that many people doesn’t test a person’s faith, I’m not sure what would! It’s amazing seeing the growth and bonds between the team members. It doesn’t matter where you are financially, personally or spiritually, the playing field is leveled in a hurry with those kinds of logistics. Let’s just say there aren’t a lot of secrets in that kind of environment. We pray, we joke, we laugh(alot) and we fellowship. If someone is struggling, it doesn’t take long for another person to see that and come around them in friendship and prayer. How a person can become so close to others in such a short time, close enough to feel like family is truly a “God-thing.”
We have a lot of team members who return year after year and when they do, it truly feels like old home week. I can only think of a few people over the years that we don’t keep in close contact with. Our church is a large church with multiple campuses so without trips such as this, most of us would never meet so this creates a relationship bond amongst the campuses as well. It’s easy to fall through the cracks of a large church, but it’s events like these that seal up those cracks. For DH & I these trips have given us a “real” church family that we felt was lacking before.
If an opportunity arises for any of you to go on a short-term outreach of some type, I would highly recommend it. You will never be the same again! It will definitely ruin you for the ordinary!
The girl in this picture is our sweet niece, Amanda and Josh, the young man is the son of a friend I went to high school youth group with many years ago but had sort of lost touch with. Amanda’s parents are DH’s brother and sister-in-law who have co-led all of these trips with us.
They both went on last years trip, Amanda during the first week and Josh during the second week so they did not serve in New Orleans together. This year they were there serving together.
Here’s their story…Josh saw Amanda at our joint team meeting last year before we left, went home and told his Mom (my old friend) that he was going to date that girl. :) He saw her again in the airport as Amanda was coming home from New Orleans and he was headed there. He called her during the week he was there, they went out on their first date a couple of weeks later, proposed to her this past fall, served in New Orleans together this year and will be married on September 4th. How cool is that? We’re so happy for them. Now, that’s what I call forming a relationship!