Wednesday, August 09, 2006

What does your letter say?

There are two new posts. If you haven't already, you might want to read the last post first.
St. Francis of Assisi said this, "Go into the world and preach the gospel, if necessary, use words". That has been our focus this summer. Teaching the teens to "be" the gospel to the world around them.

I'm going to be totally honest here. At the beginning of the summer, I was ready to tell Adam to quit and take a job at Walmart. Actually, I did say that. I have said something like that many times over the past eight years. I never wanted to marry a youth minister. The thought of living in a glass box and feeling responsible for other people's souls never appealed to me and as shallow as it seems, being poor never appealed to me either. First, I will say that God has taken care of us very well and that I am so glad that God knew what I needed more than I did. However, there have been many times that I have longed for a "normal" nine to five job in where my husband and my children's father would come home and we would have no where to go in the evenings and we would have him all to ourselves. Well, it so happened that a youth minister stole my heart. So anyway, even though I had it planned out in my mind that I was going to marry a doctor and live the easy life, I have always come back to this: I have always had a dream that somewhere somehow, I would see and particpate in a group of Christians that was the church that God intended us to be. In our trip to New Orleans, we did it.

I have never been more proud of a group of teenagers (and adults). We did more than just gut a couple of houses. Before we left, Adam talked about how we were a letter from Christ and how no matter what we did and said, the people that we came into contact with were going to formulate an idea of who Jesus is based on us. We also talked about how the Bible says that people will know us by our love for each other and that how we treated each other really effected how others see Him. All I can say is WOW, I have never seen any group of people so unified in their mission. I hesitate to mention any specific examples because there were so many and not one person slacked. However, their are a few things that I just can't slip by. Our bus driver Paul... Paul is a Christian, we knew Paul for a week. We love him. It reminds me of the love that the Paul in the Bible talks about. We love each other because we all love Jesus. Paul worked with us every day. Though I was already off the bus and didn't see it personally, I was so touched when I found out he cried when he left the group. And there were so many little things, like instead of having everyone pack their own lunch, a couple of the teens would pack everyones lunch for the next day. Or how Susan and Kathy washed everyone's shirts for them every night, or how someone went and found J.T. extra blankets because the building was FREEZING and he was really cold, or how instead of complaining about the outside M.A.S.H style showers everyone laughed and talked about how "fun" it was, or how we would be waiting in line somewhere and let other people go before us so they didn't have to wait behind such a large group, or how all the girls made it their mission at the trip to the mall to find a pair of capri pants for Nicole so that she would feel special on her birthday, or how when someone was asked to sweep, not only did they do it without complaining but they washed the windows too or how when someone walked up to sit with the group, the teens would make their circle wider to make sure everyone was included, or how a couple of the teens fixed us dinner one night. I could go on and on. We went to save a families home and we did! The city workers thanked us and told us that they knew it wouldn't be getting done if it wasn't for the church groups. What an awesome testimony for Christ!! Someone from FEMA came by and thanked us. But, the kingdom of God broke through in the little things. It was going the extra mile that showed the heart. No one stopped at doing just what they had to do but, did so much more.

I don't know where we'll go from here. But I do know this: you can't catch of glimpse of God's dream of how the church should be and not be changed. I would estimate that we have done 10 trips a year for 8 years. Out of approximately 80 trips, this was no doubt the best trip I've ever taken.

I am a letter from Christ. I think we all know now what our letter should look like. I think the question we should keep asking ourselves is, "What does my letter say"?

Please pray for our ministry!

PS: I will add pictures soon.


Jessie Marie said...

Dana,I just wanted to say what a wonderful person you are. You and Adam both did a great job on the NOLA trip. Thanks for giving me and everyone else such an amazing experience. I am so thankful to know you and I hope we can continue building our friendship. Thanks for everything! Tell Miss Emma I said hello. I miss you both! Have a great time with the family! ~ Jessie

Anna said...

That trip was an amazing trip. I know that I haven't been on that many trips with the youth group, but this was my favorite by far. I grew a lot closer to everyone and it was great. You are such an amazing person and friend. Thank you for being a great christian example for me. Tell Emma I said hi. I love and miss you guys so much!

Sallie said...

Dana, your faith, perserverance and amazing ability to let us see God in the details is inspiring. The GC teens (and of course the wonderful adults who accompanied them on this trip)are the greatest-they go the extra mile and give us all hope of what the world can become. Your trip sounded absolutely awesome (and I do not use that word lightly or much at all-it simply says what your post made me feel). Thank you for such a lovely post.

Anonymous said...

Dana, What an amazing trip! I am so glad I got to go and see it all myself. I have seen this youth group (and me) change so so so much in the past 7 years.I am so glad that I got to kow you etter on this trip. You are such an amazing woman and do such a great job at what you are doing. Thank you for everything you do!I hope we can get together before i leave Friday..i wana read that book!

Kristen said...

I am so proud of you.