Yeah, I’ve been gone one week. So? A lot can happen in one week! I went to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from Sunday until Friday on a mission trip. And although I have been on many a mission trip, this goes in the top two – can’t decide between this one, Philly, or 2010 in New Orleans.
This was AMAZING. Let me just say that. Because the most I could say would be an understatement. I have been to Philadelphia before – last year I had actually gone to Yeadon, PA, which is right outside of Philly, and we were close enough to get cheesesteaks in the city. But back to the point. We served with The Philadelphia Project (TPP), a project committed to bettering Philadelphia. We arrived Sunday in the late afternoon (late), after about a 4-hour car ride. We then went on a ‘prayer tour’, going around the city (not the main part but a slightly more suburban part), and being introduced in there, and stopping in praying in different places for the city.
We then went to dinner. It was actually delicious and homemade, considering the amount they had to make. How to explain our first dinner – or any meal at all? So. much. energy. There were interns there that run on about four hours of sleep every night and somehow have the energy to be bouncing off the walls. My friends and I got to meet Will (names have been changed). My friend’s first reaction when she met him? She slapped him in the face! Will claims it was premeditated, and that she waited for about 2.5 seconds until she did. She asked him what his name was. “Will.” “Are you sure?” “Well, that’s what my mom told me…” I love my friends. He learned that I was a rising senior, and asked me what colleges I was looking at. I have two that are my top choices, and he told me that the director of TPP had graduated from one in 2009, and he was a rising senior in the other. I think I’m going to visit Will when I visit again this fall, among several other friends that also go to this college. Anyways, Will is extremely immature. However, he says that “I am so mature, I can afford to be immature.” He also states that “Jesus tells us to have faith like children. So why not just be children?” Well, it quickly became evident that Will was one of the many others who abided by this concept. “It’s a dog eat dog world out there!” was how he justified stealing people’s chairs. Michael would be singing (out of tune, mind you) to some random song. Alyssa would be screaming and high-fiveing kids were coming in.
Monday, the first full day, was also our first day on our worksite. We got there and it just so happened that Will was our worksite leader. We knew we were in for a some interesting times, to say the least. Our work consisted of several parts. We used a jackhammer and took out the front sidewalk of Mrs. Adams’ house, and then relaid concrete. We also took out cabinets in her kitchen, and almost finished laying a hardwood floor in an extension of her home. In addition to that, we sanded the ceiling of a bathroom (just a one-day job). The group that will replace us next week (or rather, the group that is currently working now) will be putting in the new cabinets, painting the bathroom, finish laying the hardwood down, and probably put a wall around the extension where the hardwood floor is, since there was no real one before.
It was really good work and I enjoyed it. But the thing I thought about was that it wasn’t all just doing good stuff. I have seen Facebook pictures of all these people going on missions trips, doing good things for different people. But are they really serving God? They’re not exactly what I’d call people with great character (not to be judgmental). Every time I felt tired, didn’t really want to do it, or had to work through lunch – this was especially true when we were laying concrete, so it wouldn’t dry – I just thought, “We are showing God’s love to Mrs. Adams through our work.” I feel that we shouldn’t want to say, “I did a good thing by serving others”, but rather “I showed God’s love by serving others”.
There were some that were “here I am” rather than “there you are” people, but it we got a lot done even though we had some of those. “Here I am” means just doing the work that is asked of them, not really asking if they can do more to help. “There you are” people strive to see what the other person needs as well as meeting the needs of there own. Today, I encourage everyone reading this post to be a “there you are” person. If you fail, it’s okay. My work group would have gotten a lot more accomplished if we had more of those “there you are” types. So just try! I have my “Chicken Little Philosophy”. If you have ever seen or know the plot of the movie ‘Chicken Little’, Chicken Little is an extremely unpopular and small chicken who wants to live up to the world’s and his father’s dreams. Even though the odds are stacked high against him, he begins every day saying, “Today is a new day.” I’m going to mention more of my Chicken Little philosophy in my next post, but keep that in mind!
Next post: the more spiritual side of The Philadelphia Project.
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service to others.” -Mahatma Ghandi