Mission Possible

This past weekend I had the pleasure of going on my first mission trip.  It was a short, regional trip to Welch, WV to do some small home repair projects for different members of the community.  I had always wanted to go on a mission trip and had been all set to go to the Dominican Republic about 8 years ago, until a last minute glitch kept me from going.  So, when I saw the email about the mission trips with the Cove, it felt like the time was right.  And even though I of course wanted to jump right into an international trip to Honduras or South Africa, I knew the right thing to do was to start out small and go on the regional trip first. 

I was nervous... things like staying somewhere new and not knowing what the eating or sleeping arrangements would be like, not knowing exactly what I'd be doing and not knowing anyone on the trip are all the kinds of things that would normally make me anxious.  And they did, a little.  But the overall feeling was one of excitement and pushing forward through any anxiety, because this was God's work for me.  Just like a few years ago, when I unexpectedly ending up doing a public speaking engagement for a women's church group.  I was PETRIFIED of public speaking, but knew I had to go through with it, because it was God's plan.  And just like then, it turned out to be a great experience.  One marked distinctively with Godwinks right from the beginning...

The day I left, I ended up driving by myself and put the address of the mission clubhouse into my GPS on my phone (not even thinking about the fact that there'd be no cell phone service out there).  Everything was going along just fine, as I was trekking way my way up and down the mountains of West Virginia.  Driving on roads that were barely wide enough for two cars, with 180 degree turns.  I was winding my way up one of those roads when I saw a skinny, stray dog on the side of the road.  Well for those of you that know me well, you know I CANNOT pass a stray dog.  So I didn't and sure enough, I turned around and pulled off the road.  I spent about a half hour trying to get this dog to come over to me and/or get in my car.  I wasn't quite sure what I'd do once he got in the car, but at least he wouldn't be on the side of the road by himself.  :)  Well he wasn't having any of that, so I decided to go all the way back down the mountain to a mini-mart I had passed and get him some food & water.  I went all the way back, bought a can of food, a bottle of water and grabbed a big styrofoam cup and headed back up the mountain, only to find that my little friend was nowhere to be found.  :(  I looked up and down the road a couple times, but he was gone, so I had to give up and continue on my way.  One problem.  When I turned around, the GPS stopped because I had gone off the route and asked me if I wanted a new route.  When I said no, to continue on the same route I had been on, and the GPS refreshed, it lost the signal.  And it never came back.  So there I was, by myself, with no written directions, a GPS that wasn't working anymore, no phone signal to call anyone, driving in the desolate mountains of West Virginia.  I had heard the next direction was to turn right at the end of the road I was on, but after that I didn't have a clue!  So when I got to the next intersection, I simply continued to pray what I had been praying ever since the GPS stopped working, "God, please guide me."  I continued to drive on and on... through the twists and turns of the mountains, having no idea where I was or where I was heading, continually hoping for the GPS to work again and praying for God to lead me.  When the GPS finally came back on, the voice announced that I was 1.8 miles from my destination and it gave me the last couple turns I needed to pull up right in front of the mission clubhouse.  Thank you God!  :)

Since the trip was a construction trip and I'm not exactly Bob Villa, there wasn't a whole lot for me to do, but God found ways to use me... even if it was just to pour water on concrete, drill in a few screws and to paint.  I met a lot of wonderful people from my church that I didn't know, and most importantly, I got a good look at how different life is for the people of McDowell county, WV.  We tend to automatically think of poor conditions when we think of third world countries, but it's not often that we realize how impoverished our own "backyards" are.  That people in America in 2011 are still living in homes without running water or a roof over their head.  It was very eye-opening, but also humbling, that I was able to help, if only in a small way.  Our group fixed roofs, put up drywall, built fences, did plumbing and even did some repainting at the mission clubhouse.  But overall, our purpose was to pass along the love of God through our acts of service.

I came home very much inspired to return to WV in the fall, to hopefully be able to go on an international mission trip soon and with two ideas of my own that I would love to bring to WV.  While passing through the downtown area one day, one of the women on the trip noticed a small dress shop in town and how they seemed to be getting ready for prom.  There were a few dresses in the front window and I realized in this area where there are no shopping centers, no malls... this was probably the only store where teenage girls in this area could get a prom dress, IF they could even afford one at all.  I know that a local radio station here in Charlotte does a donated prom dress drive for girls in this area... but if there is a need here, imagine the need in the poorest county in the whole country!  And, especially close to my heart... I saw stray dogs everywhere and heard stories of numerous amounts of puppies being born from dogs that were left loose to reproduce.  I would love to do something about this as well and hopefully bring a low-cost or free spay/neuter clinic to the area, to control some of the pet population.  They are both "projects" that were laid on my heart and I will continue to pray and work on them, but would love to hear from anyone who would be interested in helping!

And on an unrelated but yet very much related note... the message at my church last night, that I heard just a few hours after returning from WV, was on tithing.  But it wasn't really about giving 10% as much as it was about TRUSTING GOD.  The same thing that helped me to change my perspective about my "desert university" experience.  The same thing that helped me let go of everything I had been so discontent with and trying so hard to work out on my own.  The same thing that allowed me to go on a trip with no one I knew to an area I was unfamiliar with and be secure in the knowledge that God would use me.  The same thing that I realized during that message last night was the next step for me in this journey.  FAITH.  Trusting in God.  It's not about worrying over giving away 10% of your money, especially when your paychecks are already as small as mine are.  It was almost automatic as the pastor spoke... I can't trust only in certain areas of my life and not in others.  I can't hand control back to God (where it should be) over some things but still hold on tightly to others.  And it was that simple realization that got my checkbook out of my purse and the check into the offering box.  It all really comes back to the same thing...

Having faith in God with all parts of our lives.
Doing our best to serve him and others.
And trust, trust, trust.