Friday, June 20, 2014

mission trip to the jersey shore, day 5

our final day was very similar to the rest, at least in shape and structure.  we woke up (relatively) early, had some breakfast, and headed down the garden state parkway.  this time, our entire group went to delmont, nj, where we continued working on a home that some of us were working on yesterday.

this home has been raised up some 10 feet, and was terribly damaged by water from sandy.  we are one of many groups that have already been working on this home, including a great team of people from another church i served, in clinton, nj!  we were doing lots of drywall work today, mudding and sanding and installation, seams and more.  we were blessed to work with another team from wisconsin, and we worked well together, accomplishing quite a bit in one day.

another way we've been blessed this week is by our hosts.  first united methodist church of toms river, nj has been a wonderful place for us to relax, play games, take a shower, eat, and sleep.  not only that, but they occasionally left us little notes on our beds, reminders of God's love and care for us.  they gave us air-conditioning.  and internet access.  and stuffed shells.  and on-site showers.  and they demonstrated a radical kind of hospitality, for which every member of our team was very grateful.

it was a blessing to have another great day of work, feeling like we accomplished so much work, but that blessing paled in comparison to the biggest blessing of the day: that we were able to spend a few minutes visiting with one of the homeowners, Patty, who took some time off of work to come and say hello to us.  she thanked us profusely, and went around introducing herself to each and every member of the team.  she told us her story, and even got emotional as she talked about the storm and all that she lost (she mentioned that she lost all of her shoes in the storm.  can you imagine...ALL OF HER SHOES!!!).

we were amazed to hear her story, and to meet the person whose home we were mudding and sanding and constructing.  as she was about to leave, she asked if we could all have a prayer together, and so all twenty-five (or so) of us gathered in a circle in what will one day be her kitchen, and Patty prayed...for us!  it was an amazingly humbling situation, having this woman, who has lost so much, along with her husband, pray for us, who are very blessed and did not have to deal with this storm.  it really caused us to stop and consider the topsy-turvy economy of love, where up is down and down is up.  Jesus said it like this: if you want to be great in God's Kingdom, you must be a servant of all.  this week, we did a little serving.  just a little.  and we (mostly) had a blast doing it.  and, sure, we put in some screws and sanded some spackle, but - much more significantly - we received a parting gift we could not have imagined: a prayer from Patty, who reminded us that when we have little, we are in a position to be rich with God.  we were reminded, in that moving moment, that, because of God and the community of saints, we have a future with hope.  all of us.

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