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August 30th Testimonial 

Hello everyone,

In the spirit of the last day of summer, I want to give you a teaser trailer for mission trip Sunday on September 20th.  While I can’t promise spectacular animated effects like Avengers Age of Ultron or edge of your seat excitement like the final installment of The Hunger Games, I do believe you will be moved and eager to join us on September 20th.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with our annual mission trip with the youth group, we traveled to Elizabethtown, PA the last week of July with 10 adult chaperones and 37 young adults for a week of service.  Our church joined other youth groups from across the country to work on over 40 residences around Elizabethtown.  Our job was to help transform homes and lives thru work and fellowship.  Monday thru Friday the young adults from our church were teamed up with young adults from churches across the country.  They painted, hammered nails, replaced roofs, cleaned homes and basically did anything they could to bring hope to the residences of these houses.  At the end of each day, everyone gets together to celebrate a day of work and caring for others – including slide shows, games, worship and music.  At the end of the week we hold one final celebration and invite the residents of the homes we worked on to participate in the event.  It is always an exciting and emotional night as we get to share our gratitude for their hospitality and experience their joy in receiving some much needed assistance.  There are always heartwarming stories during each mission trip, but I wanted to share one that took place on the last day that was very special.

During this mission trip, Bill Dunn and myself took on different roles as chaperones. This year we were part of the volunteer staff and spent most of our time behind the scenes.  For the big Friday evening event, Bill was off helping to round up ladders that were distributed at various job sites and I was back at the High School helping residents find somewhere to sit as they entered the gymnasium where the celebration was taking place.  To help paint a picture in your mind, imagine YHS’s gymnasium filled with over 500 super excited kids packed in the bleachers.  On the gymnasium floor, there are folding chairs lined up for the residents and in the center you have a huge screen, speakers on each side and an MC directing the event.  As the event starts, a slide show displays before and after pictures of each home that was worked on, along with pictures of each resident.  Every time a picture of a resident is shown on the screen, there are screams of excitement from the crews that worked on the corresponding site.  The entire crowd is visibly moved and many residents are sitting with their arms around the youths that spent the week working on their site.  As I mentioned, I was helping people find a seat, locate the restroom or anything that I could do to help make them more comfortable.  Shortly after the event started, the MC invited one of the resident’s children to share what the week meant to them.  I couldn’t hear everything since I was right at the entrance to the gymnasium, but could tell he touched the audience’s heart with the warm applause as he spoke.  As he was speaking, a young woman who was visibly emotional, asked if I could direct her to where she could get some tissues so she could dry her eyes.  Well, the best I could do was offer to grab some towels from the men’s room.  Upon returning, I asked her if she was OK.  After a pause, she responded – “No”.  Quite taken by surprise, I asked what was wrong.  She responded with the following – and I paraphrase:

“What actually happened during this week was far greater than anything I ever expected.  When I found out my house was picked to have work done on it, I was extremely excited.  I am a single mother and don’t have the time, money or skills to do some of the work needed around my home.  This was truly a blessing and a chance to have some much needed work done.  My plan was to take the week off to be with my son and help the kids as they worked on my home.  Unfortunately I couldn’t take the time off and had to ask a friend to babysit my son and help direct the kids.  To be honest with you, I was terrified to leave my son at home with kids I don’t know and not be able to protect him.  You see, my son has special needs and has been teased and bullied by the kids at his school ever since he started.  He often comes home crying because of the things they say and do and he has become very shy and afraid of other kids.  I was very worried the kids who were going to work on my home would do the same thing.  While I appreciate all the wonderful work the kids did on my home during the week, I will never be able to thank them for how they treated my son.  Every night when I came home, he was so happy and excited – happier and more excited than I have seen him in years!  The kids made him feel like he was the greatest person in the world.  They included him in their work, their lunch and treated him like a true friend – and I never got a chance to see any of it since I was at work every day.  These kids didn’t need me to be there to do the right thing – they did it out of the goodness of their hearts.  They are a blessing to me and my son and I will never forget them.”

Well, we both had a good cry and hug and it dawned on me later, isn’t this just the way God works?!  And isn’t it a true example of how our kids do God’s work!?  We don’t always get to see the great things that God does or our kids do, but I promise you those things happen – most of the time when we aren’t looking.  So, when I am having one of my grumpy moments, I am going to do my best to remember this and have faith our kids are doing great things - even when what’s getting done isn’t what I want done!

Thanks for your support and look forward to seeing you on Mission Trip Sunday!