Our Mission Team arrived safe at home last evening, exhausted but content with the work accomplished. My plan is to try to write one post for each day of the trip, so although they will actually be a week out of sync, you might get a better feel for what the journey is like.
Day One (Saturday, July 14):
Despite last night's work on the vans, there is always a TON of stuff to load up in the morning. The goal is to be on the road by 8:30 AM. A few members of the congregation and our new pastor come to watch the three-ring circus that is our last minute preparation. We get a group photo, and then finish the "Three P's": Pack, Pee, and Pray. I give Babygirl and Hubby final hugs, and climb into the Green Goose.
I'm having a very hard time describing the ride from my perspective. This is the first time in all my mission trips (this is my seventh) that I have not been a team leader. I fully intend to take my non-leadership seriously. Every time someone has asked me a question requiring knowledge of our plans, anticipated work, or guidance, I have referred them to the "real" leaders. Now, in the van, I hog a whole seat, grab a pillow, and go to sleep. I'm not even driving.
Being without responsibility for the first time in over a year is overwhelming. Wave after wave of utter exhaustion sweep over me. I had no idea, truly NO idea, that I was this run down. I wake up weeping, more than once, with no specific cause.
Lunch is at Subway. Yum!
We drive through a spectacular rainstorm, seeing shelf clouds, massive cumulus clouds, clouds shaped like dolphins and bunnies and, umm, well, er.... one large vertical cloud formation that cannot be mistaken for ANYTHING but a penis. No one but me in my van sees this, but nearly every other adult in the other vans is still laughing about it when the trip is over. The youth sleep though it LOL.
We arrive in Greenville, VA, at 5:30, a bit earlier than anticipated, and enjoy their extravagant generosity: fried chicken, southern-style mac and cheese, dozens of types of salads, baked beans, and corn pudding. And we listen to the stories told by their just-returning mission team, and share ours a bit as well.
After dinner, some of us head to Walmart to pick up a few things forgotten: duct tape, wasp spray, and for me, a camera. I sit in the back of the van, and cry more. I can't say what I'm crying about - I feel a bit like a toddler who needs a nap - too exhausted to do anything BUT cry. Oddly, (and thank God) no one notices.
From there we go to the Dollar General and pick out silly things to put in the Warm Fuzzy bags. We return to the church, set up our cots and air mattresses and go to sleep.
Day Two (Sunday, July 15)
Up early (don't ask ME what time - I'm not a leader!). Breakfast on Little Debbie honey buns and donuts donated by our host church, pack up and hit the road. I share my bench in the van this time, but still spend a great deal of time sleeping. The crying, for the time being, seems to have stopped.
Lunch is at a truck stop with a wide variety of choices. I have a Whopper Junior. And a Cinnabon. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
After lunch, I take over driving the Goose. For the next hour we are on REAL West Virginia roads. The GPS makes it look like a long snake. On the ground it feels like a roller coaster with several 360 degree loops. We stop for ice cream. I decline. I'm barely hanging on to that Cinnabon.
We arrive at our center, unpack, make beds, set up our Warm Fuzzy bags, have dinner and attend Evening Gathering (EG). All of the EG's this week will follow the same format: read a passage of scripture, and discuss it. Among the scripted questions that guide the discussion is this one: "What do you not understand?" I burst into tears and bury my face in the T-shirt of the nearest teenager, who, bless him, simply holds onto me until the storm passes. So now, all 78 of the center's volunteers know that they have a grenade with the pin pulled among them. It's going to be a LOOONNNGGG week. My journal entry before bed that night reads:
"Lord, clear my mind. I'm angry - really angry. Angry."