The mission team retreat was a resounding success. Training for the Appalachia Service Project involves attempting to gain some cultural sensitivity, so we reviewed actual applications from people hoping for home repairs. We had four applications, and had to select only ONE home to work on. It gave all of us a vision for how hard it is for the ASP staff to make selections, and how incredibly difficult it must be to give the bad news to the people who cannot be helped. Babygirl joined the retreat after Squeaker's first birthday party because she didn't want to stay alone in the house. And she had the opportunity to participate as if she were going to go along.
The mission team is not just from our church. We have people from all over the region, and we may have as many as 28 people going this year - four teams. But the retreat weekend isn't all about training and trip planning. It's about welcoming new people to an established group, and I think we excel at this. So when Babygirl arrived midstream, the other youth just slid her right into whatever they were doing. Meals. Training. Games. The Fear of Heights hike. Manhunt. And basketball.
Babygirl initially sat on the sidelines. When I happened by, I asked why she wasn't playing. "I don't have my kidney guard."
I looked the situation over: a mixed group ranging from 14 - 65 playing in a small gym, pace not too fast, game not too aggressive. I made a judgement call and told her she could play. She's had so little physical exercise since the headaches started I just wanted her to be able to move while she felt up to it.
The game was hysterical. Silliness was common, cheating was rampant and neither team cared. I wish I'd had a ref whistle just so I could make up annoying foul calls LOL. Despite the fact that not all of the players knew her history, or would have understood her need for low contact if they had, they built a bubble around her. She played hard, scored a few baskets, and ended up sweaty, sore, and satisfied. She then disappeared with the rest of the youth, popping in and out of the game room where some of the adults were playing with other of the youth.
She stayed up with everybody until 2 AM, and was up before breakfast at 7. I'm sure she'll pay for it with a headache today, but it will be totally worth it.
She'll never be able to go on a mission trip because of her weakened immune system. But she wants to be a part of the "home team" and come to ALL the retreats. My thanks to the youth of the team for giving her their loving support.