I’m so tired. That is the uppermost thought and it’s only Monday. Yesterday I met 17 youth and their parents as well as 3 adult counselors in our church parking lot at 5:30am to set off an adventure to grow and serve in Nashville. While we didn’t actually hit the road til 6:07am, which put us behind to make a 6pm arrival time, travel went well. (Note: there’s not much in the way of restaurants between Little Rock and Memphis). It was amazing how my eyes were filled with the green trees and then mountains as we traveled east. I remember that I missed the trees when I first moved to Texas, but to see the landscape change so dramatically in just a few hours was just cool.
So we arrived, unloaded, stood awkwardly near the folks from other United Methodist churches, divided into work crews, ate dinner, played, worshipped, debriefed as a church, then finally slept. A good first day.
Today began as I heard the crew assigned to breakfast getting ready to prepare our food. Groggy but thankful, I rolled out and headed downstairs (girls are on the 3rd floor, guys on the 4th floor of McKendree United Methodist Church, which hosts this program all summer; talk about extravagant generosity and radical hospitality). Breakfast, packed lunches, then devotional time, something I don’t do in my ordinary life that I definitely should. Then our crews (Carrie Underwood, Reba, Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, Johnny Cash, and my crew Taylor Swift) made sure the coolers were ready as we sized each other up (each crew is made up of at least 2 churches). TSwift, with its folks from Texas and Ohio, headed off to Harvest Hands.
We’ll be there all week, playing with kids in their morning Rex program, working in the garden, clearing a field as they prepare to work on affordable housing projects for neighbors, and teaching children in the afternoon camp. It was amazing. I made a spoon puppet with a girl who shared a story of being lost in a store and walking home since her parents had left the store. She was halfway there when her parents found her. When I asked how old she was when this happened, the answer was 2. Life is a brilliant gift, but it’s not easy. I’m so humbled and challenged to be serving. And from what I’m starting to hear from our youth as they rush off to showers, they’re experiencing their own challenges and blessings.