They didn’t even know I was watching. A few weeks ago I had the privilege of leading a two week mission trip with students and adults from five local churches. For many it was their first such trip, and for some the number was somewhere near 75. Each one had a unique story, a personal reason for wanting to come along. Some were interested in seeing a new part of the country. Others wanted to help those in need. A few others just wanted out of their house and away from their parents for a few weeks. No matter what the impetus for leaving, leave we did, and we travelled to Longmont, CO.
Once there we teamed up with Habitat for Humanity to both build and provide for those in need. I saw my new friends do amazing things. Sure, I saw them dig in the dirt and sort through old books, but it was more than that. I saw them become the hands and feet of Jesus to a group of people they had never met, and may never see again. I saw a bunch of teenagers come together to do what many in this world would tell them they couldn’t – think of someone and something outside of themselves. I saw kids who have more than enough, give some of what they could, to make sure that someone else had all that they need. It was a beautiful thing.
Then off to the wilderness we went. Backpacking through the Lost Creek Valley Wilderness. High elevation, rocky terrain, sleeping in a tent pitched on some rocks, and the always treacherous, defecating outdoors. The comforts of home were gone, but the beauty of God was on display. Not only in the views and nature on display, but in the young man who volunteered to carry a friends weight, when her body would no longer let her. And in the young man and woman who went three times down the “ginormous” hill to fetch water so that the rest of us could eat and drink. Not to mention the four young girls who deferred their own opinions about where we should go and what we should do – all so our oldest two, on their last trip, got to see all that they wanted. It was all quite breathtaking actually.
And then we were driving home. Two long days in the 100+ degree heat – on a church bus with no AC. Never once did I hear them complain. There’s a sort of magic that accompanies returning home from a long trip. This kind of anticipation about getting back to what you know, but in the same breath, a sadness that what has been is about to be over. And somewhere in the middle of all of that is where you see my friends in the bus in the picture up above. Ready to get back to “real life” – but as people who have been changed by the experiences they have shared. Lives that will never be the same, because of all that we have done together. That’s what’s in that picture – even if they don’t know it. Even if they don’t see it, it’s what I see, and it excites me. Perhaps someday they’ll look back and see it too – and we can talk about all that is different because of that one long bus ride.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I think this one would have a lot more to say. But you’d have to ask the people on the bus what it’s saying – after all – they didn’t even know I was watching.