Monday, June 25, 2012

A Week of Making New.

Wow! So I haven't blogged in FOREVER...but after my very hectic senior year, I finally have a little bit of time!
The main purpose of writing this blog is not because of my "free" time but rather because of my recent life-changing experience. I have just returned from my NINTH mission trip... and let me tell you, this has been the most impacting on my life. So let me tell you about it;

Workcamp 2012. To Bradenton, Florida.  Right on the Gulf of Mexico. Relaxing right? Far from it. Well we did have 2 beach afternoons which were absolutely beautiful.


It was amazing to see God's amazing creation displayed in such a simple way.

So, now to the work. This mission trip was the busiest one for me.  Not only was I a camper, I was also the worship leader for the week.  Even though I had planned my songs out before the trip, I still spent 2 hours practicing and perfecting my songs all with the worry of sounding good or impressing people...(more on that later).  

When we arrived on Sunday, we went through the normal routine of going over camp rules, activities, and meeting our crews.  However, this time it was different.  From the first 5 minutes of meeting my crew, I knew that this would be an amazing group of people to work with.  After we got to know each other and picked our various crew roles, we were given our project.  First thing we learned: our resident spoke Spanish - only Spanish.  God had a plan for crew 12 though; we were blessed to have Pedro who spoke Portuguese. He was a true God Sighting and Blessing! :) Our work description told us that we would be scraping and painting the exterior of the house with minor caulk repair.  It also gave us an extra job of tearing down a porch or overhang.  


So, Monday morning roles around and we head to our site.  On the way there, my crew leader Christina took note of how the neighborhoods in Florida were very odd... one house would be reflect a neat appearance with a neighbor house reflecting a decrepit appearance.  She reminded us that sometimes work projects can be like putting a band-aid on a broken leg.  Seconds after that comment, we approached the house.  And it was most definitely that band-aid.  

As we surveyed the house, we all felt extremely overwhelmed.  The painting project that was supposed to take 4.5 days needed to be replaced with a complete demolition.  As we began scraping, we were even more overwhelmed.  The lack of care for the house caused mold to leak out of the rotting boards.  And to add to that, the door was infested with termites.  Covered with goggles and masks, our crew pushed through 2 full days of scraping paint off of the house.  Before painting, we attempted to spray off the mold with a power washer but that only resulted in breaking off a board.  The house was literally falling apart underneath our tools. To add to the heartbreak of the condition of the house, our hearts were also broken at the resident's living conditions.  The couple had a hose coming from their propane tank into their house to cook their food. A garden house from the outside going into their house to wash their clothes.  And 5 gallon water containers full of rain water for their drinking water.  

Things began to change once we started painting.  More God Sightings appeared with each stroke of a paint brush.  By the end of our 4th day of work, 2nd day of painting, we were finally feeling good about the appearance of the house.  The simplistic combination of blue and brown brought life to the house.  The color change not only beautified the mold but encouraged the vibrant colors of the resident's garden to shine.  


Our last day of work approached us and we were busy finishing up the painting.  However, we still weren't able to work on the overhang of the house because 1. we didn't have time and 2. none of us had construction experience.  God was again looking out for us because he blessed us with another crew to focus on the extra project.  Crew 22 worked diligently to demolish the overhang which consisted of 2 support beams and scrap wood, PVC pipe, and linoleum strips and build a sturdy, beautiful structure.  As the final touches were being added to the porch, tears filled my crew's eyes.  We were completely amazed at the progress we had made and how beautiful the house actually looked.  

As some of you experienced Group Workcampers know, this week not only provides a physical transformation for the resident but also a spiritual transformation for the workers.  The theme for the week was Made with the accompanying verse of Revelation 21:5: "Look, I am making everything new!"  Each day we dissected the verse with the ultimate goal of realizing how God is making things new in our own lives.  

As common among many teenagers, my faith goes through a roller coaster during the school year.  In August, I am so hyped up on God from all of my summer activities.  However, come April/May, I begin to slip away and need my summer rejuvenation.  Unfortunately, this year I began to slip up in early March.  I took a complete drop-off from my faith.  Church and youth group became lower priorities with lower enthusiasm.  I never pictured myself to become that way.  I was completely wearing a mask.  I scared myself.

With all the talk about making things new, I realized that I needed to be a new person, especially with the upcoming change of college in my life.  From this short week, I am now committed to being strong and completely rooted in my faith.  Loving God and serving others will continue to be at the top of my list come fall.  From my worship leader experience, I hope to find a worship band to join.  However, I will not play to sound good or have people tell me how great I am; I will play to worship God and give Him all the glory. And ultimately from this week I am inspired to join Group Workcamps Summer Staff next year... can't wait! :)

I have a song that I would like to share that positively describes this new change in my life.  It's called Live Like That by Sidewalk Prophets... I strongly recommend that you listen to it.

It is hard to pick out the words that I best relate to because they all describe my new feelings.  Here are my favorites:

I want to live like that 
And give it all I have 
So that everything I say and do 
Points to You 

If love is who I am 
Then this is where I'll stand 
Recklessly abandoned 
Never holding back 

I never want my faith to be artificial again. I want my faith to be a constant reflection of God's goodness and grace.  I want EVERYTHING that I do always be for God's glory.