This missions trip was so freaking amazing.
Brace yourselves folks, this is gonna be a long post.
On Saturday I got back from a week long missions trip to Memphis, Tennessee. Honestly, it was probably my favorite trip so far. We worked with a local church in the “ghetto” and helped them clean up the place, and then later in the week we worked in the community. From day one I knew it was going to be a great week; we only did a small devotional since it was a twelve hour car ride and we were all exhausted. But we talked about prayer. Its funny because God had been teaching me about prayer and fellowship for two weeks prior to that. So I got really excited and I shared that with the group. I got
a little bit incredibly excited when I shared and apparently my enthusiasm was noted by the group.
The next day we did work around the camp we were staying at. We were split into teams to do various tasks; some did gardening, others did cleaning, and then some did timber. Naturally, I went with the timber group. Our job was to cut down tress, clean out brush, and pull weeds. We just called it extreme gardening. Then we got to ride a trailer full of cut down trees to help unload it into their garbage pile. Of course, halfway through the work day, I was helping unload a rather large tree from the trailer, and I held it over my head and threw it. Well, something fell off the tree and landed in my eye. I tried crying it out, but it didn’t work. I was taken to the cafeteria where my eye was washed with special liquid. But nothing helped. Something had apparently cut my eye; so it would have to heal over time. I got to go back to the house and shower and rest, but I couldn’t sit around for long. Even though my eye was still hurting, I tried to work. It didn’t go so well; I was able to work for an hour or so before my eye started hurting to the point where I couldn’t keep it open. I gave in and just went back to the house to nap.
That night my friend gave me a bandanna to put over my eyes to keep it shut. Because I had tried to function with it open, but the pain was just too much. So I got to be blind for the night! It was actually really cool. My friends all made jokes about but I knew they were only kidding and was able to laugh along with them. I think the coolest part came when I was able to worship that night. The worship the night before had been mediocre. If anyone had wanted to get really into it, they didn’t for fear of what other people would think. I didn’t know how into they were this night, although they all sounded pretty into it; but I got to worship with my whole heart. I got to raise my hands and not do it because other people were or weren’t; I got to dance like no one was watching, and I just imagined it was me and God.
By day two my eye was feeling better. We worked at a church and again, we split into different teams. My team got to clean the sanctuary and an old closet. I talked to the pastor for a bit with my group while we waited for cleaning supplies. I asked him to share his testimony and he did. It was really cool. Later that night I was feeling a bit triggered, so I had a friend pray for me. I just felt God saying that I should. After I did, I felt so much better. She had prayed all the right things; and that was God setting up to teach me more about prayer.
Day three we worked at a different church. Me and two other girls sealed a floor there. And that took us the entire duration of our time. But that was the day we had a half day. For the second half of the day we had lunch at the Mississippi river and then went to the Memphis zoo! Our group kinda got split up, so it was me and like, five other kids, and we had a blast! We saw a panda! Also, some of us fed giraffes and got to take selfies with said giraffes! It was very memorable.
Later in the day we went to have dinner at a missionary’s house whom my church supports. They gave us a tour of the neighborhood. It broke my heart. They live in a neighborhood of poverty, drugs, gang violence, and abuse. We followed them through as they told us about everything they had experienced here. They told us there were at least four gangs in the neighborhood, but they had befriended one of the leaders. Once they had their house broken into and their TV stolen, then a couple days later the TV was returned. It was probably the help of one of the gang leaders, who protected them. Walking around that place was so saddening; me and a few others almost cried. That was the moment I realized I didn’t want to leave. How I wanted to just stay with these missionaries and help the people here to come to salvation and freedom. The part that made me smile and almost cry at the same time was a little girl on the balcony of one of the buildings. She saw us and a giant smile spread across her face as she ran to the edge and began waving at us. She said “Look! Look at all the white folk!” That was when Shaken by Hawk Nelson began playing in my mind. After that we got to go to Graceland again, but this time we actually got to go onto the property and see his backyard. It was kinda creepy, but still.
Day four was easily my favorite. We went back to the first church we worked on and my group had to task of going door to door and offering to mow people’s lawns and pray for them. We asked where we should start and the pastor said not to worry, that the Lord would guide us. Slightly unsure of what that meant, we set off. Our team had five people, and since we only had three tools for mowing, we decided that Megan and I would just sit and talk to people and pray with them. (Megan is the redhead in the picture above.) We offered to pray with the woman who lived there who asked us to pray for health issues, and after we did we noticed she looked like she might cry. She said how a few days ago she had prayed and told God that she really needed her lawn mowed, but she couldn’t afford to pay someone. She said it was God who had sent angels to take care of it for her, and he had sent them all the way from another city.
As we were working, someone approached us. She had been told we were mowing lawns for free, and although she lived a half a mile away, she asked if we would do hers as well. So after we finished there, we headed out once again. But before we left, the owner of the first house pulled me aside and asked if I would pray with her once more. I did. And then we left.
Again, at the second house, Megan and I prayed with the woman who lived there. She was having financial struggles. We prayed, and when we were finished, we noticed she was crying. She said that a couple days ago she had prayed and told God she really needed her lawn mowed, but didn’t have a lawn mower and couldn’t afford to pay someone. My eyes got wide and I glanced over at Megan who’s jaw had dropped. God was doing freaking cool things.
We got to one more house that day, and we prayed with a woman and her mother. Their names were Yolanda and Faye. Faye told us her life story. She grew up in the church but she drifted for a while. She became a dj at a night club and was there every night. She had her appendix rupture, she had a stroke, and she was held at gun point once. She had also been in a very bad car accident; her car had gotten destroyed, but she drove away without a scratch. That’s right, she was able to drive the car all the way to the other side of the town after the accident. When she got to a mechanic, he was perplexed at how she had gotten there. He examined it and said the car was completely undriveable. She praised God for it. Talking to Faye was seriously amazing. She said she never got to tell her story, but I promised I would tell it to everyone back in my city.
Day five we started the day off praying for the fireman at the station across the street. They told us about a man called Gator who we had to meet. He was supposedly a legend. So while half the group did a car wash and prayer thing, my group mowed Gators lawn. He was quite the interesting fellow and had plenty of stories to share. He had lived in a tent outside of a small store for four years and almost drowned in the river near by so many times he was nicknamed Alligator by the fireman who continuously pulled him out of the water.
After doing his yard, me and a few others just went door to door praying for people. I only got to pray with two people that day, but my sisters team was incredibly blessed to pray with a ton of them. We had done one other house before Gators, and my friend, Marina, and I got to pray with a man and his wife who were believers and asked us to pray for their grandkids. The wife also has lupus, so I was able to talk with her for a bit about that which was cool. When we got back to the church I got to talk to the pastor who was crazy wise and so full of amazing things to say. He said a lot of what I needed to hear and it was awesome.