I must say that Larchwood UCC has used the Mission Trips booklet to take 5 of the most fabulous mission trips over the last 5 years. Our trips are not "youth" trips only--we take whoever wants to come and one year had an age span of 72 years--our youngest was 12 and our oldest was 84! Each year we have been happy with the choices provided by the book and the work and welcome once we get to where we are going. Thank you and your office for providing such a wonderful resource! Each year, our worship and devotions portion of the trip varies, but mostly I use a lot of Ann Weems to inspire us. This past year each person brought something to use for devotions in the morning. I can tell you that we often sing "They'll Know We Are Christians By Our Love" while on our mission trips. Each year the Sunday after we return from the mission trip, each person who attends the mission trip preaches in worship. I ask each person to share just one thing about the trip. Most people speak off the cuff, but in 2009 one lady had written the congregation a letter from camp. We had been to Urban Mission Experience in St. Louis, staying at Epiphany UCC.
Dear Larchwood United Church of Christ,
Greetings from St. Louis City and the urban ministries. I could use some help processing a question posed to our group at our debriefing meeting hosted by Sue, the coordinator for urban ministries. This debriefing meeting was held Thursday night at her church, The Church of the Master. The meeting started after we finished eating supper prepared and served by her church members and oh, also after the young people from our church and the young people from The Church of the Master finished playing “Underground Church”. Now for more information on that game, there are 7 volunteers that will explain the rules. Now back to the question asked by Sue. She asked “during your urban ministry experience, where did you or did you see the face of God? I need to share with you that that question has been haunting me. Always in the back of my mind. Paula, did you experience the face of God?
Well let me think, did I see the face of God? Monday was spent at Kindercottage, a day care managed by a wonderful woman named Brenda, who has no idea from month to month where her funding will come from or what programs will be slashed. Gosh could the face of God be in the eyes of the children at Kindercottage who did not know us but eagerly jumped into the arms of strangers?
OK – I suppose that could be the answer to my question. But wait……maybe the face of God was at Bible school held for the first time in many years at our host church – Epiphany. Pastor Mary from Epiphany, Dawn the bible school coordinator, Jackie the music coordinator, Mark the kitchen master. Once again, children eager to jump into the arms of strangers.
OK, now I’m getting a bit confused. Where did I see the face of God? Or…did I see the face of God?
Maybe the answer to this question was found at Lydia’s house, a refuge for abused women and their children. Our group used lots of water, bleach and pine-sol that day. Our contact person at Lydia’s house was Eloise. She explained to us that deep cleaning was next to impossible to complete in addition the regular duties.
Back to the question – did I experience the face of God?
Maybe it was John, the man back at Epiphany, our church home, who on Wednesday afternoon cooked for us in a kitchen without air conditioning. He prepared a delicious meal for us complete with meatballs and strawberry shortcake baked from scratch.
Oh there was also the 13 volunteers from our church that each day eagerly and cheerfully prayed with their hands and feet.
Well by now you can understand my confusion to that debriefing question. Did I see the face of God?
Pastor Kelly has set curfew tonight for midnight. I will look forward to seeing everyone in worship on Sunday morning and maybe the answer to that nagging question will become clear.