The last day of our mission trip. We had a large team this year, which allowed us to repair five different homes. The common theme was water damage. That damage had us ripping up ceilings, walls, floors, trim, etc. and replacing them and then repainting. For variety, we also replaced a leaking hot water heater, fixed damage from a leaking sink, replaced a deck, and patched a leaking roof. You can accomplish a lot with a large, hard-working team, especially if a few of them have skills to coach the rest of us. My thanks to everyone on this great team, but especially to Fletcher for his guidance on the construction, for Elisa for keeping us all organized and on time, and for the cooks for our wonderful meals.
We had a bittersweet last dinner as a team last night. After dinner, members shared stories of Mel Reid, a beloved mission team member for many years who has passed away. Then we watched the movie “Glory.” A historian, Mel loved doing historic battle reenactments. Mel and Jerry Brown were thus cast as Union soldiers in the battle scenes in “Glory.” Yes, GPC had two church members fighting alongside Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman. Somehow, the camera never lingered on their faces, but Jerry assured us that that was his face obscured by the American flag as they march into battle.
The plan for the last day was to finish up the home repairs by around noon, say goodbye to the homeowners we’d been working for, and return to the church for showers, lunch, and goodbyes with our fellow team members. Nothing ever goes according to plan in repairs, however. And time is not our friend, especially on the last day. Two teams worked until after 3:00 p.m. before completing the work on their homes. Yet, it was worth it, as the final two homeowners were ecstatic with the results. Team member goodbyes were rushed hugs as our cars were quickly packed up to return home.
Looking back on my week with this year’s mission team, I find that the members inspire me. And it’s not just the hard work that the team does unselfishly for these homeowners year after year. It is their example of deep friendships. Many people on this trip use it to spend quality time with friends they’ve had for over 30 years. Friendships lasting that many decades are to be treasured. Stuart and David, who worked together tirelessly putting in heavy floorboards on this trip, have been friends for over 50 years. Further, despite the team’s joy in spending a week with old friends, this group strives to quickly make friends with new team members and the homeowners too. The fact that this year we split the team into five separate small teams working on different homes enabled quicker bonding. I know that I will miss the flooring team! I look forward to our next mission trip, when we will get to spend our precious time building friendships while serving others. Time is not our friend. The mission trip assures that for at least one week I use my precious time wisely.
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