Yeah, I know it’s Monday and I haven’t posted anything since Thursday but last week was brutal, so cut me a little slack. In case you live under a rock (or don’t read this blog on a regular basis, which is much more likely), last week Olivia, myself and the Knightdale UMC youth went on a mission trip with the Bethel United Methodist Students (hereafter known as BUMS) to Bethesda, Ohio. To catch you up, here’s a quick rundown all the happenings since I last posted:
As I said in Winding Down, Friday we went to Cedar Point for “Free Day” and, for most of us, it was a blast. Olivia’s time, however, wasn’t that great. She tripped while trying to get on her second roller coaster and twisted both ankles. I wasn’t there but, luckily for everyone involved, Spud was and he took care of everything. By the time I got there, he’d gotten her to the first aid station and everything was fine. Needless to say, she didn’t care much for riding anymore roller coasters. We hung out with friends, did a little people watching and just generally acted stupid. Parker Langford and Adam Armstrong (BUMS) kept us entertained on the way home with their ridiculous redneck accents and lame-brain patter. A good part of the trip was on a toll road and there was a rockin’ rest stop on the way that had a Burger King, a KFC/Pizza Hut and a Panera Bread and that was our dinner stop. As we pulled into the parking lot, we noticed a car smoking heavily. As we went inside, flames were coming out from under the hood and by the time the fire department arrived, the whole thing was burning. We found out that the car belonged to a young family and our kids took up a collection among themselves and gave these folks $391. Needless to say, that was one of the places I saw God last week.
Saturday morning dawned entirely too bright and early, especially since we didn’t get back from Cedar Point until after midnight. Bleary-eyed children and adults dosed up on coffee, donuts, cereal and milk, performed one last clean-up of the Epworth Center, then loaded our stuff and struck out for home. I don’t know about the other vans, but for a good part of the trip, mine was more than a little quiet. Once in a while, the kids would perk up but for the most part, they slept. When arrived in Statesville at Rose Chapel UMC (where we left our van and my truck), there were tearful goodbyes aplenty, tons of contact info exchanged and promises to do this again at the next opportunity. Tired as we were, though, we still had another 2.5 hours left before we got home. Everyone drug themselves back on board the van and we finally arrived back at the church around 8:30. I don’t know about the rest of the you, but I went home and crashed. Olivia’s ready to go again, but I need a little more recovery time.
I want to take a moment to thank everyone from Bethel UMC for allowing us to tag along with their amazing youth group. These are kids that, in Andrew’s words, get it. They really are one big family and, within a day, we were a part of that family. All week, I’ve been focused on the kids, but this trip wouldn’t have been possible without the adults who came with us. These 16 people took time away from work and family to chaperone the kids and provide the support a trip like this requires. This wasn’t a vacation, either. From the guys like Bruce Green, Ron Womer (aka Pop), Greg Mack and Kevin Bobo who led the construction crews to Paige Bobo, Toni Daves and Beth Goodenough who helped the redoubtable Mark Fischer in the kitchen (we ate like kings), these folks worked HARD! There’s one person in particular that I think deserves some recogntion: Dan Shook. The kids called him Dan the Man and it fits. Dan handled pick up and drop off for the VBS at Real Life UMC, but he didn’t stop there. If a child was afraid or nervous, Dan was there to comfort them. More than once, I watched him sit with a little one that was having a tough time, soothing and calming them like a pro. Whenever he saw someone’s spirits sagging a bit, he was there with just the right word to put in all in perspective and get us back on track. He was behind the scenes a lot of the time, but this trip wouldn’t have been the same without him.
In closing, I want to say to everyone involved, be they from Knightdale or Bethel, thank you for an amazing week. Tomorrow, I go back to real world and I’m not looking forward to it.