Back From Joplin

We arrived back home in Boston yesterday after a rich week of hard work in Joplin, MO. I loved the week for a number of reasons, but I am most pleased with our students who are excited to be back in the city and to continue to tell good stories with their time in school.

Our mantra for the week was “Happy hearts, Run with the horses.” Our students did exactly that. No complaining, no lateness or dragging of feet…they jumped into the experience with both feet, strove for excellence, and did it with joy.

We ended the week talking about how great these trips are for at least five reasons…but with each great aspect comes a dark side, so I gave them five things to shoot for and then challenged them to pick one to focus on:

  1. These trips are great because they allow us to break from the norm and re-imagine what our lives could look like…the danger: escapism…the challenge: ongoing engagement back home (don’t run away!).
  2. These trips are great because they expand our world view…the danger: it only lasts while we are in the experience, then it’s right back to tunnel vision…the challenge: keep perspective.
  3. These trips are great because they create a deep sense of community through shared moments and memories…the danger: we continually try to recreate or run back to this group or experience…the challenge: extend that community to others through invitation and hospitality.
  4. These trips are great because they have a clearly defined, meaningful activity (life is not as ambiguous as at home)…the danger: we give up because it’s too messy or we only see trips as the time we can really serve…the challenge: ongoing, faithful service (even when it is hard).
  5. These trips are great because they allow us to take risks and get out of our comfort zones…the danger: we go right back to playing it safe…the challenge: go take a risk.

It was beautiful to hear our students process through their weeks, hone in on one of these areas, and commit to engagement, perspective, invitation, service, or risk.

A couple of other highlights. Between the two groups we sent down we were able to complete  subflooring, framing, roofing, and siding for a home for a young, single mom named Amy. Her apartment and all her stuff was completely destroyed/lost in the tornado. She’s been living in a fema trailer for 9 months. She will be moving in to this Habitat home (sponsored by one of our supporting churches) in a few weeks when the rest of the work is completed. At the end of our week we were able to present Amy with gifts for her two kids (who have been struggling in the wake of the storm), and $3500 in Sears cards to help furnish her new home. It was a powerful moment.

Finally, it was awesome to lead this trip with my wife, who was our only female staff/leader. She did a great job and I am super proud of her courage. And it was a privilege to lead alongside Nathan Griffith, our Director of Neighborhood Initiatives and a Joplin native. He did an amazing job!

Enjoy the pics!

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4 thoughts on “Back From Joplin

  1. REALLY love the 5 points. Anyone who has led or been on a short-term missions/service trip will assent to the wisdom of it. Well put!

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