Monday, March 28, 2011

A Vacation with a Purpose

This Saturday morning I woke up in my warm comfy bed. I was awakened with a hug and a kiss on the cheek by my husband. When I got up I took a nice hot shower and I thanked God for my nice warm comfy bed and hot water for my shower. Then the rest of the day I spent with the family doing things that we like to do together. We had lunch at a favorite restaurant and went to a movie. Simply things really. There wasn’t anything extraordinary about any of it. Just a family spending the day eating, watching a movie, and shopping, laughing, talking, and enjoying each other’s company.

If you look deeper though and think about the kind of day we had, it was a pretty special kind of day. Especially because at the end of it we got to come home. That would be the heart of it all wouldn’t it? We came home. We are fortunate because many people don’t have a house much less a home. I have done minimal traveling compared to a lot of the population. But I have been to a number of great places. I have been to the beach, I have been to Mickey’s house in Florida, I have been to Hawaii (a favorite, though I was only there once), I have been to both Carolinas, and I have shopped in the largest mall in America. They all have their merits. They all have their worth but none of those places is home and at the end of the day, I think that’s the best place to be. It’s nice to be able to get away for awhile. People always say, or maybe it’s just us, but we always say “it was a great place but we wouldn’t want to live there.” I think that’s true most of the time. While Hawaii was nice I don’t think I would want to live there all the time. I’m kind of a freak about weather and I just would not adjust well there. Also I think a lot of the time we take for granted what we have, and I would hate to live in a paradise and ever hear myself say something like “yeah it’s great most of the time but I really miss snow.” Imagine! Snow! It’s inconceivable to me that I could ever miss snow.

This year we didn’t go to Mickey’s house and we didn’t see the ocean. This year for spring break we went on a vacation with a purpose with five other families from our church. To say that it was out of our comfort zone would be an understatement. To say that it changed our perspective would be a fair assumption. In our family we spend a lot of time together, we do not however spend a lot of time with other people as a family unless it’s with family. I’m not sure why. We aren’t anti-social by any means and we are all fairly well adjusted individuals who all have friends that we talk to regularly. We have just never really bonded as a group with another family. If we get together with other families it’s with one of my friends, or one of my husband’s friends and their family but the kids aren’t bonded, or maybe just one of them is. I think it’s hard to find another family where everyone has someone close to their age they can connect with. My husband and I had children early in our marriage. Which is to say that we found out very quickly where babies come from and how they get here. So we have two kids 19 months apart then we had our son five years later. The spacing of our kids is one of the challenges in finding another family to hang out with. So we stepped outside of our comfort zones and went on a trip with five other families we barely knew.

We went to Kentucky to work with Wayside Christian Mission. It is in the heart of Louisville. On our first full day we spent our time working outside on the grounds of one of the locations they have. Our group moved dirt, loaded trash to be hauled away, filled pot holes, and painted curbs. We moved quickly and efficiently and by a few hours into our second full day those projects were completed and we were asking what we could do to help next. Aside from serving food and unpacking donated food there didn’t seem to be much else they had planned for us. So they had us folding Kroger bags for a food drive they work with United Way to accomplish.

We certainly came “home” (which was the church we were residing in for the week) tired every night. I guess you could say we had a working vacation, an at times uncomfortable vacation, a changing vacation.

In general I am quiet around people I do not know or know well. In groups I am unlikely to speak. Public speaking would make me feel faint or like throwing up. As a rule I am more comfortable around women than I am around men. I do not feel comfortable in strange places. Now on the flip side of that. If I am around people I know, I am perfectly at ease. To talk to someone one on one, try and shut me up. I suppose that’s where my children get it from. It just takes us awhile to warm up to people. As I grow older I am getting a bit better at it, but it’s still a struggle I have especially around the male species. There are only two I truly trust Jesus and my husband. I spent a week surrounded by homeless men and women. I spent a week with men and women that some of them I could count on one hand the number of conversations we had ever had, though I see them every week at church. For me this was a stretch. For me it was changing.

Our second night there we were invited to go and listen to their choir. I have listened to choirs before and I believe that we have had some men and women sing in our church that could be on the radio. But it takes something else to move me to tears. As I listened to this group of people who have been places that I could never imagine, I was struck by the pure joy they showed in singing praises to God. I listened and held back tears. It’s rare that I cry for a crowd. Their voices were beautiful. They played keyboards, piano, guitars, and violin. The violin of course being my favorite. Not one of them looking at sheet music. They didn’t need it. I listened as some of them gave their testimonies and I rejoiced in my heart for how good God is.

As I said before I’m usually quiet around people I do not know. But I pay attention. I observe and take mental notes. (then try to remember them) These are my notes. These were my observations. We went on a Vacation with a Purpose. We went to try and make a difference. We went and tried to help. But I think the difference was made in us. I think the help was given to us. I think the blessing was given to us, because I’m not sure how much help or difference we made for them. I only know the difference it made in me and I feel very blessed indeed.

1 comment:

kelly van ness said...

I know exactly where you're coming from! I've been blessed to accompany the youth a couple of summers for a week of giving back or as we like to call it LOVING OUT LOUD!

And I'm with you, I love the kind ofjoy that those receiving sing and give thanks with. And without a doubt the blessings come back to us.

Gods plan continues to amaze me. He knows where we're headed and the impact the journey will have on our lives. I'm so glad you all were able to serve Him and others LOVING OUT LOUD for your break. The impact will be everlasting....for all!