Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Mission [trip] Possible.

Fair warning: I tend to be a little long-winded whenever I am excited or fired up about something, so buckle up.

Now, I understand we live in a nasty, mean world, but if a few people can change it, I want to be one of the few. 

So, this is a story all about how my Spring Break got turned upside down...Okay, just kidding, here we go!

Let me start you off with a "brief" back story...

Growing up as a "church kid", you know, the kid that wasn't allowed to stay the night because they had to go to mass with their family the next morning, the kid that was ALWAYS busy Wednesday night with youth group functions, the one that couldn't go to your birthday party because there was a retreat that same weekend? yeah, that was me. I wasn't allowed to miss church or any other church related obligation unless I was bed-ridden with some strain of the bird flu, or missing a limb. (Even then my mother would probably give me a band-aid and load me up in the car and carry me to our pew.) So growing up as a very active member of my parish I had always heard the words "mission trip". Now when I was about elementary age I believed a mission trip was when all of the adults (and only adults) went to Honduras to bring various necessities and gospel messages to those citizens that were extremely poor. Which was cool, I guess, but once I hit middle school it seemed like everyone and their Aunt Sally had gone on a mission trip also and they were nothing like what I had made them out to be. I felt so out of the loop. I quickly learned that a mission trip could happen anywhere, even down the street at a local food shelter. Over the course of the next 7 years it seemed that I was the only person in the world that hadn't been on one of these trips. Thankfully when I transferred to WT I became a part of one of the most giving, and involved (and most awesome, let's be honest, you know they are) student group. Not only has the WT Catholic Student Center helped me grow in my faith, they have helped me grow as a person! (mainly because of all of the free food they force on you, but also like, maturity wise.)

Now, when the opportunity of going on a mission trip with the CSC presented itself, I jumped right on that pony (yee-haw baby!). Even though I wasn't sure what that would entail, I knew I wanted to make a positive difference in any way I could. Some hot-shot at google defines a mission trip as "Christian ministries that are geared toward mobilizing young people for short-term trips that have a long-term impact". Uh, NAILED IT! Now, with that in mind I will finally get to the reason why I started writing this in the first place- to share with you about one of the most incredible, and eye-opening experiences I have ever had....

(going to apologize now for the lack of pictures, if you know me at all I'm a picture person, I feel like they tell a better story, but Father Daniel didn't want us on our phones that week...but I may have broken that rule once or twice...Sorry Padre!)

We arrive in Oklahoma city after a long trip involving lots of very enthusiastic singing (mainly by Josh...I'm still mad that I deleted those videos) and amazing "getting to know you" conversations. We stayed at the Archdiocesan center of OKC, and man, not only was it massive, that place was a BEAUT! 
(During mass after our 1st full day in OKC) 

(Pictures SO don't do this place justice)

So we had planned to work with Habitat for Humanity Monday-Wednesday, but last minute we discovered that Monday is one of their days off, so we took the opportunity to go explore downtown OKC. 

Our first stop was to the OKC bombing memorial, and man- it was intense. If you know me at all you know that I am an incredibly hyper-sensitive person, so for my sake I'll spare you the details about us going to the museum because I will bawl my eyes out if I even start thinking about it. But, if you get the chance to go- do it, it was really interesting. I will share however, how much of an impact just standing at this memorial had on me. There was just such a sense of respect, and mutual heartache from everyone there. It was so quiet, but peaceful. Each chair represented an innocent person that had lost their life that day in 1995 the Murrah building was attacked. These people were just having a normal day, got to work, started fixing a cup of coffee after they had dropped their kids of at day care on the second floor- and then in a matter of seconds, their life had ended. The surge of emotions I felt the moment I walked through that 1st gate is indescribable. That moment re-affirmed that life is precious, and to live your life to the fullest, and to be happy! Personally, I want people to remember me as a happy, and loving person, and true happiness comes from many things, but ultimately a healthy relationship with God will help you achieve true bliss. Never forget- YOU ARE LOVED! (so smile, dang it!)
“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us.” 
(1 John 4:10)

 (OKC Memorial)

So, day 2. I want you to picture a slab of cement. Close your eyes and just envision it. Well that's exactly what we walked up to (more like flew up to, there were 55+ mph winds that day) Tuesday morning. At first, I thought they were kidding about this being where we were going to be working, but as soon as they started passing out hammers I realized that it was going to be a long, and exhausting day. We started and I quickly learned that I should never go into any construction field, like, ever. It probably took a good 23467346 tries and about 10 people to show me how to hammer a nail properly before I finally gone ONE in a board without bending it. Then before I knew it, we had built a wall! Granted it was probably the smallest wall that needed to be built out there but, whatever, I was proud. It was amazing to see the teamwork that sprung into action. We never had a team huddle where we assigned jobs, there were no X's and O's, every person just jumped in there and started completing tasks that they were capable of, and by the end of the day, there was a house where that bare, cement slab had been. All of the walls had been assembled, plywood was up, as well as this weird blue foam stuff that went around the exterior walls. And the best part? We did it as a team.Everyone had a part in making that possible, no matter how big, or small, or strong, or hammering-challenged they were, each person contributed. Personally I'm the type of person that prefers to get things done on my own. Some would call it stubborn,I call it "independent", but I did manage to learn a valuable lesson that day- don't be afraid to ask for help, and don't reject when it comes to you.
"Two [are] better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour, If either of them falls down, one can help the other up" -Ecclesiastes 4:9

( The house after 1 day!)