Thursday, May 31, 2012

Reflection & Surprises pt 1

Home sweet home! The past few days have been quite the experience as I was priviledged enough to get to join our community Youth Group as they went to Minot to help with flood disaster relief. This trip has taught me a lot. So much, in fact, that I am quite certain I will not be able to fit it all into one post (ergo, the pt. 1 in the subject). But, before I get too in depth with this post, allow me to post what I wrote last night in the hotel hallway....

Who could have known
or understood
The strength that resides
hidden within
Showing itself at times
When strength could not
be imagined
or believed.
Showing itself at times
When one would
imagine tears
believe fear and sorrow.
It is when others cower
that the strength hidden
in those with true courage
and character
finds its way to truth.

It really was an amazing day - to see so many reach out to those in need; to see the strength within those who've lost so much - it isn't something you see every day. A great deal of my experiences have been of those turning a blind eye to those in need - or worse, helping someone else simply for the glory or because to not help would make them look selfish.

It really is disheartening to see people "help" just because it is something they need to do to look good to others. This reminds me of church - 90% (or more, most likely) of those who attend do not do so because they enjoy church. They do not do so because they want a closer relationship with God. And they do not do so to learn to be better Christians.

They do so because they were taught it's necessary to get into heaven. They do so because if they don't, it will look bad. They do so because they can then still call themselves "good Christians" while spending the next 6 days judging others, gossiping about others, and whatever else they choose to do.

But, I get off track. My point I was trying to write about is that today I saw a large group of 13-16 year olds giving of themselves - helping others. And not for pride, or glory, or physical rewards. I am very proud of each of them and have found a small bit of my faith in mankind renewed. 

I truly don't know where to start. These past few days have been a combination of so many emotions and events which will remain in my memory forever. I have met some wonderful people whose strength has been incredible. I have cried, and laughed, and prayed and hoped. I have spent time working side by side with my kids, others, new friends and old. I have used muscles I didn't realize I had - muscles which are now quite angry with me. I have watched a group of kids (young adults) push themselves to their limit - and then push themselves even further.I have pushed myself to my limit... and perhaps not quite as far past it as those younger, but I did push it more than I have before.

There was a lot which happened these past few days which really aren't surprising - although they are still special. When you see so much devastation, and watch people tear up as they describe having to move from their home, only to come back to it being completely ruined, and attempt to help them in any way you can - it changes you. It changes how you look at things. It makes you a appreciate what you have a little bit more. (Or, at least, it should do these things to some degree.) To see young adults attempting to help these people; to watch them actively engaged in learning the stories of the people - these are so amazing, and give a person a new found hope.

But one thing I was not expecting was a two or three hour conversation on religion. And, even more shocking, was that not only was it an enjoyable discussion, it has made me reconsider my dislike for the church. Does this mean I'm going to start attending church every Sunday? No. My reasons for not attending remain. However, maybe I will seek a way to be a part of a community of faith. Where and how? I haven't gotten that far yet. Why? I'm not sure on that either. Oddly enough, I think I have finally met a pastor who a) made sense; b) managed to slip through my defenses; c) has magical powers.

But, I will have to reflect more on this later. My brain is fried, my body is angry, and my emotions are on overload. Thank you to all the adults and young adults who helped make this trip wonderful. Thank you to the Hope Village for your hospitality and for all the hope you bring to everyone. Thank you to the wonderful families we helped for opening up your homes and hearts. And, thank you to my car conversationalist for letting me babble, for all the laughs, and for the insight.

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