Preparing for the Island Nation
(click image to enlarge, use slider to scroll through)
River Oaks, YOU – are off and on your way to the island nation. As of 5:30am this morning you have left the greater Elkhart area and are making your way Northward for the flight to start your trip.
… OK, 9 out of 10 people are now saying “somebody is trying to pull an April Fools Day trick on me!”
Well, we aren’t. You really are on your way to the island nation. You may not be one of the participants physically making the trip, but you certainly are a significant part of what’s going to happen in the coming week. Mission trips are never defined by the brief efforts of the few who visit the field. They are defined by the spirit, the generosity, the support and the compassion of the many who make what happens to serve the greater church and “the least of these”, in a few brief days, all possible. Mission trips, like this one, are defined by YOU.
Mission trips take not only effort, they take time to incubate. This trip was kicked off all the way back in October of 2010 – over 6 months ago. The timeline of events from October till now is impressive.
Initial activities centered on scheduling efforts to dial in the exact date of the trip, generating a list of interested participants, and the mission committee assembling a team. By December, the trip date was firmed up and the team roster was beginning to have real names associated with it.
November and December also saw The River Oaks 2010 Christmas Project take place. Remember those exciting Sundays as the contribution tally continued to grow beyond everyone’s expectation. Remember the feelings of fufillment as you gave to “categorized” but somewhat undefined future activities that you trusted were going to impact the lives of people in need. The Christmas project funds are a substantial part of the River Oaks mission activities and the portion of those funds being used to support the island nation ministry were made possible by YOU.
Fast forward through January and early February as the team, with participants now defined, worked through the logistics of travel arrangements and pre-planning. Late February brought out a flurry of congregation activities.
The medical supply drive… which had to be wound down after only 9 days because of your overwhelming response and generosity. What happened to all the supplies you donated? They were meticulously repackaged creating bottles and containers that have been consolidated and filled to capacity in an effort to maximize the amount of supplies that the team can take on the trip. All that’s left of the medical supply drive now are piles of empty packaging.
The chicken sale to help offset trip expenses… which was a complete sell out because of your interest and support (and appetite).
Friendship Bracelets… the 56’ers class joined in the effort by making friendship bracelets to share with the children of the island nation during the kid’s activities. Would you believe that in one class period the 56’ers could make over 200 friendship bracelets? Believe it – they did! These bracelets will be packaged in envelopes along with a bible verse in Spanish as a way for our kids to show their spiritual friendship with the kids of the island nation.
These activities of the “many” were successes because of YOU.
Just twelve days ago, the mission team and family members got together after the church services to begin the process of packing for the trip. The first order of business, however, was to share a meal and a bit of fellowship time together. After the meal, it was nothing short of organized chaos as everyone tried to figure out just how to stuff 49.5 lbs of goods into each of their 2 allowed suitcases. 50 lbs is the airline limit, but the team wanted to maintain a little bit of margin in case the airline happens to have “tight” scales. Once the team was finished packing all of the suitcases, the last piece of organization to be completed was loading of the trip vehicle. Fortunately, all the bags were loaded and the team was able to find a seat for everyone.
Finally this past Sunday, Tim gave a sermon on the power of intentional, vigorous, and persistent prayer. Take a look back at the spirit, the generosity, the effort, and the compassion of the many that has gone into the preparation for this mission trip over the last 6 months. Now think of the power that can be created when the “many” of the River Oaks congregation include the island nation mission in intentional, vigorous, and persistent prayer – YOUR prayer.
Today is not April Fools Day. As of 5:30am this morning you have left the greater Elkhart area and are making your way to Northward for the flight to start your trip. River Oaks, YOU – are off and on your way to the island nation – to serve the greater church and to make an eternal difference in the lives of many.