We are approaching the Boone County Fair, which means that I need to select pictures for the Boone County Fair Photo Contest. I am picking those pictures in the same way that I did last year. I’m letting other people pick them for me.
The first five people that text me that they are interested in picking one of my entries will get to pick my five entries for the Boone County Fair. Once you have been selected as a selector, I will send you instructions on how to make your selection.
For some reason, on Thursday of the mission trip they let everybody sleep in an extra hour. This is something that has never happened on any of our other mission trips. To be honest, I wasn’t that big of a fan of it.
There are parts of being on a mission trip that are like FIGHT CLUB.
A guy came to fight club (mission trip) for the
first time, his ass was a wad of
cookie dough. After a few weeks (days), he
was carved out of wood.
By Thursday you don’t even miss sleep. By Thursday you don’t miss hot water in the showers. Thursday was the worst day to sleep in. If you could move the schedule on any day on any direction, I would move it an hour earlier on Friday. Wake up at 6:30, nah, 5:30.
The normal walk time with Andy was 6 AM. It didn’t get moved to 7 AM just because wake up time was 8 AM. We were carved out of wood by now.
However, there was a change with the 6 AM walk. This time we were loading up into vans and heading to Dinosaur Park. Dinosaur Park is a sculpture garden built on top of a hill in the 1930s by the Works Progress Administration. There are many socialists that produce brilliant and prophetic art, like George Orwell, but not going to lie, Dinosaur Park is does not have a masterwork in its collection. This is coming from a guy that is a big fan of dinosaur related art.
But this isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy every second of Dinosaur Park. In fact, I loved every second of Dinosaur Park.
After Dinosaur Park we went to a coffee ship called Alternative Fuel Coffee House. I got a smoothie so I could load up on the protein for the morning. Then we headed back to the church for breakfast.
Because of the weird late start to the day, we only had 5 hours at Black Hills Works. It was a day of mixed emotions. There is the sense of accomplishment as you finish off work week, but there is the sadness when you realize that you are probably never going to see any of the people you worked with all week. It has been only 4 days, but the bonds with some of the clients feel really deep.
I was going to miss Shad and Chuckie and John and Cammy and both Mikes and Daniel and Amy and Joe and the twins and Bronco. I was going to miss some of the staff that we connected with like Chris and Abby and Andy and Joey.
In fact, on Thursday I had a long conversation with Joey about beards and beard products. He insisted that I take some of his beard products home. He opened up his work locker and he had a ton of beard products there. I took home some beard butter, beard oil, and beard balm.
We were supposed to leave for our mountain stream shower, but we hung out there until almost 3:30 before heading out.
When we had our orientation on Monday the lady giving us our orientation told us flat out, “Some of the staff don’t like having kids here. They think they just get in the way.”
While that might be the case, I think we really only experienced that with one staff member. Possibly two. The staff really loved our kids and they even told us that we had the best kids that have ever volunteered there. Most kids show up and let the situation overwhelm them. They shutdown and don’t interact with the clients. Our kids interacted with everybody and engaged the clients without waiting for them to engage with them.
I know what you are thinking, you cynic. They tell that to every group. I might be inclined to agree with you only this is the 8th mission trip I’ve been on with the youth group from our church. It has happened every single time. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
For example, in Milwaukee my group was working at a nursing home. They sent us up to a room and wanted us to organize it and clear it out. 3 hours later we came down and asked what they wanted us to do next. Their jaw dropped open and they said, “That was supposed to take you all week.”
They later explained that the previous week that they had not one but two youth groups work on that room and they had barely made a dent. I assured them that those youth groups probably weren’t from Iowa. Built a little different here.
This was a different style of mission than we usually go on. This wasn’t painting or drywall or staining or cooking. This was just being in the moment with people that often get kicked to our society’s curb. I wasn’t sure if our group would excel in it like they did with manual labor.
I am pleased to report that they knocked it out of the park, yet again.
We rushed back to the church after the showers. Our cultural activity that night is the same for every YouthWorks group in the country. Thursday they hold a community cookout. Rapid City hosts the largest YouthWorks cookout west of the Mississippi. To be honest, this is part of the reason that I picked Rapid City. Last year our cookout in Vidor, Texas drew 2 people. One of them was an ice cream truck that I flagged down, just so we would have something to do.
A few adults grill burgers and dogs. The youth serve the food and interact with the community. The size of the cookout did not disappoint. I’m guessing we served over 300 people.
I met and talked with several people. One was a Navy veteran. I told him about how my niece’s fiance was about to be stationed and he cut me off and said, “It better not be to Iran by that mother(beep)(beep)(beep)(beep)piece of (beep)(beep)(beep) Trump.” Then he apologized and I assured him that if I were not a leader at a youth function, I could add several expletives to his description of the worthless draft dodging coward that is Cadet Bone Spurs.
I also had a long conversation with a guy that had just moved to Rapid City to take care of his mother who was recently diagnosed with cancer. I talked to another guy that was there with his children. He had recently got out of prison and was glad to be back with them.
Rapid City has a large population of homeless. The majority of the homeless are Lakota. The demographics of the cookout backed that up.
One of the interesting things about the Lakota is they reveal their elders. So when an elderly person would show up, they would be allowed to go to the head of the line.
The cookout finished up about 8 PM. I actually had to pull some of our youth away from the community members that they were talking to. I regret having to do that, but we needed to get ready for our Thursday worship service.
Thursday night at YouthWorks is always a powerful night. It is the last night of the mission trip and the emotions of the experience start crashing down on you. The worship service ends with a foot washing service. Now I’m not going to go all Baptist on you, but the foot washing experience is definitely a powerful experience.
It is derived from this story in THE BIBLE:
John 13:1-17 Amplified Bible (AMP)
The Lord’s Supper
13 Now before the Passover Feast, Jesus knew that His hour had come [and it was time] for Him to leave this world and return to the Father. Having [greatly] loved His own who were in the world, He loved them [and continuously loves them with His perfect love] to the end (eternally). 2 It was during supper, when the devil had already put [the thought of] betraying Jesus into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, 3 that Jesus, knowing that the Father had put everything into His hands, and that He had come from God and was [now] returning to God, 4 got up from supper, took off His [outer] robe, and taking a [servant’s] towel, He tied it around His waist.
Jesus Washes the Disciples’ Feet
5 Then He poured water into the basin and began washing the disciples’ feet and wiping them with the towel which was tied around His waist. 6 When He came to Simon Peter, he said to Him, “Lord, are You going to wash my feet?” 7 Jesus replied to him, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but you will [fully] understand it later.” 8 Peter said to Him, “You will never wash my feet!” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with Me [we can have nothing to do with each other].” 9 Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, [in that case, wash] not only my feet, but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “Anyone who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, and is completely clean. And you [My disciples] are clean, but not all of you.” 11 For He knew who was going to betray Him; for that reason He said, “Not all of you are clean.”
12 So when He had washed their feet and put on His [outer] robe and reclined at the table again, He said to them, “Do you understand what I have done for you? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you are right in doing so, for that is who I am. 14 So if I, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet as well. 15 For I gave you [this as] an example, so that you should do [in turn] as I did to you. 16 I assure you and most solemnly say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, you are blessed [happy and favored by God] if you put them into practice [and faithfully do them].
After the worship service we had our final church time. It was also an emotional experience as it was the last mission trip with Anna and Megan. Our two seniors. If you have daughters, these are the type of you women you want them to grow up to be.
I hope this is not their last mission trip with our church. I can’t even speak confidently on the future of the mission trip. We have a new Pastor and it is hard to tell what direction he will want any of this to go. Plus, Megan and Anna will be leaving for college and it is hard to tell what direction their lives will even pull them in.
I hope that one or both of them are leaders on this mission trip at some point in the future. Megan has already inquired about being a leader next year. I know there are some hoops that will have to be jumped through, but we will get there.
Autumn lead us in a couple of worship songs. After some stuff that I will keep to myself was shared, we ended in a group hug, as has become strangely traditional.
The next morning we packed up and heading back to Boone. Everybody strangely changed.
Here are some pictures:
The 5 posts on my mission trip are from my perspective of the Mission Trip. It was hardly comprehensive. For example, it didn’t include the story about the homeless people I prayed with on a Hardee’s picnic table. Or when Andy stole my phone… on accident?
There were 24 other souls on this mission trip and every single one of them experienced it in a completely different way than I did.