Thursday, June 3, 2010

30 BEFORE 30: Domestic Mission Trip

This past week, I was in Naples,FL. It isn't Italy by any means, but it does, allegedly, have more millionaires per capita than anywhere else in the world. I have a hard time believing this fun fact, but, really, who am I to judge where millionaires decide to live?

Many people I told about the trip expressed confusion over my decision to go to a Floridian city to spread the gospel of Christ. After all, Florida is part of the Bible Belt, and, if you spend any amount of time in Jacksonville, you'll notice that there are as many choices of church here as there are condiments at Subway. The interesting (I suppose) thing about Florida, though, is that, somewhere around "South of Orlando", it ceases being a southern state and turns into an extension of the northeast corner of the United States, meaning that it is surprisingly unchurched.

So, off we went. I arrived four days late to the party, but managed to be in on most of the ministry that went on.

Thursday: No ministry, just a relaxing evening of turning the surprisingly large bathtub of our vacation-rental-master-suite into a Jacuzzi. Three of us managed to fit, and I'm pretty sure the bubbles were made out of hand soap and shampoo.

Friday: While Gem and I sang Jesus Loves Me on the radio (I still hold that we were completely set up), Trip Vince and his crew gave out snowcones to local kids. I'm still a bit dubious of the message this sends to children. We spend an awful lot of time drilling into them never to take candy from strangers only to then use sweets as a ministry tool. I was amazed that no helicopter parent swooped down to ask why a man dressed as a Creamcicle was giving their child sugar-topped ice.
We ended that day by taking lunch to some local firefighters and chit-chatting with them about the various aspects of firefighter-dom. Turns out they're pretty cool kids. And they are happy to pile all their gear onto tiny Asian girls. I'm not Asian, incidentally, but my friend Gem is, and really, how cute is she? If my house burns down, that's totally who I want coming to my rescue.

Saturday: Whistler's Cove! We set up shop near the pool of a local apartment complex and enticed the local children to join us with promises of games and candy. It was a fantastic success, full of face-painting, games, crafts, and balloon animals. We managed to share two Bible stories with the local kiddos, one about the Good Samaritan, and the other that was more a conglomeration of several stories. I think it was supposed to be the one where Jesus provides Peter with an enormous catch of fish, but, really, with as much time as Jesus spent on boats, it could have been anything.

Sunday: Church and the drive home. I'm almost positive that, at some point during the week, there was also trip to Cracker Barrel and a Game Night involving questionable hand motions representing Gene Simmons, but, to be honest, I was too exhausted to stock it away in memory. The week resulted in at least one family that is now bringing their children to church, several firefighters who know that the church appreciates their work even if it means they can't make it to church on Sundays, and a community that is beginning to realize that the church cares for more then their tithe.

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