Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Mission trip to Beaumont Day 1

The first thing you notice is the heat. It's a moist, steamy inhalation that takes your breath away. I've been around it for years, living in Texas longer than anyplace else, but I've never really become used to it. Few people ever do.

The second thing you notice is the sky. It's wide and blue, with white clouds scudding in from the Gulf of Mexico. When they build up in the late afternoon they bring a breeze that may mean rain; refreshing, perhaps, and like yesterday, cooling and carrying a rainbow, but often just creating a sauna outside. Clothes hung on the fence never quite dry.

When we arrived, we noticed a third thing. We're part of a much larger group. Fifty-six of us were here at last count. There are Disciples from Kansas, Missouri, Indianapolis, and Kentucky, plus the seven of us from Lynchburg. The church we're framing is about 45 feet wide and a little under 100 feet long; it will house a sanctuary, offices, classrooms, restrooms, and a few utility and store rooms. By Thursday, we'll have all the walls squared and trusses fastened across the top so the roof can be built.

I wonder at the architectural plans throughout the Bible, some good, some not... tabernacle and Temple, Babel's tower, Jerusalem's walls, the rich man's bigger barns, the heavenly city's four-square walls. We have jackhammers and pneumatic nailguns. Our capacity for good is tested against God's gracious gifts used well.

Jackson and Kayleigh are helping in the kitchen, as the brownie batter on their shirts yesterday attests. Jackson volunteered to lead the prayer at dinner and thus got to go through line first, along with the designated clean-up crew. Susan learned to build interior walls. David's expertise has already saved us some major construction mistakes. Julia plans to use some power tools she's never used before. Wes seems to be right at home with a hammer, and I'm learning how to read building plans.

We're showering in the afternoons in a trailer designed with a dozen stalls, six for the men, six for women. The water's heated during the day by a solar panel on the roof. This is one time you want others to use up the hot water so you can get a cool shower.

Last night after dinner, we drove to Temple of Praise Christian Church, where thanks to their gracious hospitality our group is camped. We batted around ideas for the Wednesday afternoon worship service we're going to lead. Then Jackson and Kayleigh introduced us all to the game Apples to Apples. David was the runaway winner. After lights-out, sleep came quickly. Today, we'll get the exterior walls up and squared.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Getting Dirty for Jesus

Next Sunday, I'll meet our mission trip group from First Christian Church of Lynchburg, VA, at the airport north of Houston. We'll drive east a bit to spend a week rebuilding Northwood Christian Church in Beaumont.

As the one driving, I'll haul some of our members' favorite hammers, tool belts, and other gear. Probably a few air mattresses, too! The weather looks good. Well, that is, if temperatures in the 90s and the high humidity of the Gulf look good to to you. At least there aren't any tropical storms brewing in the Atlantic.

We're part of the second-week group of Volunteers in Mission, a ministry of Disciples Home Missions of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) who are rebuilding the worship center this summer. This means we'll probably be framing walls.

Two of our group members, David and Wes, have extensive construction experience. I have pretty good skills with a hammer thanks to several Habitat builds. Susan and Julia are in the same boat I am. J and K are middle-school age. They're going to have better construction skills and knowledge by the end of the week than most kids their age.

I'll update this blog as best I can during the build. The kids are more tech-savvy, so they'll edit and upload a vlog to YouTube and I'll link to it from here.

What do we want from you? Prayers, mostly, and to know that you're part of what we do. When one part of the body of Christ is at work, it's on behalf of the whole body of Christ. So, keep cheering us on and, by following our updates on facebook, Twitter, and this blog, you can participate in the build along with us.

You can stay up to date on Twitter by following @fcclynchburg (that's the First Christian feed) and @GD4JC (Getting Dirty for Jesus, the Volunteers in Mission feed).

Blessings and Peace!