What a morning.
Goal: 6:30am wake up, 7:00am finish packing up, 7:30 van pack up, 8:00am airport.
We’ve been just a tad shambly with being on time in the mornings, but today was a beautiful exception, complete with divine intervention.
As we packed up the van [ahead of schedule!] a woman pulled up next to our van, asking for directions to the nursing home, so she could see her brother. She had tried a day before but had gotten lost that time. Our priest helped her out and sent her on her way.
As she drove off, a homeless man with the biggest smile on his face wearing a sparkly green hat [he’s ready for St. Patrick’s before any of us!] rode up to the driver’s side of our van. He asked if we had any food, and we dispelled our peanuts and granola bars. His face lit up, and he asked if he could do anything for us for a spot of cash. Laura told him he could wash our windows, and he went right to work, making the windows and mirrors the cleanest they’d ever been on our entire trip. We left him with an envelope of cash from our donation plate collection from campus, prayed for him, and wished him well.
Thanks to that “sneaky” grace of God, which, I think, urged us to slow down and take the opportunity to serve, we pulled out of the parking lot right on time.
Like the smoothest[ish] of clockwork we got to the airport, we checked in, went through security, and gathered in the boarding area for some last minute snacks, pictures, and fellowship. We got to talking to a man waiting there to board who said he taught special ed in a school in Rockport. He showed us pictures of Harvey damage on his phone, and recounted the story of the Blue Shack, a concrete structure housing a storm chaser who rode out the hurricane as it hit, documenting it all on Twitter which ultimately became a pseudo Twitter sensation. The documentation was grabbed up and the sentiment put on T-shirts by a man in Michigan, who sold around 17,000 shirts in the first 3 hours of the hurricane on Amazon and then promptly donated all proceeds to the area. Absolutely incredible.
It seems like everywhere we went, there were people with stories. Everywhere we went, these beautiful people engaged with us with fiery, ambitious and hopeful eyes, wanting to tell us about what they’d lived through, and more importantly, how they’ve made it, and how they are continuing to make it, on the other side. Through their stories we can see their self-empowerment, their strength, their love, and the gracious vulnerability with which they’ve accepted our desire to help in any way we can.
I write, now, ten thousand feet in the air, strapped in and packed up, surrounded by the faces of my mission team shining with God’s glory, all heavy and full-hearted. The people of Corpus Christi, the people of Rockport, the people of Port A all swill through my thoughts, their smiles and hospitality emblazoned on my heart. Filling me with utmost gratitude is the magnitude with which I got to know my teammates, both from my university and not, their gifts, their wisdoms, their personalities, their hearts.
This was the first real hard-core outreach we’ve performed as a campus ministry. I’d be lying if I said I knew to the full extent what we were getting into, the extent to which I would need to settle into a role of leadership, the extent to which I would expand my heart and mind on this mission. This spring break has been nothing short of a gift, and I’m so thankful that I got to experience it– at this time, in this place, with these people.
But as I think about the abundance of blessings that we’ve received and encountered on this trip, I’m reminded of the bounty of blessings back home, and hit with the gravity of Dana’s earlier words: “it’s all just stuff,” and none of that “stuff” compares with the gift of the people, the places, the relationships in my life.
I’m left wondering what it would be like to lose every*thing* in a storm, the courage I’d need to even begin thinking about rebuilding, the immediate shift of priorities. But through these people, spending time with them and hearing them, I feel like I’ve seen that strength. They’re so strong, and recovery is possible. Slowly but surely, it’s possible.
With God’s grace, anything is.