Greetings, all! I am now back in Portland, ME after spending five days down in Vero Beach, FL on a mission trip with First Parish Gorham’s youth group. Ella and I chaperoned nine high-schoolers – five boys and four girls – and what a great week! It was sort of a smorgasbord of mission-work, a mission-trip sampler, if you will. We volunteered at seven different places in four days, going back to two of the places twice in the week. And we even had time for a trip to the beach one afternoon! (I mean, come on. You can’t go to Florida and NOT go to the beach!)
We left Portland on the evening of Easter Sunday, after spending Saturday night in a “lock-in” at the church. Basically, what this means is that the kids stay up all night watching movies, drinking soda, eating pizza, and playing “sting-pong” (a new game I learned and LOVE – it’s like regular Ping-Pong, but if you lose, you have lift up your shirt and your opponent gets to take a free shot at you with the Ping-Pong ball. Needless to say, this was popular only with the boys . . .). The reason we had the lock-in directly before the mission trip was because the youth group kids were serving breakfast after the Sunrise Service at First Parish Gorham, and everyone knows that it’s easier to keep a high schooler up all night than ask him/her to be somewhere at five in the morning. So we were all thoroughly exhausted by the time we hit Orlando airport at 11:45pm Sunday evening, and we weren’t even done yet! We rented a van, and I drove from Orlando to Vero Beach, which was about an hour-and-a-half drive. After we got to our home base and sorted out the bedding (which Ella and I had to pack ahead of time in two checked suitcases), we all hit the hay around 2:45am, after most of us had been up for nearly 40 hours straight.
We were staying at a place called Epic Missions, which is sort of a mission-trip middle-man. They are a Christian organization that hosts groups, or “teams,” wanting to do mission trips in the Vero Beach area. The benefit of this setup is that the folks at Epic Missions know their community and know where the need is. They can match up the teams with organizations that need help. We volunteered at a daycare for children of migrant families, at an old-age home, at a food bank, at Habitat For Humanity, at a homeless resource center, an after-school program for disadvantaged youth, and at a garden that donated 100 per cent of its produce to people and organizations in need. If we had just gone down to Vero Beach on our own and stayed in a hotel, we would never have known to connect with these organizations, and we wouldn’t have eaten three ridiculously delicious and ridiculously filling meals a day (I swear, Jackie works some kind of magic in the kitchen – she holds the record for best oatmeal and best coffee cake Matthew has ever tasted)!
I didn’t go into detail about the missions, because I’m going to leave that to the vlogs, and to Ella’s recap email that she sent out to the parents of and kids on the mission. This is the first time I’ve done a guest blog post, but who better for a guest blog post than my girlfriend and co-chaperone? So please read Ella’s update if you’d like a more detailed account of what we were up to this week.
So that’s our week in a nutshell. Keep an eye on this page for some vlogs where you’ll see the kids in action (unfortunately, I lost my camera in transit on the way back to Portland, so there won’t be vlogs for the last two days of the trip . . .). But you’ll get a good idea of we were up to nonetheless. Until next time!