Thursday, March 19, 2009

Joshua's report about his college/ministry trip

College Trip Report

The sky still dark, I awoke at 5:20 am, quickly dressed myself and packed last-minute essentials. Next thing I knew, I was out the door. I was preparing to go on a college trip that would take me to Pacific Garden Missions, Shepherds and Maranatha Baptist College. Seven other teens would be going on the trips as well, in addition to my pastor and his wife. The attendance evenly divided between guys and girls. I spent the first leg of the trip primarily sleeping in an attempt to make up for the lack of sleep I had received the night before. This was a dismal failure.

While traveling, a rather annoying Tom Tom mechanically spouted out direction. We arrived at Chicago early that afternoon. Our tour of PGM did not begin until three o’clock so we decided to take a bus to Navy Pier. I decided very quickly that I hate Chicago bus rides. It was while driving through Chicago that I prophesied that we would die in the van.

We all had a wonderful time at Navy Pier. There were several private yachts docked along the Pier. One even came with its own helicopter. While there were visited a building which archived and displayed things like drug activity and stain glass windows. There, some of the guys amused themselves by running up the down escalator.

When we returned to Pacific Garden Missions a guide by the name of Kent gave us a tour. Kent is possibly the most enthusiastic people I’ve ever met. Between every single sentence, he would say, “Amen?” and ask that we respond in form. So the tour went something like this, “This is where our overnight guests stay. Amen? It can house anywhere from zero to 3000 people. Amen?” His upbeat attitude got us all excited. When we left PGM, Kent stopped us at the door and prayed with us, on the stop and right in the middle of the hall. He was a great encouragement to each one of us.

After the tour, we got to see an episode of their radio broadcast, Unshackled!, being recorded. After this, we had an amazing meal of meat and mashed potatoes. After leaving, we followed the Tom Tom’s directions to Bethel Baptist Church where we would be spending the night. The associate pastor took us into the gym. We were all impressed by its size and quality. When we commented on this, the associate pastor causally said, “Oh yeah, this is our middle gym. We just got it replaced by a bigger one.” What was big to us was small to them. What else would you expect from Iowans visiting Chicago? So we spent the evening playing basketball and dodgeball.

That night we slept on the floor of one of the classrooms in Bethel’s Christian school. This made me slightly nervous. I was tired. The night before I had gotten very little sleep and the traveling only made me more tired. I wasn’t sure I could survive the rest few days with so little rest. But my God is the one of created the concept of rest, so I prayed to Him and asked my Father to give the strength to get through the week. In twenty minutes, I was out like a light. I don’t even fall asleep that fast home! I praise my Lord for taking care of His servants even in the mundane things of life.

The next day we attended the Sunday school and church services. Both were very God-honoring and thought provoking. The people were very friendly, something I did not expect from a church that size. After the service, we went to a restaurant called Texas de Brazil. At your request, carvers would come with big slabs of meat and serve them to you. Everything from beef and to pork to lamb was available. That was when I realized that I wouldn’t last a day as a vegetarian.

And so, we left for Shepherds, a home for the mentally disabled. We were suppose to sing in their chapel, but they ended up not having the service because the flu was going around and the staff wanted to keep it contained. Therefore, we made our way over to the place where we would be staying. The home was very nice. It had a ping-pong table, an already stocked freezer, three bedrooms, a living room, a separate dining room and more space than we knew what to do with. That night, we had our own little church service. We discussed the previous day. I taught them all to play missionary madness. We had a great time doing that.

The next morning we got up bright and early and went an orientation at Shepherds. Directly afterward, we went to help out at Shepherds Enterprises, where many of the residents work. It was my job to put together boxes. There was this machine that would dispense tape to hold the boxes together. Apparently, this machine had some sort of issue against me. It kept slitting out tiny, little pieces for me. But when the other guy making boxes would come over (he was one of the residents) the machine would give him a nice long piece. Of course, he got a real kick out of that.

After lunch, we headed to Maranatha. There, we received a tour of the campus. That night, after a wonderful supper, we attended an event run by a student group called X-Caliber. X-Cal is an improvised comedy group. We had a great time watching their antics.

That night we stayed in the dorms. One of my favorite parts of that time there was the devotional all the men on the floor had. They sang, prayed and discussed the day’s chapel service. I had kind of interesting experience with the people staying in my dorm. There were three students there. One of them pretty much ignored me. My interaction with the second student was primarily just polite small talk. However, the third one won’t stop talking to me. It was interesting to get all these different reactions.

The next morning, I attended three classes. One was on Biblical exposition. I found that one to be very practical. Many of the things talk in that class were very useful. The second was on church safety. I had to miss out on the last few minutes of that class because I had a meeting with one of the professors. He helpfully explained a bit about the college and what all went into being a student at Maranatha. The final class was on apologetics. That one was very interesting. The man who taught the class was something of a genius. The entire class was very thought provoking.

Soon after the apologetics class, we left Maranatha. Six hours later, we were pulling in at the church. That’s essentially my trip in a nutshell. I’m very grateful that I could go and for all that my Lord taught me.