The trip is over and we’ve been back for a few days. What is there left to tell you? God worked in some amazing ways through us and we got to see some wonderful little miracles. Picking up where I left off, Saturday morning the team went rafting. That was a great experience, a chance to bond with each other and unwind after a week of hard work. Pastor Jim rowed one of the rafts and Carl Smid, one of the church members, rowed the other. Carl and Linda Smid are the ones who take us rafting every year. They own all the equipment and that is their way of blessing us when we do the trip. As always, it was a wonderful excursion. Pastor Jim gets made fun of for his rowing every once in a while, and he got stuck on top of a rock this time… so he’s got quite a few jabs coming his way.
After the rafting we headed back to the church and spent the rest of the day cleaning up and packing up. We spent hours making the church spotless but we left the VBS decorations up so that the church members who hadn’t seen them could get a chance to experience what had been going on that whole week. We then went to showers and had a big group dessert time at the River Rock, a diner across the street from the church, then came back for our last family time.
Pastor Jim and Mrs. Judy talked to us about what a great blessing we had been. They have so much trouble getting people involved in their community, and in particular on making an impact on the kids and teens. They started in youth ministry and so it’s a great blessing for them to see students around Riggins getting involved. They told us that a strong teenaged Christian is something that these students never see, and so us just coming and being ourselves shines a light into their world and makes the few Christians there realize that they can live out their faith.
Jim gave us a few nuggets of wisdom also. The one that changed my life 5 years ago when I first heard it from him, and he shared again that night, was “People don’t care about how much you know until they know about how much you care.” That little phrase from Pastor Jim 5 years ago revolutionized my life and the way I live out my faith. I hope and pray that something he said sticks in the ears of the students who were there this past Saturday.
The next morning we loaded up, took group pictures, prayed, and were off to Boise to catch our flight back home. The Theology Van (That’s what my SUV came to be called because I was always talking theology when I drove places) had a great time listening to the audio book of “The Problem of Pain” by C.S. Lewis and discussing the ideas he put forward in the book. The other cars just slept and sang nonsensical songs, I’m sure. ( *wink. Love you guys!) We got home safely and went our separate ways at IAH. All’s well that ends well, and this definitely ended well.
Please continue to pray for this trip and these kids in all the ways we’ve been talking about this past week. They need God’s hand in their lives almost as much as we do. Pray for continued growth from those in Riggins and from our students here in Houston. Pray that the Universal church, which we have seen a snippet of this past week, will soldier on through time and be ready for Christ when he returns.
A final thought for the students who went on this trip:
I always hear pastors and youth ministers encourage their students, “Don’t let what we did here stay here! Take this trip back home with you and make an impact on your community! Your spiritual growth will only stop if you let it.” It’s a true statement and I agree that this is what we should want/strive for, but I’ve realized that this encouragement never works. The trip always ends at the airport and kids go back to the way they were before hand.
Instead I want to give a different thought to the students: This trip is going to end. The impact you had here will stop when you get back home. That’s human nature. You won’t always be on this spiritual high, you won’t always be growing in your faith the way you were on this one-week trip. That’s just the cold hard reality.
Instead of trying to ‘Keep the trip going!’ I encourage you to remember. Remember what happened here. The law of undulation will take its toll. You will go through trough periods of numbness and dryness followed by peak periods of spiritual growth and richness and when you get home, a trough period is waiting for you. But when you get through your period of dryness a peak in your faith will arise again. Don’t let the troughs you’re about to face make the peaks that will come ineffective. Look forward to the future growth, remember the past growth you had in Riggins, and when the present comes around, as it so often does, ask yourself, “If I were still in Riggins? What would I be doing right now?” Then go and do that.