Thoughts and Musings by Ken Rasp - Mission Trip - 04072019

Before sharing my reflections on a wonderful Mission Trip experience, I would like to begin with a prayer.

Father God, you created each of us in your image and likeness. In doing this, you provided a sense of dignity and self-worth in each of us that allows us to strive to be the best person that we can be. The true measure of this is our willingness to step out and live the two greatest commandments Jesus gave us - to live in a genuine relationship with a loving God and to love our neighbor. I thank You for giving us opportunities to step back and check on how well we are doing. 

I thank you for the Mission Trip experience this past week. You were definitely at work in the lives of all involved. What a blessing to spend a week stepping out in service of those in need. In truth, what a blessing to discover the transformational impact on those who provide service. In answering your call, we not only honor those we are serving, we allow your grace and mercy to change us.

Yes, we accomplished much this week. We made a difference in the lives of those we touched. More importantly though is the impact of that work on those of us who we were serving. We were challenged by Rebecca to find ways to keep the Mission Trip experience alive when we returned home. Help us, Father, to accept that challenge. It was obvious that each of us has much to share. Give us the courage to continue stepping out, sharing our gifts and talents in support of those around us. 

God, shower your blessings and peace on all in need, especially those we served this week. Help each of us to find ways to answer your call to service of others in impactful ways.

Amen

Several months ago when I made the decision to attend the Mission Trip during Spring Break this year. I did so for some very simplistic reasons.

  1. I thought it would be an excellent opportunity to share an important experience with our students. 
  2. I hoped it would give me another insight into how Crusaders are formed, molded, and nurtured.
  3. I hoped by sharing that I was planning to attend, others might also decide to attend.

Now that I home after an amazing week of interacting with 12 Crusaders (11 students and Mr. Koczur) and the staff from Praying Pelican Missions (Rebecca and Erick), I find how laughable and presidential those thoughts were. Instead of sharing what we accomplished during the week in Wilmington, NC, I want to share some reflections and insights gained from a week of service. Please note that I would be happy to share with anyone interested the "details" of the week.

  1. I worry sometimes that because "service hours" are a requirement at MCC the importance of service as a spiritual discipline is minimized. In other words, I get the sense sometimes that our students do the service hours because they have to. Jesus reminds us throughout His ministry of the redeeming nature of service. Providing service to others is a positive and proactive action that affirms our desire to be in relationship with a loving and merciful God. Wow, did the students I served with this week get that! They understood that in providing service they were honoring who they were serving as an outgrowth of the relationship that each had with God. Their approach was positive, empathetic, caring, and uplifting. They worked with an attitude that they could and would make a difference. Most importantly, they worked with passion and a clear sense of purpose.
  2. I expected the Wow affect. By that I mean, I expected our students to step beyond themselves and make me proud. They did that and more. No matter what was asked of them, the answer was YES! Each evening we met to pray and reflect on the day. The insights shared showed that what was happening was more than the work being done. The God effect was very definitely at work, and it was obvious that our students sensed it. Each evening, it was a wonder hearing how they internalized their day's experience.
  3. On the last day, we all wore Praying Pelican Mission t-shirts. It was the only day during the week that we "stuck out" as a group visiting Wilmington for a reason other than fun and relaxation. As we traversed through the day, I was approached by many about the shirts and our group. When they heard that we were from Michigan and on a Mission Trip, I was asked to convey to the group a sense of gratitude for their willingness to give up their spring break for a week of service beyond self. I shared these affirming comments with the group during our reflection and prayer session that evening. We talked about the fact that there are opportunities for service in every community, including our own and the importance of making the experience real when we returned to Muskegon.
  4. We began each day with a devotional. After reading the Gospel reading for the day, Mr. Koczur would provide a reflection that tied the Gospel to our mission experience and give us a challenge for the day. During our reflection time after dinner, each person would provide their insight on the challenge. I was amazed at the depth of insight shared.
  5. You have read the word "we" many times as I share my reflections. Though I went for the reasons already stated, I discovered very quickly that it was my mission trip also. God was at work within me also. I told the group on Thursday night that the experience refreshed my spirit and provided for me a sense of renewal. I shared that watching how they approached each task given with poise, discipline, energy, and enthusiasm forced me to step back and refocus on why I do what I do every day. I come back more motivated to serve the MCC Faith Community in ways that will allow vibrancy and sustainability to become the norm. I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to watch our students step up and represent themselves, their family and their school at an incredibly high level. I am motivated to follow their example.

I was truly blessed by each person on our team - Aiden, McKenna, Olivia, Josie, Aiden, Gabe, Calvin 'Nae, Alana, Sun, Madison, Julian, Matt, Rebecca and Erick. I am thankful for the experience and look forward to my next opportunity to be so positively impacted by our students.

Have a Blessed week and Go Crusaders!

Ken


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