The first mission trip I ever went on was awesome! I was impressed by the way God so clearly led…no, make that called, me to go. I was in high school and God spoke through Tracy Lungbird (the most beautiful undercover angel ever sent to Era, TX) telling me that I should go on this mission trip. I remember her exact words pleading with me to join the campaign. “You’re not going are you?” Luckily, I had read that month’s issue of ‘Seventeen’ magazine and therefore knew that when women have a crush on you, they pretend to not like you at all. This girl obviously had it bad for me. “Don’t worry, babe, I’ll be there,” came my suave reply (because Women like to be called Babe, you know). She rolled her eyes and stormed off proving two things: ‘Seventeen’ was right, and Tracy didn’t have merely a crush on me, she must have been totally in love!
So, with God working through her, I became dedicated. I was pumped, excited, and fired up about a week of sacrifice and spreading God’s Word. I was completely committed to going over to…uh…wherever it was we were going and rolling up my sleeves and preparing to do…uh…whatever it is missionary kids do that requires them to actually have to roll up sleeves.
Thirty-two of us teenagers and one youth minister arrived at the airport with a gleam in our eye, dedication in our hearts, and 4,000 pounds of luggage (you just never know what the weather’s going to do). I had never flown before and was thus confused by the process. The first question I was asked at the counter was “Has anyone unknown to you asked you to carry anything on the plane?” First of all, I don’t like hauling my own luggage across three terminals, much less the items belonging to this mysterious “unknown”. I couldn’t image me saying to someone, “Hey, dude…although I’ve never seen you before and that “IRA” patch on your arm is pretty creepy, can I carry that large, ticking nuclear weapon around the airport for you?” However, this WAS a mission trip and I knew I needed to be Christlike, so I said, “Not yet, but I will if they want me too as long as it’s not very heavy.” I knew that perhaps this was not the appropriate answer when the lady actually swallowed the lower half of her face while knitting her forehead so hard that her eyebrows actually grew together. “NO YOU WILL NOT” came the reply from the other side of the counter. It’s amazing how loud she could scream, having swallowed the lower half of her face.
The remainder of our time in the airport was uneventful, except of course for the plane leaving an hour late with no explanation or apology given. I don’t want to give this heartless airline a bad name for delaying God’s work on our mission trip, so I will only state that the name begins with a “D” and ends with an “elta”. Our mission trip was to inner city Chicago. We were going to help build an inner-city daycare that would then be run by the surrounding churches for working parents. We were installing the playground equipment and some of the neighborhood kids showed up to watch our progress through the fence. Actually, they were heckling us to work faster because they wanted to play on the jungle gym.
As I was working on the swing set, I saw a little girl on the edge of the lot crying. I went over to her and asked her what was wrong. She told me that the other kids had told her that when the playground opened they weren’t going to let her play on any of the equipment. I grinned and said, “Well, how would you like to play on it now? I need an official swing tester. “Her face broke out in a huge grin as I scooped her up, carried her past the other wide eyed kids, through the gate and pushed her on the swing. Later, Tracy came over and said, “That was such a cool thing you did for that little girl.” Knowing how to take a compliment, I said “Thanks, will you go out with me?” Knowing how to turn a man down, she said, “It wasn’t that cool.” ‘Seventeen’ was so right. She was playing the “Hard To Get Game” perfectly. Anyway, I went on the trip hoping to win a girl’s heart…and, actually, I did. It’s strange how God can use you if you just let Him.