Brace yourselves folks, this is gonna be a long post.
On Saturday I got back from a week long missions trip to Memphis, Tennessee. Honestly, it was probably my favorite trip so far. We worked with a local church in the "ghetto" and helped them clean up the place, and then later in the week we worked in the community. From day one I knew it was going to be a great week; we only did a small devotional since it was a twelve hour car ride and we were all exhausted. But we talked about prayer. Its funny because God had been teaching me about prayer and fellowship for two weeks prior to that. So I got really excited and I shared that with the group. I got
The next day we did work around the camp we were staying at. We were split into teams to do various tasks; some did gardening, others did cleaning, and then some did timber. Naturally, I went with the timber group. Our job was to cut down tress, clean out brush, and pull weeds. We just called it extreme gardening. Then we got to ride a trailer full of cut down trees to help unload it into their garbage pile. Of course, halfway through the work day, I was helping unload a rather large tree from the trailer, and I held it over my head and threw it. Well, something fell off the tree and landed in my eye. I tried crying it out, but it didn't work. I was taken to the cafeteria where my eye was washed with special liquid. But nothing helped. Something had apparently cut my eye; so it would have to heal over time. I got to go back to the house and shower and rest, but I couldn't sit around for long. Even though my eye was still hurting, I tried to work. It didn't go so well; I was able to work for an hour or so before my eye started hurting to the point where I couldn't keep it open. I gave in and just went back to the house to nap.
That night my friend gave me a bandanna to put over my eyes to keep it shut. Because I had tried to function with it open, but the pain was just too much. So I got to be blind for the night! It was actually really cool. My friends all made jokes about but I knew they were only kidding and was able to laugh along with them. I think the coolest part came when I was able to worship that night. The worship the night before had been mediocre. If anyone had wanted to get really into it, they didn't for fear of what other people would think. I didn't know how into they were this night, although they all sounded pretty into it; but I got to worship with my whole heart. I got to raise my hands and not do it because other people were or weren't; I got to dance like no one was watching, and I just imagined it was me and God.
By day two my eye was feeling better. We worked at a church and again, we split into different teams. My team got to clean the sanctuary and an old closet. I talked to the pastor for a bit with my group while we waited for cleaning supplies. I asked him to share his testimony and he did. It was really cool. Later that night I was feeling a bit triggered, so I had a friend pray for me. I just felt God saying that I should. After I did, I felt so much better. She had prayed all the right things; and that was God setting up to teach me more about prayer.
Day three we worked at a different church. Me and two other girls sealed a floor there. And that took us the entire duration of our time. But that was the day we had a half day. For the second half of the day we had lunch at the Mississippi river and then went to the Memphis zoo! Our group kinda got split up, so it was me and like, five other kids, and we had a blast! We saw a panda! Also, some of us fed giraffes and got to take selfies with said giraffes! It was very memorable.
Day four was easily my favorite. We went back to the first church we worked on and my group had to task of going door to door and offering to mow people's lawns and pray for them. We asked where we should start and the pastor said not to worry, that the Lord would guide us. Slightly unsure of what that meant, we set off. Our team had five people, and since we only had three tools for mowing, we decided that Megan and I would just sit and talk to people and pray with them. (Megan is the redhead in the picture above.) We offered to pray with the woman who lived there who asked us to pray for health issues, and after we did we noticed she looked like she might cry. She said how a few days ago she had prayed and told God that she really needed her lawn mowed, but she couldn't afford to pay someone. She said it was God who had sent angels to take care of it for her, and he had sent them all the way from another city.
Again, at the second house, Megan and I prayed with the woman who lived there. She was having financial struggles. We prayed, and when we were finished, we noticed she was crying. She said that a couple days ago she had prayed and told God she really needed her lawn mowed, but didn't have a lawn mower and couldn't afford to pay someone. My eyes got wide and I glanced over at Megan who's jaw had dropped. God was doing freaking cool things.
We got to one more house that day, and we prayed with a woman and her mother. Their names were Yolanda and Faye. Faye told us her life story. She grew up in the church but she drifted for a while. She became a dj at a night club and was there every night. She had her appendix rupture, she had a stroke, and she was held at gun point once. She had also been in a very bad car accident; her car had gotten destroyed, but she drove away without a scratch. That's right, she was able to drive the car all the way to the other side of the town after the accident. When she got to a mechanic, he was perplexed at how she had gotten there. He examined it and said the car was completely undriveable. She praised God for it. Talking to Faye was seriously amazing. She said she never got to tell her story, but I promised I would tell it to everyone back in my city.
Day five we started the day off praying for the fireman at the station across the street. They told us about a man called Gator who we had to meet. He was supposedly a legend. So while half the group did a car wash and prayer thing, my group mowed Gators lawn. He was quite the interesting fellow and had plenty of stories to share. He had lived in a tent outside of a small store for four years and almost drowned in the river near by so many times he was nicknamed Alligator by the fireman who continuously pulled him out of the water.
After doing his yard, me and a few others just went door to door praying for people. I only got to pray with two people that day, but my sisters team was incredibly blessed to pray with a ton of them. We had done one other house before Gators, and my friend, Marina, and I got to pray with a man and his wife who were believers and asked us to pray for their grandkids. The wife also has lupus, so I was able to talk with her for a bit about that which was cool. When we got back to the church I got to talk to the pastor who was crazy wise and so full of amazing things to say. He said a lot of what I needed to hear and it was awesome.
Really, the whole week was such a blessing. I loved the fellowship among my brothers and sisters in Christ. Several times throughout the week, someone who have a random prayer request, and the group would gather and pray for them. Two of my friends came to me on the first day after I had hurt my eye and said "You got us so excited about prayer, so we thought it would only be fitting for us to pray for you." I cried after that. Then I was able to pray for a friend, totally out of the blue, but I felt God telling me to. She said it was the best prayer without a prayer request she had ever heard, which really shocked me. But I knew it was God. It was estimated that we prayed for over 200 people in that single week. That blew my mind.
I love Memphis. You could feel God everywhere. Honestly, I've never been to a place that was so ready for the gospel. You could tell that God had prepared the way for us and gotten hearts ready. Because they were so willing to accept us and the message we brought. I could talk for days, but I'm going to wrap it up now. I'm so excited about sharing the gospel. I'm so excited about bringing change to our church. We've been content for too long. I watched as these teens got fired up about God and prayer. I noticed in myself how at ease I was with prayer for people and how God just brought words to my mouth. I wasn't afraid or timid. And that was all the Holy Spirit. I know what God wants me to do now, and I can't wait. I want to ignite a passion in my church and youth group. Or more, I want God to do that. I have seen what He can do with a group of silly teenagers who aren't afraid to pray big. Its incredible. Also, I had no problems with my lupus the entire trip! Save for a bit of fatigue on Friday and minimal issues on the car ride back. So praise God for that.
So I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone. God is waiting to use you. Let Him.
Now I'll just leave you with a song we overplayed this week. Have a great day and God bless!