Today brought an end to an amazing four days of service. My work group finished painting the outside of a lovely elderly couple’s house, and the other groups finished their projects as well. I’m sad to have to say goodbye to my Missionpalooza friends and to the service work we’ve done, but I’m happy to get to go home and see my twin again after a long two weeks.
One of the cool things about the mission trips that we go on with Jeremy, especially Missionpalooza, is that us kiddos can see Jesus everywhere. (Probably the adults too, I don’t know.) Today, I saw Jesus in a seemingly silly ritual that actually meant a lot to me. The couple that owned the house we were working on has about a thousand cats, and one of them had kittens. I got to see them rolling around on each other on Tuesday morning, and they looked around a day old. Unfortunately, when I checked on them this morning all I saw was the body of one who had passed. I was about to cry, and I honestly couldn’t figure out what to do about it. I didn’t want the little kitten to lay there with all the flies and things—it just didn’t seem like a fitting death for such a young, poor thing. I came around the side of the house and told my friends and work-group-mates Jaydon and Quinn about the unfortunate incident, unsure of what we were going to do. Surprisingly, Jaydon instantly offered to help with a proper burial for the little guy. When he got to a stopping point, he and our other group mate Carston grabbed gloves and carried the kitten to the bank of the creek. Jaydon, Carston, Kaitlin, our group chaplain Carter and I had a proper funeral for the kitten. Jaydon and Carston buried it as the rest of us looked on, and Carter said a very sweet prayer for its soul. We lovingly (posthumously) christened the kitten with the name Muffin and marked its grave with stones from the creek. This experience just showed the love and affection that Jesus showed for all of God’s creatures, and the actions of my group mates and friends to help me give Muffin a proper burial showed the love Jesus had for others.
Today the community affected me in two ways. At the church service we went to at St. Marks, the local pastor told us about how his parish had been praying for us missioners. He was talking about how he appreciated us working for the communities of San Marcos and Wimberley and how everyone else did too. I almost cried because the gesture of the parish praying for us seemed so sweet, and it really touched me. As well, the lady working at the ice cream place we stopped at afterwards was very kind to all of us rowdy kids, and that made me appreciate the patience of most of humanity a lot more.
I believe I affected the community today by complimenting as many people as I could. I told Mark the Mandolin Guy (he plays mandolin at our worship services) that he was really, really good at what he did and that it always made my day to see how passionate he was about making music for God. He seemed very pleased and said thank you a whole bunch. After that I spread the love more and more and tried to compliment as many people as I could, just in case someone really needed to hear nice words that day. I think the most important thing I did today was tell Kathy (our director) how much us youths appreciated how much she did for us. She was so happy and smiled so much—it made the almost-sleep deprivation that inevitably goes hand in hand with the Missionpalooza experience worth it.
I think the most important thing to remember from this experience is how much we should love others. And the answer to that question is a whole freakin’ lot. We learn about faith and friends and service at Missionpalooza, but most of all how to love others with all of your heart, mind, and soul. I’ve made so many good friends here that I love so, so, so much after a week of knowing them. And I think that’s living in Jesus’s footsteps—loving as much as possible as deeply as possible.
~ Elodie Giles