The idea started like this:
Me: “We’ve been trying to think of a way to get our church up here. But we can’t figure out how.”
My mom: “Well, I’ve been thinking….”
And there it began.
My parent’s church, of which my dad is the newish pastor (like a year or so), is the same church where I attended at just a few days old. The church building (classrooms, bathrooms, fellowship hall, hallways) needed a little TLC.
That’s where our church enters the story.
Plans began for a group to make the trek from Pennsylvania to Maine and paint for a week. Things came together quite quickly and our team arranged their lives to give one week of time to bless others.
I wanted this trip to be threefold: 1. To complete a project that would benefit another others; 2. To unplug from life’s daily distractions and 3. To explore Maine.
With those things in mind we left early last Monday morning with ten other friends-four teenagers, six adults- and one beautiful one-month old baby.
15 people total.
And Daisy. We rarely go anywhere without Daisy.
Who could resist this face?
We met at the church at 6 a.m. Monday morning, packed two vans (a minivan and a 12 passenger) full of luggage, people and snacks, prayed for a safe journey, and made time to pose for a selfie.
We were headed to Livermore Falls, Maine. My hometown and the location of the little white church that was the first church I ever attended and the church that saw me through crazy teenage years via the youth group. Our team would travel on Monday, eat dinner, rest and prepare to paint the interior of the church building for the next four days.
complete a project that would benefit another others
Breakfast, team devotions and a bit of prep work on Tuesday morning prepared us to paint walls, trim, ceilings, and doors for the next three and a half days.
It was Extraordinary to watch.
To see the community of the church come together for one common purpose.
To see each person on site using their gifts and talents.
Exactly how God made them.
To work and laugh alongside teenagers who are so filled with joy and an incredibly purposeful work ethic taught me more than I could ever teach them.
Watching older ones in the faith come alongside younger ones in the faith showed me the inner workings of The Holy Spirit.
With a tight schedule and a goal oriented team, checking rooms off as “finished” was enormously satisfactory.
Tuesday through Friday saw 400 man hours from our team of 14, 19 painted rooms, a few hallways and ceilings for all of them. My mom served over 300 meals. My dad over saw the project, ensuring everyone had the tools and jobs they needed. My gram made pies. The church folks donated money, drinks, snacks, and food. It really was a beautiful thing to be part of.
My gram made pies.
Oh man…I get these pies once every other year….
unplug from distractions and simply be together. get to know each other.
7 a.m. was breakfast, 8 a.m. was team devotions, paint until noon, lunch, paint again until 4ish, dinner at 5.
We worked hard. Sweaty, paint covered hard.
We laughed hard.
Solved problems together.
We scrubbed, washed, scraped, mudded.
We didn’t talk.
We helped each other.
We shared together.
We encouraged one another in our search for our own spiritual gifts. Some for the first time discovering theirs.
We got to love on a brand new human being together. Miss Baby got lots of cuddles this week.
Working hard, should always include playing hard. Most of our team had never been to Maine.
It was time to experience it.
We have a saying in our house-never miss an opportunity.
Never. Ever. Miss an opportunity to try something new, to make a memory. Ever.
So we played hard.
We watched a meteor shower on the shores of Wilson Lake at 4:00 in the morning, watched a moose run into the woods at 5:00 in the morning, caught the sunrise coming up and over the mountains. We watched six long white tailed deer bound off through a field at the base of the mountain.
Jeremy took a group hiking early one morning and listened to the loons echo their call across a lonely Maine lake one mile into the woods.
We swam in 65 degree weather, in equally as cold lake water on a rainy night, and visited the ocean, some for the first time.
I stayed up late with the girls as we talked about our day, what they felt, how they saw God work that day. What they saw in each other.
We ate lobster, drank Cap’n Eli’s Blueberry Soda, shucked clams.
I watched my own children build community with their youth group and church community in the very same building that I built relationships with my youth group and church community.