Fresh and raw, flying high in the sky with one of my teammates head on my shoulder is how I’m writing this blog post. While the fire is still fresh in my heart. A fire lit from a week in UNITY.
A week ago today 15 of us boarded – some acquaintances and some friends. Unique in that we were a team of young adults with one mother of one of us and a leader who was also young. Unsure of missions. The journey climbed on a positive note with an amazing flight attendant that let us take pictures in the cockpit and had the plane do the wave for us. From there, it only climbed higher.
Every morning I woke up I imagined the day could not be better than the day before. It always was. From the moment where we stood outside of a food pantry/clinic and prayed with a massive number of people as they left the building. The night we assisted in launching Passion Church in Parrish, Florida where close to 100 people showed up for the opening.
(Follow Frankie Cortez on YouTube to visually see our trip:))
The Sunday when one woman came to the church to find a friend and me to thank us for praying with her on a previous day. She blessed all of us with her passion for youth. Encouraged us with her encouragement that we could do anything.
Another day was an amazing time for outreach to the homeless community at our host church – City Life in Bradenton. You could find us that night playing basketball with a young neighborhood boy. Soccer with a little girl who attended the outreach. Breakdancing with a homeless man. Dancing around the parking lot to bumping music. Faces lit with joy.
Joy was one of the main lessons of the week. Saying yes with a smile and saying “It’s all good”. Spending less than 35 hours in an entire week sleeping. Sleeping inside of two children’s church rooms on air mattresses while skipping some showers. Accepting that God has good plans in store for those who love Him.
Being surrounded by those who love Him. Meeting two of the coolest pastors and their families at City Life church. Braiding little girls (and big girls) hair. Sitting and talking until late with each other and people around us. Becoming friends with the resident church young adult and having him become an extra piece of our team. Van rides for showers for the girls at an amazing, inspiring, giving woman’s house. Skipping sleep so we could spend over an hour a night worshipping, praying, and sharing testimonies.
Uplifting each other and showing unity. Showing grace. Embracing each other’s strengths. Encouraging boldness in moments of weakness. Truly living out God’s calling for the body of Christ.
I cannot express my thankfulness for each and every individual of this team. Hannah, who volunteered me for an art project because she knew my artistic side. Deidra, the other social worker of the trip, who volunteered to do the project with me. Jan and Ernie for asking Deidra and me to not only create a missions board but sharing their lives for the day with us.
How could Hannah have known that the one volunteer project would lead to Deidra and I having the privilege of visiting Prodigal Daughters, a home for women and mothers experiencing addiction problems? Attending Jan’s Bible study and discovering new resources and tools for our jobs. As well as making more family in Florida with a couple who truly show that teamwork makes the dream work.
That moment Olivia and I shared a special moment of teamwork praying with the most amazing teenage girl. I cannot imagine anyone else I would have wanted by my side during those days. Each person made the group stronger. No person was less or more. The beauty was we ALL led. When it was our strength, we jumped in and took charge. Listened to advice without offense when an area of weakness came up.
As I sit on the plane, I sit with an incredible number of new family members. Our fearless leader, Adrian, said it best when he said the church is alive and not dead. Every time we do missions our spiritual family on earth grows. A fire was ignited in Bradenton by a team of young adults willing to be vessels for Jesus. One that fanned the flames – not only in the hearts of City Life but in the hearts of us.
That fire will be ignited and grow to Milwaukee now. Each one of us knows we have 14 others to call on when our fire starts to die. When the cold wave of reality hits. Even if our fire turns to embers, every time we reunite with Jesus and each other, it will become a flame. Our high moments and low moments, future shared experiences, and love for Jesus will fan the flames. One that can’t be contained within us but will spread throughout the city. Our unity will show others the love of Jesus and how to love one another. Not just the young adults, but the people of all ages – from infant to elderly.