I’ve been struggling with what to say about United Mission Week 2016* for over a week now. It’s hard to put into words what this week meant to me, and what exactly happened in just a few days. I should be used to it by now– this was the 5th year I’ve participated– but every year is a brand new experience, with new challenges and memories.
Physically, my work team (team 3) and I took off some of the rotten siding on a house, replaced it, and then painted the whole house. It was a lot of work, but we worked our tails off and it ended up looking awesome. I learned how to use three different saws and sweated more than I ever had before, but it was all worth it.
The woman who owned the house was a grandmother who was taking care of her three granddaughters. On the last day, when she took a look at our finished product she said she couldn’t believe she was looking at her house. Being able to help give someone the chance to feel proud of their home again was the best feeling in the world.
Besides work, our team bonded through a photo scavenger hunt throughout Mansfield, multiple Sonic runs, and the mutual feeling of bliss of a relaxing shower after a tiring day. By the end of the week, that team became my family. For a few of them, I thought I had known them for years, but you don’t REALLY know someone until you’ve been painting trim with them for six hours.
Emotionally, I had my soul rejuvenated. There’s just something about the worship that strikes a cord with your heart. I know it sounds cheesy, and there’s no good way to describe it, it’s just something you have to experience for yourself. One of the best things about mission week is that no one cares if you’re wearing makeup or not, or if you look silly raising your arms up to Him. We’re all so exhausted and emotionally vulnerable, that it all feels very raw. When we’re singing, we’re singing at the top of our voices, no matter our talent level, because we want to be heard. We’re all sitting on the edge of our seats waiting to see what tear-jerking message Amanda shares with us, because that’s what we’re here for. Everyone is relaxed, and the messy little details of our lives don’t seem to matter anymore.
This year, the theme for mission week was Elevate. It means to be a better person today, than you were yesterday, and to continue to grow closer to God. What stuck out to me was that does not mean that you are better than anyone else. It just means to love better and live louder. One phrase that was used a lot was “live love loud.” I love that. And I love United Mission Week.
P.S. HUGE shout out to Darin Charles and Seree Plumlee- two of the best work team leaders ever!!!
*United Mission Week: It’s what my church, First United Methodist Church in Mansfield, does in place of a mission trip. Instead of traveling somewhere, we stay in Mansfield and basically do what you would do on a mission trip here, locally. We sleep at our church and shower at members of our church’s houses. We started doing this 5 years ago, when our youth group got too big to travel all together. They were having trouble finding places for us to all sleep and shower, so they came up with this, and haven’t looked back.
A Few Stats About This Year’s Mission Week:
- This year was our church’s largest mission week ever.
- 29 Work Teams
- 139 High Schoolers
- 85 Middle Schoolers
- 5 Special Needs
- 30 High School Adults
- 22 Middle School Adults
- 12 Special Needs Adults
- 40 Leadership People
Plus, the countless other people that helped- whether it be to cook, bring the work teams snacks, families who opened up their showers to sweaty teenager, etc. Because of all of these amazing people, we were able to make a huge impact on Mansfield and the surrounding area for the 5th year in a row!