What a great week. Our team was fantastic, and flexible, and wonderful to live with for a week. Even in the heat.
|Our awesome team|
|Amazing students working with kids that came to VBS|
|Me, leading one of the sessions|
But the heat aside, it was a great trip. We had a great time with the kids that came, many of them not knowing anything about church or God at all. Our students loved on these kids, and had fun with these kids, and most importantly showed Jesus to these kids. It was awesome.
But in the midst of this amazing journey, we had a reality check from back home. The day we left was the day that a fire started up in the canyon to the west of our city. We heard about the fire, but it was mostly background to the great things happening at our VBS trip. Until Tuesday. Tuesday, June 26, 2012 was the day that the winds shifted to the west, and the fire rolled over the mountains down into the city. At the worst, 35,000 people were evacuated out of their homes, 349 homes were destroyed by fire, and 2 people were killed. Even now, 2 weeks later, the fire is only at 80% containment, and there are still firefighters up in the hills working to keep any hot spots down, and contain the northern fire lines.
While this was happening back here at home, our phones were "blowing up" with texts and pictures from friends, and facebook posts and pictures about the fire. We had messages from out of state friends asking if we were OK. We had facebook pictures of the fire and destruction. We were streaming news to find out what was actually happening. But the worst was that we had several students and adults on the trip that were in the evacuation zone. Their house and family was threatened while they were away and couldn't be near. Eventually, we had to shut off the news, because it was really freaking several of them out, looking at pictures of the fire that was coming dangerously close to their homes.
We had several very personal discussions about how we have to trust God, because there is nothing we can do about this from Kansas City. Ironically, Trust God was the theme of our VBS, and we quite literally lived that out during the week. We went over what the important things are: Your family is safe. Your pets are at a shelter. You are here and safe. Your parents have gotten the few important possessions out of the house. You MUST trust God at this point. But when you are 12 years old, and on one of your first missions trips away from home, that is a difficult thing to do while looking at pictures like those above and knowing your house is in the path of that fire.
This past week, I have come to the conclusion that my friend Diane said it best: It comes down to Faith, Family and Friends. Everything else is just "stuff". In the heart of the fire raging, I asked my parents go to my house and pick up a couple papers for me. My mom asked if I wanted her to take anything else, and my answer was like Diane's: no. It's all just stuff.
If I was here, I probably would have taken a couple things that have sentimental meaning for me, but in the end, all that is still just stuff.
The important things in life are the things that cannot be quantified on an insurance form. Family. Faith. Eternal work for God's kingdom. And relationships with friends.
Am I glad it took this literal trial by fire to cement these things in my heart? No.
Am I thankful that I am a changed person, and have a clear vision of what IS important in life? Absolutely.
And as a final note, I am SUPREMELY grateful to those firefighters that have fought this fire for the past 2 weeks, and continue to do so. There are not enough words to express our gratitude to you.