Posted by Anne Pruett-Barnett Friday, April 23, 2010
It is finished: the first VIM (Volunteers in Mission) trip for adults of Grace Church that anyone can remember. Before driving to the site this morning, we reminded each other of what we hoped to accomplish today; finish the painting of the house; complete the trimming around windows and doors; and finish the deck.
As we drove to the site, the threat of rain was in the air; but we believed that it would not rain until the work had been completed. While it sprinkled some during our break for lunch, the rain held off until all we had said we would do was done. Thank you, God.
During our lunch break, as we ate from brown bags, we discussed issues of faith, openly sharing with each other our thoughts. Serena was in the mix adding her perspective, giving us a glimpse into her faith. After we had finished eating and conversing, I asked each team member to take a turn sitting in the middle of our circle so we could share something positive about him/her that we had discovered this week. As I listened to the sharing, I was touched deeply by the insights of the full team into each individual on the team. Since a large part of the VIM experience concerns the forging of relationships, I was delighted. We go home from Mississippi knowing nine other persons in our church family much better than we did before this mission trip. We go home from Mississippi knowing a great deal about the couple who will be living in the house we helped to build. Serena’s willingness to be an active part of the building of Joseph’s and her home was a real gift to us; a gift that we will continue to open in the days to come.
When we had done all we came to do, we packed up the vehicles and then walked the property, once more, taking pictures to help preserve the memories of our first mission trip together. Paul Miller, who was the project leader on site, and I had the privilege of shutting the door on the house for the last time. It was a moment I will cherish. Serena was not there because she had had to drive her husband Joseph to work.
As I finished taking the last pics, I had the sudden urge to pray over the house. I asked the team to gather so we could pray a blessing on the house. As everyone was coming to pray, I asked who was going to pray. No one offered. Just as I was going to appoint someone, Edwin Brown began singing. I started singing; but somewhere along the way I realized that Edwin’s song was the prayer of blessing and stopped. As I listened to the words of an oldie but goodie, tears came to my eyes. It was a God-moment in which our hearts were touched. Below is the meaningful prayer that Edwin sang:
“Bless this house, O Lord we pray; make it safe by night and day;
bless these walls so firm and stout, keeping want and trouble out:
bless the roof and chimneys tall, let thy peace lie over all;
bless this door, that it may prove ever open to joy and love.
Bless these windows shining bright, letting in God’s heav’nly light;
bless the hearth a’blazing there, with smoke ascending like a prayer;
bless the folk who dwell within, keep them pure and free from sin;
bless us all that we may be fit O Lord to dwell with thee;
bless us all that one day we may dwell O Lord with thee.”
Helen Taylor, words/Mary Brahe, music
This prayer song came to Edwin’s mind because it is a song that he has always wanted to sing after building a new house. God moves in mysterious ways, don’t you think?
After the prayer, we moved quietly to our vehicles and returned to Camp Hope to spend our last evening together with the other team who has shared this week with us, a team from Waynesboro, PA.
Tomorrow we return home to our regular lives. Sunday is coming when I can express my gratitude to Grace Church for supporting us in this life-altering adventure of kingdom building.
In the meantime, I’m grateful to Jan, Kim, Paul, Neil, Edwin, Carol, Maryke, Glen, and my friend Penny who gave up a week of her life to lead us in this adventure, for making this a mission trip to remember! It was a lesson in team work, nurturing relationships, belonging, participating in the building of God’s kingdom, and being the Church of Jesus Christ. It was a reminder that the best thing going in The United Methodist Church is UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) and UMVIM (United Methodist Volunteers in Mission).
It is finished! I am coming home tired but filled with great joy for the gift of this team and the last six days together.
Once again, you can see the work accomplished by the team on Facebook by going to http://www.gracechurchum.org/, and clicking on the FB link.
Now off to bed in the Camp Hope dorm for the last time. Sweet dreams.