Friday, February 3, 2012

New Orleans Missions' Trip: Day Three (January 24, 2012)


Last night (and this morning), the weather ended up being a little too cool for me. My right arm got sore, mostly (I figured) from holding it up last night while talking on my cell phone with my mom and family, as well as from the booster tetanus I got last Thursday. In addition to that, I started having really strange dreams with bizarre images and such. Half of these dreams involved my conflicting emotions, including me beating myself up emotionally over certain mistakes I've made.

Why I dream about such things as the former, I don't know. What I do know now (rather, am starting to believe) is that dreams can be used as hinderances, as things that weigh on us and try to make us feel worthless and miserable. But I remembered Galatians 5:1-14, from yesterday's devotional. What cuts in on a good race (v. 7), I asked myself. Verse 8 says, "That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you."

Many of us (if not all of us) should know what it means to be burdened by a form of slavery--I speak not so much in a general or physical sense, but more an emotional and spiritual kind. I prayed that these things that hindered me last night would not control me today or get in the way of why I decided to go on this trip, and why I am here. I journaled a prayer, "Sustain in me why you brought me here with everybody else, the work you have called us to, and the people you have called us to make an impact to (therefore, your impact on them)."

I also had to ask myself (based on today's devotional), what cuts in on me in my own life, when it comes to living for God and serving others. For me, it's a continuing notion of what I'm interested in and what I'm passionate about. There is also an issue of time spent on certain things (e.g., reading, watching movies). Granted, I do believe God has certainly given me gifts and abilities. But when we (not just myself) choose to focus instead on our own direction, by our wants and our needs, it makes our souls look ugly. One of the things that helps me, however, is having a humble attitude. That is, not saying anything, especially when it comes to the idea of "If you can't say something nice, don't say nothing at all." (Thanks, Thumper.)

I was reminded that though we may be burdened in our physical lives, in Christ, we are set free from that. It does not have control on us. If there is an advantage to feeling low, it's that through this, we can get back up. (You ever heard that one TobyMac song?) At the same time, I had to remind myself (as Galatians 5:13-15 says) not to use said freedom for my own benefit. Part of this week, the way I saw it, was about giving our time selflessly and willingly for others. We all know the saying and command, "Love your neighbor as yourself." I sometimes forget if I really care about other people, depending on how my attitude is. I prayed for help in loving others, regardless of where they come from, and also not to be judgmental or cruel, yet discerning and wise. Staying in the area we stayed in, serving in the building we helped build, and serving the community helped me understand the aforementioned command and saying better.


***
Interesting stories from today:
- Before we left this morning, a group picture was taken of all of us on the front porch of the Yellow House.

- Several people and I played some basketball this afternoon, for fun. Nobody kept score, we just passed and shot. I think Russ and I were on the same page, considering we haven't shot hoops in a long time. I think Emily felt the same way. It was all cool, nonetheless.

- There was a lot of dust in the building, on account of so much sanding and sawing. Masks are generally required for these conditions; the kind like so many doctors where. (They hurt my nose after a while.)
Mindy took this one. That LIFT was cool, by the way.

- The Youth Group at Castle Rock meets on Tuesday nights at the current church at 6pm. (A High School Youth Group meets around the same time on Thursdays.) For the first hour, kids from the neighborhood were playing basketball, video games (I played some Wii sports, including boxing, with a guy named James), and having conversations. Youth Pastor Tyrone Christoph gave a short message at the end about the character of Jesus, as well as definitions of sin, consequences, and forgiveness. (He used verses from the book of Romans, and one from Matthew, as resources.) I was making notes as he spoke, and I was very impressed with how simple he got the message across, along with the way that he spoke to the kids. When teaching and talking to children, I learned through this that it's important not to trample on them with words and actions. True, discipline is required in some cases, but it's discipline of wisdom and patience that makes a difference. (Those were some of my prayers this week.)

Here are a few things that Tyrone spoke about tonight:

"We all agree that we've done something wrong. That makes God's standard true."

"Just because we're messed up doesn't mean we shouldn't try [to be better people]."

***
Lessons learned today:
- Try to sleep (hopefully) better tonight. I considered laying on one side (e.g., my back), with my head turned left or right. In all honesty, I do get back sores and sores on my legs from tossing and turning, but in the case of this morning, it was mostly my right arm. I did ask some of my friends if they'd lend me warm blankets, and they said sure. There were spare blankets around the house as well, so it wouldn't be a problem.

- Drink (more than) plenty of water! I got a headache this afternoon, so that told me to do so (along with input from friends).

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