Mission Trip In Reverse

Well, the mission trip is over. I can’t believe it. After all the time we spent praying, planning, and preparing, it went by like a flash. But it was an amazing, amazing week. I’m so thankful that I got to be apart of it.

Last week, several families from Cavanaugh Church hosted children from Eldridge, AL, and participated in various activities throughout the week. My family was fortunate enough to host two guys, Zack and Adam. Both were great and really mixed well with my family.

They arrived on Saturday. Tons of people from the church made signs and lined the driveway of the church to welcome them as they pulled in. Then, we had a nice meal and sent everyone to their host homes. It was our first opportunity to spend quality time with our host kids, and it went really well.

On Sunday, our Alabama friends got a taste of the Cavanaugh experience. Our service was a little different from what they’re used to at their home church. They all seemed to enjoy the contemporary, upbeat music and the more laid-back feel our church offered. Zack was just happy that he didn’t have to wear dress pants to church! And Sunday night, we had a church-wide carnival with food and water games. It was great for the whole church to get a chance to meet the kids and see who they have invested all their work and money into over the past couple of years.

Monday morning, we left for Silver Dollar City, and everyone had a blast. After the long drive and a lunch consisting of meatwiches (sandwiches with no bread because someone forgot to pack it), we ventured out into the heat in search of roller coasters. And we found them. The park was almost empty, so we hardly had to wait in line at all. Adam just wanted to ride Wildfire over and over again. He’d never been on a roller coaster before, but he was brave and really enjoyed himself. Kevin stepped onto a couple of roller coasters and then immediately headed for the exit. But I was proud of him just for stepping on one. And he did ride the teacups.

Tuesday was shopping day in Branson. It was a very successful, very tiring day. It was awesome to see these kids being able to tell us exactly what they wanted and then buy it. This week was all about them, and I think they really felt it on Tuesday. I shopped with Zack, and after we got his necessities, we took him to Fossil and let him pick out a watch that he wanted. He was very proud of it.

Wednesday was our free day, and we all needed it after spending the past two days in Branson. Zack and Adam spent the morning shooting guns with several of the guys from the church and spent the afternoon fishing with Don Shamp. They both had a great time, and I took some time to relax. I even went bowling with the Bennetts and their host child Mikayla. We had a good time, and it was nice to get to know another friend from Alabama.

On Thursday, we went to Lake Tenkiller. Seven guys from the church offered to drive their boats around and let us tube, ski, and just enjoy being out on the water. It was hot, but we all had a good time, and no one got seriously sunburned. I tubed for a little bit, but I ended up getting hit in the head pretty hard, so I gave up. Zack tried water-skiing, and he did really well for his first time. He’s a lot braver and more athletic than I am. We had dinner at a marina restaurant before heading home. It was a wonderful day.

Friday was our last full day with our Alabama friends, and we made the most of it. Several of the boys got together on a ranch owned by some church members and rode horses early in the morning. Then after lunch, we went to Fast Lane in Rogers. Everyone rode go-karts, played laser tag, and went bowling. It was really cool! Then we went to Alma Water Park. We rented it out Wednesday night, so it was only church people there. Nearly 200 people showed up, and we all had a lot of fun. I had never been before, and I was blown away by how awesome that water park is.

Saturday morning, we had a sendoff breakfast. It was really hard on everyone. We were all glad that we got to spend the week together and have fun, but no one wanted to say goodbye. We were all crying as the kids loaded up and took off. If we had our way, they would stay with us forever. But that’s the thing about mission trips. They end. But we were blessed with a very successful, meaningful mission trip. We didn’t have to make any compromises on our plans, and we didn’t have any major issues. It was great.

I’d like to thank everyone who was involved with the mission trip in any way, especially our friends from Alabama who came to visit us and made this week so special. I’d like to especially thank Zack and Adam for hanging out with me and my family all week. It truly was a blessing to get to know those two awesome guys. I’d like to say hi to my new friend Paula who I met on the last day of the trip. And I’d like to thank the staff and members of Cavanaugh Church for making Cavanaugh such a wonderful place and following the vision God gives us to do such amazing things. Finally, I’d like to thank God for His many blessings, the friendships we share with the kids from Alabama, and His love which we were able to share with others this week. I hope everyone involved with the mission trip was blessed as much as I was, and I hope you are blessed by reading this (lengthy) post. Until next time!