Fill your heart or fill your suitcase


Pastor Bob Chell

Here’s the reflection….

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Glove $ 4.95

A week of muck: PRICELESS

Six weeks from now, 56 of us will board a bus for a 21-hour ride to New Orleans for a week of mucking out homes ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. We’ll sleep on cots, work until we’re exhausted, and have the time of our lives.

In recent years, we’ve been to Washington, D.C., Denver, Atlanta, Jamaica, El Paso/Juarez, the Navajo Nation, and Rio Grande Valley on spring break mission and service trips.

Students sign up for a myriad of reasons. Some want to travel to someplace warm, others are interested in seeing another culture or country. Still others come because it’s cheap. We keep the prices low so those who can hardly afford a week off from work, let alone a semester abroad, can go. A few come because their friends are going. Many are searching for ways to make a difference. Others are searching for themselves. More than one have returned to change majors and life’s direction.

The reasons students choose to come are many. The reason the trip is offered is simple. Faith compels us to do what Christ commands: feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless and visit the sick. Those who go learn this is not obligation, but opportunity. Opportunity to learn and grow and become the people God calls us to be.

Every year, the evaluations begin the same: I went to help, but … I learned, I discovered, I found, I realized … They end the same, too, with the realization students received more than they gave.

Those who make the journey discover the truth of what Jesus said: ” … you will find your life by losing it.” Some discover their life’s vocation by losing themselves in the needs of another. Those who risk opening themselves to others witness the deep joy of those poor in material goods, but rich in faith, spirit and relationships. More than a few have come home with empty suitcases, their clothes left with those who have little. It’s a good trade: an empty suitcase for a full heart.

One need not travel to far away places to discover God’s people. The Harvest Table in Brookings serves the hungry every Monday evening. Tutors are always in demand at the elementary schools, and anyone is welcome to swing a hammer with Habitat for Humanity.

Lend a hand and meet your own best self: one of God’s own people.

#1.884581:2116879260.jpg:pastorbob_tc.jpg:Bob Chell, Religion Columnist:Ty Carlson