Thursday, August 13, 2015

TBT: The 1994 Mid-High Mission Trip

This post (slightly edited) was first shared back in 2010, and over the years it has been seen by exactly 9 people. For this Throwback Thursday I'm hoping we can do a little bit better...

One of the things we knew we wanted to do in the summer of 1994 (my first in Kissimmee) was to put together some sort of mission opportunity for the middle school youth of the First United Methodist Church of Kissimmee. There had been one for high school students for years, but we wanted to let the middle school kids know that they were important too. Having arrived there in April, it was too late in the season to plan any major trip, so I focused on what we might could do in Orlando. I discovered the Second Harvest Food Bank, and found that they had lots of work for a group of teenagers, sorting food and packing boxes for delivery to shelters and soup kitchens. We decided to keep it short to keep the cost low and encourage more students to participate, and so June 26-29 we were off to O-town!

Our small group stayed at a Days Inn on International Drive, down near Wet'N'Wild in southwest Orlando. We were in the middle of a huge tourist area, especially popular with foreign tourists at the time. This was made even more interesting by the fact that the Citrus Bowl, located just down the road from us, was hosting the opening rounds of the 1994 World Cup soccer tournament. Every where we looked we saw fans of Ireland and Mexico. We spent the mornings working at Second Harvest. I remember the big deal about driving from the motel to food bank was going to down the Orange Blossom Trail. I learned why the OBT (where I had stayed with youth groups on two previous Disney trips) had such a shady reputation with the locals. It seemed like we passed a strip club about every 100 yards or so. And every time we passed one, Nate Hill was there to point it out to us, like a tour guide on a bus!  It became a tradition.  We arrived to work at 8 AM each morning. We didn't work all that many hours at Second Harvest, nor was the work all that hard. But it was hot.  Brutally hot. Just imagine being in a warehouse with no AC, in late June in Florida. When we left at noon, we were drained.

We spent the afternoons goofing off an getting to know one another. I learned a great deal about the youth who were along for the journey. We ate lunch one of the days at an all-you-can-eat Pizza Hut buffet, and the late James (Chico) Fry ate all any of us could eat-  I stayed at the restaurant with him for 15 minutes after everyone had walked back to the motel. There were girls fighting over a guy- and two of them (Hello Erin and Jen!) were cousins. We spent one afternoon and evening at Wet'N'Wild and had a great time, including several of the students riding what ever that thing is that Erin Augenblick is riding in the picture at the top. In short, we worked hard, we played hard, and we built community. In my mind it was a very successful little trip, that paved the way for future mid-high adventures. What I don't remember is who else was on that trip, although I am fairly certain Kay Hill was the other adult. I'd love some help remembering, so give me a shout if you were there. Have a great Thursday! 

Because of Jesus,

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