Bless You

January 12, 2010
By , Houston, TX
Sleeping in the car tired and exhausted from 100o heat and enough humidity to fill the Sahara desert, seat belt safely across my chest keeping me attached to my seat in case we crashed, my van consisted of my friend, Carl, in the passenger seat; Eric, one of the youth leaders and our driver; and me, sprawled on the long row of seats asleep. We had a couple of bags in the back of our van, but not much as we had expected since we anticipated more people to be in our van. The van started to pull away from the church and gym that we had stayed at for the mission trip week. This past week had changed how I felt about God.
“Bless you,” I said to my friend as I was packing for my mission trip. While on the telephone, my friend explained that he had gotten sick right before the trip, so he couldn’t go with me. I ended the phone call and finished packing for my one week away from everything, and I was wondering if it was going to be a blessing or not. I had been on many mission trips, and after a while, it seemed really boring. I just wanted to enjoy my summer, not work during it. The whole time I thought the week was going to be one big drag. On my mission trip, I went through job sites to fix people’s homes and blessed them with better houses, while learning the meaning of teamwork. This trip had been my main challenge of the week as I could’ve just stayed home and enjoyed the warm summer sun, the salty water from the ocean, and the soft hot sand between my toes, but instead I had an mediocre week of heat, humidity, and nothing but salty water running down my face.

The first day of my mission week, I had to wake up early. I was very groggy, but despite being groggy, I still made sure I had clothes on and double-checked to make sure that I had all of my tools and equipment that I would need for the trip. When we got to my church we immediately started to load our tools and bags onto our individual vans. It surprised me to determine which of my friends were there and which of them didn’t or couldn’t show up for the mission trip. “9:30. Let’s load up the vans,” said our church leader starting up her van. There was only one van left, which had nobody in it except Carl and me. Eric, the youth leader, was driving. We drove for what felt like forever but was really only a couple of hours.

Upon arriving at the little church and its gym, we waited for 45 minutes until a lady came to let us in. “Boys downstairs, girls up stairs,” Katelyn, the leader of the whole mission trip, announced. We started to unpack our bags and set up our cots or inflatable air mattresses. Accommodations were very small, especially for the girls who were sleeping in small little rooms. To make sure no one fought over spots we had friends sleep, together and others we would fill around them. We worked together like we were making a big jigsaw puzzle. Through this process, I learned that working together was a big part of everyday life because while we were trying to unpack we had to work together to fit everyone into a sleeping spot, and it was even harder with all of the clutter of people’s clothes, sleeping bags, and not to mention the hosts didn’t prepare for us so the gym was hot. The thought of rolling over someone was in my friend’s mind and mine, especially the people sleeping around me. We then quickly had dinner and went to bed.

“Ahhhhhhhh! Not the light!” exclaimed the boys as they we were awakened by bright lights and to the sounds of leaders playing basketball. I had put my clothes on and had gotten my tools that I would need for the day. Most of the women volunteers were either making breakfast, waking up the girls, or still sleeping. Even though the guys were already up and in line for breakfast, being the gentlemen that we were, we let the ladies go first even though they were the last ones down the stairs. After a good balanced breakfast, we packed the vans and rolled out. It took us 45 minutes to get to Ms. Beatrice’s house, that was one of the many victims of Hurricane Katrina. We took a quick look at our job for the day and then went inside to introduce ourselves to Ms. Beatrice. She was African American and very old and fragile. However, she looked to be in great shape. We looked at what was going on inside the house and what needed to be done, and then, we hopped to it by removing debris. As they day went on, we moved very quickly, and soon we needed the big tools. We popped out some ladders, crowbars, and a saw. To be extra careful, we always worked together supporting each other on the ladders and making sure we were safe around power tools. We took every part of our job seriously, any small mess up or joke could injure someone to the extent of broken bones from a fall from the height of thirty feet.

Everyday felt like the same routine, getting up early and working in the blazing hot sun. It made me sweat so much that I realized how hard it was to bless people that we don’t even know. Right then, I realized that this is what Jesus went through when he blessed all of those unheard of random people in the high humidity and heat. When thinking about how much I sweat it makes me also think about how much Jesus probably sweated by not having air conditioning. Then I remembered how Christ served and healed others to show that the world can be different. All of this thinking reminded me about that acronym that people had always told me about: WWJD. At first, I never thought it was real because when I got in trouble my teachers still gave me detention and I had always believed that I shouldn’t have been punished. I had always thought the idea of punishment got you nowhere and didn’t resolve anything. I used to think it was just used to annoy someone. I remember that later I learned that punishment wasn’t bad after talking to my math teacher, Mrs. Bosch. “These aren’t to ruin your life it’s to teach you how to behave in society,” said Mrs. Bosch.
“I understand Mrs. Bosch, It just doesn’t feel like it is necessary,” I replied.
“A lot of things don’t seem necessary. Like why is it necessary to die, but we still over time humans have learned that we live for our time being and we enjoy it and then when it’s our time we take the ride up like a rocket ship aimed straight for the moon.”
“Ok Mrs. Bosch I’ll stay out of trouble more often.”
At first, I told myself to ask, “What Would Jarrett Do?” but I knew that definitely no one would follow that. Seeing my friends work so diligently, pick up debris from the damaged house, knock down the moldy walls, and put up siding made me realize that they were all sacrificing their time for the Lord in an effort to help Ms. Beatrice. In that high heat and humidity, I realized that some people really do follow the real WWJD rule, which is “What Would Jesus Do?” At that moment I realized that people who do believe in it are the Christians who have been saved by Him. The action of my fellow crewmembers had showed me that the world could be different. In all of that heat and humidity, I felt like Jesus helping this unknown person.

Finally, the end of the week, I was ready to go home and share the word of the Lord with others. I was so tired after all of the hard work we had to do all the while enduring the heat and humidity. On the ride home, I slept in our van of three people. As I slept and relaxed, I realized that Jesus went through a hard time in an effort to serve his Father, make him proud, and to sacrifice his life for everyone else. He sacrificed
His time by blessing others in the heat of the desert, despite the Pharisees attack He for healing others or blessing other people that normal people would never hang out with on Sundays or any day. This weekend seemed just like what Jesus went through where I worked in the midst of the heat and humidity, some of my friends thought I was weird for taking the trip, and blessing poor Ms. Beatrice with a repaired house that she would probably not be able to afford. Through this intense experience, I learned the different meanings of “bless you.” It is usually said when someone sneezes when they have the cold or flu, or when someone thanks you, but for me, during this trip, “bless you” means helping the other people who need the help the most.

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