Monday, October 31, 2005

God works in many, sometimes funny, ways

God works his love in so many numerous ways, it's hard to figure out where to begin the stories I have to tell about our mission trip. There are so many to tell and I don't want to leave a single detail out. I think the best thing for me to do is tell one story at a time. That's the best way I can think of for me to process everything I have learned over the last few days. Don't expect any chronology, but hopefully, you will still see the glory of God through them. Hopefully, you'll see how Christ loves us all and forgives our transgressions.

Since, this is me telling the story, I'll first tell you a funny tale. Well, it's at least funny to me. Before leaving on this trip, it occurred to me that we didn't know what food we would be served. And it was pressed into us to eat whatever was served; a gracious Christian is happy for the nourishment the food provides and isn't concerned with taste. I told God that no matter what was served, I would eat it gladly. Even if it were beans.

I hate beans. As a small child, my parents forced me to eat pork and beans once and I've been scared of the magical fruit ever since. But, if God provides us with beans, then beans is what I was gonna love to eat. And drink a ton of water with each bite. And smile the whole time. I will humbly be (and was) thankful for whatever food is provided.

We pretty much ate like kings. That's not to say we had rich, wonderful foods and glutted our stomachs on the vast amounts of delights offered. No, we simply were thankful for the bounty provided - three pretty square meals a day, well, as square as hot dogs will allow for a meal. Bacons and eggs one morning, biscuits and gravy another. Spaghetti, gumbo (which we were late getting back for and nearly didn't eat for it was almost all gone), hamburgers, hot dogs. Thank the Lord for the wonderful food that provided us nourishment.

We ate well enough to survive and provide our bodies fuel. And I was thankful that beans, or anything else I'm picky about, had yet been served. Then, came the last night and BBQ Chicken. And where there's BBQ Chicken, it's side-serving toadie, pork and beans, follows. Sure enough, my old nemesis, the beans, had reared it's foul head.

But, I remembered my vow - humbly, I will eat whatever is served. So, I got my BBQ Chicken, I got a scoop of pork and beans and I got two big bottles of water. I said my prayer of thanks to the Lord, "Thank You for providing this food. May it nourish my body as You nourish my soul." I pressed my fork into the beans and took a deep breath. Closing my eyes as if that would ease the pain my tongue and guts would soon suffer, I put the beans into my mouth and began to chew.

And do you know what the good Lord did for me? He made them taste good. I took that first bite, got the sensation of what beans tasted and felt like on my tongue and I chuckled. I looked up to the sky, pointed up, and told God, "You're funny." Yeah, there's no real great wisdom there, I guess, but for me that was a God moment.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

More from today

The debris pile

Rotten pork bellies. Horrible stench

Our mission today

Before at 8am

An hour later

After we're finished around 5pm

A Few More Picts

This big hunka tree fell on me. More on that later.

My elbow - The only damage from the tree.

These kids helped us clean their yard from tree limbs.

Friday, October 28, 2005


You know what's interesting? We're doing a job here. A mean, people do what I am doing for a living. There are people who whack at trees with a chainsaw all day long, moving big hunka logs to their destinations. People get paid to do stuff like that. I HATE yard work. I have mowing the grass, pulling weeds. But, I'm doing all this heavy, dirty, blue collar work and I am LOVING every single minute. My body aches. I have cuts, scrapes, and bruises all over my arms. And I love every minute of this. Why? I'm doing it for God. I'm doing this for His glory. Not for money. Not for myself. How can I not love doing The Lord's work? I have never felt so much joy doing other work. I have never felt so fulfilled working so hard for no pay. What can I do to get that feeling everyday? I'm well paid and have a relatively easy job, but it has never brought me the joy I feel. And it certainly never made me feel like what I did mattered in the grand scheme. I feel like I could maybe do this for a long time.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Ray Of Hope

We cleared fallen trees and branches from four houses today. That's it. Six of us worked from 9am to 5pm and all we were able to clear was four houses. And we had chainsaws.

"One pale thin ray reaching for the day..."

The first house we stopped at took half the morning to clear out. The most wonderful thing happened when we prayed with the owner of the house and her adult son. The son thanked Jesus for sending us. Even offered up Psalms 121:2 for us. We delivered hope.

At the second house, an 85 year old man's backyard was so full of overgrowth and fallen trees and branches, you couldn't get into the backyard. We started around 11am and, by 2:30pm, the man had a new backyard. A huge yard at that.

"We can build a ray of hope..."

That man was so inspired by our act of kindness, he broke out his chainsaw and began cutting things down. We delivered hope; you could see it in his smile as he whacked away. Four houses. All now with hope for what God is doing in their lives.

A Few Picts

Little Rock Missionary Baptist Church: aka home away from home. Notice the tarp. Less than a mile from the Gulf. No shingles

And here's the steeple.

Chainsaw and tree clearing job almost halfway done... At one house.

Our second stop's pile of debris

Beautiful City

Listening to the Godspell soundtrack while driving. There's a song on the British revival called Beautiful City. It really describes what we're doing.

Out of the ruins and rubble, Out of the smoke, Out of our night ofstruggle can we build a ray of hope... We can build a beautiful city...

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

And We're Off...

And we're off. Three vans. Mine full of girls I don't know. I've got the late shift driving. I'm the only Crux-er in this van.
14 hours or so on the road. Lots of time to get to know my mates.

Of all the Bibles in our house, not a single one is small enough to fit im my bags. 5 Bibles - all big, fat, heavy somnaguns. I kinda thought bringing one was a good idea. So, I headed down to the local Christian store, convienently located by two Starbucks. I almost went with the funky lime-green covered NIV (travel sized and stylish for the Christian on the go), but I settled on a small modestly-priced Bible. And, it fits just right.

13 hours to go...

What's the point of caffeine free Mountain Dew? This one wil be gone before we hit Louisville...

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


I thought this would be an interesting experiment to try. During the mission trip training, we were told to constantly be aware of Spiritual Warfare, of Satan doing his part to hurt the mission. One thing I think he of the red horns will do is try to keep me constantly discouraged about the task and mission at hand. Then, I thought wouldn't be neat if at the moment I get discouraged, I'd receive a text message. What really interested in me in that thought was if the text message was a random Bible verse that somehow pertained to the problem and temptations I was having at that moment. I mean, it would be all mystical and all if the texted verse actually fit the situation, wouldn't it? One person sending some random Bible verse to another person, neither of which know what the other is going through at the time.

It would be like that commercial for the Time Life Books: Mysteries of the Unexplained. A woman in Wisconsin accidently burns herself on the stove and over 1,000 miles away, her twin sister's hand starting hurting. Yeah, like that, but Jesusy. Yeah, it's a word. It means... um... Jesus-likical.

Ok, I'm not making much sense with this I figure, but I was staring a two computer monitors for 13 hours straight today. So, my eyes are crossed and my scrain is brambled. Two days of that, too. Not that I'm complaining. I knew full well that taking time off right now for this mission trip wasn't the best idea at work. But, that's the sacrifice I'm making for this trip. That's the priority...

So, this experiment. Basically, when you get a wild hair in up your keester, break out your Bible (or go here) and text message me some random verse. It will be a neat experiment to see if any messages come at a time when I and/or the group needs the encouragement. Of course, for this to work, you need to have my cell phone number. And, well, if you don't have it now, you ain't getting it on this website. Though, if you email me, I might be inclined to share. And if you don't have text message capabilities, whether you have my cell number or not, there are ways around that (Send to: everythinggrey).

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Lay Your Hands On Me: Not Just a Bon Jovi Song

It occurred to me today that this mission trip will not be the first time I've been to Gulfport/Biloxi, MS with a religious group. When I was younger, probably 12 or 13, the church CYO set up an overnight trip to the Gulf Beaches there. We camped on the beach. I don't remember learning any "Jesus-stuff," and I got a majorly painful heat rash where by thighs chaffed together. It was hard to walk. I think I more or less waddled my way around. Bit of advice, don't go out into to Gulf of Mexico with a heat rash. Just trust me on that one. Hopefully, different lessons will be learned this time around.

It also occurred to me that I have possibly set myself up here to fail. You see, while it's very cool to possess the technology to blog about this mission trip, including pictures and audio if necessary, using my cell phone, that doesn't mean my cell phone will work properly while we're there. The cell lines are likely still down. So, while I'm prepared to go forward, blogging this trip could be the biggest flop I've ever attempted here. If that's the case, I'm sorry. But, I'll be keeping a written journal and, at the very least, post those here after the trip.

Today at worship, one of the coolest things I have ever experienced since coming to Christ happened. The Crux is sending three people to be apart of this mission trip. We're partnering with our mother church for a total of 26 people. Well, towards the end of our worship, we three were called forward. Denny and I were representing, but Jane wasn't there. Then, Pastor Brad called people forward who were in our D-teams or who just liked us (his words, if I recall). we got on our knees and everyone assembled at the front of the theatre laid hands on us while Pastor Daron led a prayer for us. And, I have to tell you, that was just an amazing experience. I don't exactly know who all was participating, and it doesn't matter. It was just touching (quite literally) that people would do that and pray for us. Stuff like that freaks me out in a good way everyday and reminds me that God is working in my life.

So, we were supposed to ask five people to pray for us while we're on the trip - prayer partners to, well, pray for us and the success of the mission. I think I overachieved. I've got at least seven and I want to thank them. One of them is in charge of a prayer group and has said all 30+ of them will pray for us. Numerous people have told me the same. I don't know if I can put into words the hope and faith this is giving me. To say, "that's freaking sweet" is such the understatement and honestly, isn't worthy of describing these acts.

And now for the random tangent. I was watching Superman: The Movie on DVD yesterday. Well, trying to watch as the dang library disk was all scratched up and kept stopping. But, I got to notice this little gem of comedy that Hollywood would not be able to get away with today I don't think. In the scene, Superman (*sniff* Christopher Reeve*) has just rescued a little girl's cat from a tree. As he flies off, the girl ran into the house and told her mommy a flying man just plucked the kitty from the tree. You only hear this from outside the house; you don't see what's going on in the house. Here's the completely un-P. C. a reply from the mother: "Little girl, I've told you about making up stories." And then you hear a very audible *slap* just before the scene cuts away. No doubt a character flaw of mine, but I giggled a little. Not because a little girl got slapped by her mother necessarily, but that Richard Donner got away with putting that in.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


This is my Lance Bass imitation

Don't mind me folks. I'm testing out mobile phone blogging. I'm hoping to be able to blog the mission trip from my cell phone and I'm testing out how this all works. Thanks.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Not To Us...

Yesterday, I had to attend the first of two training meetings for the mission trip. At first, I was completely weirded out. No denying that, but then again, this whole mission thing is completely new and I have no idea what's in store. I trust that God will help me get comfortable with the situations he's putting me into.

Right of the bat, I'm told we are to take our shoes off and enter the room to pray. The praying didn't bother me so much, but the taking our shoes off bit had me wondering which socks I had on and if they were holey as opposed to holy. I got over the shoe bit. After praying silently to ourselves, we were asked to get into groups of four or five and pray together for the mission. Ok, I am getting very comfortable with praying to God... when I'm all alone in a room by myself. Put me a room with total strangers and it's only natural for me to start getting freaked out.

Tangent: Prayer for me is such a personal thing it's hard to... share... that with other people. I notice that when we have to pray in any group, I can't focus on the prayer that's being offered. Don't know exactly why, but I think it has something to do with how personal, how one on one with God, prayer is for me.

Back to the story: I, of course, was the last one in my small group to speak. Just spoke from the heart and apparently my heart is filled with ums and uhs. But I digress.

We were given journals to start writing about our experiences. And, from time to time, I am going to share some of my writings. Like right now:
Luke 11:17 - Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, "Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined and a house divided against itself will fall."
We were assigned a Bible Verse to share with the group and mine was the above. All of the verses dealt with Mission and doing God's work. I thought the verse I was assigned was especially poignant. We may be divided by class, culture, race, etc, but if we cannot work together, then we're screwed. A good thought for a mission trip. Then, I realized I wasn't assigned Luke 11:17, but Mark 11:17. The fact that the verse still applies to the subject matter is, at least, interesting.

Psalm 115:1 sums up the purpose of this mission trip:
Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.
We shouldn't be on this trip to pat ourselves on the back. We are going to mourn with these people. We are going to give God glory. That's the attitude we have to have on this trip. That's the attitude I hope to apply to my life.

Monday, October 10, 2005

He really listens

It's true, you know. God really listens to your prayers and answers them. I know there's some doubters out there reading this, and doubt what you want, but I am here to tell you He exists, He loves us all, and He listens.

You see, the Hurricane Mission Trip was scheduled for Oct. 26th - Oct. 30th, which means for me to go, I'd have to be away from my family on our fifth anniversary (Oct 29th for those keeping score at home). In addition to that, work kicks into high gear around then and it's very hard to take vacation time. Sweeps pretty much means no one gets vacation. Then, there was the pesky little issue of how to pay for it.

Well, I have been praying, talking to God, asking him to clear the obstacles in the way of going serve him. I started taking donations at work - a dollar here, a dollar there - to help cover my costs. My wife is completely understanding, knowing why I need to go on this trip. And (to my fault) I don't say this nearly enough, but that's why I love her. Plus, I was allowed the time off from work to go. So, most of the obstacles were removed. But, I still needed more money to cover all the fees.

Yesterday, I got an email saying someone has paid the $100 for me to go. So, I'm going. I'm not 100% sure who it was. Upon further investigation, I'm about 99% sure someone who reads this 'blog fronted the money. And I would like to thank them from the bottom of my heart. I don't know if they wished to remain anonymus or not, but for you, dear reader, their identity doesn't matter. No, all you need to take away from this is that God listens and loves you.

In a bit of a tangent, I ran across this Bible verse during my D-Team meeting the other day. It is as simple of explanation as I can come up with to explain Christianity in simple terms. Much more simple to understand than the previous sentence:
Psalms 24:3-4
Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false.

What struck me about this verse is that It really is THAT simple and easy. Truly, It is.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Mission Work and a Plea

An exciting opportunity has opened up for me to explore missionary work. My church is partnering up with World Hope International to send a team down to Gulfport, MS to aid with Katrina relief for a few days. And, there's a chance for me to go.

This mission trip is very important to me. I don't feel I can afford to contribute monetarily to relief efforts. But, I have an able body and I have vacation days I need to use up. Some people aren't so lucky. Money, I don't have, but time and ability I got in spades. So, my intention is to donate that.

Here the problem. I have to come up with $100 by Oct 12th to pay for the trip. The money goes towards transportation, lodging and other fees associated with the mission trip. In addition to that, I would need spending money for daily living. A decent amount more would be needed for supplies like rubber gloves and face masks (don't want to get a mold infection in my lungs, you know). Seriously, you can't go without these necessary supplies.

There's no way I can afford the $100 in less than two weeks. I can probably handle the extra money beyond that. The trip isn't until the end of the month and that gives me time to eBay (and save, of course) for extra money. But, the $100 is where I'd need help. And, I'm asking you for some help.

What I'd really like to do is set up some paypal thing here, but I don't think my Bloggers terms of service will allow me to do so. Is there any one who can help me setup a link or something so I can accept paypal donations? I haven't the first clue how to do that or if I can. All donations would go directly into this missions trip.

I wouldn't expect perfect strangers (or good friends) to just write me a check for $20. I think that's asking and expecting alot. But, you know, in a week, this website gets over 100 visits (and I'm amazed at THAT number). And, if I could set up a paypal donation link here and if every hit gave a single $1 bill, well, that would go a long way to covering all the expenses of this mission trip. Heck, maybe even for your troubles, I'll send you a homemade candle. Feel free to contact me if you can help me out in anyway, shape or form. I make good candles, too.

My faith is such that if God is really calling me to serve Him on this trip, then He will make it happen. If not, well, there's still plenty of ways I can serve Him locally.