By Meriah Grove, Senior at St. Patrick's
In the weeks prior to the Harrisburg Mission trip of 2015, I was bursting with excitement. I could not wait to spend a week with some of my closest friends doing my favorite kind of work. (I honestly could have done without the 4 AM wake up call the Sunday we embarked, but that is beyond the point I am trying to make.) I had never been on a mission trip before, and thought I was ready to conquer anything this trip could throw at me. God, however, proved to me that He had plans to completely turn my world upside-down.
Early on a bright and sunny Monday morning, my work group was given our work site for the next two days. We were told that we were to help an elderly handicapped couple that desperately needed cleaning around their home. Their names were Doug and Deb, and for me to say that they were the some of the most amazing people I have ever met is to understate them entirely. We were charged with the job of clearing out their garage and shed, leveling the shed, and helping them throw some stuff away to make room for them to pursue woodworking. Sounds simple enough right?
Well, the garage was filled floor-to-celling with stuff that they had collected over 20 years, the shed was too full to even walk in, and the entire foundation of the shed was so rotted that it could have given out at any second. Obviously, we had our work cut out for us, and I must say we rose to the challenge. We set to work immediately, picking up boxes and moving them from the garage to the backyard, clearing out the shed, ripping out the old foundation, buying new wood to completely rebuild the foundation, and finally putting the shed back on. Doug and Deb were so moved by the work we had done in the first day alone that they teared up and gave each of us a huge hug. And the honest truth was, we could not have been happier to do the work! Each one of us came to adore Doug and Deb so much; we would have happily stayed with them all week. But even in this first day when we got so much good work done, we never actually got to throw any of the stuff away.
It was in the second day when I truly found God in the mess of stuff. Deb expressed to me how difficult it was for her to get rid of anything because of the connections to the past the stuff provided for her and Doug. But in a moment she called two other people and me into a prayer circle where she prayed to God, begging him to finally give her the strength she needed to let the past go. This is where I felt Him. I felt the epic release and the immediate strength she so desperately needed flow through our hands into hers. I felt his love surrounding us in ways I had never known, and from that moment on, she was finally able to throw things away. The progress we made that day was almost unbelievable! We ended the day with two whole cars and twenty trash bags full of stuff to be taken to the dump, a refurbished garden with new flowers and a freshly mowed lawn, and a far cleaner garage with enough space for them to pursue their passions.
All in all, this trip was life changing for me. It was challenging physically and emotionally and nothing like what I expected it to be, but it was exactly what it was meant to be. God turned our beautiful diocese of youth and adults upside-down and I could not be any more thankful that he did. We are definitely stronger for the work he did through us in the Harrisburg community and in our own community. Truly, His love held us together in ways we never could have imagined.
Thank you Harrisburg,
you will always have a special place in my heart.