Here’s a few pictures (and captions) that summarize our feelings at the end of our season in Allendale:
A Taste of Heaven (Rachel Verughese): “Restoration is not only focused on the restoring of our souls and spirituality, but also a restoring of creation, including the communities around us. Before this Summer I never thought the restoration of a community could be an expression of the Gospel.”
Broken, then Restored (Michael Zuch): “Through all of these experiences God showed me He wasn’t only restoring these communities, but He was also restoring my broken view of missions. More than anything, healthy change can only happen when you place Jesus at the center, and that is something that I continue to learn this summer.”
And if you want more special memories, check out these older posts, from previous interns in Allendale:
For almost a year, we have been communicating that we would be leaving Allendale. Many people have asked us, “Is anyone going to come and take your place?” The short answer is, “No.”
We have been praying for someone to move to Allendale, particularly someone from Grace Church. One of the biggest ways that we got to support Grace Church’s work in Allendale is by being “feet on the ground.” The biggest impact we had here isn’t what we’ve done ourselves, but how we were able to connect and support others.
While we would have loved someone to have moved here this summer (and we did talk with a few individuals), I think it could be a good thing that no one else is coming here immediately. Some of the benefits of not having someone move here as we transition are:
It was the end of the last day of the final week of STEAM Camp. My daughter was sitting on the stage, and she told me, “It’s kinda’ sad that some of these kids we might not see again.”
I told her that she was right, and that I try to not think about it. I gave a half-hearted smile and big hug, and walked away with those thoughts.
Of course, if you live at the coast, this may not be one of the many advantages of living in Allendale. But for the rest of you, when was the last time you took a day trip to the beach?
We did last Thursday (Hunting Island, Beaufort):
A couple of weeks ago, I shared the story of Elevate Spring Break camp – how it came to be and what we’ve done with it. I hope that you see that this event may have originated from us with a simple thought and question, but that it was made a reality by a larger community.
A few months ago, as we were reflecting on our 3+ years in Allendale, my wife remarked, “We really haven’t done anything too difficult here.”
She’s right. For all the times when people try to give us credit or praise, or when people ask us what legacies (programs, initiatives, leaders) we are leaving behind, we have to remember why we moved here:
- To be a part of the community
- To work with kids
- To be “feet on the ground” to help others get connected
And we have to remember how all of this started. It started in January 2010, when my wife and I went away to discuss the life adventure that God had for us. We left that weekend knowing our mission from God:
I’ve still been thinking about my recent mission trip to Eleuthera, and the community and sense of mission I felt there. By our second day there, all two dozen men on our trip were in complete awe of Keith and Lori Doster, who moved – together with their two girls – to that island in January 2013. Everywhere we went on that 110-mile-long island, Keith knew and talked to people. In turn, the locals were just as excited to see him and talk to him.
Keith and Lori have obtained (and are still obtaining) this level of cultural engagement just by being in the community and showing love (such as by giving rides to people in their bus or van). We were challenged as we saw the depth and breadth of their friendships all over the island, which they built in just 15 months. We all left Eleuthera challenged and inspired to better engage our own “mission fields” back home – our families, our work, our neighborhoods, our cities, etc.
But as we engage our own communities, we must remember that God’s mission for us is more about our own obedience, instead of the results we see.
I’ve heard this several times in Allendale over the past two months: “I thought you were gone already.”
I guess this reaction is a combination of us:
- communicating in waaayyyy back in October that we would be moving,
- being out-of-town for almost half of December, (including travelling almost 2000 miles in 30 days), and
- not having many programs going on in the community during these cold winter months (besides Robotics and the upcoming spring break camp)
I’d like to think that people are pleasantly surprised to find out that we are still in Allendale, instead of them thinking, “I was hoping you’d be gone already.”
(I’m sure there are people in both camps, and that’s fine.)