Day One…Landing In Buffalo & Heading to Gramma & Grampa’s.
Last month, four of us headed back to NY to take part in our first Home Missions Assignment (HMA)*. I wanted to share a few random thoughts, and some things we learned during the trip.
We arrived back in Dublin a week ago, but we’re still processing much of what we learned, and experienced. Here are some of them:
• The trip was not planned until relatively late in the year. And by that time, our summer was already quite full. I went into the summer seeing this trip as a huge overwhelming obstacle that we had to endure. I was not looking forward to all the travel and work that would go into it. However, we all enjoyed it far more that we ever imagined. It was exhausting…no doubt. But it was life-giving in so many ways. For example…
• In preparing for an HMA, you spend a lot of time preparing stories. Getting ready to tell churches, friends, family and partners what God…and you are doing “over there.” The best image I can come up for what we experienced is a water pitcher. I imagined myself going into the trip full and trying to ration out what we had so it would last the whole time we were in the States. And maybe we’d even one home with a few drops left. But what happened was that nearly every encounter ended up with us being encouraged, refreshed and refilled. I felt more energy at the end than the start.
• There is a rumour going around that I planned our trip based on where our schedule and the Red Sox schedule overlapped. I believe it is best if I do not respond to rumours. (It was a great game though!)
• While there were many times this happened, there was one conversation that stands out. Liz and I had dinner with friends we hadn’t seen in over 20 years and in a post-dinner chat, the wife made a comment that was simply one of the most grace-filled things we have experienced in a long time. While we did write to thank her, I don’t think she has any idea what it meant to us.
• While it would have hard to reach that level, again encounter after encounter had us being blown away by the encouragement we received. Hearing what people have been praying for us…hearing them recount life experiences that we’ve shared…it was so worth the trip!
•We drove a total of 2989 miles in 19 days. On our last day of appointments, I told the people we were meeting that we’d be going over 3000 for the trip. I miscalculated. Regardless, that was a lot of miles.
• There is an artificial-ness to these types of trips. Especially for the kids. I don’t mean that in a negative way…let me explain. When we were there, people took time off from work…they planned dinners…they invited friends over…Méabh got so many toys, fun foods and fun experiences. So her response was, “I want to move to America!” We tried to explain that if we lived there, it wouldn’t be like this everyday…I’m not sure she’s buying it. It didn’t help that two days after getting back she started school.
• While usually it was in parking lots, I did occasionally drive on the left side of the road.
• Although we didn’t have appointments in each of them, we did go through the following states at some point on our trip: 1) New York, 2) Pennsylvania, 3) Maryland, 4) DC (not actually a state, but I’m counting it), 5) Virginia, 6) Delaware, 7) New Jersey, & 8) Massachusetts (our connecting flight home was in Boston).
• We realised how important it is for us to make these trips on a more regular basis (probably every two years from now on). While I was in the States, I had a Skype call with a friend who does some creative stuff with video. We chatted about our chosen methods of storytelling (his video, mine writing). But what was reinforced to me on this trip is that nothing compares to sitting down face to face, sharing what God is doing, and why we are excited about it. While I love having people visit us here in Dublin so we can walk them around our city and show them…us making visits like this every couple of years is far more reasonable.
• One of our goals was to ensure Méabh enjoyed the trip and wasn’t bored out of her mind. She told us at one point, “I’m not even missing my sisters…I’m having too much fun!”
• Over the past couple months, including on our trip, I have had a couple friends use the phrase “TL;DR” to describe my writing style. So, I’ll leave it there.
Thanks for reading along!
Also published on Medium.