Thursday, December 14, 2006

Tough Chicks

Over the years, Hank and I have had the privilege of doing a bit of traveling, most of it with the church, doing missions projects. We have taken separate teams of men and women to do various kinds of work. While you might assume that the women may settle for "domestic" types of involvement, (and there has been lots of that!) you will be surprised to learn that New Community Church also has some 'tough chicks' in our midst. We took a trip to Jamaica a few years ago and mixed and poured concrete in a bucket brigade up a ladder and across a roof.

The men are gearing up for another trip to El Salvador in March. We have partnered with a missionary team there, helping build their campground. There are dormitories, a chapel, a prayer tower, cafeteria--everything you need to enjoy a great experience.

As I've reflected on our past trips, I thought it might be fun to share a couple humorous experiences with you.

Naturally if there's something funny it involves Larry Cellaway. You surely have by now come to know Larry as the Town Clown. He's loved by all, never vicious in his efforts to be funny, and ALWAYS effective at getting a laugh.

One trip, a few years back, the men were were heading to Honduras to help with the clean-up after Hurricane Mitch. We had a great group of guys, headed up by Hank and Larry and Bob Johnson. As is our usual tradition, the wives of the team members joined them at the church for a time of prayer before they headed for the airport. In a display of great ceremony, Larry took center stage. "Folks, we are pleased to have two new members on the team this year. Jim and Tom have not been with us before, and have never even flown before. I'd like to make a special presentation, to help them feel safe. I present each of them with this gift..." With that, Larry handed men a small, wrapped package. They each seemed a bit embarrassed by all the attention, but proceeded to open the find a single "Depends" undergarment.

I laughed about that all the way home.

Another time it was a women's trip to Jamaica. I was leading with another friend in the church, Sandy. Our flight took us to Chicago's O'Hare Airport where we were to connect on to Miami, then to Kingston.

The year was about 1993, I believe, and it was the spring of the NE "March Monster" blizzard that blasted the northeastern US. And I mean BLASTED. Airports all along the eastern seaboard were closed, and those flights had to be re-routed to various more-westerly airports. This meant a huge mess for every airport from the Midwest toward the east.

We got to Chicago with no problem, but we could not get out of Chicago. Our plane was grounded for about 5 hours. We finally were allowed to leave, and arrived in Miami at about 2:00 am. There were NO hotels to be had, no pillows or blankets left, and we were forced to sleep anywhere we could find a soft (or not!) place--floor, chair, any place to lay a tired body.

Because our luggage was still in the belly of the plane, most of us had no toiletries, meaning NO MAKE-UP! No toothbrush; no deodorant, some didn't even have a hairbrush. We were a gorgeous lot, I'll tell you.

The next day, at about the time we should have been checking in to the hotel in Kingston, we finally left Miami. By the time we dragged into the Kingston airport, we were so tired, so stiff, so irritable...and to make matters worse, one of our ladies overheard the security guards remarking about the ugly American women! Of all the nerve.

It was not a trip any of us will soon forget. Thankfully, we had a fruitful trip and accomplished a great deal for the church in Kingston. Our ladies proved themselves worth their salt. They poured concrete columns, sprayed concrete ceilings--'tough chick' work. The men were almost hard to convince of our troubles. Thankfully, our resident photographer, Carole Cellaway, took lots of pictures. And it was funny to see the looks on the men's faces when they saw their wives covered in cement mix and dirt. I think they were pretty proud of us.

So, if you think of it, pray for the Team in March, will you? It's the desire of New Community Church to show the Love of God in all corners of the world--and we have some awesome people to do it.

Let's just hope by next March airport security has loosened enough to allow us to take our toiletries in a carry-on.

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