Tuesday, March 07, 2006

let 'em recognize from long beach to rosecrans

I must admit, the 9:30 Mission Trip doesn't have the same vibe as it does when you live in Texas and, you know, actually go to 9:30.

For 5 years I, and 200+ of my peers, loaded unto buses for the 17 hour trek to Los Angeles. Or at least we were always told it was Los Angeles. In actuality, the "Los Angeles Mission Trip" rarely goes anywhere near Los Angeles. Two years ago, the "Los Angeles Mission Trip" went down almost exclusively in San Bernadino county. Last year, our biggest site was in Riverside. Of course, it's 200 Texans. Whadda they know? It's California. They don't know Lakewood from Hollydale. It might as well be Narnia.

So this year, I'll be donning my work jeans for a 6th year of MT goodness. This time as a native, and as a site leader for Truett Memorial Baptist in Long Beach. But when you're at 9:30, the entire spring semester (my brain is already being weaned from thinking in semesters) is focused on the indoctrination of Mission Trip. You will go or else your Spring Break will be lame and when everybody gets back, we will judge you and you will have no friends.

But I find that after living here, the overwhelming communal enthusiasm has been relegated to: "What should I do with my car?"

The upshot of this is that it has the effect of purifying my motives for taking part in the Mission Trip. I wish I could take credit for that insight, but I gotta give props to Rhonda for the illumination. For the 9:30'ers, sometimes serving Jesus isn't the highest priority in forking over $260 for a week in So-Cal. All your friends are going, that cute guy/dame is going, you sound soooo cool because all your frat brothers are going to Padre and you're going to L.A. for Spring Break (*cough*), or your Challenge leaders browbeat you into going. (see e.g., Whitten)

But now that I'm old and unknown and irrelevant to vast majority of 9:30'ers and I'm missing a week of work (after a recent two month hiatus), it seems that the sparkle and glamour of the famed Los Angeles Mission Trip has faded. And now I'm faced with the prospect of true service. Service that is inconvenient and even costly. Service that is free of the allure of gaining social status or the temptation to impress the opposite sex.

While I'm slightly melancholy over the departure of the excitement and expectation of previous years, I also wish that the rest of the students could experience Mission Trip as Hester and I will - free from the atmosphere of recreation and vacation that creeps into even the most grueling work sites. A chance to count the cost as we set aside (profitable) work and (expensive) school to serve Jesus. A chance to experience God by trusting him in a way that we never had to when we had the week off anyway.

Or maybe I should just lighten up. And no, you can't have a ride to the work site.