Many years ago, BK (Before Kids), Leslie and I were having dinner one Sunday night in July at a Bertucci’s Restaurant near us. The place was crowded with couples and families. Scanning the room, we noticed a lot of smiles and heard plenty of laughter. Folks looked fairly healthy, rested, and happy. Had the customers that night taken a long look at Leslie and me, they would not note that we had a rested and healthy look about us. Tired, yes; weary, yes; and though they might not see it on the outside, both my wife and I were extremely happy.
Late the day before, she and I pulled into the church parking lot with a bunch of high school kids and another couple of leaders. We had completed a week-long mission trip in the mountains of Tennessee. For a week, we had slept in tents in a state park while working in the hot sun doing repairs on a number of homes. At night, we had to come back to the camping ground to make our meals. After supper, we walked to the showers for a semi-cold shower that cooled you off somewhat but not much. I was usually in a full sweat a minute after I left the bathrooms. When we arrived in the church parking lot, we were beyond exhausted. One Mom was kind enough to hand us some freshly baked blueberry muffins for our breakfast the next day. Just thinking about breakfast the next day was going to push us to the limit. We were grateful for the food.
As we sat eating dinner the next night, I remember thinking and then saying to Leslie: “I wonder if anyone here had the kind of week we did. I’m so glad that we were able to go and do the work we did and be with the young people of our church. I don’t think I would trade those weeks with anyone unless they happened to be in Maui . . . even then.”
We’re entering a great season in our church year. Starting Monday morning, we lead programs here or send groups of youth and adults to go and serve on mission trips. You might see some very tired church members for the remainder of the summer, but I predict that they will be happy all the same. Starting next week, a lot of adults and a lot of our college, high school, and middle school students will be sweating for the Lord.
· Marcia’s Music and Arts Camp, July 6 to July 10: This is our ninth year of MMAC. It’s a one-of-a kind church camp for children and youth. It features, as the name suggests, music and arts, but also Bible study and physical activity. The week honors the memory of Marcia Cappeto, a beloved TMPC member who loved children with all her heart.
· Senior High Mission Trip, July 12 to July 17: Bailey Pruner is going to have that exhausted but happy look for much of the summer. This is her first week-long trip. Bailey is leading a group of high school students to do repair work on homes that were affected by Hurricane Sandy nearly three years ago.
· Mexico City Mission Trip, July 18 to July 25: It’s my turn to go. This is our first mission trip with our new international partner, ConeXion Mosaico. A small group of us will join forces with the Media Presbyterian Church to lead a Vacation Bible School in a barrio in east Mexico City.
· Middle School Mission Trip, July 27 to July 31: Bailey hits the road again, taking middle school students to Kirkwood-Brainerd Camp in Stroudsburg, PA. Our young people will be spending half their days doing important maintenance work for the camp and half the day participating in the camping program.
· Urban Promise/Trenton Summer Camp, August 3 to August 6: A group of people will trek to Trenton every day during this week to lead summer camp for children from the City of Trenton. This is the fourth year that Thompson Church has partnered with Urban Promise/Trenton for this amazing week. One year we had 70 people from Thompson Church take part in one way or another with this camp.
· Vacation Bible School (VBS), August 10 to August 14: Patty Gatto will be among the most bleary-eyed but happy people in the church. In addition to being highly involved in Marcia’s Music and Arts Camp, Patty heads up our annual VBS.
Remember to pray for our leaders and our young people. It’s a wonderful time of the year, especially if you have the joy of taking part.