|8th graders exploring Pakentuck, the tallest free-standing falls in Illinois|
I moved into Resurrection Catholic Church this summer for my summer ministry assignment. Within the first few hours, I was on a tractor, scooping and dumping as if I was back on the family farm.
But this time it was mulch—which smells a lot better than some other things we scoop and dump on farms.
We got cleaned up and went to two parish meetings that same evening, hearing about ministry to the poor and about auction fundraiser results and new school books. The second day was spent touring the school before packing up and heading on a camping trip with the 8th grade class and teachers to Camp Ondessonk nestled in the Shawnee National Forest in Illinois.
We hiked about 5 miles, made “foil burgers” over a camp fire, played many little camping games, and celebrated the class’s elementary and junior high education. At the final bonfire, some of the students decided to teach me their dance moves. They were surprised that I gave in. And even more surprised when I taught them a few moves, too. I never thought dance moves I learned years ago would be useful in this way.
On the third day, after traveling back to the parish a little earlier than the rest of the class, I went along with my summer pastor to Mater Dei’s Baccalaureate Mass for the graduating class of 2015. Countless faces of friends from Gibson County and people I've come to know since entering seminary flooded the high school on the rainy Friday evening, and though I was running on just three hours of bunk-house-quality sleep from chaperoning at the campground the night before, God provided the strength to not only make it through, but really celebrate with the class and families gathered.
This almost feels like a journal entry or something of the sort, but I share it because I’m constantly astonished at how the Lord provides for us when we do ministry for him.
Growing up on a farm has time-and-again helped me since entering seminary, and it did once again last week mulching on my first day doing ministry at Resurrection. School dances and learning new moves at FFA events before entering seminary gave those teenage kids and I something to connect over as we enjoyed a couple days camping. And, even when we might have good reason to stop giving, the Lord makes up for what we lack.