The end of any mission trip is always a mixed blessing. There is the sense of loss – we’re leaving our newly-discovered rhythms of life together, saying goodbye to people we’ve shared significant time and stories with, and thinking about what waits for us at home in terms of unfinished projects, unanswered mail, and general life. On the other hand, after a week or so, sleeping in a “real” bed and being with the people who normally populate our worlds starts to sound pretty appealing, too.
When we’ve finished our work in the Rio Grande Valley, we’re in for a long journey home. We drive to San Antonio, which usually takes about five hours. One traditional marker is the checkpoint in Falfurrias, which allows us to get a glimpse into the operations of our Border Patrol. It has become tradition to track the amount of contraband posted outside the zone.
We also take advantage of the ride to look for wildlife – most notably a zebra that lives on one of the ranches near Alice, TX. But this year was stripe less…no zebra to be found. A few birds, though:
Once in San Antonio, we spend the night, we look at the Alamo, stroll the Riverwalk, and pack. This year, we reconnected with our old friend Matt Fricker. Matt was a seminarian at Crafton Heights and The Open Door, and is now the Youth Director for a LARGE church in San Antonio. His congregation has space for rent that beats the downtown hotel prices, and so we met up with Matt and his daughter, Emma.
We chose a dining spot based on the availability of a challenge to which several of our men felt the need to respond: eating a two pound hamburger with a mountain of fries and onion rings. If the eater is “successful”, the meal is free and he would receive a new t-shirt and have his photo posted on the wall. Alas, although Sean and Steve attempted to rise to the occasion, they were unable to bring it home and will thus be traveling in their old clothes today – no new wardrobe!
The bottom line, though, is the fact that this group of men and women spent some wonderful and quality time together; we encountered the body of Christ in three very different congregations, we served and received service, and we know something more about joy, about faithfulness, and about life together. We are grateful for the opportunities that we’ve shared and eager to share the ways we’ve grown with the folks in Pittsburgh.