Reflections from Eleuthera

Our youth and adults just returned from an amazing week in the Bahamas. One chaperone and parent, Sara Maughan, came back with some unexpected insights. She sat in my office yesterday and declared, "That's it, I'll never miss another youth trip."

Here's more on her adventure:

Yesterday morning I asked one of my boys to pack his lunch for camp. He did so without complaint. This is notable because usually he huffs or asks me to do it for him. But last week, this boy, his older brother, and myself were on the island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas on a mission trip with the Glenn Youth. In addition to packing your own lunch to take with you to your work site, there were other chores to do, and a grueling eight-hour work day. My boy was getting off easy with a simple request to pack his own lunch in our air-conditioned home in Decatur, and he knew it.

Isn’t that what we hope for when we send our kids on mission trips? Some of the take-aways might be that they’ll come home with a heart full of gratitude or an awareness (and appreciation) of manual labor. Feelings of awareness and gratitude I expected, but there were some things I didn't anticipate.

As a chaperone, I wasn’t prepared for the direct sun and heat on our work site. My crew prepared a playground site for new equipment near the school. Within thirty minutes last Monday morning, my clothes were soaked with sweat and my back muscles revolted from the machete work. I looked around at my Glenn youth and thought, oh my, are we going to make it? And how? So, without letting them in on it, I leaned on them for strength. If they could keep going, so could I. I watched them handle extreme work conditions in stride. Occasionally, I made them rest and sit in the shade and I joined them. I spoiled them with a Coke day one because I joyfully discovered a small store nearby. Best Coke ever!

The kids on my work site kept me going through each workday. I relied on their humor and work ethic. I made it, despite seriously doubting myself on Monday at 9:30am. Leaning on the youth to get myself through was unexpected.

In addition to leaning on them, I grew to love them even more. Again, not expected. I knew Glenn Youth rocked, I did. I’ve hung out with this crew before, even chaperoned on other events, but this was different. These kids are simply the best kids I’ve ever seen in my life. Does that sound a bit much and over the top? Oh well, it’s true. These kids are good to the core of their being. I know they’re human and just as flawed as the rest of us. Case in point, I saw some kids screw up royally last week. There were tears and a couple of emotional fits, but I still hold a high opinion of them. They rally. They pull through. They apologize and move on. To quote Blair here, “They are comfortable with themselves.” Maybe that’s it. There is maturity with this lot which adults could learn from. They are also incredibly silly.

Eleuthera taught me a lot and filled my heart. God is good and these kids restore my faith that all will be well with the world. If kids like this exist, we’re going to be ok.

Thank you for sharing your reflections with us, Sara.