Reflections on Tour

Moments on the youth trip last week:

*Three times the youth had to roll off the bus, set up, change costumes, and perform with about half an hour transition time. (We had some trouble with timing our travel.) They didn't complain, and they performed well. The show just kept getting better.

*While sitting around eating Chinese food with someone's iPod on speakers Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" came on and suddenly everyone in the room was singing it (me included) complete with all the riffs and air guitar. (Journey? Where did that come from?)

*We got on and off the El several times with 27 youth and did not lose anyone. And we did not get lost until we were two blocks from our church at 10 p.m. at a five corner intersection when suddenly my interior GPS called it quits and I had no idea where we were.

*We learned about homeless youth in the Lakeview area of Chicago. The youth were creative and resilient as they spoke about trying to figure out what they would do if they were homeless. I hope they never have to figure it out.

*Parking the bus was amazingly hard, and we got so lucky. Several adults spent the day before we left trying to find a parking place for the big yellow machine with the attached trailer. I finally got permission from the Masonic Hospital in Lincoln Park to park the bus on their construction site. It worked perfectly. I need to send them a thank you note.

*The youth played a game called "Wah" that involved shouting and coordinated rhythms around a circle. I can almost play it. They would play it anywhere, even on a downtown corner of Chicago. We have it on video to prove it.

*No one got sick on the trip. We talked about canceling it because a few people were recovering from the flu ("the" flu, probably) and everyone had been exposed. But we made up our list of precautions and options and contingencies and left and no one got sick.

*We got an amazing amount of work done on the Habitat House. We painted the entire interior of the house, fitted in new electrical outlets, painted two tool sheds, framed a play area, and landscaped one yard. And the youth said they enjoyed the work.

*The Senior Testimonies were moving. Everyone brought in kleenex, so I should have guessed. Some started crying before they even spoke of their years with the Followers, and their love of the youth group, and their hope that future youth will continue to care for one another as they have experienced care.

*The chaperones were amazingly patient. The trip was nine days with no alone time, difficult sleeping conditions, only occasional good coffee, long rides and hard work. They are dedicated adults and parents, generous and kind to all the youth and to one another.

*I got a hard time for not crying at the Senior Testimonies. But the next day when the youth performed their show, "On the Eve of Eden," the tears finally came. I cried for about ten minutes while a few of the seniors grinned at me. The tears came because the "Eve" character was talking about her decision to bite the apple ("the" apple, you know) and her fear that she would not be able to handle the future, along with her desire to know what the future holds for her. Suddenly it hit me -- all the seniors, who have been working on this play about Adam and Eve for months, are about the bite the apple, to leave the paradise of this loving community, to enter the larger world. And so the tears came as I thought of them leaving, and of all that awaits them.

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