upper room daily devotions

Monday, November 20, 2006

on the blue bayou...my trip to louisiana, part 1

UMCOR. Be There. Be Hope. This is the slogan for the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). Seven members of my church and I have come to the shores of the Bayou Teche to the Sager Brown Depot in Baldwin, Louisiana for a few days to work at UMCOR's Depot. United Methodists across the nation send items to be distributed to people around the world who have experienced a disaster in their lives. We arrived here last night after a day in New Orleans, and we began our work in earnest this morning.

Going on a mission trip is always a dicey deal. Will you get along with one another? Will the trip enhance people's connection to the ministries that our dollars support? Will our presence actually be helpful or not? Youth mission trips are quite different from adults trips; this is a group of only adults. It's my hope that they will find positive responses to the questions above and begin to reflect upon this one: "If we begin with the premise that the world and all that is in it belongs to God, how am I to be while on this earth?" It's my hope that we can move beyond the normal fears and anxieties that accompany any trip taken to a new place with people who are not family and delve into deeper questions of our connection to the world and to one another.

The United Methodist Church has its set of problems. It can be just as disingenuous and hypocritical as any other organization, but UMCOR is the heart of goodness in our denomination. Through the work of UMCOR, we find a commonality in purpose of making God's world a better place for all people regardless of nationality, ethnicity, race, class, or belief system. I think the UMC "does" Christianity much better than talk about it. I wish more younger people - even those younger than me - would discover UMCOR and its work. It's a great thing. It's in 88 countries doing everything from delivering necessary items for basic needs to teaching people how to farm in a sustainable way.

My break is just about over and I need to go prepare for evening devotions. The quiet of the area can be as overwhelming as the scope of the work that gets done here. The depot is quite a way from any town, much less a town of any real size. Backing onto a bayou and with nothing in sight, there are no shops, no bars, no movies, no distractions. It's a great challenge to sit under a tree and read a book, go to bed early, rise and work all day to make our shipments ready for use here in the US and around the world. Occasionally, a group may head into town for a work project, but work ends around 3:30 PM. So...back I go to prepare myself for devotions...

This photo accompanies several others in a photo gallery by Paul Jeffrey on UMCOR's website.

For more information about UMCOR, the website can be found here.

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