The Memphis team went south on Saturday in search of warmer weather than chilly Upland had to offer. We found it in sunny Nashville, our first stop on the way to Memphis.
In Nashville, we enjoyed a restful evening filled with frisbees, fried food, and the Final Four (or the games leading up to it, anyway–I needed another “f”). We felt rejuvenated following a hectic week of midterms and continued to bond as a team through visiting Opryland, go-karting, and sleeping a good long while.
Sunday we headed to a larger church in downtown Nashville. The worship and message were a great experience for many of us, but we also spent time debriefing the service afterward. The worship, free (delicious) coffee, and high-budget nature of the church led many of us to consider what ministry looks like in a showy city like Nashville and how best to reach its star-struck people. Our conversations helped many of us to realize that the key part of any ministry is the end goal: to glorify God and proclaim his love. This was just the first of many lessons we’re learning in Tennessee.
After church we finished out the drive to Memphis and arrived at our base for the week, Service Over Self’s headquarters. We made ourselves at home among bunk beds, ping pong tables, and family-style meals, each of which has taken many of us back to our days in summer camp. We also enjoyed meeting students from two other colleges (Mizzou and the College of the Ozarks), and we quickly combined to play a few games of Murder in the Dark Sunday night.
SOS staff welcomed us and oriented us to our week, encouraging us to enter our mission as humble learners, ready to listen to the stories and pour into the lives of the homeowners we’ll be serving. Chapel Sunday night began with a focus on God’s creation, which he called “very good,” and an encouragement to remember creation’s goodness before the brokenness of the Fall which followed. Another lesson learned was that we do missions because God’s world was and is meant to be good, not because it’s broken and needs fixing.
Monday we woke early–at 7:30, to be precise, with Katy Perry’s “Eye of the Tiger” blaring loudly in our rooms–and split into our 3 work teams for the week before heading out to our sites for the week. Each team is working primarily on roofing–tearing off old layers of shingles (sometimes layers on layers on layers…), preparing the roof for new shingles, and laying down new shingles. We’re all learning how to maneuver adeptly on sloped rooftops (but don’t worry, moms and dads, we’re all harnessed securely to the peaks).
Much was accomplished at each site, and we’ve all gotten to connect with the homeowners to varying degrees. My team had the privilege of hearing one woman’s story, about her difficult life and the ways she struggles with sin, and to share the love of Christ with her. While there was no “come to Jesus” moment today, we hope and pray that our words and actions this week will speak volumes into her life–and we invite you to join us in those prayers.
In the evening, we split into two groups to visit the homes of Christians who’ve decided to move into the low-income neighborhoods in which we’re working. Although one team was unable to find their home (we wandered around Memphis for an hour looking for it), the other team was blessed to hear from a couple who are loving their neighbors in the fullest sense of the phrase. The team appreciated that the couple did not come in with the expectation of saving the community and changing everything but simply desire to build relationships and serve their neighbors well.
To sum up our Tennessee weekend, we’re excited to be working with one another as our friendships within the team deepen. Pray for our continued energy, rooftop safety, positive attitudes, and the ability for all of us to glorify God and love one another and the people with whom we interact deeply.