Our final day, Thursday, at SOS was a mad dash to finish as much of our projects as we could, and time wasn’t on our side: storms were predicted for the late afternoon. Fortunately, each team was ready to work hard and fast, and we all accomplished much before the storms showed up, right on schedule, around 3 p.m. (this despite the windiness, sprinkles, a transformer blowing up down the block from one home, and one of us falling off the roof—but don’t worry, the harnesses work). SOS staff will be back over the next few weeks to wrap up where we left off.
In chapel Thursday night, we enjoyed worshiping with the other two schools one last time before some students shared highlights from the week and hammered nails into SOS’s “Say So” cross, which is a physical testimony to the work God has done in thousands of SOS volunteers over the last 20 years. It was a blessing for us to hear how God has been working in others’ lives this week as we reflected on what it meant to us. God certainly challenged each one of us to consider our own situations and how he calls each of us to “downward mobility,” to embrace physical and spiritual brokenness and join him in his work.
On Friday, we woke early for a quick breakfast and said farewell to our SOS team leaders and to SOS itself. We spent the day in rainy Memphis, exploring and resting before enjoying spicy fried chicken near Beale Street, Memphis’ famous musical avenue. On Beale Street, we got the chance to walk and shop, and some team members had the opportunity to talk to some men they encountered on the street. Even here, though, God continued to challenge us, as one of the men got a little bit verbally aggressive with the team. Certainly God calls us out of the safety of our comfort zones sometimes.
Saturday morning we got up and headed to our final destination: St. Louis. There we explored the famous City Museum, an old shoe factory converted into an architectural and historical jungle gym, complete with planes suspended from the outside of the building and a 10-story slide down what were once shoe chutes. After the museum, we headed to the Arch and enjoyed a pleasant evening together at its base, our last together as a team. In the evening we headed to Applebee’s for dinner and then to the hotel.
On Sunday we were blessed by Jon and Jake, our trip leaders, through a foot-washing and time of encouragement and prayer for each one of us. It was a beautiful time for us to reflect on the relationships we’ve built with one another throughout the week and a chance to look forward to continuing those relationships after we return to Taylor. I was particularly struck by the passage Jake shared with us to open and close our time:
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)
I think this demonstrates so well what we tried to do as a team throughout this week as we showed love to one another, to SOS’s staff, to the homeowners with whom we were working, and to many others we encountered in restaurants, on the streets, and in our hotels. It was really awesome today (Monday) in chapel for Dr. Jay Kesler to share about this passage (God’s so cool, right?) and encourage us as the Taylor community to love one another in order to create the body of Christ. Through loving God and loving one another, we accomplish the ultimate goal of God’s kingdom-building work, to bring as many people into to body of Christ as possible.
Thank you so much to everyone who supported us, prayed for us, and followed our work throughout this week. We’re looking forward to sharing our stories and experiences with many of you in the coming weeks. If you’d like to continue praying for us, pray that we would be challenged and changed by what we experienced in Memphis and apply what we learned in our lives. Pray also for our transition back into life at TU as we resume our studies and cope with feeling separated from our team and others we met in Memphis.
Blessings, for the last time, from Team Memphis!