M. T. 1100 (5)

When: 2004
Where: Miami
What: Hanging out with great kids and working at a homeless shelter

So where to begin in recapping this trip…

The main focus of this trip was to hang out with some awesome kids, love on them, play with them, teach them, etc. We even planned to go to Chuckie Cheese the last day. Ah!

We were pumped the morning of the first day of camp with these kids. It was the beginning of the trip and we were still running on a somewhat adequate amount of sleep. We loaded up in our two buses and headed to camp.

Because of some construction on the way to camp, we were led a different route than originally planned which led to more traffic. We were not where we had planned to be.

And then it happened. It was probably only a matter of seconds, yet I remember it vividly in slow stages.

We were at a stop light right under a highway overpass not too far from camp. All of a sudden one of the electric poles to our left fell to the ground. Probably one to two seconds after that something caught my eye to the right of our bus.

Basically what happened was a car on the overpass lost control and hit the side of the highway where the electric pole was connected to it. Because of the hard impact, two children were thrown out of the car and fell fifty feet below to the street where we were stopped.

I think there was a brief second or two of silence when we all of us were trying to comprehend what was happening. And once we realized two children had just lost their lives and were now laying 20 feet from us, we were horrified.

To this day, I can visually remember everything that happened. I can also remember the confusion that soon followed. I remember the group discussion on how in the world we could act happy and genuine to the children we were about to meet at camp.

It was tough. Not just that first day, but every day that week. I think in the end, even though it was really hard, we celebrated with the kids we met. We took advantage of every minute we had with them to show them love and joy. It was a really special week.

Exhaustion is an understatement to how we felt at the end of the week. Drained. Nothing left. Which is why the most amazing, hilarious, memorable “talent show” took place at the end of the week. We somehow pieced together a show that displayed a variety of “talents” like dancing, interviewing to be the next president, acting, etc. It was truly a time when we just let everything go and relaxed. (We also learned the insanely fun Jungle Pong which we played constantly for the next 2 years.) It’s just what we needed at the end of the week.

But that doesn’t mean we, I, forgot what happened. I still remember everything…the anger that I felt when those 2 children lost their lives right in front of us when we were on the way to “save” others. It’s a time when I began to question a lot of things. Not necessarily doubting, but questioning. I finally started listening and seeking answers and quite a bit of growth came out of it.

Looking back, I remember this mission trip as a landmark in my life. I find I had certain thoughts and certain actions “pre-Miami” and “post-Miami.” Does anyone else have a moment like that?

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M. T. 1100 (5)

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