Quaaludes and bikinis aside, I was on a mission trip, but for those who think God is the eternal kill-joy, I just want to assure you that He’s not. I go to a lot of places and do a lot of things, but I can honestly say that my best times have been those spent with fellow Christians, whether we were out on an adventure or simply sharing life.
Backyard Bible Schools
As I thought about the experiences which stood out for me from this trip, I wondered why I had such a hard time recalling the actual Backyard Bible Schools. That’s what we’d gone up there for. At first I kicked myself around a little. Along with stabs poked at my big mouth, the infamous Mission Tour Pub included a serious editorial which cited changed lives. Then I realized that while I was experiencing new things socially, when it came to Backyard Bible Schools, I was just doing what I’d been doing all my life. Somewhere along the way I moved from listening to leading, but the transition had been so smooth I hadn’t even noticed.
I don’t even recall what my specific duty was. We’d all had in-depth training to handle some facet of the operation. Every day we led two sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, at different locations around Racine. While some of our group walked to their backyards or were driven, those of us at the Sheets’ house were lucky enough to ride bikes provided by our hosts. That was a thrill, because at home I never got out of our neighborhood on my bike, but I was wheeling around all over Racine. My mom wouldn’t have approved, but Mom was back in Dallas.
There is one moment at a Backyard Bible School that does stand out for me. I was sitting on a swing set next to the cutest little guy you can imagine. We were in a black neighborhood which was nothing new. Our group went to West Dallas to minister from time to time, but West Dallas is in the Bible Belt and Jesus is someone the kids have a working relationship with – whether or not they are actually Christians. As I chatted with this bright, energetic guy I asked him if he knew who Jesus Christ was. He answered with pride that he knew all about Jesus Christ Superstar. Then I asked him if he realized the show was about a person who had really lived. He was amazed and excited. He wanted to know a lot more about that. The hope shining in his eyes at the possibility that Jesus Christ Superstar was real was thrilling.
For a trip that started out with such a bang, it ended in a whimper. When we all got together again, our hosts’ geographical disadvantage had moved me out of the charmed circle. The other kids were laughing about midnight raids, living in a dilapidated travel trailer and rumors of skinny dipping. The joys of pedaling around Racine and chatting about Jesus Christ Superstar didn’t hold the attention of my companions. Someone else had captured the blonde football player’s attention for awhile.
On the trip home we stopped in Chicago to visit the zoo. I know the never-ending spades game continued and Lenny was calling out blind nil-o with even greater frequency. Then if my memory serves me right, I believe the men took turns at the wheel and we drove through the night. That’s when I had a long talk with Mr. Minner, one of the sponsors who had shared the experience with us. I was both exhilarated and depressed – something only a teenager can manage. I don’t remember the details of the conversation, just the feeling that I mattered and what I was doing mattered. Mr. Minner has been gone for many years now, but the self-worth he bestowed on me that night has stayed.
Though my mind is full of mental postcards from that trip, I don’t think they would be of interest to anyone but me. If you’re one of my Lakeside buddies I hope you’ve enjoyed this stroll down memory lane and that your own memories of those days have been renewed. For the rest of my readers, thanks again for dropping by. I promised several weeks ago that we’d go to El Paso and New Mexico, but I got distracted with speech tournaments and mission trips.
I’m writing this on a beautiful Sunday morning in early March, but it will post on April 20th. A glance at my calendar tells me I’ll be spending the day on a shore excursion to Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic and heading home from my river cruse a couple of days later. I look forward to getting home and sharing my experiences – both Travel Bug Tales and Travel There stories.