My church participates annually with Habitat for Humanity in what has come to be known as "The Mission Trip.”
It started around 15 years ago with numbers of around 10-15 people and now it has grown to the point where we expect at least 40, and excess applicants are turned away on a first come first serve basis with a little bias swung in favor of those who are returning. Most people on the trip are high school age and the last time many of us are able to participate is the summer after our senior year. We are not allowed to come back until we graduate from college.
Perhaps, at its conception, the Mission Trip was simply business. That is, those who went on went with the sole purpose to build. I can imagine that bonds were formed between participants, but those may have been shuffled to the passenger seat with the main focus still on building.
Presently, however, that is not the case.
There is a candlelight service on the last day of the trip where a light is passed around the room and each person shares their thoughts about the trip. This is always a special time for the seniors (not old people) on the trip, since this is the culmination of not just the present trip but also all of their other trips combined. It is a culmination of previous culminations. It is as if all of one's emotions surrounding these trips are put inside of a bottle for preserving and the individual which it belongs to is forced to put the cork on it.
At that point, sharing is pretty frickin' hard.
This year however, the candlelight ceremony was different. It held a lot of grief and despair, rather than celebration of what we had accomplished, how we grew, how we learned and perhaps even how we had healed. That night there was a sense of doom that there was going to be a diaspora at the trip's conclusion and that everybody's bonds with each other were going to be severed by the inevitable barrier of time.
So to teach us all a lesson for completely ignoring all the good in our trip and only focusing on our own desires, God blew up a tire in my van while we were driving down the highway.
We skidded across the road. We nearly tipped. We may have been due for a truly tragic event.
This was an act of God. As a Christian, I am sure of it. There were too many conveniences for this to be a coincidence. The van was driven by an EMT who owned a van of a similar model. There was no surrounding traffic when the event occurred. The police showed up very quickly. There was an exit just up the road let alone, a hotel. We only lost $200 as a result of all of the sudden hotel cancellations and re-bookings. In fact, the van was fixed just a few hours after we left with a replacement van. It was amazingly smooth. A miracle.
I'm not sure if anybody else felt this way about what had happened but what I truly believe from the bottom of my heart is that God wanted us to wake up from our illusion. What we had gone through together was too special and carried too much weight for it to be carelessly thrown to the side. We romanticized it and pretended that we were about to be exiled to the corners of the earth, destined to never see each other again. We forgot to think about the great week that we had just gone through because we were being blinded by a miserable future.
The thing about the future, which makes humans human, is that we can control it to a degree with our actions. We have the strength and ability to dictate how we pass the time. This series of events was a wakeup call. This was the grand finale, and it made the trip unforgettable, but for me at least, it purged the ideas of separation. If we could make it through this obstacle together then we could definitely see each other again in the future. There's no doubt about it.