There are certain things in life that I continually struggle to describe in full. They are either so big, so complex or so full of emotion that words and pictures just don’t seem to describe them. So instead of trying to really describe those things, I compare them to fireworks.
Before I really dive into that comparison, you should know that I absolutely love fireworks, I find them to be completely delightful. I think of fireworks the way most people think about puppies, they just bring me pure joy. This joy only applies to fireworks seen in person (pictures and videos don’t count) and close enough to hear the noise. One year in Chicago, my friends and I watched the fireworks show for the Fourth of July from a far off beach, it was awful! We could see them just fine, but you couldn’t hear them. The crowd wasn’t truly experiencing it, at least not the way I think you should experience fireworks. People were talking and laughing and it just wasn’t the same as hearing them explode over us. We missed one of my favorite parts of a fireworks show, the hush that falls over the crowd as they all take in the wonder together. The experience of seeing, hearing and feeling fireworks alongside other people is something that I find completely breathtaking.
So with my feelings about fireworks in mind, and maybe your own too, imagine trying to describe a fireworks show to someone who had no concept of what fireworks were. Maybe you had a picture to show them or maybe even a video, but no amount of information could replicate the feeling of seeing fireworks in person.
That is how I feel about mission trips. They are so complex that they can’t be described in full. They are so extraordinary that they can’t be truly understood unless you saw it in person. It is one thing to hear about a trip, to see pictures from a trip, but there is nothing like experiencing it in person. There is something special that happens when you are spending all of your time with the same group of people, when you are serving as the hands and feet of Christ together, when you are worshiping together each night. Mission trips have been where I have grown the most in my faith throughout my faith journey. They have been the places that I have felt the deepest connections to God, to my friends and leaders and to my purpose as a Christian. Each trip I have experienced, as a student and as a leader, have been firework moments. Times so amazing that I struggled to fully express to others what I had experienced.
I hope that all of the students and adults who experienced mission trip this year had the same ‘firework’ level experience that I did. Even more so, I hope they do their absolute best to do the impossible, describe fully this wonderful, firework level experience of serving God and others alongside their friends.