It rained all morning. I was worried that we might not be able to follow through on our plans to organize a group of volunteers from H2O Church at Kent State University for a leaf-raking service project. But fortunately, conditions cleared about an hour before the time we were scheduled to start. And it actually ended up being a beautiful day for raking. We were a group a seven men, and we all arrived at the work site eager to serve.
I handed out the rakes and gave some brief instructions, and then everyone got to work. Part of the way through the project, I asked everyone to pose for a picture. And when I finished, one of the guys said, “Caption: It’s a bad day to be a leaf.” It was the perfect sentiment for our situation, because with seven of us working hard, we really were able to bully the leaves into submission, quickly piling them up by the curb.
We had budgeted two hours to help this one elderly couple clear their lawn. But we actually finished their place in thirty minutes! So we decided to move to my street and do some of my neighbors’ lawns. And by the time we were finished, we’d done six lawns in an hour and a half!
It’s super-satisfying to watch this five-minute time lapse — shrunk down to thirty-two seconds — of our work at my across-the-street neighbors’ place (the third lawn we finished in the first hour). Honestly, though, I think it felt even more satisfying to do it. To realize the power that we possess to love and serve our neighbors.
I can sometimes feel like I’m a little ol’ pastor of a relatively small church in a relatively small town with a bunch of mercurial college students. But experiences like to day prove that wrong. Both to me and to the people in my church. In truth, we are strong. We are capable. We get to use our strength to serve others. It feels like such a valuable lesson for the students of H2O Kent. Maybe even more than a Bible study or a Sunday sermon.
I hope we can build on the successes of this year’s Week of Service. I hope that we can fill the vision gap and get more students to participate in future service projects. And prove that with our people mobilized for mission, it’s a bad day to be a leaf… or poverty… or homelessness… or whatever.