A month ago the youth pastor at Mountview Baptist Church in Upper Arlington emailed me. He wasn’t sure, but he suspected that the church’s Thailand mission trip (where they would make water available in a remote village) was about to be canceled due to violence in that country. He wondered whether we had anything available that the team could fall back on for that same week. It just so happened that we had VBS planned for the same week, but we were without a team to lead it. I’m a girl who likes to plan ahead, but we decided to undertake planning their trip to us with just a few weeks notice.
I went to the church 10 days before they were to arrive to speak with the team. That was the first time I noticed that the team had a new name: “Plan B: Columbus”.Â I have to say I wasn’t sure how to take being labeled “Plan B” and I was afraid we were the trip that would be a disappointment to everyone compared to their overseas plan.
Spending the week with us (even sleeping in the UC House) is great for the team’s cohesiveness and growth, and also means we had their help all day every day. But that also meant that we needed to find enough things to keep a team of 20 busy for a week. We offered to help at a nearby community garden, churches, a school, and the homes of staff and volunteers who live in the neighborhood. I was afraid to tell the team at the beginning of the week that nearly everything I had for them to do was yardwork for various people. They received the news cheerfully and were thankful that they would be able to serve in our neighborhood.
But as the week began we had to make a series of adjustments. One church didn’t have anyone available to meet us. The school found a few extra projects. One volunteer in our neighborhood needed some plaster torn down. Another volunteer was creating new garden space. The community garden decided they had more work for us to do than originally planned, but other jobs fell through. As handyman jobs got taken care of at the UC house, some of our staff and volunteers in the neighborhood also benefited from the hard working group. And so the week went, a whole week of finding a plan B and keeping an eye out for plans C, D and E after that.
Day Camp wasn’t going to happen so we had a science camp for a select group of ministry kids. It was a great time as they created bubbles out of dry ice, made bubble gum, learned about reactions and rockets and on and on. VBS went very well with about 30 kids coming each night. We did learn early in the week that our canoe trip for the team and some neighborhood kids was going to have to find a plan B though. So much rain has fallen in Ohio that the canoe livery closed! After much discussion about affordable and practical options we ended the week at an indoor waterpark that gave us a great deal to spend the day.
Above all else for the week, we at Urban Connections recognize that this group was a blessing to us. The team was a varied group, including men and women, teenagers all the way up to an octogenarian, but they merged beautifully. It was a joy to see such teamwork. The did their work cheerfully, thoughtfully and with love. And for us, getting caught back up gave us the ability to breath again so that we can focus on the longer term ministry goals. I’m sad for the team that they didn’t get to go to Thailand, but what a relief it was to have their presence on the near east side. God did beautiful work through Plan B.
As I reflect on Plan B and all the plans (of mine) that came thereafter, I can now see that I was just trying to keep up with what the Lord had laid out in front of me. His plan was not rattled by rain or our cancellations or how many kids come. I am rejoicing now in being able to see that none of our plan B’s were second best in serving Him.