There were 21 of us. That broke down into 6 adult sponsors and 15 teens. Then we had 4 vehicles and one of them broke down on the way to Dallas.
The adventure begins. Because of our reservations in Dallas, we have to leave Mr. T at a rest stop with his car that has 3 wheels, one 'donut' spare tire and a missing lug nut. It felt like we were abandoning him but it was the best choice we could make.
Poor Mr. T. It was 8pm outside of Dallas and tire stores were all closed. He finally located one north of 635 where he could park the car for the night. Imagine driving on 635 with a very unreliable spare tire. Everyone was zooming past him while he was trying to not go over 45mph! There were a lot of friendly people who waved at him when they passed him. It must have been a condensed wave because they only used one finger....
While Mr. T. was s....l....o....w...l...y making his way into Dallas, the rest of our group made it to Whirlyball. We reserved spaces for 20 folks and had 20 folks with us. As we learned how to play Whirlyball, some of us learned quickly, some of us learned more slowly, and some of us tried to accumulate as many bruises as possible. Kudos to Lauren for the biggest bruise. And many kudos to the teens who were so patient with each other, regardless of how well they played. That was definitely a fun part of the mystery.
Next we all went to pick up Mr. T. Trying to caravan through Dallas traffic can be an adventure in itself. We all managed to get off course, lose each other, and accidentally split up at least once during the weekend. That simply added to the mystery (will we find each other again? do we know where we're going? where is everyone?) and high adventure. ('high' meaning like high blood pressure)
Then we took off to where we were going to spend the night. Nobody guessed a 4 star hotel. (which is good 'cuz they would've been wrong). They were all pleasantly surprised when we arrived at Dallas Christian College. By now it was pretty late and the girls were tuckered out. They were actually amazing. I simply told them what time to be packed and ready to go in the morning and in the morning, they were packed and ready!!
Morning came especially early for B.E. and Mr. T. Poor B. had to drive Mr. T to where his car was and then pick up breakfast for the group and get back to the college by 7:30am.
After a delightful repast of donuts and juice, we were all ready for the adventure ahead. Our first stop was Cornerstone Baptist Church. This is an amazing church. They have come into this community and are redoing it one piece at a time. Where there were drug infested apartments, there are now clinics, transition homes for foster children, food pantries, places to get free clothing, a kitchen for meals for the homeless. It was amazing to listen to this godly pastor who truly walked his talk.
Our first project was to help set up extra chairs at the church. We didn't know why, we just did as we were asked. As we were looking around the sanctuary while waiting for chairs, we noticed a big display of Redskins fan memorabilia. Then we noticed that it was all focused around something that looked out of place.... something like a coffin....and an open coffin at that! So, instead of wondering if it was a real person there, I walked over to check it out. And oh my goodness, it WAS a real body in a casket!!!!!
breathe slowly....we're making memories here....memories, not nightmares...We find out that we were actually setting up chairs for this man's funeral. It was just very odd to have the scene all set up and no one else there. That definitely upped our freaky memory scale.
Next we were off in 2 groups. One went to an apartment full of donated clothes and household stuff. There we organized and folded and folded and organized until it was all nice and tidy and we were all nice and sweaty. We were completely locked in, not just the regular door, but also the metal bar door with heavy metal screen over that! The rest of the group went to the kitchen to help prepare and serve the meal for the homeless. There were 3-4 groups there to help so our kids got more time to hang out with the people. They played dominoes and just talked. I was just amazed at how willing the teens were to do whatever was asked of them. It was hot, it wasn't a pleasant job, but they would jump up immediately when asked and I heard a number of the kids asking folks there if there was anything they could do to help. I was sure proud of that group!
Our next stop was at a local public school. Another church in Dallas, The Village, works with Cornerstone to bring crews in every summer to clean and paint and repair the neighborhood elementary school. (small world sighting - the wife of the pastor of The Village was Jaime's college roommate!) We got there at the end of their last crew. They were doing the final cleaning before school starts. The school was amazingly clean, polished, buffed and painted. We washed walls - the award for wall cleaning goes to M & P who reached the high spots as M perched on P's shoulders! We cleaned windows, lockers, scraped paint, swept, mopped and helped collect the cleaning remnants. Again, all the kids were great workers.
Our next stop was back to the church after the funeral. I am glad to report that the casket was gone. (whew). The kids folded up tables, rearranged chairs, swept, emptied trash, etc.. to get ready for church the next morning.
By this time, we were all dragging. Everyone had worked hard in the heat and was pretty worn out. So the last surprise on our mystery trip was to Bahama Bucks, truly a taste of paradise. I'd never tasted such amazing shaved ice!
One final stop for supper at Canton's World Famous Dairy Palace. They're world famous, just ask them. We rolled into Longview around 9pm.
It was a mystery trip and an adventure combined to make a most excellent memory!!