“How’d It Go?”
By Dr. Bob Stouffer, High School Principal
Southside Christian School
Simpsonville, South Carolina
Monday, June 27, 2022
“How’d It Go?”
I imagine those few words were the first used by parents of the nine young men of Southside Christian High School who served at the Red Bird Mission of Kentucky on Tuesday, June 21 through Friday, June 24, 2022 as one of this year’s JTerm opportunities. Red Bird is a United Methodist organization which provides important medical and construction services to families who would otherwise not be able to afford these quality-of-life matters.
Why would the parents not be curious? This was a unique choice by their sons. Who would give up the better part of a week of summer vacation, ride in a 14-passenger school bus over circuitous mountain roads, eat camp food (not Mom’s or Dad’s), sleep in hard bunk beds, and toil in 90+ degree temperatures, instead of sleeping in and living life on their terms for that week?
I can believe these 9 high school students might not fully describe their experiences to their parents or others, and I intend to offer a full explanation of my experience, which will perhaps fill in some of the blanks with a testimony for those parents and for those who are curious about this JTerm experience.
Assistant Varsity Football Coach Allen Lowy deserves credit for casting this vision about a year ago. Neither he nor I had ever had a direct experience with Red Bird Mission prior to this trip. We were excited about over 20 participants, including male and female students and additional chaperones striking out for this trip during the first week of January, 2022. Unfortunately, COVID closed-down Red Bird during that week, and we re-advertised the option for June, 2022.
We had no idea if a single student would commit to this June JTerm, but we were thrilled by the firm commitment of Coach Lowy and the final 9 participants, including 2 rising ninth graders who threw their hats in the ring. The group was an excellent mix of ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth graders.
In particular, Coach Lowy is to be commended for his participation. Most people do not know that he gives so willingly of his time and abilities to the football program and school as a whole. Coach Lowy lives near Fort Lauderdale, Florida. During summer training and the football season, he lives in the Greenville area away from his bride and their brand-new grandchild. He will often make the drive to and from the Sunshine State. We were thrilled to have him along with this JTerm trip. He served as my co-pilot as we navigated the roads of South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky.
Please celebrate the highlights of our JTerm trip:
Extremely safe travel to and from Red Bird! (I never take safe travel for granted.)
Good camaraderie and no major disputes among the students or chaperones!
A mission organization doing noble work on behalf of impoverished families in the Appalachians
A fun “Talent/No Talent” talent show!
A very meaningful Thursday evening service of testimonials and Holy Communion
Three members of our 11-member group offering positive and articulate testimonials about our construction experiences
Good accommodations – 9 meals and air-conditioned cabins for evening rest
A project manager who showed extraordinary patience and empowered young men to perform previously untried construction work (God bless Bob Pohli!)
An ideal number of workers who seldom stood around waiting for work; ALL were willing to pitch in and help at a moment’s notice, including the heavy lifting of unloading and reloading trucks at the end of each day
Patience and perseverance during very hot days with very little shade during the work
Mental and physical toughness in digging 22 post holes through significantly hard ground and mountain rocks
Joy and laughter in the midst of challenges
Bonding of the students and chaperones
Hopefully establishing a mindset of service among all of the participants
ZERO major injuries (with power tools involved)!
Two trips to an (amazingly) nearby Dairy Queen after our 2 most difficult days of work
Most importantly, SUCCESSFUL completion of a 50-foot ramp for a man who is awaiting surgery in the near-future, with several months of wheelchair use
The genuine appreciation of homeowners Sam and Tina
I personally believe that at least 1 mission trip should be included with every JTerm season, and I also advocate for ALL of our school trips to include some mission component. Jesus came to serve, not to be served (Mark 10:45). As followers of Jesus, we are actually obligated to be outward-focused in looking for and praying for service opportunities in our local communities, state, nation, and world.
God bless Coach Lowy and our 9 warriors who so effectively represented themselves, their families, their school, and, most significantly, their LORD!