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My name is Jackie Cromer and I am from Maryland. I am a lifelong Lutheran and grew up in a family that was very involved in church life and outreach. I have been a part of Redeemer, Maryland’s mission trip ministry since Hurricane Katrina. It hasn’t always been easy – there have been a lot of times when obstacles have been put in my way – but God has always put someone there to help me overcome them.

I come on each trip with no expectations: God already has a plan. When I have had my own agenda, God has always humbled me, and pointed me in His direction, not mine. I like to say that God puts you where He wants you: it is then up to you to figure out what He wants you to do, and then you do it. I also like to say that He has a sense of humor: I’m originally from Upstate New York, and don’t like to be hot…He’s sent me here, Mississippi, Mexico, and in January, Kenya…

I have no special skills other than a willingness to try anything and do my best. I can paint and do drywall, clean just about anything, and organize, but would really rather not play with power tools.  It’s best for all involved. I have aches and pains that make me a little less strong and  flexible than I think I am.  My spirit is always willing, but sometimes the body says “no.” I need to listen more to Him than to myself.

I have my camera with me at all times, not only to record God’s work being done, but also to share it with others, and to hopefully inspire someone else to step up and step out in His Name. I so look forward to renewing friendships with Christ the King Lutheran Church in Birmingham and CSM, or whomever else God puts in my path. So, whenever I come on one of these trips, I am more than a little excited because I know God is with us, and He will do great things through us. But I am also a little apprehensive because my skill set is not the best, and I worry about failing Him and the other team members.

These face-to-face encounters with families brings the mission of connecting resources with needs into a clear view with a personal perspective that inevitably wrap around your heart.

Meeting David King was amazing – here was this wonderful Child of God welcoming us with an amazing smile and even more amazing hugs! I can only imagine how I would feel to have a group of strangers come and completely redo my home – Fear? Anger? Sadness? Embarrassment? Overwhelmed? Whatever he may have felt, what I mainly saw was the wonder and excitement that here were fellow Brothers and Sisters in Christ that had come to help him joyfully.  Continually thanking and praising God. Yes, there were a couple of times when he looked tired, and was a little on edge, especially when it came down to deciding what was to stay, and what was to be replaced, which is understandable because of the memories. But in the midst of all the hard work going on, there was joy and there was laughter, and there was fellowship and even more hugs that spread beyond the walls of his home. It spread to the utilities office, his next door neighbors, and a man up the street. It was spread by a smile and a “Hi, how are you”?

All our talents and gifts were put to good use – somehow, everyone just picked a job and did it, whether it was prepping, painting, cleaning, demolishing and rebuilding the kitchen, refurbishing David’s home – it all came together with work being done by several different groups, who, if not at the start, were friends at the end. I Peter 4: 10 says – “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” Each one gave encouragement not only to David, but to each other. It was so wonderful to work alongside him and them! We were all empowered. We took time to learn more about each other and to praise and support each other. We prayed together. We ate together. We were, and are, the Body of Christ. That is the common thread that ties us all together. My only regrets are that we had to leave a day early due to the impending hurricane weather, and that I did not get to see the finished result.

Two different verses came to me over and over during the week:  Psalm 118: 24 “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.”  This is my personal verse – every morning I pray, “Lord, this is the day that You have made. I will rejoice, and I will be glad in it.” The other verse is Proverbs 3: 5 – 6:  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” I was able to face each day and situation with joy, and by putting my trust in Him, I was able to help serve David and the other team members, here on Earth.

I do not know what the future holds for me, or any of us. I only know that I am here on earth to be His Hands and Feet, and that I will always try to do His Will to the best of my ability, and to encourage others to know and love Him as I do. I eagerly look forward to what He has planned
for me, the whole team, and David.

In His Perfect Peace and Love – Jackie