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How I spent my summer vacation

Young man painting during his summer vacation for Appalachia Service Project

As summer reaches its highpoint, the Rev. Dr. Margie Crawford encourages everyone to consider a vacation that includes some opportunities to learn, grow, and share the Good News with others.


Superintendent Midwest District

I can remember these words that described the first writing theme students were assigned after we returned to school each September. I don’t know if this essay became an annual staple in 4th or 5th grade. But each year, students were invited to relive those lazy, hazy, crazy days that shaped our most recent adventures. There were common experiences among the students. Camp, visits to local amusement parks like Geauga Lake, SeaWorld and Cedar Point, and picnics. Northeastern Ohio is famous for some spectacular parks as well as a large Amish community.

One-tank trips consisted of my sisters, a couple of friends from the neighborhood and my parents crowding in our family car to head to one of these or some other surprise destination. And Summer wasn’t summer without an annual visit to my aunts in Columbus, Ohio. Growing up, I thought they had the best jobs in the world. One was a confectioner and the other a baker for Lazarus Department store. But the best part about going to Columbus was the State Fair, which happened to be around the corner from where one of my aunts lived.

My essays were never what I considered “great” because, with the exception of the trip to Expo ’67 in Montreal, there was nothing extraordinary about how I spent my summer vacation. Back then, mission trips didn’t exist. There wasn’t a Vacation Bible School. Our neighborhood had a playground with its own teacher. We learned some crafts, but we kept the little trinkets we made. From time to time we collected empty pop bottles for the refund. We used that money to buy candy, because one could purchase a whole bag-full for a quarter. If there were food banks, our family didn’t make any donations. Sundays were reserved for church. All day Sunday. We’d start with Sunday School before the service, followed by two – three hours of worship, a community meal, the afternoon program, a small reception, the evening service, and then home. Caring for the sick in our church, celebrating life milestones like graduation, engagements, weddings, birthdays and funerals, were events for the entire community. Everyone prayed, applauded, or cried for those who succeeded, excelled, or struggled.

That was just how my summers were. I don’t know if there were opportunities for mission work, in my neighborhood or across the state. I wonder if other churches had Vacation Bible School, or if children there made trinkets for kids who had no toys. Did other children collect bottles and donate the change to their church so someone could be fed or find a shelter for the night?

So as this summer gets into full swing, I wonder what we will include in this fall’s essay. Will we talk about the first mission trip our youth made, that changed their lives and the lives of the adults who accompanied them? Will we share how meaningful time spent in a United Methodist camp still is? Will we celebrate a Vacation Bible School where the adults learned to see the stories of the Bible through the eyes of the next generation? Will we talk about the school supplies we were able to collect, or the garden that yielded enough produce for everyone to have more than they needed? Will we already be considering how to make what we do in mission and ministry just a little bit better, and a little bit bigger next summer?

May you be blessed as you create new opportunities to share the Good News of our Lord and Savior today and every day. And Amen.