Here’s the sixth installment of my Providence series. I took a mission trip with my university, and it was pretty grand. Only a few days are left so look forward to them!
We had a day of rest and play on Thursday with no obligations, no expectation to hand out church business cards. The day was just for time to play and explore as a team. Instead of visiting Boston like past teams to Providence had done, we decided to stay faithful to the Ocean State and rode a bus to Newport. After riding for an hour with all kinds of characters, my favorite being the pale boy dressed in black with chains playing his screaming metal music loud enough for all to hear, we arrived at the quaint visitor center. The lady behind the gray-blue desk gave Julie and I a map so we could conquer the city and noted that a worthy stop was the Catholic church where Jackie O. and John Kennedy were married. Julie gathered the group who had spread out all across the center, some playing with the touch screen information booths, others reading brochures at far tables, and we took off.
The Catholic church proved to be a delightful stop because if we hadn’t dropped by we never would have me Bob. Bob was something like a groundskeeper for the church and other than attending mass every day the 84 year old informed us he spent three hours each night after his shift doing yoga. In fact, we heard more about his exercise than the beautiful church. When he started a wall-sitting contest between him and the other young men on my team I decided to stray.
Although most Grace Harbor member are leery of Catholics and don’t quite consider them under the umbrella of true Christians, the ancient Roman church has a dear place in my heart. They just understand elements of worship and reverence more than us Protestants do. I strolled around the sanctuary caressing the pointed pews and directing my thoughts toward the Austrian stained glass windows and the story they told. Beauty is something my boxy home church forgets about. The high pointed ceilings and enormous painted window at the front drew me toward worshiping God. They weren’t distracting. They guided me to where the church should want us to focus: our heavenly father.
Unfortunately, the conversation with Bob did not last much longer after I moseyed away from my group and we had to leave. My thoughts that afternoon though stayed with the Catholics for a while. Bob didn’t strike me as a Gospel preacher by any means, but I wondered how many people knew the Creator of our universe like I did.
My fun-loving team’s afternoon was filled with eating fresh seafood, enduring the cold, windy beach and piddling around on the city’s cliff walk. We soon lost interest in the sea and made our way to downtown, which was filled with fancy shops and fabulous eateries. While searching for a tea coffee shop, I passed a window with a sign for crepes and chocolate and had to pause. Making my group walk in was the best decision of my day. After chatting with the sweet server, I was surprised to discover she too identified herself as a Christian. She asked why we were in Rhode Island so far from Tennessee and we struggled to give her the true answer. Once we said we were working with a church she assured us we could tell her the whole reason we were here. After talking about sharing the Gospel and her church, we made our orders.
I thought finding a fellow believer in this French-inspired shop was delightful, but the tea-infused chocolate crepes and hot drinks she served us were just as satisfying. I had never had sweets that were so tasty and accompanied by encouraging conversation. Sadly, the time quickly came for us to depart the friendly little shop and find the team members who had strayed in search of quality coffee, which we eventually found. The rest of the day was filled with girl talk, which does indeed find its way into a mission trip, and roaming the streets of Newport. At the end of the day, I was more than glad to have left the typical road trip to Boston behind and taste the local tourism in Newport in its place.
More adventures are on their way…