Decision: The trip is cancelled
Deposits: See Below
New Ways to Interact: See Below
What's Going On
It should not come as a surprise, given how things are going, but we are unable to make our mission trip to Houston a reality this year.
Caroline and I have been in communication, keeping each other informed on how things look in our particular state and how much of a chance we have at making the trip work. As of Monday, Caroline and I (with the guidance from our elderships) decided to go ahead and cancel the trip for several reasons.
- New Mexico is not likely to open up anytime soon. This means difficulty and impracticality in fundraising and meeting to plan out our VBS role.
- Social distancing would still exist, and this is impossible to do when you cram in 30-40 people in 1-2 vehicles, not to mention crossing state lines and staying in hotels and in Impact’s building.
- Houston is projected to open up around mid-June to early July. This means our week of VBS would be highly unlikely, even if we kept hope until the last second.
- Houston would also need to implement social distancing at VBS, meaning that the building could only support 50 people (40 kids and 10 staff). This would mean whittling down our team drastically, if not entirely.
- The name of the game is cautiousness. While Houston’s program provides meals to the marginalized, and is considered more essential, our role is considered a non-essential activity. We’re still regrettably far away from opening up these kinds of non-essential activity.
We had hoped the trip would still be able to work out, even a week ago, but it just isn’t the time to be able to make this kind of mission trip. In making the decision final, I reached out to the eldership for insight and was given a great deal of advice. Hopefully, we are doing a lot to help Houston by deciding to cancel our trip.
What About Deposits?
I have a list of everyone who has made the $75 deposit for the trip. At this point, we have two options:
- Roll the $75 deposit forward to next year's trip
- Work on getting refunds
This isn't the most financially stable of times. If you would like to have your deposit back, we can work on refunds. I am not entirely certain how quickly this could be done, but we should be able to at least get the ball rolling. However, it is much easier to roll the deposit forward to next year. If trip expenses hold to what they have been in the past, the deposit should still be $75. If this is the case, I can simply mark you off as having paid your deposit for next year.
Let me know what you would like to do and we will try to make it work.
First, Houston is anticipating a green-light to hold VBS for July and August. It will be scaled down dramatically, probably only hosting 40 kids and 10 interns. But, since they are able to feed kids, they are considered useful in a time of financial difficulty for many working families. Most of Impact's money comes from fundraising, which they have not been able to do, and youth group fees, which they won't be getting.
Caroline has asked if there would be anyone willing to buy this year's Impact t-shirt at $20. That's a slightly higher price than normal, but it would be helping out the program significantly. If you are interested, let me know and I can place an order for us.
In addition, as our economy and state kick back into gear, we may be able to have our own fundraiser (socially distanced, of course) to benefit Impact. I'm open to ideas on what this could be, but I've already got a few ideas in the works. The aim, again, would be to help Impact with the cost of VBS so they are able to care for those hit hard.
Second, Caroline has some creative ideas for how we could still be a part of VBS itself. So far, she has considered hosting Zoom classes/games for rotations so the little buddies can see their big buddies again this year. It's still in the rough stages of brainstorming, but the point is that we may still get to have some involvement from a distance that would bless the lives of many.
Third, at some point, we will be sending an encouragement package to Impact. We are going to print out pictures from last year (maybe just pictures of our team?) and write encouragement notes on the back from us to be passed out at Impact to the kids. Caroline said that the kids are already starting to miss their buddies terribly as she broke the news that June's VBS is canceled and that youth groups won't be able to come.
Missing out on our Houston trip is a huge bummer, but God's work and presence are not stopped by a virus. We are still a part of what God is doing, just in a more creative way. Thank you to everyone who has put in time and effort into past trips and this year's trip. I hope that you'll all be able to participate in whatever we are able to do for Impact in the coming months.