Mid-January reminds me of snow, frigid weather that chills to the bone, snow-covered mountains, snow-skiing, snowmobiling, and ice fishing.
It reminds me of seeing moose, more elk than this Alabamian ever imagined, bison, eagles, shepherds in a field of sheep, wild horses, cattle, and real cowboys. It also reminds me of teaching Bible studies.
In case you’re thinking that doesn’t sound like anything in Alabama, it wasn’t. It was in Wyoming.
Over the past 30 years, I have been blessed to participate in numerous mission trips. I have literally been across the United States, to the true four corners of our nation: Florida, New York, Alaska, and Hawaii.
I’ve done mission trips in several countries in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. The one place I have been to more times than any other is Wyoming.
When I lived in suburban Memphis, I went with mission teams to Wyoming a half-dozen times. Memphis had more population than the entire state of Wyoming! We always went in January, to teach January-Bible-Studies in churches there.
I did or saw all of the things I mentioned in the first paragraph on those trips.
Mission trips can be tough, trying, and demanding. Occasionally, they can even be dangerous and frightening, although I have never felt like my life was in jeopardy on one. The work is often difficult and the cultural and climate differences take some getting used to for an ole Sand Mountain Alabama boy.
I’ve been on some that were all work and no play, but I’ve never been on one that was all play and no work. The latter would not be a mission trip but a vacation! I have been on some that included play and lots of fun. Wyoming was perhaps the best at that.
I taught Bible studies and sang in churches across western Wyoming, from Rock Springs, Evanston, La-Barge, Big Piney, to Pinedale.
Sometimes I stayed in small motels, but my favorites were when I stayed in church members homes and ate at their tables.
I ate elk, buffalo burgers and chili, pheasant, and ice cream that the hostess brought in from off the back deck outside. I visited an elk reserve in Jackson, where we rode in the middle of the herd on a horse-drawn sled. We drove our car through the middle of a cowherd, which was being pushed by cowboys on horses down the middle of a country road. I went snow skiing at least once each week I was there; once when it was ten degrees.
Once I was taken on a snowmobile trip high into the Teton Mountains. That’s my one and only time to drive a snowmobile, or snow-machine as they called them, but I had a blast.
I never went ice fishing, but I did see others doing it. I couldn’t figure out how to get a boat on the water. I’m teasing. They didn’t need a boat. They drove their trucks right out on the lake to their fishing spot. That may be why I never went, but now I regret that I didn’t.
So you don’t get the Impression that all I did on mission trips was play, I’ve also helped build houses and churches, cleaned up after storms and floods, worked in medical clinics, and preached, taught, sang, or did humor.
If you’ve never gone on a mission trip, don’t put it off and then one day look back with regret... go!
It will cost you money and you won’t get paid, but I promise you, it will be one of the most fulfilling experiences of your life.
You will be blessed as you bless those you’ve gone to help, but if you go to Wyoming in winter, take your long-Johns!
— Bill King is a native of Rainsville, where he and his wife graduated from Plainview High School. King is a director of missions in Opelika, a writer, musician and author. His column appears in the Times-Journal weekend edition. Visit brobillybob.com for more information.