For the past few months whenever I have written a blog, you have had the pleasure of reading about the Overnight Welcome Centre – or at least I hope it has been a pleasure! It is a time to celebrate and give God the glory for what He has done over that period but have you ever had one of those moments where you have prepared for something so much and then just like that… it’s over?

That is what the Overnight Welcome Centre feels like. We prep, do the training, open up, welcome guests, move them on to accommodation, and then close. Although we know the end is coming, it still seems to come as a surprise. Why does that happen every single year?! When the end comes, it is almost as if you have to mourn the closing of the project. We understand why it ends – and know what we sign up to – but you truly miss the job, the people you work with and the guests. Over the four-month period you become a family and when it is over, you miss your family. I think we all know what this feels like after this past year. It is then easy to forget all you have achieved – all that you worked towards – and minimise what happened. I think we all go through moments like this and it is normal. We are human at the end of the day!

This make me think of Noah, who you will find in Genesis chapters 6 to 9. Can you imagine what it felt like for Noah? He spent so much time preparing and building the ark. Waiting on the animals coming, making sure he had all the supplies, building it exactly like God asked and then the flood came. The ark then rose with the water and the world as they knew it began disappearing under them.

I wonder what they filled their time with on the ark?

Did they worry about what was happening outside of the ark?

Did they prepare for the end of the journey?

Did they even enjoy the time together (or did they get on each other’s nerves…)?

Then one day the rain stopped. The water began to disappear and the time arrived when they could leave the ark. What a moment that must have been. I wonder if they felt nervous, excited, full of joy, or maybe even a little bit apprehensive?

So… what next for Noah, what was he going to do now that his mission was complete? Did they miss the old world or even the ark? I wonder if they felt safe in the ark, as they floated along trusting God? Did they have any understanding of what was next? Well, they rebuilt. The Lord blessed them and encouraged them to multiply and fill the earth. Sounds so simple when you read it in scripture.

So… what next for us? Life keeps going. We keep going. We move forward to the next thing that God wants us to be a part of. This does not minimise the past season or what we have just achieved but we should use the past season to be encouraged and to drive us forward. We will hand over the next season of the OWC to the Lord and trust he already has it covered.

For now, we celebrate what God has done; we miss the people who became like family, and look forward to what God has in store for us next. If it is anything like this past season, then we know it will be one to remember!

Elyse MacKinnon

Manager, Overnight Welcome Centre