(Not So) Calm Before the Storm

by Nick Cocalis, Co-Founder and Missions Director

It’s 8am on Wednesday morning and the donuts are on the conference table at the Next Step office.

On a normal Wednesday staff members would be trickling in. Some making small talk in the hallway about last night’s game, others trying to push through their inbox before the day gets busy, and admittedly a few rolling out of bed and questioning whether or not to shower before they make their way into the office.

But not this Wednesday.

Every year there is one Wednesday that takes on its own personality. One Wednesday that doesn’t feel like the rest. We call this Wednesday: All Staff Day.

All Staff Day falls on the Wednesday before Next Step’s Summer Training Week. It is the last Wednesday before the 150 college staff arrive that will be leading 6,000 students on 150 mission trips over a 10-week period.   In other words, All Staff Day is our dry run. It’s the last due date. The final check in. The run through. The lay it all out and make sure we’re ready day.

On this Wednesday at 8am, all 21 full-time staff members are around that box of donuts on the conference table with eyes wide open and excitement stirring. To us, this is the day summer begins.

The morning starts with prayer. We pray fervently that God will guide our summer. That He will protect us, protect our students, and protect our communities. We pray God will knock down any pride, arrogance or fame from our ministry. We pray God will be glorified in all we do. We are ready to go.

For the next two hours we walk through our training week. Speakers, transitions, breakouts. Audio, video, graphics. Attitude, energy, quality. Purpose, values, leadership. We are ready to go.

Then the fun begins. Our prayer team arrives with scones and coffee in hand and begins their day of stuffing binders and arranging nametags. As the organization begins in the office, the rest of our staff heads to the parking lot to do the final check on our fleet of 45 summer vehicles. Car wash, insurance, ipass, fuel card. We are ready to go.

The team then moves to the back bay of the office. The tool library has already been organized and separated, so we jump into action on loading up our vehicles with the assigned site pallets.  Tools, materials, first aid kits, banners. We are ready to go.

Now the fun begins. Everyone’s favorite part of the day…maybe. T-shirt sorting. We stretch out the folding tables across our back parking lot. Without failure the sun is beating down, the music is cranked up loud, and we tackle 6,000 shirts. Sorting by size and boxing for the 350 churches that will join us this summer. The task is mundane as the evening hours go by, but deep in our hearts we are thinking and praying for each one of those shirts. Each shirt represents so much more. Each shirt represents a specific student, a specific young man or woman that is weeks away from a life-changing experience. As the last shirt is folded and the last box is loaded, we are ready to go.

Next Step Ministries