“This is amazing grace
This is unfailing love
That You would take my place
That You would bear my cross
You lay down Your life
That I would be set free
Oh, Jesus, I sing for
All that You’ve done for me”
~ This is Amazing Grace by Phil Wickham
I am beyond thankful that I was able experience this past week with these 6 youth. These youth have put in so much time preparing and fundraising for this trip and have given up a week of their summer to go and serve God’s people, people they’ve never met before. At the beginning of the week these youth were friends who tolerated each other. But by the end of the week, they were more like family, bickering, teasing, laughing, and smiling with each other. I have seen passion in these youths to connect with people on a level beyond screens. I have seen them love kids who they’ve known for only a couple days, and I have seen them welcome a different community and culture with acceptance. I have seen them not only break down their personal walls, but their walls didn't even exist this week. There was laughter this week and there were happy tears. We have been forever changed by the Ojibwe people and by the Youthworks staff this summer, by J.P.,, Sarah, Danielle, Justin, and Amethyst.
As this is the last blog post from our trip, please attend our faith sharing services Sunday, July 30th at both 8am and 10:45am service.
Saturday was a long day of driving. We left a little later than we hoped because unlike the previous week, our girls were moving a lot slower waking up. But we still beat my estimated time we’d be on the road. We ate at McDonald’s for breakfast and I was able to purchase Minion playing cards which pretty much made my day! All the youth slept (or at least were very quiet) until around 1/1:30pm in which they then yelled through the car, “When’s lunch? I’m hungry?” My response included that I was surprised they were awake but now that they are, we will stop at the next rest stop for lunch. They were adamant about going to Chick-fil-a but it was not in Mike or I’s plan to get off the interstate for lunch. We only had about 6-7 hours left in our drive by that point. But they were thankful when we stopped for lunch for the restrooms and for their lunch (even though it wasn’t Chick-fil-a). As we got closer to home, we all became antsy. The youth knew how close we were because I asked them to text their parents an hour out, a half-hour out, and fifteen minutes out. We got to the church and the kids filed out, taking their things and froze for pictures when the parent’s said to turn and smile. They also had to clean out the van because that night I took it back. And of course, a bag of popcorn was strewn about the front of the van (behind the passenger seat) so it took us a little longer to clean than we had hoped but once we were done cleaning the van, it felt good to know we were home and that we could settle into our own beds that night with our families and pets.
I saw God the Youthworks Staff, in the Ojibwe people, and in our youth.
I saw God in a lot of ways on this trip. I saw God in all the connections that were made and in knowing that God needed all these people to meet each other. We had to be in each other’s life stories for some reason. I made a really great connection with Amethyst, one of the Youthworks staff and I am excited to help her, guide her, in God’s calling to become a youth director. I remember on Monday feeling like I needed to give this girl my phone number. Um, God, I haven’t even known her for 24 hours! No! When it’s the right time, if that comes, then I will. Tuesday, I felt this feeling again. On Wednesday, Amethyst asked me about youth ministry vs Christian education and I knew at that moment, we needed to exchange contact information. Okay God, I get it now. I saw God through Amethyst and Danielle and all of the youthworks staff pulling together when Danielle was sick this week. I saw God in all of my youth. They included everyone and were open to things they had never experienced before. I saw God in all the hands that were held with the kids and piggy back rides given during Kids Club and our cook-out and I saw God in the laughter and the sunsets.
Thank you to Grace and its congregation members for supporting us financially and with your prayers for this mission trip.
This is Amazing Grace.
This morning we woke up around 6:15am to have everything packed and in the car by 7 am. Once the car was packed, we sat in the cafeteria and waited for breakfast to start. After breakfast, we did building clean up with your groups, my group (Turtle River) was assigned to clean the cafeteria. When we finished, we went back to the cafeteria to get "The Good Life" tshirts and fill out a survey on the youth works session and leaders. As we finished, the churches started to leave, just like Thursday night, it was again very emotional for Sydney and I. We, Sydney and I, got to dump water on J.P. (one of the YouthWorks staff). Fortunately, we have our new friends' snap chats or phone numbers to keep in touch. We arrived at the church in Chicago at around 8 o'clock and ordered famous Chicago deep dish pizza. After we ate dinner, we watched Mulan, this was the first time Sydney, Nathan, Mike, and I had watched it. We fell asleep around 11:30 after a long day in the car.
I saw God when all the YouthWoeks staff came to say goodbye to us at the car
This morning we woke up at 7:00 and went to eat a breakfast containing of cereal and breakfast burritos. Around 8:50 we left to go to our service site, which was a house that had a lot of trash and a burnt down house right across the street. Our group, turtle river, worked very hard on our last day of service and we made each other very happy and grateful. When we arrived home, Gracyn, our new friend Julia, and I went outside with our other friends Max and Erik to play frisbee and to hula hoop. After an hour of fun, everyone went to Paul Bunyan park to do a scavenger hunt, which we did not win. Our team name was P.Neff. One of the pictures below shows a P & N and our team!
It was very sad that our last full day was coming close to an end, but that didn't stop our fun. When we got back to the school we were staying at, we had our large group gathering to reflect our day and to pray for safe travels for the day to come. When we closed the gathering, we all got into our church groups. The YouthWorks staff washed Mike's and Kelsey's feet and prayed over them. Affter our leader's feet were washed, they wased our feet and prayed over us as well. Then, we went to all the YouthWorks staff and washed their feet which they were very grateful for. Half of us were bawling our eyes out, knowing we were never really going to see our friends again. Justin, one of the YouthWorks staff prayed with passion as we closed out of large group.
We saw God in ways we haven't seen him before. One way was when we gave two little girls our popsicle sticks and in return, one of them squirted us with her water gun.
Today was the big community cookout! It was lots of fun being able to interact with the kids over dinner, and playing with them on the park. We also danced to a drum circle. I saw God in the adults that brought the kids, since they let the kids go in front of them, and we're very polite, even if they didn't have enough food.
On Tuesday morning my crew, turtle river, went to kids club at dream catcher park. When we arrived the children were very energetic and thrilled to see us again. After kids club finished, we went to another work site called, adult day services where we helped clean buses for the seniors. We also played pool noodle hockey & sang karakoe with some of the residents. In the evening our church group went to leech lake and I swam in it! No leeches! I saw god in the youth and the children, the quick connections and bond that was created.
Today was July 17th which was my birthday. I started my celebration bright and early at 6:30am with breakfast prep! Then I ate a bagel, which was okay since I burnt it a little in the toaster, then made myself a hoagie for lunch. After breakfast there was a meeting about what to expect during sports camp. Then at sports camp I played with this little girl, Haylie, and also got beat up by a 9 year old boy named Anthony. We ate lunch around 12 and left. Then we had another meeting about our high and lows of the day. Later in the day we went to Andie and Jess's house and learned about Native American history. It was really interesting and I also bought a homemade dreamcatcher from their daughter. Overall I eat this day as an 8. I saw God through all the children and get closeness they had with each other.
We woke up at 8am at the church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. We got breakfast at Caribou coffee. After that we went back to first Lutheran Church and attended their service, which started at 10am. They were welcoming and excited for us to be there. We then went to Chipotle for lunch before starting our about 3 hr drive north. We arrived at the school that we would be staying at for the next few days. We first unloaded the van and got situated in our rooms. After that we had dinner which was sloppy joes, mac & cheese, baked beans, and salad. Then we had our youth orientation which consisted of "speed friending". The youthworks leaders asked very random questions like, "what type of ice cream most describes your life?" After that all the adults came in and we had our first large group gathering. We sang, prayed, and watched videos about youthworks and a singer/songwriter who created a song a out God. Then we got together as a church and talked about our high and lows, as well as what we are excited and nervous for. Then it was time for lights out.
I saw God in many ways. The people at first Lutheran were very nice and appreciative of what we were doing and wanted to learn more. Then when we were at Chipotle, a man there prayed before he ate his meal. Then once we got to the school, the leaders were really friendly and helped us sette in. I also saw God when He got us to all the places we needed to go safely.
July 15, 2017
This morning we woke up at 9:30 and left the church at 10 to travel to Minneapolis. We took the light rail to downtown Minneapolis where we had a delicious lunch. After our meal, we took another light rail all the way to the famous Mall of America. Our first adventure was at Sea Life where we learned all different types of facts about all marine life. After sea life, we went up to the Minnesota shops and bought our youth leader a shirt to show our appreciation towards her. When we were done on the very top floor, we went down to get delicious frozen yogurt. While two of the youth and one of the leaders wanted to continue shopping, the rest of us kids and Kelsey went down to ride a roller coaster in the Nickelodeon Universe. After the thrill of the ride, we left the mall and went to Pizza Lucé for a very filling dinner where we talked about our day. We saw God in all different, but very unique ways. Some of our sightings consisted of when many people were asking and talking about our thrivent shirts or when people were holding the door open for us with welcoming smiles. I was personally changed today by seeing how thankful i should i cherish my life or to cherish special moments and seeing how beautiful the world is when you put down your cellular device.
July 14th 2017 Blog
This morning we met at 5:30 to drive at 6 to the church in which we will sleep tonight and tomorrow night. We passed through 4 states. sydney and abby kept count of the different license plates we saw, totaling up to 34. Our God sightings were when we saw the beautiful landscapes and sunset in Wisconsin and the towering mountains in Ohio and Illinois. We stopped once in each state to use the restroom and get more food. We also saw God when the numerous people came up to us and asked us about the mission trip and where we were going. We also met a service dog in Ohio named Maverick with baby blue crystal eyes that made our day better.