“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.