Saturday, July 31, 2010

So close to home, yet so far away

Today’s adventure was – to be frank – rather dull.  We got up and out of the Twin Cities church around 7am and got on the road… and stayed on the road until about 10pm.  Of course, that includes a switch from CST to EST – something we didn’t remember until we hit Indiana. We did get to see quite a bit of the Iowan countryside and small towns.  America really does have quite a few beautiful small towns – Staunton (of course) being one of them.

During the trip my car listened to a rather depressing book on cd while the other van sang silly songs and had a contest that, well, let’s just say the beans at Taco Bell probably helped.  I think even with the depressing book I had the better driving deal. 

We did get some good prep work done for Mission Sunday, though.  There’s a lot to share and we have some idea now of how we might go about sharing it.

We have arrived safe and sound in Indianapolis and are staying at Second Presbyterian Church here.  

Tomorrow means home and while I’ve had a marvelous time, it will be nice to sleep on something other than an air mattress.

Day Five AND Day Six – Thursday and Friday (the beginning and the end)

Sorry for no update last night.  For those of you who have not experience a YouthWorks trip before (and I’m assuming that’s most) Thursday evening’s worship ends with a very powerful and very emotionally draining piece of worship.  Sleep had to take the priority for this woman.

Thursday was an all around grace-filled day. 

We had our last day of work at our ministry sites. 

We played and talked with kids


and finished painting a house!


In the evening we took a field trip to


went for a walk and heard a very interesting legend about the place we were visiting. 


And, being us, we had a rocking good time in the van as we traveled there and back.


Of course, we also took time to take in the beautiful landscape around us.


When we got back we were treated to a dramatic performance by a few of our very own church members; it was so funny that several other church folks said they didn’t just almost pee their pants.  I can’t tell you what exactly happened, but I will post this picture of Shelby rehearsing and let your imagination take over from there.


The evening closed with that worship where the Holy Spirit was present so powerfully.  It was wonderful and sacred and will stay with me for years to come.  Our youth are truly beloved children of God.

The next day (Friday!) we woke up early, packed the vans, helped clean up the building, and said good-bye to the friends we had made. 


The staff we worked with were beyond phenomenal and a true blessings to all of us.  Thank you Eric, Gina, David, and Calvin.

Today’s road trip was pretty tame.  We made a special stop in Alexandria, MN for me.  I would go to a lake about 20 or so minutes from there every summer for the Minette family reunion.  It was quite special for me to be able to stop in this old familiar town and share a bit of my childhood with our kids.  And that had to mean we met Big Ole.


When we got to the Twin Cities, it was a quick drop off of our stuff at the church we are staying at and on to the Mall of America.

Very serious theological reflection happened here, as you can see.

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Tomorrow is an early day as we drive to Indiana which means I’m off to bed!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Day Four – Wednesday

Maybe it was the weather – the high was around 77 with bright blue skies. Maybe it was that we all got to experience new works sites.  Maybe it was that our work groups have really gelled and we’ve made friends out of strangers.

Maybe. But the more likely reason for this being such a good day – I think – is that it was Erin P’s birthday.

The birthday girl came back from devotionals to find her room… er, her space in the room decorated.


But even though it was her birthday – it was straight to work for this girl – and the rest of us.

Several of our guys who had been working at houses the past couple days now got to try their hands at Kids Club.

They helped with games


and the scripture lesson and reading time.


The other group that switched from painting to Kids Club… well, I can’t talk about them. It’s just too painful. Some how Daniel, Emma S, and Lucy lucked out and headed to a lake for the day with kids.  Yup, swimming, playing games on the beach, and even a little sunbathing. Isn’t mission so challenging?

The middler girls spent their day blitz painting a house – and doing an amazing job. If you ever need any help with some painting at home, I can recommend a few now qualified painters.


And enthusiastic ones too.


Not everyone did a lot of painting – as there were kids to play with!


In the evening – after glorious showers where poor Emma H had to scrub out some paint in her hair thanks to a certain adult leader (not me!) dripping some on her while up high on a ladder – we had dinner at the local park.

This dinner is the community dinner – where friends we’ve worked with and served come and enjoying hamburgers and hotdogs (or veggie burgers) and fellowship with the YouthWorks crew. By now all of us had worked with Kids Club so we had some friends to see again.



But, as great fun as all that was, it really was the birthday girl’s celebrations that topped everything off.

There were presents,





and lots and lots of laughter.


What a blessing!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Day Three - Tuesday

Well, other than the collection of bugs we’re accumulating in the girls’ room and the continued heat in the boys room, today was another wonderful day here in Sisseton. 

We began our day with breakfast and devotionals.


Then we worked! The way our week is organized, half of us have been painting and doing other projects at people’s houses while the other half have been leading what’s called Kids Club.  We do both for two days and then switch – so that everyone gets to serve in both ministries. So today was our second – and last – day at our first ministry sites.

For those of us who are kids clubbers, we spent the morning either at a daycare or a assisted living home.

Everyone had a wonderful time – and everyone it seemed played some games.

The kids at the daycare, of course:


and even the residents at the home. Indoor volleyball – who knew it could be so fun (or dangerous… all Covenant folks may have hit some very nice retired Scandinavian farmers in the head with the beach ball more than once… of course, we go hit too!).


The afternoon was full of more kids club – which in 95 degree weather can be pretty tiring, even in the shade. But everyone had wonderful energy and lots of love to share.  We even made some excellent crafts.


The painting crew did some wonderful work – and I’m sorry I don’t have pictures of that (but I’m relying on the other adult leaders’ cameras and one of our groups is adult leader camera less!). One group finished a house that they just started yesterday and built a great relationship (and heard some great stories – and more than a few tall tales) with the home owner. Our other group got to paint AND play with puppies who kept stealing their painting masks! 

The evening was low key; the weather prevented us from nature walking so we had skit night here. It will not surprise you to learn that the group with two of our senior theater kids took home the prize for best skit. 

Tomorrow marks the half way point in our adventure – and Erin P’s birthday – so wish us luck and her well.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Day Two

And then the giggles set in.

We woke up and enjoyed a wonderful breakfast – prepped by several of our very own.  Thank you breakfast team.

We had devotional time – reading some passages where folks but God ahead of their own fears. Then it was time to split into our teams for our work sites.

The senior high half headed off to help paint people’s houses.  P1000716

And of course made some friends as we did.


The middle school group got to plan and lead something called kid’s club – a VBS like time in a park with about 20 or so local kids.  Of course, before we could play with kids, we had to get energized ourselves.  Hence, the Camel Dance energizer. Now some Baptists in Minnesota know the joy of dancing to Istanbul.


Meeting the the kids was great – we did walking pick ups of some and others were already at the park when we arrived.  We played games, taught a bible story, did crafts, read books, and just spent good time being their buddies.





After a good day’s work (and truly, let me just say that it was beautiful watching our kids interact with the little ones), we showered and then came back to base camp.  Dinner – Taco Night! – and then a treat – Powwow dancing.



We got to try a little bit too – just some basic stepping so no one got injured.

We had Club and church time and my friends, there was massive amounts of silliness.



We laughed so hard, many of us were crying at the end of the evening!

Another blessed day from God!

Monday, July 26, 2010

We’ve Arrived!!!

We may have wondered if it would ever happen – especially while driving through our “favorite” state that starts with an M and ends with a “issouri” – but it did.  WE HAVE ARRIVED IN SOUTH DAKOTA.

Clearly that statement needed to be in all caps.

But before we arrived, we had a whole morning and afternoon to fill our time.  We began this morning with worship in the small chapel at West Hills Presbyterian Church.  They usually have an 8:15 service we were going to attend but have cancelled that service for the next few weeks (summer low attendance.)


So it was seminarian Marie to the rescue.  We whipped out some fun energizers and songs and then she came up with – basically on the fly – a wonderful sermon on the text we’d be reading tonight at our “club” time.  Go Marie!

Following worship we headed out and began our last leg of the journey here.  Today’s drive consisted of what have become the basics:

A stop for coffee and other drinks,


lunch with a chance to run around a nice rest area, getting some feeling back in our legs and rears,


the occasional touristy photo,


and of course, napping.


And then it happened… we pulled up to a parking lot and stopped for more than just an hour and got out more than just the stuff we needed for the night.  We were greeted immediately by the YouthWorks stuff: Tina, Gina, Calvin (go head, Presbys, snicker now), and David.  They are WONDERFUL. They helped us get settled and showed us to our room.


We played some games,


made some new friends,


and even did a little work.


We had orientation and some God time where we talked about what we needed to leave behind in order to let God in.

Because that’s why we’re here – finally.  To be like Jesus.


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Day Two

Oh Omaha, how we love you!

Missouri, on the other hand…

Our day began with some saying goodbye to the wonderful people who hosted us last night.



The good folks at First United Presbyterian Church housed us, feed us, and even let some of us go kayaking!  We’re so glad to have new friends – friends we will definitely stay with again if we come this way.

We said goodbye to our friends and then HELLO to the Arch.



I’ve driven by quite a few times but never gone in.  Well, now we all have!  Some of us were pretty impressed with the ride…



Or the view…



Or the gift shop…


But all in all – even if it didn’t dance and sing – it’s nice to have had the experience.


Following our visit to the gateway to the West – how could we not go dip our toes in the Mississippi?


We said goodbye to St. Louis and headed West and North to our final stop for the day – Omaha, Nebraska. Of course, to get to Omaha, we had to pass through Missouri… and more Missouri… and more Misseri. 

All that Missouri sort of got to us:


Finally, we made it, ate some pizza, played some games, devoted, and crashed.

Tomorrow we finally arrive in South Dakota and our YouthWorks adventure begins.  Keep us in your prayers!