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Mexico Mission Trip Day 4: Pushing Onward!

June 20, 2016

Youth Mexico Day 4Day 4: Three cheers for a work day with no rain, but still enough cloud cover to not be scorching hot, and enough sun to dry things off!

The sidewalk is looking good! We are all experts now in mixing concrete, shoveling and creating assembly lines to pass buckets of dirt, gravel, rocks, and concrete. We are also getting to know each other better as we stand in our lines passing buckets. Lots of stories and laughter helping the time pass!

As much fun as we are having, we are also being stretched by having to get up early and work with our sore muscles and dirty, tired bodies. Then, as we head to Vacation Bible School, it is rejuvenating as we are greeted by the smiling faces of the kids so excited to see us with nothing but love in their sweet eyes. At the end of our day, behind every smiling face of our youth and advisors, we can also see the exhaustion. But because our group is so amazing, we just keep pushing onward and ‘stretching our faith’!!

– Group One and Done, Adele Campbell, Jack Perrin, Alex Glontz, Abigail Giles, Davis Ryan, Davis McMillan, Rand Ayer and Kelli Mallory

Mexico Mission Trip Day 3: Stretching Our Faith

June 19, 2016

mexicoday3 13Our faith today was stretched by lots of rain and mud. We woke up at 6:30, had breakfast and waited for the rain to break. Alas, that moment never came.
We worked for a solid few hours of drizzle, shoveling buckets and wheelbarrows of rock and dirt to help form a sidewalk. When the rain got heavier, we took a break for lunch before ending the day with another hour of work.
By quitting time, every member of our group was soaked to the bone and covered in mud. Stretching our faith, indeed!
We took much-appreciated showers before a long nap and siesta.
Vacation bible school brought more fun times with the local children, where we made bracelets, painted faces and played ball. VBS was topped off with our hilarious attempt at a David and Goliath skit in Spanish. We ended our day with spaghetti, volleyball and soccer.
And kudos to Rand Ayer as he is chasing down giant moths with a broom while we write this.
Our bedtime prayer is to ask God for sun and to thank him for our small group not having to empty the bathroom trash again tomorrow.
Farewell from Group 5!
Abigail Justis, Margaret Lloyd, John Owens, Henry Moldenhauer, Colin Perrin and Carson Rogers

Mexico Mission Trip Day 2: Smiles and Laughter Defeat Language Barrier

mexico rainWhat an amazing day! We started the day with a good meal to prepare our bodies for some hard work as we helped lay concrete for the new dining hall. As part of the process we move the large rocks and buckets of dirt to help fill in the bottom layers before topping it off with concrete.
A rain shower cut our workday short and allowed us to take a respite for lunch. After a nice siesta we headed to a nearby church where we got to play with the local children. What a treat! The language barrier proved to be but a small challenge as smiles and laughter were plenty.
Our particular small work group talked saw God in various ways today:
  • helping out with vacation Bible school
  • God answered our want for rain
  • blowing bubbles with a little girl
  • communicating and playing games with local children without being able to speak Spanish well
  • accomplished a lot of work before the rain came
  • working together to pass buckets of concrete
Adios,
Mitchell Austin, Davy Rayner, Michael Shropshire, Will Hull, Anna Catherine Pandos and Andrew Glontz
mexicoday2 3

Final Day Middle School Mission Trip: Who’s Helping Whom?

atlanta final croppedI saw God in almost everything we did this week, but especially in the people we met and worked with. I loved how grateful and happy most of our neighbors that were struggling with homelessness were to see us helping. I thought it was so amazing that even in their situation, they were so thankful and kind.

Overall, this week was an awesome week and I learned so much about life in general from so many different people. I learned that I might have been on this trip to help others but they certainly helped me by sharing their stories and
faithfulness.

– Cam

Mexico Mission Trip Day One: We Made It!

June 17, 2016

cropped mexico mission tripWe made it!! It’s hot but all is good! We were excited to meet all the new people and children at VIM and play some games of volleyball, soccer and basketball with them. We are in the wonderful presence of Oscar Jr and Roger. Roger is the bomb…we are excited to work with him this week!

We are looking forward to stretching our faith and experiencing new things!

The hammocks are beautiful and actually really comfortable. After a good night sleep we will be able to have a great day of work. Be on the lookout for more from us tomorrow!

– Natalie Raygor

Middle School Mission Trip Day 4: Hope and Healing

Youth Mission 2016 farm5Today we got to be in God’s garden and see God’s miracle workers.

I saw God through the earth while digging the potatoes for those who need at a community food bank.  It was fresh and nourishing food for people eat.

Youth Mission 2016 farmingI saw God as I learned about Medshare through the kind world healers as we sorted and packaged medical equipment.  It was wonderful to know that this  medical equipment was saving people’s lives throughout the world with all the perfectly good equipment that was being thrown away in the United States.

God’s magic had been so many places throughout this week that I can’t count. God is the light through which us youth have seen and experienced through remarkable healing, love, and transformation.

– Addie

Fear-Soaked Moments, and the Script that Follows

angel memeI am shocked. And I am tired.

Early in the morning five days ago, 50 people lost their lives in a mass shooting at an LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

Early in the evening 365 days ago, nine people lost their lives in a mass shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

When he reflected on this latest tragedy, late-night host Stephen Colbert said, “It’s as if there’s a national script that we have learned, and I think that by accepting the script we tacitly accept that the script will end the same way every time with nothing changing, except for the loved ones and families of the victims, for whom nothing will ever be the same.”

The fact that a tragedy like this has become normal is what shocks me.

Our collective response in the wake of the Orlando shooting has been predictable–scripted, even. There are calls for restrictions on assault weapons and protestations from those who assert that the problem is not guns but the people who wield them; there is an awareness that unchecked homophobia (in the case of Orlando), or unchecked racism (in the cast of Charleston) has real and devastating consequences; there are those (many of them professing Christians, by the way) who say that the ones who died “reaped what they had sown;” and there are moments of silence and calls to action that are soon subsumed by us getting back to life as normal.

As someone who stakes my life on God’s promise–which makes me ultimately hopeful about the future–I must confess that I struggle to make sense of things like Orlando and Charleston. I am certain they are not God’s will. To suggest otherwise is, I believe, inflicting spiritual abuse. Tragedies like Orlando are not challenges that God gives us to make us stronger. They are an affront to what makes us human. This kind of senseless killing is precisely the opposite of God’s will.

Yes, I am tired.  I am not only tired of the news of another tragedy, I am tired of pretending that these tragedies are unrelated to issues that become so hotly politicized in the tragedy’s wake. Of course access to guns–especially assault weapons–is relevant to the conversation. Of course homophobia is connected to Omar Mateen’s rage. Of course terrorism and a perverted, radicalized version of Islam played a factor. To pretend otherwise–and not take action to address the problems with guns, hate, and terror–will only continue a pattern of tragedies that have made their way into the American lexicon: Columbine, Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, Sandy Hook, Aurora, San Bernardino, Charleston, Orlando…

I do not have words to explain nor, in this moment, comfort. In my struggle to understand, my thoughts wander, inevitably, to what it must have felt like inside that nightclub early last Sunday morning with music playing and gunshots ringing. In those fear-soaked moments, beyond the club music and the sound of terror, I pray the victims heard another song–perhaps one that they learned as children growing up in church:

Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to him belong, they are weak but he is strong.

I suspect some of the victims from last Sunday night knew that they were loved by God. I also suspect some of them didn’t, perhaps because they shunned faith, but more, I would venture, because they had been rejected by the church because of their sexuality.

We cannot save those whose lives were cut short last Sunday morning. And there is no elegant solution to protect us from events like Orlando happening again. But we can commit ourselves to communicating to everyone we meet–gay, straight, Muslim, Christian, American, or Afghani– that they are precious, made in the image of God, and loved by the one who created them.

That may sound weak when confronted by the reality of such hatred. The gospel has often been accused of being weak. “But to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Cor 1:18)

– Pen Peery

Mission Trip Day 3: Co-ops and Community

June 15, 2016

Youth Mission 2016 homeless centerToday we went to Urban Recipe* and Gateway**.  Both of these experiences moved me.

At Urban Recipe I saw Christ when everybody was working together to get food for them, their families and other families. There were no problems and everybody respected everyone else.

At Gateway, I saw Christ in a woman’s story. She had worked there for three years and she was homeless for four weeks when she ran away from her father after he called her names from the pulpit in church. This was one of the worst things to be in their church. I respected because she was trying to help people who might be in the same position as she was in her childhood.

Then it rained and we had to run back to the church.

After today I feel like I understand that there is a story behind every person that shaped who they are and where they live.

– Ross

* Urban Recipe’s food co-ops for low income families provide a unique alternative to many traditional food-centered ministries. Under our model, each family we serve becomes a member of a 50 family food co-op that meets every other week and is convened completely by the members themselves. Because of the consistency and sense of ownership the model offers, our co-ops not only provide food security for those in need, but are a place where relationships are formed, dignity is affirmed and community is strengthened.”

** The Gateway Center is designed to serve as the “gateway” to the community continuum of care that helps individuals move out of homelessness. GWC provides over 330 places for men who enter into programs geared to address the underlying reasons for their homelessness, such as unemployment, addictions, mental illness or domestic abuse.”

Day 2 Middle School Mission Trip: Eyes Wide Open

June 14, 2016

Atlanta mission trip 2016 1Day 2 of Middle School Mission Trip to Atlanta With eyes wide open: I saw God in Martin Luther King Jr’s life and everything he stood for.

Martin Luther King Jr wanted freedom and respect for ALL people.  I saw God in the people that we served breakfast to. God uses every person and loves every person the same.

Eye-Opening: A Middle School Mission Trip Reflection from Atlanta

June 13, 2016

Sunday we traveled from Charlotte to Atlanta for the middle school youth mission trip.

Once we got to Atlanta, we got all of our luggage and put it inside the church that we were going to stay in, which is in downtown Atlanta. We had a brief meeting on what we were going to be doing this week. Then, we divided into two teams:  h2O team and sandwich team. We went out to give all of our friends who were homeless a sandwich, water, and an orange.

It was eye-opening to see how many people were in need. We had dinner, got all ready for bed, had a devotion and prayer and headed to bed, ready for the adventure that lies ahead of us.

– Elliott