Well we are all back home safe and exhausted. The bus riders made it back around 6:30 tonight. (7 flyers arrive at 9:05 PM Saturday and 3 at 3:00 AM Sunday) Praise God! After unloading I called Adam to let him know. As those who have followed our blog know, there were technology and network issues this past week. Adam shared that we had inspired him and he realized he needed to update his technology, so with permission the Outreach Program now has a new computer and printer. Adam said he realized how out of date his equipment was as we tried to blog this week. This should reduce some everyday anxiety and help the Outreach program.
He also said he was reviewing his message for today and was lead to preach on Romans 12, our evening study Scripture. He commented on how God has lead him in his ministry and it was often on what he was to preach about; so he took down the work sheets we had left in the fellowship hall and hung them in his worship area. One of his members told him “that message was just what I needed to hear.” Adam shared how much he appreciated our team’s presence, Ryan told Adams that he was missing us (Emily) and Adam shared how much he enjoyed connecting with the new team members-Rich, Lois, Cory and Dianna aka Diane. Encouragement to Adam’s ministry has been on of the outcomes of our mission trips every time we have been there and it was this time too.
The boys and girls club kids couldn’t come to bible school on Friday. They had some thing else already planned. So we decided to deliver their crafts from this week, some left over craft supplies, the race track, a roller coaster cake and a display of pictures from the week. It was our last stop before heading out of town.
They were in the yard of the club having a fun day to end their summer program. As soon as they caught sight of us one of my students, Able, coming running toward me. He said “Miss Miss” and gave me a hug. He was soaking wet. They had an inflatable water slide as part of their last day. Then he said, “Watch me go down the slide!” There were at least half a dozen other kids that asked me to watch them go down the slide. They would say, “Did you see me do that flip?” or “Did you see me hit that bump?” I always responded “It was awesome!” They were saying what we all say. Do you see me? Do I matter? Will you take the time?
I moved to another part of the yard and found a few more of my students. I had close to 20 students for two of the days of Bible School. It was a challenge keeping track of all of them and even getting to know all their names. Two of my boys, Jeremiah and James said, “Do you remember me?” “Of course I remember you!” I responded. But one of the boys just had to test me. “Who’s class was I in?” “Mine, silly!” I responded. Then he gave me a big smile. He just wanted to know if he was important enough to remember. Of course he was! We all just wanna know that we are important to someone else.
After that I found my way over to an area where kids were able to cash in tickets that they won from games for prizes. I saw two of the girls and asked them what kinda cool stuff they got. They showed me some markers, little toys and trinkets. One of them handed me a bracelet and the other handed me a Christmas ornament. I said, “Oh no girls those are yours”. One of them said, “So you remember me.” Holding back tears I said, “Of course I’ll remember you!” Don’t we all just want to be remembered?
I will never forget those kids! And I hope they never forget the Bible School people that love God and love them!
Hi again, I wanted to share how a new cherry red Ford Escape played a part on this mission trip. As you know during this week we had to transport children back and forth from the Boys and Girls Club. Caution, caution I thought at first, these two vehicles are on my insurance but then I thought God provided this opportunity so He will protect us. Of course we had to be a little responsible, anyway back to my story. The boys loved the car and it was a pretty neat vehicle with all the whistles. Everyday we discussed a new feature. On the last ride we realized the car had a sun roof. We decided not to open it because we would lose the balloons.So because of a fancy car, boys flocked to the car to get there first. I got to really know two boys-Elijah and Allen who learned to rush out quickly. There were all the basic questions but then in those few minutes we also could talk about Jesus, family and connect in deeper way. These two boys touched me and I know if I had my own car I probably wouldn’t have had this opportunity.
At the beginning of the week I had no idea why I was here or why I wanted to come… I was starting to think God didn’t have a reason for me to be here… Until today… We did not have many kids at the V.B.S. and I had nothing to do until we were presented an opportunity to go to a soup kitchen and see how things were ran. I was expecting to go in there and just watch and see what things were all about I was not expecting to go in there and be put right to work. When we walked in it was weird. I looked around and saw so many people and I was thinking to myself wow it kinda smells bad in here… I wasn’t trying to be mean but I didn’t realize how bad it was going to be. We all walked over to the kitchen and they were like we need three volunteers to come back here and help us and Chloe, Brianna, and I being the youngest of the group that went with the group there got to go help plate the food. As we were plating the food a rush of people came in, men, women, and children. It was all I could do not to cry. Seeing all those hungry faces. I have never seen anything like that before in my life and i had no idea that it was like that out there. Like I’ve seen homeless people and i knew about soup kitchens but I had no idea it was like that. One guy walked in and the main director of the kitchen got out a paper plate that was pretty decent sized and filled it with stroganoff. and after the guy went and sat down the director said something about maybe that guy won’t go shoot up so much heroin if he has a full stomach… and I about lost it right there because I know what people are like when they are on that kind of hard drug and not caring about anything but how they are going to get there next high. So it really hit home hard when that guy said that and it was all that I could do not to cry. I just kept thinking God, please don’t let me cry right here in front of all these people, please don’t. There were so many kids that came through, me having a child of my own, it was so hard seeing them walk threw that line and being hungry. I honestly didn’t know how to react to seeing all those kids. Every person that walked through that line said thank you, not a single person went through without saying it. I walked over to the car and I said ” Sue, I think we should start going to soup kitchens in our area when we get home” and as I was saying that I started to cry. I really do believe in my heart that God was with us today to teach us a lesson and to teach us that there are people out there a lot less fortunate then us and they need help and we need to get out there and help them, seeing all those hungry people truly broke my heart in a million little pieces.
This morning we were given the opportunity to volunteer at the Roswell Community Soup Kitchen. Each day the kitchen serves anywhere from 80-120 hot meals during the lunch hour. There are several churches that take turns volunteering to make these lunches possible. The meals are funded by both federal funds and donations. Before we got there this morning, the crew of volunteers from Roswell were hard at work making brown bag lunches that included: sandwiches, drinks, and a dessert. These brown bag lunches are given out on Saturdays and Sundays in lieu of a hot lunch, which is served Monday through Friday. In May, the kitchen served it’s millionth meal. Anyone who walks through the door is served. In the same building there is a food pantry in which people who qualify can receive a box of food to take home to cook for their family. Clothing is also available for people in need.
I, myself, had never volunteered at a soup kitchen, and had no idea what to expect. Ten people from our North Liberty crew went to volunteer. However, they were so overloaded with volunteers they only needed three of us. Before I knew it, Chelsea, Brianna, and I were coaxed into a hot, busy kitchen. The menu today was: beef stroganoff, bread, green salad, potato salad, green beans, and cake. The volunteers showed us what to do, and we joined the assembly line.
Before we knew it, people began to come in to pick up their trays. Old, young, men, women, children, from every walk of life filed through the line. Each of the people thanked us, and some even questioned why we came all the way from Pennsylvania, making this a great opportunity to share our story! For me, it was an eye opening experience. At home, we often get so caught up in our own materialistic lives, complaining about things, spending time unhappy, and we often let the little things come and go without thanking God. You see, it’s those little things that we forget to thank God for, like having clothes to wear, a roof over our head, and food in our stomach. To these people that I contacted today, those “little things” weren’t so little. After everyone was fed, the volunteers asked us to eat, too. I really wasn’t hungry, but I remembered Jeff’s bible study. Luke 10:8 says, “When you enter a town and are welcomed eat what is set before you,” so needless to say, we ate, both physically and spiritually.
One man in particular came through the line and was asking me about my journey here to Roswell. We stepped aside, and I got a chance to really talk to him. He asked me about my life at home, and I told him I was a nursing student and that I would graduate in two years. Without telling him it is a dream of mine to move here to New Mexico one day, he said, “You know, there’s lots of good schools for nursing around here. We could really use people like you down here.” I believe that God has a purpose for us all, and everyone has a different calling. But I feel as though the experience I had this morning was no accident, and neither was that conversation. God works in mysterious ways. As Jeff shared with us during his sermon Sunday morning, we need to get out of the boat, and we need to follow Jesus. I thought my mission this week would be bible school, but as it turns out, my mission was outside Westminster’s walls, and out of the boat.
We finally found a way for all of you to be able to see the photos that we are posting on Instagram…they are amazing “in the moment” shots. Check them out at: http://www.pingram.me/nlpcmissionteam///
First off, we want to apologize for our lack of posts the last two days…the internet connection has been sporadic at best, and we’ve been busier than expected- here’s why:
On Monday morning when we had around 6 children at VBS, we were feeling that maybe we were brought to Roswell to do more than the typical Bible school program. We decided to take God up on his offer and follow Him into the neighborhood, but we never expected the whirlwind of blessings that came our way.
Sue, Terri, and Adam went to The Boys and Girls Club of Roswell to see if we could take VBS to them, while the rest of us ran our usual VBS program that morning. The director of the Club was eager to have the children join us at the church, rather than have us bring VBS there – the Club doesn’t have the money for field trips, and the children haven’t been out of those four walls all summer. We prepared for Tuesday expected the 24 children she thought would come, but we forgot to factor in Jesus…Rich, Jeff, and Sue ended up running at least a two-loop shuttle service with three vehicles to transport more than 60 excited children to our VBS. We considered renting two more 15-passenger vans…thanks to God that we had to money to do so if we needed to.
It was a CRAZY, beautiful morning with close to 70 children running through this church building, singing, laughing, and feeling God’s love through us – and giving it back tenfold. Their stories broke our hearts, and we received energy that we didn’t know we possessed to take them on a field trip to The Bottomless Lakes on Tuesday afternoon. With most of our staff, and a few staff members from the Club, we took close to 60 children on their first field trip. We had fears about taking that many children swimming, but knew we HAD to do it…there was no turning back….there was no place we would have rather been. It was an afternoon that none of us will ever forget! We got to spend some real quality time with children who were starving for attention…many had never been to the Bottomless Lakes before.
Adam and I left about 45 minutes before the rest of the group to head to McDonald’s to buy burgers for the kids. The look on the cashier’s face when we ordered 120 McDoubles was priceless! When they heard what we were doing and why, the manager called over extra staff and they had our order prepared, packaged, and carried out to Adam’s truck in less than 15 minutes! When the children arrived back at the Boys and Girls Club, we started handing out burgers. They couldn’t believe they were allowed to have more than one each- many had half of a burger down before they had walked away from Adam’s truck.
There is so much more to say about the past two days we’ve spent with these amazing children who have touched our hearts in ways we never anticipated, but we just don’t have the words. There are times when words just don’t do justice to an experience…and this is one of those times. They have made us laugh, they have made us cry, and they have lodged themselves into our hearts forever. If there was ever a perfect mission trip experience – taking God up on His offer to partner with Him – for us, this was it. We took a leap of faith – and we will NEVER be the same again!
We all had VBS primarily on our minds as we left Grove City but you know if you try and put God in a box, He tends to show you how wrong you are. Well He certainly has been showing us that our idea of a box is so small. He expanded our box beyond what we could envision.
I expected that once again team members would be impacted by the trip. Many of you have seen us crying as we have shared our previously experiences. Well we have seen that again. I have loved getting to know Rich Powell and see his heart for the kids we have enjoyed. He watches out to make sure no one is left out. He became the primary bus driver to and from the Roswell Boys and Girls Club. When we offered to take kids with us to the Bottomless Lake, the Director ran with that idea. Beyond what we were thinking. When we went to pick up the kids on Tuesday morning there were posters on the walls. Now we hadn’t thought about how many God would give us.
Now we had a problem how do we get them there. Do we rent a big van? The boys told me as I was driving them to VBS that the Center had a van. Adam called if we supplied gas could they drive it. Jeff stopped over and gave them some money and they filled their van and found another. Now we had a bus, 2 -15 passenger vans, a large SUV for 8, and a small SUV. We piled kids in and still had to make a second trip with one van. Now God had supplied on our team three lifeguards and a nurse in training plus eagle eye adults. The afternoon was just wonderful. Rich had an idea; provide McDonalds for supper. So off Adam and Autumn went, a little before the rest of us, to McDonalds with an order for 120 McDoubles. They arrived at the Boy’s and Girl’s Club opened up the back of the truck and as kids got off the vehicles handed out hamburgers. Happy children, happy parents and grandparents. What a blessing that whole day was, but trust me, none of us would have planned that activity and it was with a lot of Faith that we went with the day. Cautious Presbyterians wouldn’t have thought about that day.
Another unexpected but wonderful gift I saw was an outcome of the adult Bible study. We got to know Margaret. Margaret came to VBS and helped Garalynn and Janice pop popcorn for snack, take pictures of the VBS activity and share the love of Christ. Dixie who is the Presbytery’s Moderator for PW shared her experiences with PW, and she was so supportive of the VBS and she said how much she enjoyed the Bible Study.
A final unexpected blessing I want to share today is the impact we saw with a blind teenager that came. She was receiving some respite care from one of our volunteers so she came to our VBS and Bible Study. During music she “danced.” And yesterday, during shirt signing, amid the chaos there she was with the biggest smile.
In our Daily Alien, our daily devotional, it suggested we stay flexible. I learned we need to be flexible in capital letter, stay alert and let God. Our mission wasn’t what we totally planned, it was so much more. Praise God, He got us out of our box.
Got to go, a new opportunity just opened to us, so I tell you about that later.
Sorry is probably a theme today as we get caught up. There have been major issues with the internet and yesterday we have power issues. So what have we missed telling you? Hmmmm, I think I better make a list and try to comment later so I can be ready for VBS.
1) We got blessed by God with a 10-fold blessing for kids at VBS.
2) Completed small projects around the church and trying to solve an air conditioning issue.
3) Finished the 3 nights of Adult Bible study that went great
4) I have been meeting with some of the Elders here to discuss ways they can be missional and seek after children
5) Working on I introducing the children of the Boys and Girls Club of Roswell with senior citizens that have a desire to serve God and help with a major social issue
6) Help make dreams come true by taken 57 kids from the Boys and Girls Club to the Bottomless Lake for their first field trip all summer (think herding cats and loving ever second of it)
7) Seeing the Holy Spirit work in our team, some of the folks at Westminster, and the children
Oh man, I need to stop here right now because I need to run to Walgreens to get pictures printed off for the VBS frames. So I will leave you with some pictures.
Today as Adam and I went to pick up three children for Bible School, God lead us to stop at the Boys and Girls Club where Adam knows the Director. He asked if any of the children would like to come to VBS. We were received warmly and tomorrow additional children will be coming from there. The director was thrilled to have this opportunity for some of the children and the receptionist asked if her son could come too. That will make at least another young one for Emily and you know that she can’t pass a baby’s smile. It is so interesting each time we come how God opens a door for His message. Pastor Jim would say that stop wasn’t an accident.
As we participated in the Adult Bible Study tonight we were also talking about Romans 12:3-5 and how do we measure our faith in action. One of the ladies from Westminster was sharing with us and she was so excited about this study she wants it to last longer. She wasn’t giving herself much credit but we all where learning new things about ourselves and she said this was uplifting her.
Finally I noticed a quote at Sam’s Club today on the wall as we were checking out our items for lunch tomorrow. It partly went like this “It doesn’t matter what you have but what you scatter. Tomorrow we will scatter God’s word again, pray that it falls on soil and takes root.