Author Archives: susangblack
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 Adam said he realized how out of date his equipment was as we tried to blog this week.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.
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.
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 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.
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.
This morning, the anticipation of tomorrow’s trip is growing. I am anxious about the weather but encouraged by the good news of a smooth trip for the bus riders yesterday. Today two more team members will take to the sky. So today’s prayer is for a safe trip for Diane and Brianna. I have pondered the grace and blessing we have been given to make this trip possible again. I am so thankful for the gracious folks at Westminster who welcome us back. Adam has worked hard to open the doors to families and has been encouraging them to bring their children to VBS. He has been the foot soldier in Roswell. (Think about that Pastor Jim). What a blessing he has been in so many of our lives, an encouragement to us so many miles away. So as I prepare to leave I have become aware of how many blessing we don’t recognize in our daily lives but I have easily recognized for this trip. What we haven’t taken for granted, but realize that God’s hand is on it. Lord, help me to see these realities in my everyday life and to share them with others.
Riders may God speed you on your way today, thankful for the hands that prepared it for the trip and the gifts that made a bigger bus possible.
I have been painting scenery for VBS at North Liberty and assembling material for the week ahead. Preparation is part of the Roswell Mission Experience. As we prepare for the logistics and material side. I would ask that you support us with prayer so that we can also prepare spiritually. Adam’s recent visit enriched us and made the trip that much more exciting . So as we begin our mission here at North Liberty this week, pray for the children that will be coming to VBS and for those who haven’t yet registered whether here or in New Mexico.