The Home Stretch

Today we are heading from Collins, OH, to Hollow Rock Camp Meeting for the last 10 days of our tour. Instead of getting all sappy and nostalgic about the summer, I’ll just fill you in on how our week has been.

When we arrived Saturday afternoon in Collins, we met at the church with Donna and Pastor Josh to go over the plans for the week before heading to get settled in at our host homes. Cliff and Micah stayed with Jerry and Florence, a very loving elderly couple who had lots of wisdom to share with our guys. Brandon and Conner stayed with Ron and Chicky, a couple whose hospitality goes above and beyond what we could ever have expected. Ron and Chicky made snacks for us every night after VBS and really loved on our whole team. The girls stayed with Brian and Casi, their boys Wesley and Collin, and their dog Scooby. Brian and Casi were incredible hosts, and a lot of fun to talk to and get to know.

On Sunday morning we loaded up and went to the first of three church services. Ariane shared about our team and Acts 20:17-27, Kat talked about the story of Jonah, and Micah gave a bit of his testimony. Then we loaded up and went to West Hartland UMC and did the same thing all over again, this time with Christa giving her testimony. After the second service, we loaded up and went back to Collins to do it all over again — needless to say, it was a long morning.

AfteIMG_0482r lunch at the church and some prep time for VBS, we all went back to our host homes for a power nap before we started VBS that night. The VBS theme this week was G-Force, which focused on God’s love in action. Kat and Ariane helped lead the songs each night, adding a whole new collection of kids’ songs to the team’s repertoire. Micah helped out in the craft room, Cliff helped with games, and Brandon took his puppeteering experience from last week and put it to good use playing the role of Checkers the cheetah puppet. When he wasn’t puppeteering, IMG_0484Brandon was helping with the preschoolers. Christa helped lead the 1st grade group, Conner and Ariane helped with the kindergarten kids, and Kat was a leader in the 3rd and 4th grade group. As usual, we all absolutely loved getting to know the kids, and saying goodbye Wednesday night was really hard.

Our mornings were spent helping with odd jobs for the VBS like mapping a color run and sorting papers, followed by free time swimming, fishing, and even visiting Lake Erie. We got to visit with lots of families from the church and enjoy the wonderful weather this week… That’s sarcasm. The weather was bipolar and annoying all week.

When the church found out we were a band, they asked us to play for them. We ended up setting up a full-band worship night in a barn Wednesday night and playing for an hour or so for the people from the church. They provided snacks and a fire pit, and we provided the music. It was an appropriate send off, and we really enjoyed getting to worship with them.

Looking Ahead

Now we are heading to Hollow Rock Camp meeting to finish out our tour. As we go into our last 10 days, please be praying for supernatural endurance for our team so that we can finish well. Also pray that we would minister well at Hollow Rock. We are really looking forward to reconnecting with people we met at Finley, and to playing music together again.

Thank you for your prayers and support! To those of you at home, we’ll see you soon!

Picture: The barn made for an awesome set up for a worship night.

The Prodigal Blog Post

I’ll start by apologizing for missing a whole week of blogging. Usually I blog in the van on the way to our next stop, but I was carsick on our last van ride and then I just kept putting off the task — but never fear! I’ll catch you up in this Prodigal Blog Post!

RECAP, PART 1: JOY OF LIVING

Last week we were counselors at Joy of Living Camp in Brinkhaven, Ohio. The camp is out in the middle of nowhere with pretty much zero cell service, but oddly enough they have wifi for staff pretty much everywhere. The camp services mostly inner city youth who can’t afford to come to camp. Donors send money that it purposed for scholarships so that kids can come and have a camp experience. The theme for the summer is “The Sweet Life,” which focuses on the fruit of the spirit. We got to work with other counselors at the camp to lead groups of 8-12 year old kids through activities like challenge course, horseback riding, baking, team building, water games, and more.

Since the camp only had jobs for 5 counselors, Kat and Cliff helped out with other jobs. Kat was on program staff, which helped the camp run logistically. Cliff, to whom we will now refer lovingly to as kitchen-boy-man-servant, worked in the kitchen helping Miss Dee prepare all of our meals.

We loved getting to know and invest in the kids there, especially through teaching lessons and leading devotions. We really enjoyed getting to meet the other staff there, too, so much so that we convinced a few of them to come and visit us in Marysville during our break on 4th of July.

PART 2: MARYSVILLE

We arrived Friday evening at our host home and were immediately blown away by their generosity and hospitality. Philip and Sarah took great care of us, let us invade their home (even to the point of having friends over), fed us well, and truly blessed us last weekend.

We spent our break on Saturday exploring downtown Marysville with our newfound friends from Joy of Living. We went to a frozen yogurt place for lunch and an ice cream place for dessert, and then wandered around the area. In the evening a few of us went to the high school to watch the Marysville fireworks show.

Marysville First United Methodist Church hosted a mission trip this week called Transformation Zone, an annual event where middle and high school kids from 10+ local churches come to do mission work for different ministries in the area. We lived in the church and went out to local ministries during the days to work. The kids were split up into 18 work crews of about 10 kids, and each of us (except Conner) was assigned to a work crew.

DSC_0126Christa was with team 14 who went to the Willow Brook nursing home in Delaware, OH. Most of the time, the team volunteered in the memory care unit where the residents with Alzheimers live. They took walks, played games and trivia, made crafts, painted pictures, read stories and talked with the residents. They also played uker and took walks with some of the residents in the assisted living unit. In the afternoons, the team washed wheelchairs.

Brandon was in a work crew that worked with puppets. He had a great group of kids who worked hard and got along well. They did a couple of VBS visits and nursing home visits, where they performed their puppet show. Brandon was surprised at how well received the puppet ministry was.

Micah went to Willowbrook Nursing Home in Dublin, OH, to visit with residents. They played Bingo and cards, set up a jewelry show for the ladies, and got to hear a lot of good stories from a lot of wise people. To the crew’s surprise, the residents at Willowbrook were just as interested in hearing the team’s stories as the team was to hear theirs.

Ariane and Cliff went to the Furniture Bank of central Ohio. They painted and built different furniture pieces for individuals who were stable enough to begin to move into a home or apartment. The furniture bank never failed to have a job and enough for everyone to do. Ariane ended up really enjoying the work and Cliff got the satisfaction of working with power tools. It was a great experience making things that would really help families in need.

DSC_0165Kat went out to a barn in the middle of nowhere to build bed frames for Bed Brigade, a ministry that takes beds to kids who’ve never had one. The beds were made completely from one piece of plywood and delivered with a mattress, bedding, and a Bible. Kat’s work crew was full of awesome kids who worked really well together, growing closer as the week went on and truly showing Jesus’ love to each other throughout the week. On Friday their crew went to deliver some beds to homes, which was humbling and beautiful.

Conner was not assigned to a work group at Transformation Zone, so he took pictures or filled in with groups whenever a spot opened up. Tuesday he laid mulch, cleaned bathrooms, and played basketball with some kids. He usually lost. Wednesday he helped build kids’ bikes, a strange experience since many of the bikes had parts missing or defective.

At the end of each day of work, everyone met back at the church for showers and downtime. We ate dinner together in the church, and our team led worship for the evening services. The middle and high school kids were very expressive in their worship, and every night was incredibly fueling for us as a team. Guest speakers came each night to share and teach on the theme for the week, being Christ’s ambassadors, and the church and a local radio station even hosted a concert on Wednesday! Overall we had a great week.

LOOKING AHEAD

Now we are headed to Collins, OH, to help with a VBS. Here are ways you can pray for us this week:

  • Pray for endurance as we head into the home stretch of our tour. We only have two location left – Collins and Hollow Rock – before we head back to Asbury and disperse until school starts again. While it’s easy to feel the effects of our tiredness and start preparing to be done, we pray that we would push through and finish well, giving our all for the next two and a half weeks.
  • Continue to pray that our ministry is received well by others and that we are effective ambassadors for Christ.

2 CORINTHIANS 5:20

We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

Picture: The entire group gathers for a photo at Transformation Zone.

A Brief Journey Home

After a great week at Camp Indicoso, we headed back to Asbury for the weekend to help out at reunion. Here is a quick recap of the last 10 or so days:

We hit the ground running, as seems to usually be the case at new locations. We arrived around 5pm and started immediately setting up our sound system to play for evening worship at 8:45. Since the boys were also counselors, they ended up needing to go meet up with their groups while the girls stuck around and finished setting up the sound system (we nailed it, by the way). As is also usually the case, we neglected to eat dinner until after our worship set, so it was a pretty long day.

The kids surround us in the scariest group hug ever when it’s time to say good bye.We led worship twice a day at camp, once in the morning and once in the evening. The kids were middle schoolers who loves upbeat, fun songs with silly motions (we didn’t know many of those, so we added 4 new songs to our set list this week). In our off time the boys were counselors and the girls, well, jumped in wherever we could to get involved and hang out with the kids. There were plenty of dance parties, small group discussions, and games that Lended well to having a few extra college kids around. We fell in love with the kids — and the counselors! It seems to be a recurring theme that we leave a place loving the people there… Maybe Jesus has something to do with that.

Dance Party Clips

After a full week at Indicoso, we headed back to Asbury for the weekend, where we played background instrumental music for a few receptions and helped out with various kids camps here on campus for the Reunion Weekend (check out the big news at Asbury here).

Prayer Requests

Here are some ways you can pray for us in the coming week:

  • Pray that we would be prepared to do whatever ministry is needed of us, and that we would serve to the best of our ability out of the outflow of Jesus’ love for us and for the people we are serving.
  • Pray that any insecurities or false voices amongst our team would be silenced. Pray that we would all know and feel how pivotal we each are to the team, and that we would not let Satan get to us with the lies of unworthiness or misfittedness (that’s probably not a word, but pray against it anyways).
  • Pray that the Lord would multiply our rest, and that we would feel rested and rejuvenated even though we are only getting the bare minimum in hours of sleep each night. Pray that we would not let Satan use our tiredness against us, individually or as a team. Pray that instead God would use our emptiness as an opportunity to pour out his love and his grace.

Thank you for your support and prayers. We are off to Joy of Living Ministries in Brinkhaven, OH, tomorrow afternoon.

Belmont to Indicoso

We are heading from flatland to flatland, leaving Ohio and entering Indiana to go to Camp Indicoso in Springville. To fill you in, here’s a quick recap of our last week.

Recap

When we arrived Sunday, we ate dinner with the pastor and met with various church staff and leaders to talk about the week’s plans. After dinner we all went to our respective host homes to get settled in. Ariane and Christa stayed with Jen, who is basically the queen of hospitality and invited the whole team over for snacks and Bop It every night. Micah and Cliff stayed with Johnnie and Barb, a couple whose newly-renovated attic is perfect for housing two college-age boys for a decade, let alone a week. Brandon and Conner stayed with Pastor Randy in the parsonage, about 6 steps from the church building. Kat stayed with Stephanie in the house she is still moving into — literally unpacking boxes as we speak. Overall we were very well taken care of in our host homes, and we are incredibly grateful to our wonderful hosts.

Hometown Nazareth

We helped out at BUM (Belmont United Methodist) church this week with their VBS, Hometown Nazareth: Where Jesus was a Kid. We had about 50 kids each night, split into 8 crews. We were in charge of leading stations for the kids, and volunteers from the church congregation led their crews, divided by age group, from station to station.

Cliff led “Hometown Huddle,” a station where the kids practiced their memory verses, talked about the bible stories they were learning in other stations, and worked hard to convince Clifford the Bug Purple Dog to let them play Duck Duck Goose.

Christa and Kat led the station “Mary’s House,” where the kids came to hear about Jesus’ life as a kid in Nazareth. Christa played the role of Mary the mother of Jesus who told stories about Jesus as a child to the guests in her home. Mary’s neighbor, Eunice (no, she’s not in the Bible), stopped by every day to cause trouble and doubt Mary’s stories, which caused much discontent with the kids, who truly believed that Kat actually didn’t believe in Jesus. One of the girls came up to Kat (dressed as Eunice) the last day and, wide eyed and heartbroken, asked, “Eunice, why don’t you believe in Jesus?” We all then proceeded to cry and assure her that the stories Mary had been telling about miracles and wonders were starting to persuade Eunice that Jesus was more than the boy next door.

Ariane and Brandon led the fun and games station, where they led the kids in games that sometimes related well to the Hometown Nazareth theme and that sometimes were just for the sake of getting the kids to run around and hopefully get tired. They also worked hard to help the kids memorize the Bible verses with motions and all. A few games to highlight: Gorilla, Man, Gun; what the kids called “the sheep game,” and duck duck goose. Never have we seen kids love duck duck goose quite this much.

Micah and Brandon led music for the opening and closing celebrations each night, and may I just say that we are still amazed at just how well our boys lead children’s songs. Seriously.

Speaking of music, I have great news: we have all successfully secured a spot in our heads for at least 2 full VBS soundtracks to be perpetually stuck. Cheesy kids songs are currently playing on repeat in our minds and I’m pretty positive they will never end.

Conner and Micah each led a craft one night; Micah played the role of Gabriel the Carpenter and Conner was Samuel the Shepherd. When they weren’t leading crafts, they went around from station to station and helped out where needed. Conner also wandered around with a camera taking pictures of the kids, who proceeded to ask him if he was a stalker.

We really enjoyed getting to be with the kids (and volunteers)! As usual, we fell in love with the kids and found it really hard to say goodbye on Friday when the VBS came to a close.

The Weekend

Saturday was our Sabbath, the blessed day off so graciously planned into our schedule by the lovely people of Belmont. Cliff, Christa, and Kat detoured to the National Air Force Museum for the morning, then met up with the rest of the team for lunch at Taco Bell and a few hours of much-needed band practice.

We split up after practice for alone time/adventure time (Micah, Brandon, and Kat found a disc golf store and an army surplus worth exploring) and then met up for dinner with Johnnie and Barb at a killer Chinese buffet, complete with crab legs, sushi, and fantastic conversation. Dinner was followed by the tossing of frisbee and the playing of Heads Up at Jen’s — an overall relaxing Sabbath, if I do say so myself.

This morning we led worship for Belmont’s combined service, including 2 songs from VBS complete with motions (and the kids’ help singing and dancing). We had lunch with Pastor Randy at the church (the people of Belmont sure can cook!), then packed up and headed out.

Next Up

Like I mentioned above, we are on our way to Camp Indicoso, where we will be the worship leaders for the week. Here are ways you can pray for us this week:

  • Thank God that we had a restful and low-key week at Belmont, and that we had some time each afternoon to recharge.
  • Pray that we would have a supernatural grace for each other in every situation.
  • Pray that we would influence the kids at Camp Indicoso for Christ.
  • Pray that our team would have enough team time. We are still a little fuzzy about just how involved our roles will be this week, but we are ultimately up for anything — we just pray that God would protect our hearts throughout the busyness and that he would keep us safe from stress.
  • Pray for our sound system… Last time we used our system we had some technical difficulties, e.g. we’re pretty sure the devil himself decided to reside in our sound board and cause everything that could possibly fail to fail. If this could never happen again, that would be awesome.

Thank you so much to everyone for your prayers and support! Knowing that we have people back home and on the road praying for us and our mission is so incredibly encouraging. As you pray for us this week, please take a moment to read Acts 20:22-25 (verse 24 is our team verse) — this passage is what our team is all about! Thanks again!

Acts 20:22-27 (NIV)

22 “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. 23 I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. 24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.

25 “Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again. 26 Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of any of you. 27 For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.

Picture: Brandon and kids play Red Rover

Departing toward Dayton

Recap

We left Steubenville on Thursday about 2 hours later than we had planned (we always leave later than we plan) and stayed the night on campus before getting Cliff at his house in Wilmore and heading back to First Alliance in Louisville. We showed up Friday afternoon and set up our sound system for their youth group service, where we played a few songs and Micah shared his testimony, which was pretty well received by the room full of teenage boys.

Last week when we were at First Alliance we were invited to the Bar Mitzvah of one of the boys, so we attended as a team Saturday morning. The service was Messianic Jewish, and it was really beautiful. We really enjoyed the traditional Jewish music, the Hebrew liturgy and scripture readings, and the privilege of seeing into another culture. After attending, we all felt really honored that Isaiah had invited us and that he wanted to share that part of his life with us.

We spent most of Saturday evening practicing — it’s great to have Cliff back! — and learning a couple of new songs for Sunday morning service. This morning we led worship and shared testimonies from Micah, Ariane, and Kat. The service overall went really well, and we especially enjoyed getting to talk with members of the congregation afterward.

Prayer Requests

Now we are on our way to Belmont Church in Dayton, OH, to help with their VBS this week. Here are ways you can pray for us:

  • Pray for supernatural endurance for the team. We are all starting to feel the effects of this summer, so pray that we can keep pushing through and going strong.
  • Pray that no matter what we are faced with, our team would have such deep unity and Christ-like love that the tasks wouldn’t matter.
  • Pray that we would be received well by the people of Belmont Church and that the Holy Spirit would speak through us.

Thanks for your support! 

Picture: Bardstown Road mural