Au Revoir, Steubenville

After spending the week in Steubenville, OH, we’re on our way back to Wilmore to get Cliff (finally!) and then we’re heading back to First Alliance to lead worship Friday evening and Sunday morning.

To follow the usual format, here’s the recap of our last week and pray requests for the next venue.

Recap

We led worship for a youth revival at Finley. We stayed in host homes, hung out with the youth, and played 6 services throughout the week.

When we arrived in Steubenville after some difficulty (Brandon’s GPS was right, ours were not. Let’s not talk about it.), we hit the ground running. We met with Tom and Ryan, who helped us set up our instruments and their sound system in the church, and we started practicing for Sunday morning. After a long night of practicing, we headed out to our host homes to get some rest.

The guys stayed with Ms. Paula who constantly put our boys in a food coma and spoiled them mercilessly. The girls stayed with the Keyser family whose hospitality manifested in good food, amazing conversation, and taking a day off to make time to hang out with us.

We got to hang out with the church’s youth group and do service projects Monday and Wednesday afternoons. On Monday we set up a grill and hotdog bar outside the church on the street and served lunch to people passing by. With the meals we handed out business cards for the church, and we got to have some pretty meaningful conversations with people who stopped to get food. On Wednesday we went to the Urban Mission food pantry to help out with some odd jobs. We had been told there was a lot to get done, but by the time the 15 of us got to work, we knocked out all the work and then some in about an hour. We enjoyed getting to serve the community and to work with Finley’s youth group.

The evening services were up at Finley’s ministry center, which is a church building that was given to Finley that they have converted into the world’s coolest youth group building — the pews were removed and replaced with a random assortment of couches, foosball and pool tables, and that basketball arcade thing you had in your basement when you were little. We played music for the services and then hung out with the kids afterward eating food, playing the world’s worst game of volleyball, teaching foursquare on an awkwardly large court, and discussing the proper way to make s’mores (Gabe prefers his marshmallows burnt to a crisp while Brandon and Kat prefer a nice golden brown color).

Over the course of the week we had a few directional difficulties including but not limited to finding a giant giraffe on the side of the road (picture below). There was also a turtle killed in the making of our week, and a 40-minute moment of silence held in his honor.

We especially enjoyed getting to know the people at Finley like Tom, who organized our whole stay and took great care of us while we were there, and Gabe and Harper, the pastor’s kids who just clicked really well with our group. We also got to meet a lot of people we’ll get to see again at Hollow Rock like Rachel and Abby.

Speaking of Hollow Rock, we’re discovering more and more that this whole SMT thing is an existing universe outside of Asbury. Joining this team was stepping into something so much bigger than just the 7 of us touring the country, and it’s been really awesome diving deeper into that world.

Prayer Requests

As we go into this weekend, please pray for the following:

  • Pray that Cliff transitions well from Malawi to our team, and that we make his transition as smooth as we possibly can. Also pray that musically we would get back into the swing of being a full band. Since the summer began we’ve been playing acoustic sets with Conner on cajon (the box drum), so it will be nice to have Cliff playing a full drum set and Conner back on his tertiary instrument of bass (his primary and secondary are guitar and vocals, so he’s a little out of his comfort zone in general this summer). Our dynamic will be totally different when Cliff joins us, both socially and musically, and we’re all really excited for the change.
  • Pray that we would minister well to the youth at First Alliance on Friday night and to the congregation on Sunday morning, especially that the Holy Spirit would speak through us in all we do and that we wouldn’t get in the way of what Jesus wants to do this weekend.

Thank you for your support!

Picture: The Giant Giraffe that signals “You’ve gone the wrong way.”

Farewell Louisville (for now)

Recap

We spent the last week at First Alliance Church/International Christian Center on Bardstown Road in Louisville, KY, running a VBS for neighborhood kids. Here is an abbreviated recap of the week’s events:

  • Our first night and the next day were dedicated entirely to decorating. Our theme for the week was To the Edge: Encounter the God of the Universe, so we decked out the basement of the church in space-themed decor. When you walked in the door, you were in outer space. Brandon had the brilliant idea to cover the walls in black trash bags to give it a night sky effect, and we hung stars and styrofoam “planets” from the ceilings throughout the hallway. We worked without pause from breakfast Monday morning at 9am to 6pm when the kids arrived that evening putting up stars and planets and glow sticks and everything we could think of to make that basement feel like outer space.
  • The kids were mostly from Nepal, with some from various countries in Africa, some from Latin America, and one or two white kids — needless to say, we were the minority! We had about 25-40 kids each night and split them into 3 groups by age: Conner took the littles (4-6), Micah took the middles (7-9), and Brandon took the bigs (10-12). The groups started in a bigger room where Micah led music and Ariane led memory verses, and then we split up and rotated through our stations. Christa was in charge of teaching the story, which was taken from a different Bible passage each night. Ariane led the kids in games, which usually wore the leaders out more than the kids. Kat came up with a different craft each night and led the groups through each one. At the end of each night we met again for music and memory verses and then sent the kids home.

    Ariane and Micah lead the Middles in practicing their memory verses.

  • Most of these kids are bi- and trilingual, and English is their second language. When there were kids who did’t know English very well, the others were always very eager to help out. By the end of the week, we were all really attached to our kids, and we finally knew their names, no matter how unpronounceable they were to us.
  • One of the guys who helped out with the VBS was Austin, who was about our age and had an amazing testimony. He really clicked with our team and stuck around for dinner and showings of Veggie Tales on VHS each night.
  • We slept in classrooms in the church, so we were in that basement pretty much all the time. The funny thing about basements is that you lose all sense of space and time; we woke up at 11am feeling like it was 4 in the morning, we didn’t eat lunch until 2:30 or 3, and dinner didn’t even hit the stove until the kids left around 8:30 each night. Our internal clocks are completely messed up.
  • The guys worked on some odd jobs around the church like trimming trees and fixing cabinets throughout the days while the girls prepared the curriculum/games/crafts for the evening and set out food for meals — and may I just say that we are very proud of our guys for their successful use of a chainsaw!
  • Since our boys were in dire need of haircuts, we dedicated all of Tuesday afternoon to clippers and sheers; our men are now neatly trimmed and presentable.
  • We cooked all of our meals this week, which was a bonding experience in and of itself. Here’s our week’s dinner menu; parents, be proud.
  • Monday: Spaghetti with meat sauce
  • Tuesday: Chicken and rice with mushroom sauce and green beans
  • Wednesday: Taco Salad
  • Thursday: Chicken and Shrimp Fettuccine in Alfredo Sauce
  • Friday: Chicken Parmesan (breaded and fried chicken breast over spaghetti noodles with marinara sauce and mozzarella and parmesan cheeses) and Broccoli
  •  We detoured through Lexington today to go to a wedding and got to catch up with some friends in the process. Be sure to check out the Circle of Hope Facebook page for updates on Cliff and his team in Malawi. They’re doing awesome ministry there, and we’re super excited for what Jesus is doing in and through them.

     

Prayer for the Upcoming Week

We’re headed to Steubenville, OH, now to lead worship at a total of 6 services in the next 4 days for a youth revival. We are very excited, but also very nervous! Here’s how you can pray for our team and our ministry in the upcoming week:

  • Since we were leading a VBS all week, most of us haven’t even touched our instruments since our training week back on campus… and we’re leading 3 worship services tomorrow! Pray that we would quickly and easily get back into the groove of being a worship band.
  • Continue to pray for Cliff and his team for their last few days in Malawi. The team comes home Tuesday and Cliff rejoins our team Friday. Pray for a smooth transition for everyone.
  • Pray that we would reach people well for Christ this week, and that our team would be as effective as we possibly can in love and unity.

As always, thanks so much for your prayers and support!

Picture: The gang poses for a group photo on the last day of VBS.

Wilmore to Louisville

And So It Begins!

After a long week of a lot of training sessions, Sojourn is (finally) on the road! Here is a quick recap of the last week:

  • Like I said, we went through a lot of training sessions this week, including van safety, finances, story telling, confidentiality, and many many more. Though our schedule was surprisingly full, we do feel better prepared for our summer after this last week.
  • The pastor at our first church stop came to meet with us one day at lunch and told us all about the church and what to expect, which was really helpful.
  • One of our training sessions was going to Asbury’s Challenge Course and doing different group challenges. A few of us had been really dreading the trip to the course, but it ended up being super fun and really beneficial. We all learned a lot about each other, ourselves, and our team dynamic.
  • The last session was a “talent show” where both teams did a mock service with skits, music, and testimony. It was great to show each other what we have been preparing for the summer and to encourage each other in our preparation.
  • We met this morning at 7:30 to wish bon voyage to the other team, Ebenezer. After seeing them off, we went back to bed until it was time to pack up and get on the road.

As we head to our next stop, here are some prayer requests:

  • This week we will be leading a vacation Bible school in the evenings for 25-40 international kids. Our theme is To the Edge and it focuses on the God of the universe in relation to us, his creation. Be praying that we would lead well, and especially that we would be able to share Jesus with kids who may not receive the message of the gospel any other way. Many of these children speak English as a second language and come from Muslim and Hindu homes.
  • Continue to pray for Cliff and his team in Malawi, Africa. They will return stateside on June 9. Pray that they minister well to the people in Malawi and that Cliff has as smooth as possible of a transition when he comes home and joins our team.

Thank you for all of your prayer and support!

PA to KY

We are on our way back to Asbury after our ministry weekend at Rhodes Grove camp. We had such a great time this weekend!

First things first: the food was phenomenal. We were compelled to kiss the cook after every meal. We have never been so impressed by camp food.

The camp was a family camp, which we had never heard of. Families came and stayed in cabins and came to chapel services twice a day where we led worship before the message. Through the weekend there were a ton of cool activities for the families like game tournaments, canoeing, swimming, ziplining, hiking, and so much more.

While worship was very much in our comfort zone, facilitating the game tournaments was a little more challenging. We split off into pairs and led tournaments for cornhole, carpet ball, fooseball, ping pong, horseshoes, and air hockey. By the second day we had gotten into the swing of things and realized we actually can do more than lead worship.

Overall it was a good start to our summer. The camp and the experience was very comfortable, and we felt welcome and appreciated.

Here are some things to pray for as we return to Asbury for the week:

  • As we go into training week, pray that we would have supernatural unity as a team.
  • We will be taking some form of a driving test with a 15-passenger van pulling a trailer. Please pray for safety for everyone involved.
  • Pray that we as a band will be received well when we go to churches and camps.
  • Pray for technology mercies as we get accustomed to our new  sound system, that we would know how to set up, use, and troubleshoot the equipment.
  • Continue to pray for Cliff and his team as they minister to the people of Malawi, Africa. Also pray that his transition from that team to ours goes as smoothly as possible when he returns June 9.

Thank you for your prayer. We are all so grateful for God’s provision so far and we are expectant that He will continue to provide.

Photo: Scenic overlook in Maryland

On the Road

Sojourn is on the road! Today we’re headed on an 8-hour journey to Chambersburg, PA, to lead worship at a church retreat. 

A few quick updates: we successfully crammed all of our stuff into the van this morning, we have decided we need a GoPro to document our trip, and we pulled over for a pit stop before even getting out of Lexington. Sojourn is off to a great start! 

Here are a few ways to pray for us today: 

  • Pray for safe travels. We already had the tire pressure light come on, and although watching Micah and Brandon figure out how to fix it was entertaining (I’m pretty sure the owner’s manual had “dance the Macarena” listed as a necessary step to reset the dashboard light), we’d prefer not to have any more dashboard lights come on, minor or otherwise.  
  • Pray for team unity for us. This weekend will be great for us as a team to grow closer and figure out how to better work together. 
  • Pray for Cliff and his team in Malawi as they minister there. While it’s hard not having Cliff with us, we’re thrilled for what he’s doing in Africa in these next few weeks. He will rejoin our team June 12. 

We will lead worship at a church in Pennsylvania about 4 times, including a Sunday morning service and a 1-hour worship night, all acoustic since we don’t have our drummer. We’re very excited to get started!

Thank you for your prayers and support! We’ll keep updating as often as we can. 

Picture: nap time in the van circa 10:30am, a mere hour and a half into the trip.