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A Word from Woody. . .
"My Youth Mission Trip Diary"
We had a great youth mission trip last month. Here are some of my
daily reflections from the trip.
Sunday, June 15: Leaving on a youth trip is exciting and hard at
the same time. This time the hard part came in that we left on
Father’s Day—it’s not easy to take youth away from their Dads on
such an important day. After church we had a delicious jambalaya
lunch provided by Tim Meche, and then we loaded the three vehicles
and headed off for Birmingham, AL. There are 18 of us—three adults
(myself, Elena, and her sister Patricia Hallberg) and 15 students.
We arrive at the hotel, generously provided by Guy and Patricia
Hallberg, and enjoyed a delicious meal at Taco Bell!
Monday, June 16: We leave for Nashville, TN, and arrive a little
after 3:00 PM for our MFuge mission trip stationed at Belmont
University. We are to stay in the dorms at Belmont University and go
out from there daily to reach out to others. After eating supper,
worship, and small groups, we are exhausted as our heads hit the
Tuesday, June 17: Our first full day at the mission camp. Our
students are broken up into various work groups. Most of these
groups are “sports and recreation”, where we hang out with kids in
recreation centers, which are often in needy areas. We have neat
opportunities to share the gospel as we build relationships. A
couple of our students (Emily Hingle and Ian Marx) are in a mission
group that reaches out to those with Down Syndrome. The theme for
the day was “Be His”, and we talked in our church group meeting
tonight about truly being His—and five students in our group raised
their hands to follow Jesus as Lord and Savior! Later at night our
students participate in an outdoor exercise where they pretend they
are the persecuted church where they are trying to find other
Christian churches and avoid the “authorities”—a meaningful
exercise, given the persecuted church in such countries as Iran and
Wednesday, June 18: Today’s them is “Be Last”—i.e., being humble
servants of the Lord, as Jesus was, as seen in Philippians 2:3-11.
We had a good second full day at MFuge—morning worship, followed by
small groups, then from basically 10:00 AM to 2:45 PM we go to our
work sites. Then we had free time, and were allowed to go out to see
the city of Nashville and have supper downtown. We went to a
restaurant called “Jack’s Bar-B-Que” and had a great meal—many
thanks for the donation of Charlotte and Sanjiv Chauhan through
Country Inn and Suites in Covington which made that meal possible!
One of our youth—Louis Dewenter—celebrated his 13th birthday today,
and we sang to him at the restaurant. We got back to MFuge in time
for evening worship and a good sermon on being the Lord’s servants,
and then we broke up into our church small group.
Thursday, June 19: Today’s them is “Be Last”, and it was a great
day of learning just that as Christians. The messages and devotional
for the day were geared toward that, and we had good service
opportunities. The day ended great with our church group time, where
we met from 8:00-9:15 PM. Everyone shared something for which we
were thankful that day. Many of the students shared how they played
and connected with children or other youth in the games and
recreation outreach. We also discussed the awesome message we had
tonight from the camp speaker Tim. He shared how God can use us
despite our weaknesses—that Christ has given us each gifts to use
for His glory. Tim was an art school dropout, had tried to commit
suicide, and had struggles with drinking. Then he came to Christ,
finished his art degree, and is involved in ministry fulltime. And
he struggles with leukemia. Despite it all, he simply asks God to
use his life for His glory. He then painted a gorgeous 6 ½ by 6 ½
foot portrait of Jesus on the cross before our very eyes. The truth
of his message and witness touched us and moved us profoundly.
Friday, July 20: This was our last day of outreach. After morning
worship and small groups we head out to our work sites, and got back
in the afternoon for free time and supper. At worship Pastor Tim
gave a poignant illustration of a test with a monkey. The monkey
could reach his hand through a small hole and grab an orange, but
while he grabbed the orange he could not bring it to himself through
the small hole! This is what sin is like—it offers us something
enticing which can never fulfill us and will hold us in bondage.
Just as the monkey must drop the orange to be free, so we must drop
sin to be free. How true!
Saturday, June 21: We leave camp at about 10:30 AM and arrive
back in New Orleans at 9:10 PM—tired, but with happy hearts from
being with the Lord and each other!
Thank you for your prayers
for the youth trip. Please keep us in your prayers as we try to
apply what we have learned for Jesus’ glory!
Yours in Christ,