Friday, July 19, 2019

Norfolk Day 2 - 7.19.19

In our full day on the Norfolk trip, the team ate breakfast at Spring Branch before heading out to Union Mission Ministry. Union Mission is a homeless shelter for men, women, and families who are on the streets or severely impoverished. We dropped off all the donations that the students had given to the shelter, and got to talk with Miss Linda who is the director of Mission. Miss Linda spoke with us about homelessness, teaching some of the causes of homelessness and sharing stories of people she has met in her years serving at Union Mission. The students asked her questions about where the donations we had brought were going and we got to walk the facility and see all the shelters and meet some of the people who will benefit from what we brought. When we were done in the donation center, the team loaded up and headed back to Spring Branch to stay out of the heat and get some lunch. After lunch, we headed to Consulate Health Center, a rehabilitation and nursing care facility where we were able to meet with many of the residents, hearing about their lives and the incredible stories they have to share! We joined them in an afternoon activity of bingo which as always was more intense than our students were ready for, but they learned quickly to take the game as seriously as the residents did and everyone had a blast! Sadly, as the residents had to move on to the next thing on their docket we had to say goodbye. Happily, we headed to the beach for a little fun in the sun and we ended up having dinner at the beach before coming back to Spring Branch for the night. After showers, we had Porch Time where we remembered those times and shared where we saw Jesus, worshiped through song and heard a good word from Tommy. We talked about the idea of being good soil from the parable of the sower in Matthew 13. The discussion continued into small groups about how we can be the path, the rocky soil, have thorns but regardless God continues to give us the opportunity to grow.
We wound down after a long day and are exited to finish well tomorrow when we go to Park Place Child Life Center, have our final porch time and head back up 64. We will keep you updated of our ETA back to the Chapel through the “NorfolkParent” (to 41411) text list. Thank you for your prayers and see you soon!

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Norfolk Day 1 - 7.18.19

Tonight is going to be a shorter post as we did not leave for the Norfolk trip until 4pm. After we left the Chapel, we took the very slow route through the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel until finally arriving at our housing location for this trip, Spring Branch Community Church. We are excited to be staying in their Student Ministry wing with space for us to hang out, share meals, sleep, and have “Porch Time.” For those unfamiliar with this traditional time on Chapel trips, “Porch Time” comes from trips to Nicaragua years ago when the team would debrief the day on the front porch. We have obviously outgrown the porch, but the tradition remains and tonight after dinner the Norfolk team had their very first “Porch Time.” We looked back at our brief trip so far and “Remembered That Time,” sharing funny anecdotes that had already come up on the drive, sitting in traffic, and eating dinner. Next we shared where “I Saw Jesus,” a time where team members can share where they have seen God at work in and through the team so far. We then worshiped through song and heard our first “Porch Time” talk where Nick taught from John 11. He shared that we as a team have been sent here and that we need to take the opportunities to serve this community and to see God at work through the people we encounter as well as each other. After the talk we had small groups and then wound down to get a good night’s sleep before a full day tomorrow!

If you haven’t yet, please text “NorfolkParent” to 41411 to receive updates throughout our trip and also because of the tight turn around times with VBS around the corner, we will show our trip video this Sunday in the SM service which everyone is welcome to come see!

Saturday, July 13, 2019

NASH DAY 6 - 7.12.19

For the final time this year, Salutations from Nashville!

As the sunrise broke over our final day in Nashville, we prepared ourselves with a customary moment of quiet reflection. Following this our serving groups departed to our ministry sites where we reluctantly waved goodbye to all our new friends. After some emotional farewells, we capped the day off with our final Porchtime. Porchtime tonight included an extended worship set as well as a talk focusing on the final chapters of Gideon's story.

We look forward to returning home tomorrow, although we will certainly miss Nashville. It has been wonderful to watch God's hands at work in this incredible city.

Friday, July 12, 2019

NASH DAY 5 - 7.11.19

Hello again from beautiful Nashville!

We had a marvelous day today!

In keeping with tradition, students opened the morning in prayer and private reflection, worshiping God to prepare for the day ahead. All groups then proceeded to their various mission sites to continue serving the organizations they have been building relationships with throughout the week.

In the afternoon, all of our groups participated in "Urban Exposure," an activity in which we split up into smaller groups of 3-4 and, armed with sandwiches and snacks, prowled the streets of downtown Nashville on a mission to seek out new friends and share a meal with them. With common ground established by food, our students broke the ice and learned about the daily trials and tribulations of the homeless community firsthand.

For dinner we dinned upon tacos with our CSM hosts and the other church groups staying with us, excitedly swapping stories of the incredible people who impacted us far more than we could ever impact them. After food and games, we made a pilgrimage to Las Paletas, a tasty popsicle shop in East Nashville, before retiring back to the housing site for Porchtime. At Porchtime we shared our experiences of seeing God work, before engaging in praise and worship. In our talk we delved into Ephesians 2, and learned about the relationship between faith and works.

After so many incredible experiences, we are positively elated to give everything we have on our final full day tomorrow!

WV Day 5 - 7.11.19

Today was our last full day here in WV and we were excited to get another full day of serving in before we head home tomorrow morning. For the final time, here's how the WV team spent their day:

Group 1 (the "Zion Zingers") spent their final day of serving in limbo as we were at the mercy of the weather and spent the first hour of our day cleaning up at the camp waiting to head to the work site. When we finally arrived at Miss Retha's, a recent widow who needed help with some yard work. The group spent the rest of their work day weeding, mulching and cleaning up around Miss Retha's. They finished up just as another round of showers came through and headed back to the 4H camp to prep dinner for the community cookout we had tonight.

Group 2 (the "Appalachian Aces") finished their week at Energy Express. It's been a great time with the students there, and a great example of the ministry of presence. It hasn't been as physically draining as some of the other worksites groups have visited, but one of our Porch Time talks emphasized living in the common or mundane moments of life by the power of God. Our mornings here may have felt common at times, but we have no idea how God will grow the seeds sown here in Beckley this summer! After lunch we went on a brief prayer walk. Visiting some familiar sites from our week and a few new ones, we prayed over a day center for senior citizens, a local church, the local Salvation Army, and other local businesses and homes. The tour ended at Grandview Park with a beautiful view of the West Virginia mountains, prompted to pray for the "wild and wonderful" pieces we've encountered this week.

Group 3 (the "Rocky Rangers") weren't able to make it to Ms Jean's due to the rain but had a wonderful time at Harper Mills Retirement home. The group spent all morning in the garden where they grow vegetables for the residents. We tied tomato plants, painted boxes/frames, pulled weeds, and put up wire for the cucumber and squash plants to climb. The girls were super energetic and eager to finish their last day of service strong. After lunch, they worked through the rain to finish the fencing. The rest of the day was spent connecting with the residents. We watched funny animal videos, played uno, checkers, and most importantly had great conversations. It's been encouraging to see this group serve together while growing in both relationship with each other and in their faith. 

Group 4 (the "Himalayan Homies") had the opportunity to serve at the School of Harmony today. This old school building offers music lessons to less fortunate children in the local area and rents office spaces to small non-profit organizations. We had the opportunity to paint the front stairs of the building. This gave the school a fresh and more appealing appearance. It was so amazing to watch the girls sit out in the heat all day while painting and yet not complain even once. They are really embracing the idea of acting as the hands and feet of Jesus. While some girls painted, other girls pulled weeds surrounding the building. Again, their positive attitudes about performing less desirable tasks is inspiring! Upon finishing these outdoor tasks, we were afforded the opportunity to go inside the School of Harmony and speak to some of the great people who work there. We met a man who shared his story of being a color-blind animator for television commercials.

Group 5 ( the "Pyrenees Pals") spent their last day with the kids from the Heart of God church camp. Today they did a repeat of Tuesdays activities and took more kids back to WVU Tech Gymnasium, where they spent hours playing games with the kids. It has been such a blessing seeing our students connect and grow in relationship with kids and members of the Beckley community. While it is never fun saying goodbye to those who we have built relationships with, we know we have made lasting friendships and even more so, developed a community that we will always be welcomed in.

The whole West Virginia team reconvened at Heart of God Church to have a community cookout with some of the residents of Beckley that we have served and come to know throughout our time here. It was fun to see them once more before coming back to the camp for our final Porch Time. At final Porch Time Nick finished the study on Gideon that we had began all the way back at our first training meeting in May. We looked at Judges 8 and talked about how as we transition back to Williamsburg we need to surrender any idols we are holding on to, show steadfast love, and embrace a discipline of remembrance. We have had an incredible time here in West Virginia, but are excited to come home and tell you all about it! We will text when we hit the road in the morning and update ETA's as we drive, so if you're not on the text list yet you can join by texting "WVPARENT" to 41411. See you soon and thank you all again for your prayers and support this week!

Thursday, July 11, 2019

NASH DAY 4 - 7.10.19

Hello again from Nashville!

Our Wednesday opened with our usual personal quiet time to reflect and process the trip as well as Scripture and prayer. 

Afterwards, groups went out to serve in their service projects, continuing to build relationships with kids at the Andrew Jackson Boys and Girls Club and Project Transformation (a community-oriented summer day camp for children and youth from low-income neighborhoods). One group had the opportunity to visit Loaves and Fishes, a soup kitchen for people experiencing homelessness.

In the afternoon, some of our groups served at Halfway House, a ministry for people recovering from addiction, as well as N.I.C.E., the aforementioned ministry for serving new immigrants and refugees.

Last night we had our night off where we went downtown to the famous Wild Horse Saloon, a 3-story music restaurant and music venue in the heart of Nashville. Students bonded with each other’s groups, enjoyed food and attempted to learn line dancing! After our trip downtown we capped off the night with an extended worship session, finishing with prayer and reflection. It is incredible to watch God move in and through all of our students!

Thanks to all the parents that were able to come to the prayer meeting. Please continue to pray for us as we serve Nashville.

WV Day 4 - 7.10.19

The team had another wonderful day here in Beckley, WV! Here are some of the exciting sites our teams had the privilege to serve at:

Group 1 (the "Zion Zingers") were at a new work site today where they got to serve a couple named Mary and Mike Williams, who are older and aren't able to keep up with some of the greater needs of their house. The group spent the day getting to know the couple while power washing their house, cleaning up their back yard, and filling in a large hole with gravel in their driveway. While the work was fulfilling and Group 1 has been handling the workload this week with incredible joy, the true highlight of the day was getting to talk and get to know Mike and Mary. They were so thankful and sincere for our presence there and our group was soaking up the stories and wisdom that they shared.

Group 2 (the "Appalachian Aces") was back at Energy Express reading, writing, playing and serving both the children and the faculty on site. It's clear the students at Beckley Elementary are connecting with the team, calling us their "new best friends" while exchanging secret handshakes. It has also been so fun to encourage them and their imaginations in creative writing exercises and prompted art paintings. After lunch we went to Mr. Charles' house to help paint a couple of his bedrooms. God has sustained an incredible enthusiasm in this group all week, with willing hands to serve and joyful hearts in their labor.

Group 3 (the "Rocky Rangers") got the opportunity to serve at Ms. Jean's house! She had the kindest heart and welcomed us into her home with open arms. During the morning, the group teamed up to complete various tasks: made beds, organized rooms, took out trash, dusted, and vacuumed. We also finished up the sanding of her back deck that Group 2 had been working on the past few days. Throughout the day, we were able to hear her story and see God at work in her life through the difficulties and pain. She truly modeled what trusting in His faithfulness looks like. After lunch, the team tackled staining the deck. With rain in the forecast for the following day, the girls wanted to finish no matter how long it would take. They joyfully worked 2 hours after our scheduled time to make sure it was finished. It was so encouraging to see their willingness to serve and sacrifice their shower and free time! We can't wait to return to her house tomorrow!

Group 4 ( the "Himalayan Homies") spent the day at Harper Mills nursing home interacting with the residents! The group walked up and down the halls stopping by bedrooms saying hi and listening to all of the wonderful stories the residents had to offer. After participating in the morning exercise the girls then spread out with some sitting in the dining room chatting it up, some helping residents get to and from their rooms, and some sitting in the hair salon as different people sat down to get a new hairstyle for the day. After lunch, everyone met back up in the dining room to watch the afternoon movie and then shortly after played in 4 exciting rounds of Bingo where the girls helped the residents win prizes!

Group 5 (the "Pyrenees Pals") were at the same camp they have been at all week. Today, they took around 80 kids to see Despicable Me 3. Following the movie, they headed back to the Heart of God church to serve lunch to the kids. The group is super excited to return tomorrow and continue building relationships with the kids there. It has been inspiring to watch the group grow both in their relationships with one another and with the Lord.

All of the groups met back at the 4H camp after their service projects for a few hours of free time and dinner. Great conversation occurred at the dinner table before it was time to depart for a worship night at the Heart of God church. An incredibly lively and moving service followed. The congregation was moving and clapping to the songs and encouraged the kids to pour their hearts into the worship. Afterwards, we came back to our housing site for porch time. We heard a talk from Tommy as we studied the parable of the sower from Mathhew 13 about the kind of "soil" we have in our hearts so Jesus can plant the best seed.  Closing the day with good small group time and fellowship, our team is prepared for a packed and fun final day of service here in Beckley, West Virginia!