Friday, July 20, 2018

Norfolk Day #2 - 7.20.18

This morning, the Norfolk team woke up after a great night's sleep here at Spring Branch and ate breakfast. After breakfast, we headed down the road to Union Mission Ministries. Union Mission is a Christian based homeless shelter that serves the Norfolk/Virginia Beach area. We dropped off the donations that our team had brought for Union, and then got to work in their warehouse. We split into teams in different sections of their main warehouse sorting area and spent the morning sorting, organizing, and packing food boxes that Union will hand out to families in need in the neighboring community. When we had finished with our assigned food packing duties, we went to a meeting room and got to talk with a staff member about what homelessness looks like in the Hampton Roads area and how the donations we brought and the food donations that we had just organized are going to help the over 300 men and women that spend the night in the shelter each night. We left Union and headed to a park nearby to have some lunch as well as some team bonding time where the kids (and leaders!) enjoyed the park! Our lunch spot was conveniently located near our afternoon site, Consulate Health Care. Consulate is an elderly healthcare facility with many residents who have either outlived their family or are not visited very often. Albeit a somewhat sad reality, they absolutely love when they get to have visitors and were elated to spend their afternoon with our team talking about their lives and asking about ours. We socialized with some of the residents and also settled in for what has become our annual Consulate bingo battle and as usual, our team could not hang with these seasoned veterans. We left Consulate in great spirits and headed to the beach for an hour or two of fun in the sun. We left the beach and came back to Spring Branch where we ate dinner and then gathered together for Porch Time. The team shared fun stories from the day during "Remember That Time" and we also had great participation during "I Saw Jesus!" It was exciting and encouraging to see so many members of our team share where they had seen Jesus at work in the places and people we encountered today. After singing a few worship songs, Nick gave the second talk of the trip which focused on our encounters with God or "Mountain Top Experiences" and how we should revel in them while on these trips and seek to create ways to remember and carry them with us as we head back into our everyday lives. After porch time, we split into small groups to discuss this further and then began to wind down for bed time. We had a great day and are excited to finish well tomorrow as we clean up here at Spring Branch and head to Park Place Child Life Center to spend our remaining time on the trip with the kids there before heading home. Your prayers are appreciated and we are excited to continue to see God at work here in Norfolk!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Norfolk Day #1 - 7.19.18

This won't be too long of a post, as today was mainly a travel/set up day for us. The Norfolk team left the Chapel and traveled (slower than hoped) down I64, making it to Spring Branch Community Church. Spring Branch has graciously allowed us to stay in their Student Ministry Area for our time down here. When we arrived, we unloaded the vans and settled down for some dinner. We ate and had an opportunity to explore and settle into our home for the next two nights. We then all came together for this class's very first Porch Time! Porch Time is a staple on all of our Student Ministry Mission Trips. Tonight we set up what the "Remember That Time" and "I Saw Jesus" portions of Porch Time are so that they would be prepared for tomorrow night. For those of you who don't know, each of these are opportunities to share with the whole team both funny moments from the day, as well as times where anyone had seen Jesus at work in the people we interact with, at the sites we work at, or in their fellow team members. We then were led in a time of worship, where we joined our voices together to sing praise to our God. When the singing had ended, Nick gave the first of three talks of the trip. Tonight we spoke about the idea of "opportunity."  Everyone on this trip had the opportunity to not come, to do something else with their time and yet here we all are. Just as God acted in Abram’s life in Genesis 12-15, that we studied in our pre-trip meetings. We looked at the idea that we are called to be "ambassadors of Christ" as Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:20. Part of being an ambassador of Christ is doing the work that we are called to do, as well as reflecting Christ in all that we say and do. After the talk, the team split up into small groups to continue to discuss this further. As small groups wound down, so too did the night and the team got ready for a good night's sleep in preparation for a full day tomorrow. For those who want further updates throughout the day, please text "NORFOLKPARENT" to 41411 and as always, prayers for God to move on this trip are appreciated!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Norfolk Team Pre-Trip - 7.18.18

The Norfolk team leaves tomorrow! (Thursday, 7/19)

We will be meeting at 3 pm in Woodward Hall for Check-In and departure with the goal being to return around 4:30-5:00 pm on Saturday (depending on traffic).

Reminder to get on the text list by texting "Norfolkparent" to 41411. That's the best way we can mass communicate an accurate arrival time. The packing list is below and if you have any questions, please email Nick (nmercer@wcchapel.org).

We are ready for a fun trip this weekend!

Packing List 

Friday, July 13, 2018

NC Day #6 - 7.13.18

Our last full day here in North Carolina! We woke up early and had breakfast, but no morning worship today. Instead, we gathered with the other groups that are staying here with us and prayed for the clients who's houses we are working on, the staff here at ReCreation, and each of our respective teams. After our prayer, we headed to the work site and got after it! The team worked hard to finish up the projects that we had; digging the septic trenches and painting the house. Upon arrival we discovered that there had been some rain in the night and a few brave souls went into the our second, unfinished trench and bailed out the standing water so that we could get back to digging and leveling in preparation for the second line of piping to be laid. Because of the delay at the start the trench took longer than expected, but there was no discouragement from our team as they stepped up and worked hard for most of the morning and into the afternoon. Finally, after we had gotten the trench to the correct specifications, we began to lay in the piping.  Once that was set in place, we buried the pipes and leveled out the yard so that the homeowner can reseed the yard. The house was ready upon our arrival for a second coat of paint and the team divided and conquered to finish up all of the painting of the final coats before the work day was even officially finished! We cleaned up once everything was done and said our goodbyes to Ms. Sharon and her grandkids who we have gotten to know this past week. We headed back to ReCreation for some well earned free time before dinner. After dinner we joined together with the other groups here and all of the staff to worship together one last time. George encouraged us to not just enjoy serving this week, but to take the energy and servant hearts that we have seen on display this week back home with us. After this ReCreation end of the week worship time, our team convened for our final porch time. Rather than meet in the gym at ReCreation as we had all week, we met outside around a small fire so that we could admire God’s creation as we continued to worship Him. There was no ‘remember that time’ or ‘I saw Jesus’ tonight, we started straight in with continued worship, which was followed by Luke giving the final talk of the trip. Luke spoke about Abraham, who we had studied in our pre-trip training and we reviewed all that we had learned and how it applied to the week we had just had. Throughout our time studying Abraham we have seen him continue to build altars throughout his experiences: altars of appearance, calling, repentance, and assurance.  Luke used these as a guide for how we can structure our lives to be open to the leading of Jesus in Williamsburg like we have been here in North Carolina.  Then we looked at one final altar moment in Genesis 15 where God establishes a covenant with Abraham.  So we created a final altar of covenant moment for our team where we could put behind the things that are holding us back from fully committing to Jesus.  It was great to see our team take this moment of honesty to establish their own commitments with Jesus.  Finally, we closed our evening together in small groups as a team to discuss final commitments and realizations as we head back home. We will be leaving in the morning after breakfast and cleaning/packing up. If you aren't already, please sign up for our text list "NCPARENT" to 41411 to receive updates as we travel home!

Nashville Day 5 - 7.12.18

Hey Everyone!

We had a great day today. Students continued to work through our devotional booklets in the morning before heading out to their worksites to continue serving the organizations we’ve been building relationships with throughout the week.

In the afternoon, all of our groups participated in Urban Exposure where we split up into smaller groups of 3-4 and, loaded with sandwiches, water bottles and snacks, walked the streets of downtown Nashville seeking to meet people and have conversations with them. We learned a lot about what people facing homelessness deal with on a daily basis and met some incredible people who impacted us more than we impacted them.

In the evening, we bonded with other CSM church groups that are serving here this week as we played games and ate dinner together. We gathered our students for our second to last Porch Time of the trip and celebrated together all the moments where we have seen Jesus move today and passionately sang worship songs together. We had our very own Lauren Clark give the word tonight and students had awesome conversations in small groups as we processed our experience from the afternoon and thought through the two big choices we have as Christians everyday: Choosing Jesus or Choosing ourselves.

We are excited to give everything we have on our final full day tomorrow!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

NC Day #5 - 7.12.18

The North Carolina Team woke up this morning for our routine of breakfast, worship, and a talk from ReCreation Director George. George continued to encourage the team to serve joyfully as we finish out our week here in Weaverville. After morning service, we headed out to our work site to continue the work set before us. The majority of the group returned back to work on the septic trench lines. It was great to see such a positive attitude from them as they worked hard throughout the morning and we themselves up to finish one of our two trenches by the end of the work day. Tomorrow we are set up well to finish the second trench line, with maybe some time to spare! The remaining members of th team got back to tackling the painting of the main house we have been focusing on this week. With two coats of primer having been done earlier in the week, our group got after it with the first coat of the house color. By the time we left the work site for the day, we had finished the first coat and are ready to finish the house tomorrow! After a great day at the work site, we headed back to ReCreation for a shower and some hang out time before dinner. Following dinner we had our second to last Porch Time of the trip. Nick spoke from John 11 and focused on what we should be thinking about as we begin to switch our mindsets back to heading home to Williamsburg. After porch time the team split into small groups and had great discussions about how to take our experiences here and translate them back into our lives at home. After Porch Time, our team went to bed excited to get some sleep for our final work day tomorrow!

Nashville Day 4 - 7.11.18

Hello again from Nashville!

Our Wednesday started with our usual personal quiet time to reflect and process the trip as well as read scriture and journal. Today our groups implemented reading through the Prayer of Saint Francis at the end of our quiet time as a way to get into the mindset of becoming and “instrument of peace” as we head out to serve. (See below for full prayer)

After quiet time groups went out to serve in their service projects, continuing to build relationships with kids at the Andrew Jackson Boys and Girls Club, Youth Life Learning Center and Project Transformation (a community-oriented summer day camp for children and youth from low-income neighborhoods).

One of our groups got to visit the Giving Garden and do some manual labor picking weeds and cleaning up the fields. The Giving Garden produces over forty-one thousand pounds of produce each year that is then distributed between 21 different local partners serving food to low-income families and people who are homeles.

Last night we had our night off where we went downtown to the famous Wild Horse Saloon which is a 3-story music restaurant and music venue in the heart of Nashville. Students got to bond with each other’s groups, enjoy food and try their luck at learning to line dance. Because we had a night off, we put a pause of Porch Time for the night so students could hang out and get some rest. Tomorrow (Thursday) will be a big day for us as we take part in Urban Exposure. More on that in our next blog update. Thanks to all the parents that were able to come to the prayer meeting Please continue to pray for us as we serve Nashville.