Friday, July 22, 2016

Closing Thoughts from the Youth Minister

Yesterday, Thursday, was a long, hot, fun, tiring day.  We all arrived home safely very late last night.  Some of us arrived to church later than others, and therefore I missed the opportunity to say some goodbyes and greet all the parents whom I am certain were curious about their student’s experience on this trip.  I want to take this opportunity to share, collectively, with parents and all who wish to read on, some trip highlights from my perspective.  

Eighteen youth came together (along with two spectacular adult volunteers, Lisa and Elias) and spent four and a half days being a community.  The ages of the students ranged from 13 to 18 years old.  For some, it was their first time on a youth trip because they finally turned 13. For some, Incarnation is not their home church, but they joined in as friends or family to our members.  

I saw all of them working together on the farm splitting logs, collecting eggs, cleaning animal pens, trimming trees, and laying concrete forms.  They also worked together in paired dodge ball, crossing an imaginary river, and trying to count flawlessly to the number ten.  They stepped out of their comfort zones to help at Central City Lutheran Mission (CCLM) prepping meals, cleaning pantries, and playing water games with the elementary kids.   I was witness to their patience, cooperation, teamwork, and compassion over the last four days.  

Were efforts made to make new friends, to include the new students, to grow in their faith, to be Jesus’ hands and feet in the world? Were harsh words spoken to one another on occasion?  Were there times we didn’t live up to our own expectations?  The answer to all of those questions is a resounding YES. 

We are not perfect (I am including myself here too!) But I witnessed each of our group connecting to one another and growing as a community.  I witnessed laughter when we all messed up the Labyrinth in our first attempt.  I witnessed joy for the baby goats, excitement in seeing a mama bear and her cubs in our midst, pain in Tanner’s bee stings, and concern for the people of CCLM.  

These young men and women made connections with one another, the LRCC camp staff, and the community at CCLM. These are relationships that have the potential to influence their futures.  Despite how the future may look when we watch the evening news, I see our future as hope-filled and blessed because I had the joy and privilege to spend the last four days with a small community who know Jesus and who know how to love their neighbors. 

Thank you to all who offered their prayers for us over these last few days.  
Thank you to all who made this trip possible with your financial support.  
THANK YOU to Elias Symons and Lisa Dorn for giving of their personal time, talents, and their hearts to this trip. 
Thank you to the youth: Luke, Nick, Tanner, Tori, Max, Aidan, Lizzie, Logan, Erica, Karli, Brynna, Brandon, Anna, Eli, Sarah T., Will, Sarah P., and Cameron.  You are terrific!   
Looking forward to next summer, 

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