2014 Youth Mission Update #3

We hit Wednesday of the mission trip in full stride: we arrived at our work site feeling pretty confident about what we were supposed to do and how we would do it.  It’s a real pleasure to see the kids jump out of the van and head to the storage shed with a sense of purpose: someone is bringing the generator out, someone else is setting up the air compressor, the saw station, etc.  One of the great fruits of a trip like this is seeing the confidence emerge as young people try new things and experience some success and satisfaction.

In terms of the work, it was pretty straightforward.  We started the day at the main site and by lunchtime we’d completed so much that Tim and Marla took ten of the group to another project for the afternoon.  While Jeff and I stayed with a small crew of carpenters to install spindles and stair railing, that group of twelve went to a site that needed to have a great quantity of construction (actually, destruction) debris gathered and bagged for removal.

Alexis digging a hole for the footer for the deck.

Alexis digging a hole for the footer for the deck.

This is the hole by which all future holes in the history of deck construction will be measured.

This is the hole by which all future holes in the history of deck construction will be measured.


I asked Katie to dig a hole. She found a HUGE block of cement about 2 inches under the sand. Demonstrating the qualities that will make her a fine youth leader in years to come, Katie simply dropped a hint about how hard it must be to move that rock and she doubted anyone could do it. Before long, everyone was busting up Katie’s block of cement, and she was standing on the sidelines, sipping water and offering encouragement. Well played, Katie. Well played.


Marla and McKenna continue to work on the stairwell that has been such a source of both pride and frustration to our team. We designed and have just about installed the entire thing.


Our second work site shows the process of elevating the homes above the flood risk.

Our second work site shows the process of elevating the homes above the flood risk.


Bagging debris from the second site.


Remember, it’s been two years since the storm hit. What a deep impact on people’s lives!

Our day ended a little earlier than normal and we took advantage of the proximity to the beach for another session of wave riding and play. We followed that up with a dinner consisting of individual chicken pot pies and salad.

It was my turn to lead the evening devotion, and I used the characters of John Mark, Paul, Barnabas, Silas, and Timothy to talk a little bit about who God can be present in different ways at different parts of our lives, and one of the best things we can do is to look for an older, more mature person to be a guide or mentor, a group of peers with whom we can share the journey, and a couple of younger people for whom we can serve as guides.  I finished the discussion, as we do every night, with an opportunity for the folks to share something about the day or the trip.  On Wednesday, however, I asked the kids to write something down.  Several of the folks gave me permission to share their thoughts in this venue.  Take a look and spend a few moments praying for these kids whom God loves so much.

So far I have learned to bite my tongue when I see that somebody isn’t or hasn’t done something correctly.  If that’s how they want it done, I won’t embarrass them with telling theym they’re wrong.  If anything, I could just simply give them a tip.  Not everybody likes that, I know I don’t.  I’ve learned to move to the middle ground, to both learn and instruct new techniques.  You always have room for more, at least in your brain.  God has shown and inserted me into many paths in my 16 years, and every single one has made me stronger and has put me closer to Him.  That is my personal life goal as a Christian and as a growing man.

What really touched me ahas when me, Tim, and Jacob were walking on the beach and our sand prints out of feet was behind us and made me feel a lot closer to God and that just made me feel so good about this trip and I hope I can go on another.  I would be so honored.

This mission trip has meant the world to me. I learned to interact with more older kids than just my age.  It gives me the ability to get to know them…The people I was with helped me realize that I have it better than most people in the world, and I was blessed to get to help just a few of those many families. It also makes me feel loved to have people care about me – even those that I don’t talk to outside of youth group.

Unlike other mission trips this is a rather large group.  We wouldn’t call each other outside of youth group to do something but for a week we get to spend time with each other and enjoy other people’s company.  It’s also meaningful to look back and realize a group of us became friends at Cross Trainers now we are on mission trips together continuing and building that friendship.

I have become so joyful this week, in total honey-to-God joy.  I have struggled so long with accepting the behavior of Christians and trying to figure out how to be comfortable around Christians who are so noticeably self-righteous.This group of kids gets it.  They know how to be good people, and live that out each hour, and never hint at stepping out of bounds, yet so humbly and casually, but confidently, stick to the right path.  I have laughed with them all week in honest, pure, fun.

Honestly I am really happy that we are all able to work together without moaning about it or anything.  If someone asks someone to do something it’s done without back talk.  Sometimes actually all the time I wish we could do it all the time.  It just shows that we respect and care for one another and that we show that we are growing and maturing not only that, but we are able to learn how to word harder together and in groups – to push ourselves and learn new jobs and techniques.  Yup, so just loving one another and not griping or moaning and being able to have fun and enjoy one another’s company.

1. How God works.
2. The beautiful things God creates.
3. Friendship.
4. True teamwork.
5. Helping a person can help you too.

I wish I had time to type out all the ones that were given to me to share.  Maybe you’ll see more.  The point is, I think that many of these kids (and us) are getting it.  Life is being enjoyed and discovered and lived and shared.  Thanks be to God.  As I said on Monday, I wish you were here to see it.

Some of our number woke up at 5:45 and headed out to see the sunrise.

Some of our number woke up at 5:45 and headed out to see the sunrise.

I. Love. These. Kids.   The sun rises on a new day of exploration and adventure.

I. Love. These. Kids.
The sun rises on a new day of exploration and adventure.

3 thoughts on “2014 Youth Mission Update #3

    • TyB, that is a good question. The short answer is that we have had African-American young people participate in the youth group activities this year as well as in years past, but the way that the trip fell out, none of those kids chose to participate this year. The longer answer (or the longer set of answers, really) is probably better suited for real conversation than the “comments” section. I miss the kids who aren’t here, and I long for more of the young people in our neighborhood to connect.

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