Days begin early on these mission trips. I snuck downstairs and found the coffee about 6 am, taking advantage of a little quiet time to read, write and pray. After waking the kids up at 7 to be ready for breakfast at 7:30, I attended the daily adult leaders meeting to get our assignments for the day.
Our group was divided between two work crews, nicknamed Wicked Awesome and Free Falling. My group, Wicked Awesome, included a leader and some youth from Marysville, MI, incredible new friends to work with. The rest of our church group joined some of the youth from Texas, Michigan and Indiana to form the Free Falling crew.
After we cleaned up breakfast, packed our lunches and had some devotional time, our (Wicked Awesome’s) first day involved planning for Kid’s Club and then implementing our plan at the Avondale Recreation Center in the afternoon. We divided up into teams that would read a story, make a craft and then play some games with age grouped children. We were told to expect as many as sixty children, but there were only thirty-some — ages five to eleven — to entertain that afternoon. The staff and children at the rec center were great, energetic and loud, but a lot of fun to work with. Games? Forget it — everyone just wanted to play basketball. Evan was glad to oblige them. Crafts? They were definitely into it? Reading? FInished the story (Feeding of the five thousand) in about ten minutes, then looked at other cool pictures in the story bibles we were using.
After showering at the nearby YMCA, we had pizza for supper and headed out for Rock City. Our group size got us a huge admission discount, and we really enjoyed the passageways, gnomes and views.
At club that night (the group evening program time), we talked about how to “reach out” like Jesus. When two blind men asked Jesus for mercy (Matthew 20:29-34), he stopped, asked, loved and touched them (SALT). A great acronym to help us engage the people we encounter. It’s hard to do all that in our loud, busy and impersonal world.
At the end of the day, our church group met to talk about our experiences and prepare for the next day. I was a bit concerned about some of the “I’m bored” and “I’m so tired” comments, but I knew I just needed to give them some time. We collected all the cell phones and music devices when we arrived, so some of them were still detoxing.
This year’s program and material was excellent, from the Club talks to the devotional guides to the church group discussion questions. Nice job, YouthWorks!