Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Final Post

The trip is over and we’ve been back for a few days. What is there left to tell you? God worked in some amazing ways through us and we got to see some wonderful little miracles. Picking up where I left off, Saturday morning the team went rafting. That was a great experience, a chance to bond with each other and unwind after a week of hard work. Pastor Jim rowed one of the rafts and Carl Smid, one of the church members, rowed the other. Carl and Linda Smid are the ones who take us rafting every year. They own all the equipment and that is their way of blessing us when we do the trip. As always, it was a wonderful excursion. Pastor Jim gets made fun of for his rowing every once in a while, and he got stuck on top of a rock this time… so he’s got quite a few jabs coming his way.

After the rafting we headed back to the church and spent the rest of the day cleaning up and packing up. We spent hours making the church spotless but we left the VBS decorations up so that the church members who hadn’t seen them could get a chance to experience what had been going on that whole week. We then went to showers and had a big group dessert time at the River Rock, a diner across the street from the church, then came back for our last family time.

Pastor Jim and Mrs. Judy talked to us about what a great blessing we had been. They have so much trouble getting people involved in their community, and in particular on making an impact on the kids and teens. They started in youth ministry and so it’s a great blessing for them to see students around Riggins getting involved. They told us that a strong teenaged Christian is something that these students never see, and so us just coming and being ourselves shines a light into their world and makes the few Christians there realize that they can live out their faith.

Jim gave us a few nuggets of wisdom also. The one that changed my life 5 years ago when I first heard it from him, and he shared again that night, was “People don’t care about how much you know until they know about how much you care.” That little phrase from Pastor Jim 5 years ago revolutionized my life and the way I live out my faith. I hope and pray that something he said sticks in the ears of the students who were there this past Saturday.

The next morning we loaded up, took group pictures, prayed, and were off to Boise to catch our flight back home. The Theology Van (That’s what my SUV came to be called because I was always talking theology when I drove places) had a great time listening to the audio book of “The Problem of Pain” by C.S. Lewis and discussing the ideas he put forward in the book. The other cars just slept and sang nonsensical songs, I’m sure. ( *wink. Love you guys!) We got home safely and went our separate ways at IAH. All’s well that ends well, and this definitely ended well.

Please continue to pray for this trip and these kids in all the ways we’ve been talking about this past week. They need God’s hand in their lives almost as much as we do. Pray for continued growth from those in Riggins and from our students here in Houston. Pray that the Universal church, which we have seen a snippet of this past week, will soldier on through time and be ready for Christ when he returns.

A final thought for the students who went on this trip:

I always hear pastors and youth ministers encourage their students, “Don’t let what we did here stay here! Take this trip back home with you and make an impact on your community! Your spiritual growth will only stop if you let it.” It’s a true statement and I agree that this is what we should want/strive for, but I’ve realized that this encouragement never works. The trip always ends at the airport and kids go back to the way they were before hand.
Instead I want to give a different thought to the students: This trip is going to end. The impact you had here will stop when you get back home. That’s human nature. You won’t always be on this spiritual high, you won’t always be growing in your faith the way you were on this one-week trip. That’s just the cold hard reality.
Instead of trying to ‘Keep the trip going!’ I encourage you to remember. Remember what happened here. The law of undulation will take its toll. You will go through trough periods of numbness and dryness followed by peak periods of spiritual growth and richness and when you get home, a trough period is waiting for you. But when you get through your period of dryness a peak in your faith will arise again. Don’t let the troughs you’re about to face make the peaks that will come ineffective. Look forward to the future growth, remember the past growth you had in Riggins, and when the present comes around, as it so often does, ask yourself, “If I were still in Riggins? What would I be doing right now?” Then go and do that.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Post 5: Dry Eyes... NOT

Blog Post 5:

I know I’m late today! We have had a busy last day of VBS. Last night at the field our students shared and we played games as usual. Aaron Clayton said that when he got up to share his testimony he was really nervous to the point that he felt kind of sick, but right when he started talking, it all went away and he was fine. Last night at family time we called an audible. We decided to forego the study and just praise God all night. We sang until about 11:30 then talked and shared for a while after that. There were quite a few wet eyes last night from both sadness and joy. It was quite a night and we all got to know each other better by knowing each other’s insecurities.

This morning we were all extra tired and we finished out VBS as best we could. We had a parent’s presentation with a slideshow from VBS an appearance by Wally (Pastor Jim’s Ventriloquist dummy) and performances of the songs that the kids learned. After VBS we headed to Brundage to celebrate a long day’s work. Brundage is a ski resort who open’s its chair lift for hikers and bikers who want to go around the mountain in the summer.

Unfortunately, because of the audible we called at family time, we didn’t have time to share stories and prayer requests, so I don’t have anything new for you. Please continue to pray for the things in the last few posts and an update tomorrow with what to pray for as the trip comes to a close will be posted. Love to all!

For HIM and only HIM.
1 Thess 4:11


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Baptism Pictures

These are the pictures from the baptism today!

Post 4: “Basically I’m related to half the town.”

Yesterday was another great day. During VBS the gospel was preached. It’s funny, everyone but the bible teachers said it was a crazy day, but the students who were teaching the gospel said that it was the most focused that the students had ever been. After VBS it was a rest day for the team. We tried to keep them on campus at the church until dinner so that we wouldn’t get burned out before the end of the week. Some of us watched “The Princess Bride” and others just slept. A small group couldn’t deal with being cooped up, so they went out to shorts bar and met up with some of the teens and VBS students we’ve been meeting through the week.

Out at the field, Jordan gave a great presentation of the gospel and outlined the Roman Road. He wrapped up by saying, “I’m going to leave this bible here, and if you want to know more just take it.” He ear marked the gospel of John and told them to start reading there. The reactions were interesting and varied. One boy stood up and was about to leave because he didn’t want to hear about the Bible, but his girlfriend stopped him and made him stay. Others were completely enraptured and excited to hear about scriptures. Tamara and Faith also did a great job in sharing their stories with the teens. God was definitely at work in some people out there… kicking up dust.

We wrapped up with a marathon family night. We’ve been talking about God’s will and how lots of people in the church today have a bit of a mystical view of it, like His will is a secret we are supposed to figure out or a magic eight ball we’re supposed to ask of our hard questions. Last night we finally got to the alternative. How do you know what God’s will and we dug into some scriptures telling us what God’s will really is. I encourage you all to look up 1 Thess 4:3. You might be surprised by how clear that passage is on what God’s will is for your life.

We got to bed a little late because the discussion and prayer was so in depth, and today is a big day. On top of the usual, we have baptisms today. Four of our students have decided to be baptized. Joshua Salmon, Sam Runyon, Aaron Clayton, and Faith Rawlins. I am so excited for all of these students and I will be sure to put up pictures after today right after we get back from the river.

Yesterday, Aaron and I were wrestling out at rec (he was showing me some moves since he’s one of the best in the state) and I got him into a headlock. He swung his hand up and got his thumb impaled on his nametag. We got it out and bandaged him up, but now I’ve been telling people not to mess with me or I’ll stab them with their nametag. People ask me how and I say “Keep pushing me and you’ll find out!

One of the VBS kids, Zealand who is 5 years old, keeps inviting Sam to come to his house and read him a Starwars book. Yesterday he got really serious, and sat Sam down and gave him turn-by-turn directions of how to get to his house.

Cordell, the child of Bruce Bovey one of the elders at the Church, is 8. He came out to the field with his parents and was throwing the Frisbee farther than some of our students. We couldn’t believe the arm that he has.

Yesterday, when we were walking down the road, Megan was telling us who everyone was. She was saying pointing to different people saying, that’s my cousin, that’s my uncle, that’s my aunt’s sister in law. Then she said, “Basically I’m related to half the town. But it’s all legit. There’s no funny business going on.” It was pretty funny.

Jordan had a sweet moment with the student who took the bible from the field. Sarah, who has a handicap, came up to him and asked, “Do I really get to take this with me?” He said yes and she got a huge smile on her face and started telling him how she was going to tell her mom about everything she was learning and read the bible with her.

We witnessed a miracle yesterday, and I’ll try to explain it. At the field there is a rickety old set of bleachers. The coach of the football team at the school, who is a believer, waters the grass like crazy. He has two huge sprinklers that are sometimes out on the field while we are. They stand in different areas and spray a huge amount of water about 40 yards away and rotate in a circle like a regular sprinkler. While we were playing sports we were dodging the downpour on a regular basis and the front half of the bleachers were getting soaked. Every rotation, the front half of the bleachers got covered. We gathered up and sat in the bleachers thinking we would just sit in the back, but a few students sat closer to the front, so Jordan, Tamara, and Faith decided to stand at the front where the water was. They were just going to step forward out of the spray when it came around every two minutes… but God had other plans. Every time the water came around to where it should have hit the people talking a big wind would pick up and blow the spray away from the bleachers. It happened at least eight times. I was floored. I thought I was the only one who noticed, but right after, Joshua Salmon said, “Guys, did you notice that nobody got wet that whole time?” The very first time the sprinkler came around after we were done speaking it soaked the bleachers again. I love when God shows Himself in little ways like that. I hope some of the locals noticed it too.

Prayer Requests:
- A praise needs to be given to God for the attention that the kids had during the Bible lesson yesterday. It was incredible.
- A couple of the VBS kids like to rough-house with each other and their crew leader is getting worried about it. She would like prayer today that they won’t be a distraction and she’ll be able to keep them in line a little bit more today.
- One of the students at the field is being very receptive to what we’ve been talking about. Even though he claims to be an agnostic he seems to be searching. Please pray for him as he gets more curious. Also pray for his family as he has a bit of a tough home life.
- The student who wanted to leave yesterday talked with Clint afterward and he calmed down a little bit. He also has a bad relationship with his father, so we wanted to pray for healing there.
- One of the teens who has been helping us with VBS and coming out to the field for a couple years now is having a tough time at home. Her dad is on parole but hasn’t been diligent with his parole officer and has been leaving without telling them. She’s also worried he might be breaking his parole in other ways. The officer is visiting this week and she’s worried he might be going back to jail. Please pray for her as this goes on in her life and that if her father does get taken away again, she would be strong through the test and count it all joy.
- One of the large families here, whom we have visited a lot over the years, is having a lot of problems. The parents have recently gotten a divorce and there is a lot of hostility between the family members. There are 6 kids and they are all taking sides. The church that they go to across the road has also taken sides in the conflict and so some of the family has started coming to Salmon River Community Church instead. Please pray for the whole situation as it really tears our hearts up to see something like this happen to one of the stronger families in the town.

- Finally, we want continued prayer for the VBS kids, that they will continue to be receptive to what we’re teaching and they will think about what they sing in music and learn Bible class and all around get impacted by what we’re doing.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Post 3: $60.71

VBS yesterday was GREAT! We had kids with crazy hair all over the place. We started off with a rally and during the rally we do something called a penny parade. Pastor Jim has a big wooden scale and the kids bring money to donate in the form of pennies. We put the pennies on either side of the scale and the team to get the most wins. It all goes to feed children in Mexico. We can feed children breakfast for 50 cents a child. Yesterday we raised $60.71 with the penny parade!

The kids made courage bracelets in crafts and many of them preferred to spell out the word “rage” with their letters, and then act it out. They thought they were pretty funny. Caleb and Benjamin were both victims of another attack. Again, we decided to take pictures instead of help them.

We’re doing a great work here at VBS and the townspeople tell us over and over again that we revitalize them while we’re here. It’s a win-win situation because we help them and they help us grow.

After VBS I honestly don’t know a whole lot of what happened because I had a paper to finish and turn in before 6:00 for my Pneumatology class, so I was working on that for most of the afternoon. If anyone wants to read it and get an Idea of what I was doing yesterday, go to my other blog. From what I understand, canvasing went well and a group went ot the library where they met up with a group of kids from VBS! Sam Runyon said that he loved getting to see the kids in a context outside of VBS and it was like an adrenaline shot to his spirit.

Last night we went to the field and played some ultimate Frisbee and football. At the end we grouped up and I got to introduce the talks with a quick little thought provoker about “Did Jesus claim to be God or was he just a good moral teacher?” Erin and Joshua shared their testimonies after that and they did an incredible job. I hadn’t heard either of their stories in their entirety until last night, so it was a huge blessing to hear them speak about their walks with God… particularly with two students whom I have watched grow up for so long. After that we headed back and took showers at different parishioners houses. I got to go to Anita’s house. She is a 90year old spitfire. Still as spry as ever, and we got to watch full house with her and catch up on what’s been happening over the last year. Some of our other students got to meet Doug Crump who is a WWII vet who landed at Iwo Jima. He is so kindhearted and he lights up a room when he walks in. He’s always smiling.

Family time was great too, and at family time we got to continue our discussion on God’s will. How do we know what it is? And how should we make decisions in life?

One of the running jokes now is Kenzie and Aaron. One of the little six-year-old girls has a major crush on Aaron Clayton. She always wants to know what he’s doing, and where he is. It’s pretty cute and we’ve started poking fun at Aaron for it.

On Thursday there will be a baptism in the Salmon River for a few of the kids and churchgoers here in town. Our team was invited to have any members baptized who want to, for the right reasons of course. Currently Aaron, Faith, Joshua, and Benjamin are considering being baptized so that they can publicly proclaim their true faith in Jesus.

Sam’s refresher at the library, mentioned above, was a big blessing to him. He wanted to make sure people knew how big of an impact a simple meeting like that was for him.

Two of our kids at VBS, Dreebee and Ricky had a bit of a disagreement. Dreebee has a few mental and physical handicaps and she thought Ricky was making fun of her, but he was really just laughing with her. She got upset and Kirby Eckels went and talked with her about the bible lesson from earlier, how Jesus loves us no matter what and we are specially made, one of a kind. Talking it out helped her and she went and apologized to Ricky and Ricky apologized too. It was really great to see them make that mature move.

Prayer Requests:
-       Leah Tees is sick today. She has a fever and soar throat. Prayers for healing for her and continued health for the rest of us are greatly appreciated.
-       Today we will be sharing the Gospel in VBS with the kids. We would love for this to hit the kids really hard and that they would understand it clearly. We are asking for prayers that the kids will be more subdued today and ready to learn and respond to the gospel.
-       Continued prayer for Megan’s friend as we try to minister to her as well as the boy I was going to have a conversation with. We put it on hold yesterday but he said he wants to continue today. He seems to enjoy debating and I convinced him to come to the church and hang out with us in the afternoon. Hopefully we will have a chance to talk one on one today.
-       Tamara and Faith will be sharing their testimonies today at the field and Jordan Tiff will be sharing a devotional sort of gospel-centered lesson.
-       We are also praying for a student who invited us to play pool today, that opportunities for conversations will arise and another student who we met last year who said he wants to come to the field, but hasn’t been able to yet.

-       Finally, please pray for all the people who will be baptized tomorrow after VBS. We are so excited that there are kids here who are growing in their faith and really want to make this public proclamation.

    No pictures today. We're working on a big presentation with all the pictures to use on friday at VBS. Tomorrow we will load what we have of that presentation for you guys to see!

     For HIM and only HIM
    1 Thess 4:11