Oh goodness….yesterday was crazy. I was given the opportunity to host a Box Top party with Andrea and Mrs. Luci at Caesar Chavez (the middle school we worked at towards the beginning of the week). The day began at 6:30 because we had to get fresh donuts for Mrs. Johnson’s (the teacher who had the most box tops brought in) first two classes. After two hours of questions about life in Texas and a whole lot of laughter with some of the sweetest middle school kids I have ever met, Andrea and were invited to their laser assembly. We became really close with 4 kids throughout the day. Also, we found out through the day that Mrs. Johnson was strong in her faith, which lead to some strong spiritual conversations while she didn’t have any students. Next we held a pizza party during Mrs. Johnson’s next two classes. The questions—mostly consisting of what life is like to be a Texan – continue to be asked. Our day at the school came to an end with a root beer float party, more laughter, and many goodbye hugs. The three of us changed quickly and went over to the Shack to help with some last minute fixer uppers. We painted, swept, and reorganized in preparations for the youth group party that night. The fun times of the night began at 6:30 with some pizza. We then played some fun games and heard testimonies from Sarah, Josh and Micah. Brett spoke next with—and I quote – “a short and rousing sermon which will encourage me to dedicate the rest of my life to ministry”. It really was a great reminder of the importance of ministry followed by a really great small group conversation with some of the kids I hung with earlier. After the goodbye “selfies” and hugs the Georgetown kids loaded up and headed back to the church we were staying at to pack our bags for an early morning back to Texas.
Today seemed to be one of the more challenging days as we near the end of the trip. We started off working in a new elementary school in different groups that each did their own projects. I was separated into a team that worked in a library, which after spending the previous day cleaning in a library, most of us were not excited. But as the day progressed, I saw how each of us had a role in the library. Some of us sorted, some logged books, and some did little extra things that helped the librarians. I couldn’t get over the fact that the principle and teachers seemed to be gushing with gratitude for our work. Most of it was simple, but after several hours I could see that one day’s worth of work for our group would have been months for the librarians.
After lunch, we finished up our work, the other teams having completely rebuilt their butterfly and vegetable gardens. Brett told us we were going to a college campus, but it wasn’t until we were out of the vans did I realize we would be prayer walking. I had never liked the idea of sharing my deep and personal prayers with other people, not that open prayer wasn’t something I enjoyed, but after four days of little sleep and hardwork, I didn’t know how much of what I would pray out loud would make sense. We split into groups, and spread out. One of the girls and I sat down to pray, and although I began hesitantly, soon something weird started. It was a strange feeling, almost like your heart pounding, or a nervous feeling in your stomach, but it was good. I was praying with a passion I didn’t think I had, and praying for college students I didn’t know. I could feel the Holy Spirit with us, and I can’t remember the last time I felt that. It was a blessing to get to do something out of the ordinary like that, and I know when I’m off at college next year, I’ll remember some of the things I prayed for.
That evening was one of the better ones of the week. We ate at a local diner, and enjoyed the beautiful Cali beach sunset. In our group, I can see the frustration building, but I also see the relationships growing strong and becoming more real through the struggles of the trip. California has definitely shown me that most of my work may only be small and static, only “planting seeds” or helping students I’ll never get to know personally I’ve seen how each of us takes up a role in this youth group, and how passionately we can love one another, even when we’re filthy and angry and cranky. My senior mission trip will be one I won’t forget, and I’m excited with the idea I’ll leave saying I’ve helped people and done God’s work. I look forward to my last mission trip in the summer.
Before I begin, writing is not my blessing, so I apologize if anything sounds out of order or disconnected, but I felt that I needed to share what I have felt and experienced. Today was the first day where I finally felt something this week. When I say felt something, I mean that I could tell that there was something that allowed me to feel God’s presence. Every day on this trip so far, I have just buckled down and gotten my work projects done. You give me a job, whether it be tediously cleaning 28 metal tables with 2,808 holes each, or coating a wall of The Shack with paint, I got the job done. That was my sole focus….Work. I have been able to joke around with people and have fun, but I have felt semi-disconnected from the groups. Tonight, something really simple changed that.
There was a smaller group of us sitting at Ruby’s when a guy named Jarod brought us our food. After we got our meals sorted out, he stepped away to grab something, and we bowed our heads and said grace before the meal. As we ended the prayer, Jarod said “Amen” with us. Afterwards, he casually said, “So ya’ll love Jesus?” We all nodded and told him yes and he said, “Cool, I love Jesus too.” From there we had a brief conversation and found out that he was interning at a local church, and he thought it was super cool that a group of teenagers was willing to give up our Spring Break in order to work in California. Thankfully, Jarod gave me a different perspective on this trip.
Because of the conversation with Jarod, I was shown a willingness and almost an excitement to see people willing to display their faith in public. I realized that despite my outgoing nature, I was hiding within my shell and not allowing myself to perform the task I was sent and to do… Love God and Love People
Today was an incredibly productive and fast paced day. Although it moved by in a blur, we probably achieved the most so far this week. I started out working at The Shack, the local hangout being used by the Generations North Church youth group. We started with work that I initially thought was meaningless, which was pulling weeds. Halfway through that Jenna, one of our leaders, noticed how I was not into the work, she pulled me aside and told me that I need to be a leader and stop complaining. This was a little wake-up call and put me into a much more positive mindset for the rest of the day. I and Colin then went on a little adventure where we had to take fence pieces up the hill to a preschool that the church runs, where we were swarmed by small children who asked us a million questions. Then we went back to work and cleaned out The Shack some more. We moved all these old televisions and game tables and later Brett took these to the dump. Some other guys installed a toilet and painted a wall there also. We were later called to head back to Libby Elementary School to help out there some more. The first thing we did there was do a deep clean of all the picnic tables outside of the cafeteria. There were at least thirty tables and each one took about thirty minutes of deep scrubbing and wiping down. We split into teams of two and turned it into a little competition to see which team could clean two tables the fastest and they would be judged on their cleanliness. Me and my teammate, Ruth, going by the name #team2focused, ended up in second place, with the great prize of a free big gulp from 7-11. After that, Gracie and I helped an office administrator at the school named Yolanda. We did odd jobs for her that just helped make her day easier, such as making name cards for all the third through fifth graders. Then we helped unload a van full of things such as toys and desks that were being donated to the school. We then headed back to the church where we are staying and enjoyed a dinner of pancakes and breakfast tacos. After our group sharing time, we had an impromptu dance party outside. I was taught how to two-step by Sarah, which is a big deal for me because I am actually from Florida, and have only been living in Texas for nine months. It was all in all an exhausting and fun day, and we can’t wait for the next one.
Hi everybody! It’s Sarah Ward (AKA the pretty one)! So this week has not been all that eventful for me because I am weak and can’t lift things. I was feeling very discouraged about that this morning, so I said a prayer, asking God to please use me in some way. We woke up at about7:30, and left for Libby Elementary School where Alison Pleuckhahn, Liz Wytko, Luci Whorton, and I worked in a library and cleaned books! The day before, we were organizing them by color on the shelves and read to the kids, which is the kind of work I really enjoy. We started off with just the four of us scrubbing books and not getting many of them clean because they were super dirty and it took forever. Then, at lunch, Liz and Alison went and colored with kids, and I scrubbed down these super dirty tables outside. I was really scrubbing these tables with my entire being, and kids were walking by looking at me and asking me what I was doing and why. It wasn’t long before the kids formed a group and insisted on helping me! It was really awesome getting to know them and having them thank me and being able to encourage them to keep their school clean even when I’m gone! After making the kids go back and play at recess, I scrubbed a little longer, grabbed some lunch, and went back to the library where we continued to clean books. The librarian was extremely grateful for our help and said that because of our work she was able to keep the library open for a few more weeks before having to close it for summer cleaning. Because cleaning books was taking forever we needed reinforcements, so our wacky Shack people and our Cesar Chavez people came with tables and chairs and helped us clean books. I, being a natural leader of course, took charge and ran that joint. (Which means I handed people books and refilled their cleaners and put stuff on shelves.) We cleaned about one third of the library and then had to leave. The adults rewarded us with a trip to 7-11 where I got Slurpee’s and a bag of chips. After that we headed back to the church and had brinner (breakfast for dinner) and ice cream. After share time, I taught the marvelous Travis Neal how to two-step, and then bothered him while he wrote the other blog. So that was my day, you’re welcome.
Today was actually, for me, and incredibly long and thought provoking day. To be completely transparent, I started off not happy or motivated. We did get a little bit more sleep last night than we have the past few nights, but my collective tiredness had been catching up to me. In addition, we were working with kids at an elementary school, while I’m not very good with kids. All of that being said, I was not thrilled to be there from the very beginning.
Throughout the course of the day, I continued in my bad mood. I was doing the work I was supposed to be doing, but not gladly, and not with a spirit of service. Around the middle of the day, I began to realize what was wrong with my way of thinking, but continued to ignore it and continue to explain. I didn’t have my moment of real understanding of all of this until after our work was done though.
It suddenly became very clear to me today that this trip I’m on right now is, and I feel will continue to be, what I like to call a ‘search my heart’ trip. The Lord is using this trip to show me where I am in my heart right now, and he’s being very explicit with it. It’s been no secret to me, the things that God is revealing to me this week, and it’s hitting me hard.
Although we’ve been told from the beginning that we aren’t here for ourselves, but for God, those words did not mean a whole lot to me until today. It’s become very tangible on my heart over these past few days what it means to be servant, selfless, and humble. These are three things I am not always… Not even close to always.
So I’m very thankful for this week and what God is showing to me about myself, and I’m excited to learn more.
Today was great in many ways. Countless things were accomplished at the two schools and The Shack. God has moved in every mission trip I have been on and the last couple have been incredible, life changing ones. Coming into this trip I was worried about how God would move this time. Today was a testament to God’s faithfulness and a day where my faith was strengthened as God moved once again and used an unworthy guy like me.
I went to Chavez Middle School, the same school I was able to serve at two years ago. I made so many relationships with the students last time and was hoping to see the sixth graders, who are now eighth graders, again. I ended up meeting with a ton of those same kids and we got to catch up. I have been praying for these kids over the past two years and I was so hoping to go back to Chavez to see them again. It was awesome to hang out with the kids I knew and the new kids I met today. Building relationships and spreading the love of Jesus as well as letting them know about Generations Church and Chris Martinez was awesome.
Being able to serve the coaches as well as the kids by replacing the basketball nets was cool too. The coaches were awesome and one of them told us that he was a Christian and that he loves being able to invest in the students there. That was extremely encouraging for me to know as he will be a continuing light at Chavez.
God clearly showed me that He is intentional about each and every one of His decisions and actions in our lives and the lives of others and it was absolutely awesome to see today. Finishing the day at the beach and seeing God’s beauty as the sun set gave me even more joy and I am pumped to continue working tomorrow! Thank you so much for your prayers. They are certainly being answered.
We started our morning pretty early, getting up at 6am to leave and be at the church early enough to set everything up. We got there 2 hours early and had just enough time to empty the trailer and set up the different rooms. I went with the youth group, which was mostly full of the people from our church. There were only about 7 students from Generations North. It was really awesome because all of the kids were really excited to be there and were so full of energy. We had a 10 minute lesson on perseverance and then went outside to play different games. Towards the end there were 15 minutes for fellowship between everyone and it was really cool. People brought different treats, one of them being bacon cupcakes. After that we ate lunch and went to the safari park portion of the San Diego Zoo. We walked through the park and went on a tram ride. For dinner we went to Chris Martinez’s house for a homemade meal.
The men’s bunker was awakened by “The Eyes of Texas” around 5:30 am and most of the guys were up ready for showers. Except for Josh and I. As Mission Trip veterans we understand how valuable time is, and we use it to our advantage. We left the church parking lot at 7 am and not a minute later (remember the time thing) Upon arriving at Generations North, which is held at Cesar Chavez Middle School, we unloaded the whole church out of the back of Chris’ truck and trailer and got it organized and ready for the service. I am being completely serious when I mentioned unloading the church. The whole church is literally packed up every Sunday and set back up the next week by the same people. It took our group of thirty about thirty minutes. Only four people help most services so that is about uhhhh….actually I am terrible at math, but you are catching my drift. After the service ended and we conversed with some members we headed to In-N-Out. Supposedly since we are in California it “taste so much better!” and we had to at least mark it off the list. Following the soggy burger that is in no way comparable to my beloved Whataburger, we hit up the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The zoo is always full of adventures and it was a cool way to see God’s beautiful creations first hand. With tired feet and sunburnt necks we concluded the day at Chris’ house for some of his mother-in-law’s homemade curry. It was an amazing day of fellowship and relationship building. About to hit the hay here in Cali- keep us in your prayers and on your minds.
As told by Hailey Hughes:
Waking up today was rough. After a long day of travel yesterday, and hardly any sleep last night; I did not want to get off of my super comfortable air mattress. Motivation was definitely a struggle. Mrs. Downs was the first person to talk to me today and I am so thankful for that. She turned the lights on this morning and collectively talked to all the girls. She reminded us that God isn’t surprised by our difficulties and he knows everything that is going to happen, our amount of sleep, energy levels, and emotions are all a part of his plan and we need to trust him with it. After hearing that from her, I was definitely ready to start my day.
We left the church at 6:45am, and met with Chris Martinez at a local baseball field park where we spent the day to talk about what he had planned for us. In his conversation, he said something that really stuck with me, “Good deeds create good will which brings along the good news”. When I heard him say this I knew that I wanted to work hard to bring good news to people and spread the gospel throughout my day. The conversation ended and we had various jobs to go work on.
Eventually I ended up spending most of my day selling tickets for a carnival that was going on at the park. Throughout the day I had multiple conversations with different families and I was able to hand out information about Generations Church (the local church we are serving). I loved getting to know these people and spend my day serving others in a very productive way. Although it was very tiring, I felt blessed that I was able to give it all to God and remember was Mrs. Downs said. I am looking forward to the rest of the week.
Waking up this morning was difficult because we were up for so many hours yesterday, but we did have lots of inspiration from great leaders. We met Chris Martinez at a local park and started to do projects in the area. I ended up leaving the site and going to the house of one of the oldest members of the church we were at. She now has dementia and her husband collected old tools and random metal things. We cleaned a lot of the yard and area around, it was hard to watch her husband not want to get rid of lots of things. Then at the end of the day we had a group circle to tell things we did and things God showed us today and it was great to hear the things happening in the hearts of us and others. After the group circle I ended up talking to you. Goodnight or good morning, Jesus loves you.
Today was a LONG first day. Our journey started with us meeting at the church at 5am for a drive to San Antonio. Flying out of Austin would have been ideal, but it was $200 cheaper per person to go San Antonio to San Diego. Traffic was a breeze, check in at the airport was really fast, and the security line was short. We were excited to get off to a smooth start!
Our flight arrived early and picking up our rental vans was very easy. We headed over to Seaport Village where we had lunch, shopped, and saw the ocean. After a few hours there, we walked over to the USS Midway and we spent a few hours touring one of the great aircraft carriers of our nation’s history.
After leaving San Diego we headed to Oceanside. We ate a pizza dinner at Shakey’s, grabbed some frozen yogurt, and then went to Wal-mart to shop for our food. We didn’t get out of Wal-mart until 9:45pm (Pacific time). We couldn’t go to the church where we are staying before that because the church has Celebrate Recovery.
It’s currently 1:15am Texas time which means I’ve been up for over 22 hours straight . . . and we have to be at our work site tomorrow at 7am. It is going to be a very hard day because everyone is already exhausted and it is an early start. Pray for our energy and attitudes. We’ll try to catch up on rest/sleep on Saturday night.