Happy Independence Day! Today we woke up at 7:30, had breakfast, cleaned up the NET (the facility that we are staying at), and had our devos. We then headed to Faith Fellowship Alliance to participate in worship with Tom and Sandy Bowser and their home church. After church we had lunch, discussed details for the rest of the day and the remainder of the week. We then prepared for the night and had some free time. Later in the afternoon we split up in groups and canvased the neighborhood inviting everyone out for VBS and the 4th of July BBQ that we hosted at Shore Street Park (our ministry home for the week). As we knocked on doors inviting people out, we did not have high expectations that many would come to the BBQ. We then met with Tom Bowser, who founded Fish Bone Ministries which is the park ministry that we will be working with throughout the week. He poured out his heart while sharing the story of how he and Sandy started the ministry here.
At 7pm, we started the BBQ, interacted with the kids, did some worship, and reconnected with many of the people from past years. The Calvary students did not hesitate to jump right in the ministry serving food, playing with kids, facepainting, carrying equipment, cutting watermelon etc. etc. Don't worry, to cap off the evening we had a spectacular show of fireworks celebrating the nations birthday. All the Calvary students are currently showering off all the sweat from the day's ministry and rest assured we expect they will be getting a great night's sleep tonight. Everyone is doing well and we are sooo excited for how the Lord is going to work in everyone this week! We appreciate all your prayers especially for energy and continued openness to the Spirit.
July 5, 2010
ONE HOT day today! (But not as hot as you all were at home today ;) Today was our first full day of ministry and we were so blessed to see God moving! Thank you for your prayers because we can see God working through us in so many ways! In the morning we broke up into teams. The first team did construction at the brown house (the ministry house). We are building a log cabin/play house in the backyard for the kids in the neighborhood so some of the kids helped Doug and Mark begin sanding the wood and building the foundations for the cabin. Another team visited with and mowed the lawn of an elderly lady named Rose and her husband. One of the teams helped paint murals on the fence behind the brown house. The idea is to eventually paint stories from Genesis through Revelation. Our team is helping paint stories in Genesis. There were also many other little projects that happened that morning. Even though the Salvation Army and the Life Center were closed, everyone was excited about the events of the morning and we had fun improvising.
In the afternoon we broke up into three groups - we had VBS in the park, construction behind the brown house, and a teen girl ministry in the brown house. Everything went very smoothly and we can't wait to share with you personally everything that has been happening. Tonight we had some worship, heard some encouragement and testimonies by some of our team members, and shared the events of the day. There are too many stories to tell and I'd rather have the kids tell you what's been happening with them. Everyone is laying in bed right now with lights out - getting ready to fall asleep. It's been a great day... thanks against for your prayers :)
July 6, 2010
Hello again!! Once again we had quite a sweaty hot and fantastic day. It was 96 degrees and apparently less hot than back home. Amidst the heat, we still enjoyed all the events of the day. In the morning we again broke off into different groups. We were able to visit the Salvation Army and make lunch for the people there. There were many great and interesting conversations and a man named Pete who just got out of prison after 25 years gave his life to the Lord! At the life center, which is a day care for senior citizens, the kids were able to interact with the people, do a craft, and sing some songs. They had a great time. Some of the kids continued adding panels to the fence mural - today we painted the story of when Adam and Eve ate the fruit in the garden of Eden. We have some very creative kids in our group! We continued building the log cabin and some of the girls had fun sanding, sawing and hammering.
In the afternoon we continued working on the log cabin and started construction on the bathroom for Danette's house (she lives two houses down from the brown house) and hope to finish by the end of the week. We also had VBS complete with lots of water balloon competitions and it was a great relief for a very hot day. Though there were less kids than usual because of the heat, they were so excited because they got to do crafts, duck duck squirt, piggy back rides and lots of VBS fun. During the teen girl ministry we tie dyed shirts today and plan on finishing tomorrow. We also plan to finish the story of Esther on Wednesday and Thursday.
Right now all the kids are showered and we are hungry and waiting for dinner. We plan on having worship and debrief tonight and resting so that we are ready for another hot day tomorrow. Praise God for what is happening here and thank you for your prayers! Continue to pray for energy through the heat, ministry and compassion for the people we encounter, and God's love to be so evident in our interactions and service.
July 7, 2010
This is our next to last day. And the heat is taking its toll on the entire team. But Jesus' strength has helped us to persevere. We finished the log cabin. Big kids (meaning our kids) and little kids alike are loving it. The fence mural is quickly advancing the story of the fall of man and is near in completion. We are down the home stretch with the bathroom project. The students had a great time ministering to the elderly at the Life Center and were quite impressive serving lunch to the people at the Salvation Army. They really enjoy sitting down to dine with those in attendance to get to know their stories and to share the love of God with them.
The VBS continues to be the main attraction at the park. Today the kids learned the story of the Good Samaritan. Though the craft was quite challenging, they were diligent in completing it. We had lots of fun with water balloons again. All the boys are bonding while working construction. During VBS, the older girls have been having enjoying crafts, making brownies and hearing the story of Esther at the brown house. After a hearty dinner and an incredible dessert (your kids are eating well), we met at the brown house for an intimate time of worship and communion along with friends from the community. There were heartfelt needs that were expressed and many were comforted by the Spirit working through many of our team members. It's sad to think that tomorrow is our last day but we are so thankful to look back on how God is working in this community and in our team.
July 8, 2010
What an amazing week! We are so thankful for the events and experiences that occurred this week. Our hearts are joining in praise for the many lives that came to Christ, for the compassion flowing out into so many people. Our hearts are breaking for those who have yet to realize the compassion, hope, and love of God. We absolutely loved meeting the people of Butler and pouring out our hearts in construction, service, conversations, games, etc. I am wayy too tired to write much more so I have compiled a list of one-liners from the kids (serious and funny). Thank you for your prayers and we plan on seeing you in less than 24 hours!!
Sean Godwin: Best week of my life
Michaela Savage: My team ('team awesome fire sparks') grew closer this week
Katie Brown: It was fun!
Ali Kent: Throughout the week, our team grew together. I am so glad to have had this life changing experience.
Brooke Bailey: Best experience and brought everyone closer, especially to God
Shaylee McRoberts: I love my team and learned to 'stuff it'
Julia Aquilino: It was very fun and it was a perfect amount of days
Mady Reeser: It was great to see God working in the little kiddies hearts and I'm glad to have met everyone here, you guys are awesome
Morgan Bonner: It was cool to see how the little things we did for the kids made them so happy
Sophie Kent: The greatest feeling was being able to lead some of the kids to Christ.
Kiersten Godwin: The best time of my life.
Mia Cormick: What's up with cupcake?
Emily Worth: I'm really glad I came this year. It was really cool to help out and get to know everyone a lot better
Hannah Sensing: An experience I'll never forget. (Thanks Charles)
Luke Wiley: Full of hills and unexpected turns. Always something new
A.J. Laing: Always wear gloves.
Jon Kirkner: I like getting buried in sand boxes. Elevators are better than stairs.
Ryan Kalegian: Finally something is taller than me (the log cabin). I'm not afraid to take a stand.
Butler Wrap-up - July 2010
As we look back over our week in Butler, we can honestly say we had no idea of the impact that this trip would make. As leaders we pray for God’s direction for how to best train our young people to put their faith to deeds and action. James 2 tells us that faith with out deeds is useless. It begins with us as leaders taking steps of faith, acknowledging our Lord in all our ways, trusting Him to guide our path. It is a very humbling thought to know that teens will learn from watching leaders put their faith into action.
Plans are made, applications are filled out, meetings are held, fund-raisers move ahead and little by little a team of 30 is moving forward toward the goal of sharing the Gospel in Butler, PA. There are spiritual battles of the mind and often the question will arise in leaders as well as teens, “am I really supposed to go to Butler?” “why do I feel like I don’t want to go anymore”, “how is playing with kids sharing the gospel?” There are also physical battles and we begin to rationalize that “we are too old to be working in the heat”, or that “the project is way beyond our expertise” and the list goes on and on.
It is at these times that we have to go back to our first calling of saying “yes Lord I want to follow”, “yes Lord, back in January when I filled out the application, I believed you were calling me”, and “yes Lord I will forge ahead believing you started this work in me and you will finish the work thru me”. These are some of the basic questions that will pop up from time to time, and as we give our thought life over to our Lord, we confess and believe that the Lord that will change our hearts and the feelings of the flesh.
July 3rd came and 30 of us piled into vans headed for Butler, some of us a little queasy, but we pressed on and took the next steps of faith, trusting the Lord for the power and strength to carry out the deeds; and we were blessed as individuals as well as a team.
We closed out our week in Butler with a community picnic and when we looked back over the week we thanked our Lord for all the miracles He performed and allowed us to be a part of. We also received a letter from a dear friend and pillar of the community. The team was able to put in a much needed new bathroom for our friend. Below you will find her words of gratitude to our Lord, for how He uses anyone who is willing to bring His message of Love to this hurting world. We praise and thank our Lord for all that He continues to show us.
With Blessings, the Jr. High Staff.
Below are excerpts from a letter from a friend who was blessed in Butler, PA written to the Jr. High Youth.
What a blessing you all have been to me. First of all the time and energy you have daily put into the kids of Butler is truly a blessing. Whether it has been making crafts, giving piggy back rides making tie dyed shirts you all have done it with such a sweet spirit. As someone who lives here and see so many of these kids daily I just so very much appreciate the love you have shown them.
Yet I want to encourage you not to let it stop here. There are kids like these ones that crave time, attention, love and most importantly need to know Jesus back in your neck of the woods also. Do not grow weary of doing good and the fire and enthusiasm you have need not stop when you leave Butler. Keep pressing on.
Ahh then secondly it is so very difficult for me to accept a blessing with out giving something back. This summer though I am truly learning to be blessed. I want to be real with you all. The Sunday or Monday before you all came I had been struggling. Actually my life has been a roller coaster ride lately; on a high then a low, not really where one should be. But a week before I had called my husband and said I truly can not deal, I can not take it, I am losing it, I want to go to the mental hospital. Well that did not happen which is irrelevant to what I am trying to convey.
So then a few days passed and I took some time alone at the brown house; while I was there in the back I made a Lie and Truth chart.
#1 I am unlovable, the truth was that Jesus loved me
#2 I am a nobody but the truth was you _____________are a daughter of the king
#3 I am stuck in my circumstances but the truth was set your eyes on the things above and not on early things. Well just let me tell you I have truly been blessed this week and have seen that God loves me , that I am HIS daughter and to just keep focused on Him.
I have been able to see these truths because you all have opened yourselves up to God to be used by Him. No one in their own humanness flesh would labor and toil the way you all have and I am just not meaning Doug, Chris, Mark, AJ, but this heat has been crazy. I guess where I am going with this is you all have done this with out complaining and murmuring and with this bathroom , oh as crazy as it may sound it was God saying to me I really do LOVE you, you really do matter and you need to keep your eyes on me. He cars about how I feel when she is in a small cubicle showering in a bathroom that is tiny; he cars, but I would not have experienced or been shown that with out willing people who love he LORD and will be used by HIM and for HIM to touch the lives of others.
Thank you for confirming to me through your openness to be used by God that I am not a a nobody, I am not unlovable but that I am God’s Daughter and God Loves me.