Hello friends and family,
So far the mission trip has gone great. The trip to Pittsburgh was a great bonding experience and lots of fun too. We got to Pittsburgh later than we planned, but everything turned out ok. Today the missioners were hard at work at seeds of hope church helping all of the kids at camp. It was a fantastic time for everyone although we are all exhausted now. This morning, we did a morning prayer all together and then had a time of solitude to reread the passage that we are talking about tonight, write down some thoughts we had on it, and listen to God. Next, we had a breakfast of oatmeal and bacon all together. Then we went to the camp where we found the kids in the chapel singing and clapping very loud. They had lots of enthusiasm (at least compared to us who were practically sleepwalking). We split up into three of the groups and followed them in their normal routine of classes (Math and English) and other activities (one age group went to tennis lessons and they all went to the park sometime during the day). I (Sylvia) was with kids about 8-11 years old and they started interacting with us almost right away and by the end of the day I knew all the names of the seven kids in my group (Sam, Daniel, Kenya, Ali, Sean, Maya, and Ryan). The counselors were awesome too and helped us with issues with the kids. A couple of us stayed to help with the afterschool program (thank you Emma and Jon!), Brett, Madeline, and Josh D. went to the grocery store to get food for the next few days, and the rest of us came back to the house we are staying at and showered, relaxed, and talked (and wrote this email and the meal team prepared a delicious dinner which I am smelling right now!). So pretty much, the trip is going great! We will try to send email another tomorrow. Until then, bye!
~Media and Communications team (Holly Moberg and Sylvia Carlson) on behalf of the whole team
Greetings from Pittsburgh, in the name of our Lord Jesus!
I have been so proud of our team so far, and I have loved praying, working, and laughing with them all! It has been wonderful to see our students ratchet up their maturity level a couple notches (which is saying a lot, since I am always so impressed with the quality of these students normally) But everyone on this team has jumped into the kids' camp with openness and willingness to take risks. The most clear evidence of this is the multitude of children already hanging off of every available limb of our students, pleading for attention, wanting to hold our students' hands or sit on their laps. The wonderful thing about working with younger children is that they do attach very quickly, as long as someone shows them genuine love, affection, and attention. And our team is doing that beautifully, serving with the heart of the Master. And these children are beautiful, and just watching them I am convinced of Jesus' words about the kingdom and the special place of children in the kingdom. "Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them!"
This is not to say our time with the kids is without challenge. At our debrief last night, everyone could relate to an experience of feeling helpless or dumbfounded at the discipline issues we encountered. We are slowly learning how to correct and guide the children when they behave inappropriately, while still maintaining a balance of fun and care for them. It is also difficult because we are here to support the counselors who are here throughout the summer (the camp is 6 weeks long; they are at week 3 or 4 this week), but we are not the primary authority. So one of our biggest prayer requests is that we would understand our place, and with great love and wisdom (and humor, when possible!) we would support the counselors in the discipline and order of camp. In regards to loving the children, I am reminded of Paul's words to the Thessalonians: "You have no need to be taught to love, for you have been taught by God how to love; only increase in love more and more." It seems that our students have no need to be taught how to love these children. Our prayer is that we may also lovingly provide some guidance and discipline to their lives, in the little way that we can.
Our team has also demonstrated incredible maturity in the way they have carried out their personal tasks. Each member of the team is part of a sub team, without which we would not be able to have a trip. Our meals team, worship team, devotionals team, clean up team, and communication team have all been very busy, and it is beautiful to see the Body of Christ taking care of each other, and having a good time doing it! But I won't say too much more, or else I'll be taking away Holly and Sylvia's job! On that note, you won't hear much more from me until we get back, but Parents if you need to get a hold of your child, you can call me anytime.
grace and peace,
We are all more tired (we are writing this at 10:21 pm...)
After a few days at the camp we have become better friends with the kids at the camp as well as the counselors, who are all really cool. And we are having more fun while helping the kids with discipline. We are all safe and doing well. Josh D, Josh V, Orland, and Jon are working on construction for the church and the rest of us are continuing with the kids. It's late now because the camp counselors came over tonight to hang out with us, which was awesome. We played "spoons" for awhile, and then we did Evening Prayer with them, but did a lot more singing than normal. We taught them some songs, and they taught us some. They told us tonight that we came at the perfect time in their summer, they are so glad we are here and that is making all the difference for them. Pretty great.Hopefully (so hopeful :-D) we will give you a more detailed update tomorrow. goodnight.....
Sylvia and Holly for the team
There's a lot going on over here. today is Matthew's last day here in Pittsburgh, he is going on a trip with his father. Already we miss him, and tonight when we went around the circle and said encouraging things about each other, we all had a lot to say about him but he was gone already. We are having a great time, everyone has agreed today went better than Monday, due to the fact that we are much more energized and in the flow of things now. many of the things we've done with the kids include, going to a museum, going to a roller skating rank, going to a pool, and a sprinkle park. We've also had fun just hanging with the kids and connecting with them. Some of the boys have rubbed rust on their faces and got their nails painted :) We have really connected with the interns and counselors for the camp the past few nights. Last night they came over and hung out. We played games, did evening prayer, worshiped, and prayed for each other.
We also had Father John Paul and Marilyn over for dinner last night, along with another family that helps lead the church. They told us about church in the city and how even this long after Civil Rights, the church is still very racially divided, and that makes their work really hard. They said if you expect success in the normal way Americans measure success, you will be disappointed. But they have hope because little things happen that are good, like a girl being baptized at Easter who has no other connection to Jesus but this church. And their reason for doing what they do is because they believe Jesus is the example, because he came from heaven to be with the people. And they said that Jesus is still doing that, and that he said wherever he is, there will his servants be also.
It's hard to believe that camp is almost done. The kids have really bonded with us, especially the kindergarten boys with Leah. I think there are 4 or 5 of them who think that she is their girlfriend. Leah told them she's not ready for that kind of commitment. It has been so cool to love these kids. A lot of them know about God and stuff, but because their homes are so broken, there are a lot of barriers for them to trust in God or love other people. But even today I talked to Kevin, who is another high school kid who used to be a camper and now helps out with camp. He said he can never imagine being away from here, because this is his home, he loves it.
Tonight when we were doing team time, we laughed a lot, even during our Evening Prayer service (but that's because Madeleine fell out of her chair). I think we are getting slap-happy. But it's fun because we all know each other really well (or a lot better than before). It's like a big family and we do almost everything together. All of the teams are doing really good. Emma and Leah led the devotionals tonight not just for our team, but the camp counselors came too, and they did a really awesome job. The meal team has been a-maz-ing! And the clean up crew is good too. The worship team has really liked doing worship together with the camp counselors the couple times this week, and they are a lot more confident now and know the songs really well. Josh and Josh and Jon and Orland have been busy helping the construction leader with many tasks to get the new kitchen ready and help build shelves and room dividers for the camp people. They used greasy rust from the industrial ovens they were cleaning to paint war paint on their faces and get pumped up. Apparently it worked. They stopped helping with camp yesterday to help with the construction. Christian and Chester are are favorites with the kids. Christian was really happy today because a kid came back to his group, and that kid really loves Christian. The trip keeps getting better. The counselors told us again tonight that they want us to stay for the rest of the summer, and Holly said she's considering it... (just kidding Mom! Mostly ....)
Well this is hopefully a detailed enough email! Other team members helped to write this one. Thanks everybody! And thank you to everyone who sent us on the trip!
The team, from Pittsburgh
Even though we are typing this at 10:57 pm we are super energized (our bedtime is 10:30..)! No we didn't have caffeine (except Brett and Josh V. had coffee at breakfast and Sylvia and Chester had drinks with caffeine from Starbucks in the afternoon). We are energized from out team debrief and compline prayer. We were extremely giggly and excited that tomorrow we get to sleep in an hour later! Today was our last day at the camp and one of our goals was to encourage each other and have more patience. Our Friday the 13th surprise was Josh D. cutting his finger while working on construction and needing four stitches from the hospital. He is doing well now though! The construction boys finished the shelf they were working on though. Tomorrow we are all doing some manual labor (cleaning up a park so hopefully no more fingers will be cut) for the church and help out with the camps carnival and family night. I feel like our team has become so close with each other and at the moment we are all dancing and listening to music! So when we come home don't be surprised if we start dancing in the night... Oh and we will have plenty of pictures when we get home.
From Holly and Sylvia
Updates by Sylvia Carlson, Holly Moberg, and Brett Crull