Well, I’ve been slacking off a bit on the updates. Sorry. I have two excuses: First, we’ve been going, going, going from morning to night and I’ve been making sure that everyone has what they need, when they need it. It takes a lot of time, energy, and focus to accomplish that task. Second, we’ve been having such a good time that I have been easily “distracted” (not actually distractions, but the point of why we’re here) by some awesome conversations with teenagers from the church and people from the community. Either way, I am taking a moment to send out another update today (you may have to wait a couple days for the next one 🙂

My general statement fo the week has been, “Things are going much better than expected,” which is always nice to say. This week has gone very well. The teenagers have been working hard and connecting with each other. The two groups have really been opening up to each other and are forming some deep relationships. It no longer feels like we are two separate groups, but one group working together. So, we are thanking God for his continued blessing in this department.

Much of the work we’ve been doing throughout the week has been for four different group homes for mentally handicapped adults. Each of these homes are within three to four blocks of one another. The groups have been doing a lot of painting, mulching and landscaping, weeding, and cleaning gutters. They have been very good sports, especially one group that spent two days “trapped” in a basement painting the walls and the floor. In addition to painting/sealing some basements, groups have been painting doors and trim, bedrooms, bathrooms, and living rooms. Another group spent a couple days painting metal hand-railings, fences, and laundry poles. Another group has spent a couple days staining a deck. All in all, each of these groups is checking numerous items off their list each day and working hard.

The younger group has done a little more exploring. On Tuesday they went to Sheboygan to work at Anchor of Hope, which is a crisis pregnancy center. They spent the day weeding around the outside of the building, spreading a large pile of mulch, and then washing their windows. They also spent some time sorting baby clothes and supplies. On Wednesday, they went to another pregnancy resource center called Mary’s Room. At this location they did some more sorting of supplies and cleaned up the outside of their building by weeding and doing random landscaping work. They have enjoyed being able to check out various locations.

Another fun aspect of the last couple days was last night’s community meal. First Oostburg hosts a community meal every second Wednesday of the month. They have a standing offer for members of the community to show up and receive a meal on this night. Since we were in town, they took the opportunity to “spice things up a bit.” They rented a bouncy house, had face painting, and had various lawn games out in the yard. The teenager spent time each day–Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday–handing out fliers in the community for this event. It ended up being a successful night! We served around 223 people and had the opportunity to build relationships with many of them. The teenagers enjoyed the opportunities to serve food, paint faces, and play games with many people from the community. It was a great way to wrap up the day.

Following supper, we always have an evening teaching session. On Tuesday night, we talked about death. We read through the Bible and looked at the various ways it talks about death. We had each of the small groups use scripture to develop their own definition of death. Then, we spent the rest of the session talking about, “Where do you go when you die?” It was a good session for most of the group–some who have lost loved ones fairly recently. Wednesday night we began talking about Christ’s Second Coming. We did a brief overview of passages that talk about His second coming. We spent time looking at the various ways the second coming is described. We talked about events that must happen before the second coming. Then we wrapped up by talking about what the second coming will be like and the purpose behind the second coming. This was one of the best sessions yet. Many of the students were intrigued to understand these things because much of it was new information for them. I always love watching their faces when they finally begin to understand what we’re talking about.

We wrap up each day around a campfire, worshiping and listening to a message from someone in the community. Tuesday night, Pastor Drew shared his testimony about making many mistakes throughout his younger years and finally coming to a place where he understood God’s Love in his life. Not only was his story a great example of coming to truly grasp God’s love, but it was also a great opportunity to get to know the pastor of First Oostburg. On Wednesday night we heard from Gwen Gretch who used to run the youth group “back in the day.” She shared stories from her life about when she was unhappy with God for the way her life was playing out. Then she shared how she slowly came to the point of saying, “Your will be done. I trust you!” The students really appreciated what she had to say.

So, like I mentioned at the beginning of the post. It has been a great week. The teenagers are doing phenomenal and God is working in big and small ways. We have appreciated everyone’s prayers and look forward to seeing how God will finish out our week.