Week 3 in the books…That’s a wrap, folks.

•July 28, 2008 • 1 Comment

Hello all.  I’m writing you from the comforts of my office here at the building where FPC meets.  

So you know, we wrapped up Mystery Ramble 2008 with a short trip to the water park in Phoenix on Friday and then a long drive home on Saturday.  We got a late start due to an oil leak on the infamous “green bus” that broke down on us last year for 9 hours in the park.  This was a much less substantial problem, but left us with the green bus blues.  So, by the time we pulled out of Phoenix, it was noon CST…later than we had hoped, but what are you gonna do?  Figured being safe and late was better than the alternative.  We pulled in safe and sound at 2am on Sunday morning.  Whew.

Looking back at the last three weeks, I should probably do some reflection here for my own mental stability and allow you to take a peek inside.  

Three weeks in a row can be a brutal march to the end.  In many ways, this was no different.  Sleeping on floors, couches and hotel beds for 19 of 21 nights will do a number on your back and neck.  However, being given the opportunity to share life with the students here at FPC while on the road, out of our comfort zones and around one another 24 hours a day is part of what makes me love what God has called me to do.  

For those of you who are students involved in the ministries of FPC, thank you for letting me into your lives, sharing your smiles, your quotes, and most importantly your hearts.  While I hate being away from my family in the summers, I love seeing God do such remarkable things in your lives and being able to witness it from the front row.  

Parents, thank you for trusting us to take your students to New Orleans, South Padre Island and “Alaska.”  Being able to partner with you to show your kids who Jesus is is among our greatest joys.  

First Pres-Midland, thank you for loving our kids.  Your comments on this little blogosphere adventure have been an encouragement to myself and all of our kids.  I still want to urge you to talk to the kids about their experiences.  Ask them what they did, what they learned, where they saw Jesus.  A huge part of our mission is to connect kids with loving, nurturing, Jesus-following adults who can show them more and more what Jesus looks like.  This is not a call for a few of us.  It is a call for all of us.  Like it says in the Shema (Deut. 6.4ff), “teach these things to your children.”  Share the story…share your life…share your faith.  

With that, Postcards from the Edge 2008 comes to a close.  I hope it has been as much of a blessing to you as it has been to receive and share your comments.  Blessings to all of you.  Keep leaving comments if you like.  We’ll be checking them regularly and sharing them as well.  Blessings to all of you.

Thursday come and gone…

•July 25, 2008 • 2 Comments

Hey y’all!  Thursday was a great day!  In the morning, we had the joy of serving at the World Vision Storehouse in City of Commerce.  We did some sorting, some breaking down of boxes, some pulling up of grass and then the real fun started.  World Vision allows faith-based and community-based organizations from under-privileged communities to come in and “shop” for free at their store on a regular basis.  World Vision had not been able to make signs for the pallets of merchandise, so our students became the signs themselves telling the shoppers something like “I’m pallet #13, you can take 30 items.”  This interaction was really fantastic as they had a great opportunity to converse with and spend some time talking to people that come from a different kind of world than themselves.  All of the shoppers were so impressed with our students and I really feel like our kids were enriched by the experience!  Whether the kids were serving as “signs” or helping people load their purchases into their cars, they had the opportunity to spend time with some really great folks in a great environment!  They loved it and we loved seeing them serve and love their neighbor in a new way!

Afterwards, we went up to Hollywood for a sure highlight…In-N-Out burgers!!!  The kids went crazy buying t-shirts and Double-Doubles.  Then we went down to Universal City Walk to let the kids run around and shop it up one last time.  

The day ended with a wonderful meeting time with a special message by Andy Konigsmark.  Andy is a friend of mine from seminary who, some of you might remember, was a competitor on the new American Gladiators show.  He shared about the importance of not waiting to start a journey in which we live our lives for Christ.  Afterwards, we had a little drive-in movie in our meeting room and watched Goonies!

We’ll have pictures later as we don’t have time to download them right now and get them up on the website.  Tonight our internet situation may be sketchy so there may be a big wrap-up on Saturday night or Sunday complete with pictures.  Looking forward to the long road home.  Blessings to all of you!

Wednesday Full o’ Fun!!!

•July 24, 2008 • 1 Comment

Yesterday we all got to sleep in for a bit…which was quite amazing!!!  We had a morning meeting complete with the infamous “tennis ball and panty hose” game and talked about diversity and unity in the midst of it.  Then we loaded up the buses and headed to Angel Stadium for the Angels-Indians game!  Great fun…but it didn’t stop there!  After a short break, we got back on the bus and went down the road to Medieval Times for a little dinner theater action!!!  A great time was had by all and we cruised back to the hotel for a late meeting.  Todd’s friend Ryan Dahlstrom spoke to the kids about reaching out to the people in our lives that are like modern-day lepers…the untouchables.  Great message and quite timely.  

I’ll try to post more pictures tonight upon our return.  Got lots of great pics from yesterday and will have some great stuff from today as well.  Blessings!!!

Pics from Travel, SD Zoo, La Jolla Shores & Disneyland

•July 23, 2008 • 1 Comment

Here you go…much awaited pictures from our trip to Anchorage via Los Angeles.  Take a look around…there’s plenty of pics to browse through.  Enjoy and feel free to comment!!!  Looks like we also have some pics mixed in from the New Orleans Mission Trip so enjoy those as well.

MR-08…Sojourn Begins

•July 23, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Sorry for the delayed post.  We haven’t had good internet access since we left.  All that has changed now that we have arrived in LOS ANGELES!!!!  Here’s a partial recap.  Again, feel free to leave comments!!!

 

The madness has finally begun.  We departed Sunday morning headed…some direction…for the first leg of our journey out of the Petroplex.  After a few hundred miles and a lot of construction delays, we arrived at our dinner stop…AMAZING JAKE’S in Chandler, AZ.  This place was unreal.  Seriously…it’s rumored that the FDA has cited Amazing Jake’s as an establishment for unruly use of anabolic steroids!  Does it get any better than pizza (and salad if you’re so inclined), bumper cars, lazer tag, a climbing wall, video games and go carts all under one roof!?!??!!  I would suggest that it does not! 

 

After dinner, we took a short drive over to Scottsdale, AZ to Mountain View Presbyterian Church to spend the night.  We gathered in their theater for our evening meeting (which really ended up being a NIGHT meeting) at 10:15 PM…Pacific Standard Time!  Needless to say, we were all worn out from the drive, but we had a great time anyway!

 

The night held a few surprises for us that we didn’t anticipate.  We shut the lights off at 11:30 PM (or 1:30 if you asked our bodies).  We were more than ready for a short night of sleep after being informed that we would have our only yearly morning the next day—a 6:00 AM wake-up call.  No sooner had we all gotten comfy and started to quiet down…it started.  An occasional beep…about every 5 seconds.  The beeps got closer and closer together.  There was some concern among the not-yet-sleepings that trouble was only a few beeps away…and boy, was it!  All chaos ensued when an ear-piercing, face-melting security alarm sprang to life…when a vengeful fury!  Both rooms were in a frenzy trying to get the thing shut off.  After about 5 minutes of mayhem, we found the code and shut the thing off.  Everyone took a few minutes to wipe the blood from their ears and hit the pillows again for some much-needed rest. 

 

However, the hits kept coming for the guys’ room.  Allegedly, Todd set his alarm for 6 AM and curled up to sleep on yet another not-his-bed and never noticed that his phone had not changed time zones…which meant, you guessed it…his alarm when off at “6:00 AM”.  Not realizing his catastrophic mistake, he rose from his slumber and flipped the lights on to start waking everyone up…at “6:00 AM”.  Noticing that nobody was even stirring at what should be 8:00 AM by our body clocks, he started to wonder… hmmmmmmmmmmmmm.  He went back over to his bag and pulled out his watch that HAD been changed and realized that he had just turned the lights on over 37 sleepy heads at 4:00 AM!!!  Thankfully, there was not a revolt or lynching involved.  We went back to sleep and got back up 2 hours later and got ready to roll. 

 

At this writing, we’re heading down I-8 toward Yuma, AZ.  Let the guessing commence.  Thanks for all your prayers.  Feel free to leave comments for your kids here…we’ll pass them along.  Blessings to you!

Russell’s Farewell Post

•July 18, 2008 • Leave a Comment

As you know, we’ve been so blessed this summer to have Russell Brown join us this summer as the Student Ministries Intern.  He jumped in from the get-go and was willing to do anything and everything in the name of loving kids here at FPC.  I know that I speak for Becky as well when I say that we’re horribly sad to see him go.  But alas, his time to report back to Annapolis is upon us.  We got him for one more day than expected when his report day got moved by the Navy.  So, he got to ride back from Padre with us.  The one kink in the plan was that I didn’t get to stage a loud and very public “firing of the intern” in the hotel lobby in Padre.  Oh well…there will be other opportunities for that.🙂  Here are Russell’s parting thoughts.  Russ…we love and have been blessed beyond measure to walk along side you even for too few short weeks.  Love you, brosephus.  Come back soon.  You’re the man.  Okay…enough tears…you owe me a dollar anyway.  Here’s Russell’s thoughts………….

It is truly amazing to look behind you and compare where you are to where you thought you would be.  At the beginning of the summer, having just underwent surgery on my back, my predictions were not very optimistic.  With so much time off, I knew I needed to find a job and bide my time until I could return to regular activity and my naval training at the end of the summer.  I talked to a friend from FPC who suggested asking the church for a summer staff position, and I agreed that it could be a great opportunity.  Little did I know that this would be such a pivotal decision in my life.  Being a part of the church family, working side by side with people who passionately seek to do God’s will and fulfill His plan for them was an experience that I can never express with words on a webpage.  I have learned so much about the dedication and diligence that it takes to create a God-centered church and community.  After experiencing staff and session meetings as well as personal interactions with so many people, I realize how lucky FPC is to have such astounding pastors and staff.  In particular, Todd and Becky have been nothing short of an inspiration to me.  Their constant pouring of themselves out for the youth of our church makes me proud and confident to have them where they are.  I have learned so much from each of them as well as all of the youth that I have had the privilege of serving this summer.  The single most transforming part of this summer is the interactions that I have had with the individuals and groups of youth this summer and on our trips these past two weeks.  I saw God move toward and through the junior high students in New Orleans, changing them in ways that only they know.  I have seen young adults encounter their Savior and make a decision to own their faith for themselves.  I have seen them pour out their lives for others who are in desperate need of God’s love.  Likewise in South Padre, I have watched high school students worship God in such an honest way that I couldn’t help but follow suit.  I have looked on as they have collided with God in a whole new way that has changed the way they live.  Through all of this, I have been impacted beyond words.  A friend asked me recently what I had been teaching the youth at FPC and with a smile I replied, “It’s not me teaching them… They are teaching me.”  I can only say thank you to all of the people, youth and adult, that I have been blessed to know, and above all, thanks to the Lord who has been faithful yet again.  Thanks you all for this opportunity.  I can only marvel at God’s power as I reflect on how He took a temporary summer job and used it to change me from the inside out and draw me closer to Himself.  He can truly do anything… well… almost anything…

 

 …I don’t even think He can help the Cubs win a World Series… Sorry, Todd…

 

 

El Grande Wrap de Padre 2008

•July 18, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Greetings Webernet.  We’re writing you from the road today on the way home from a great week at South Padre Island.  As you know, our gameplan was to post daily updates, but the schedule down here didn’t really lend itself to that. We were pretty much running from breakfast to bedtime everyday and looking for a solid night’s sleep in between. Add to that the fact that we couldn’t get on said webernet at the hotel.  Made for a tough Postcard week! 

 

Let me tell you that you should be incredibly impressed with these high school students that we had the pleasure of spending the week with.  All of us as leaders came away so encouraged by what God is doing in their lives and how they are responding.  Small group times were always a joy as we got to process through seminars and teaching times and all-around experiences.  We spent our family time worshiping together, sharing our lives with one another, and…well…bungee jumping together!  Dodgeball and beach volleyball didn’t work out the way we planned, but we had a great time playing and competing.  The team we lost to in v-ball ended up winning the championship and we had only lost to them 9-7.  There’s always next year. 

 

At the risk of this post being really long, we’re going to post some student reflections here.  Enjoy the read…it’s a good one!  Check back for lots more pics from Padre and NOLA alike!

 

 

This week has truly been amazing! For the past month I’ve been constantly on the go, living out of a suitcase, traveling from place to place, and it’s been a beautiful time for me to grow closer to my Savior. He’s revealed a lot to me. One of those things has been how awesome it is to experience true community with people. After being in Uganda and at camp the previous three weeks, and then this week in Padre, I’ve seen God so much in simply the people I’ve been spending time with! It is so cool to be surrounded by people who are seeking to know our awesome God, and to be able to learn, play, pray, and worship together 24/7! I can’t wait to go home and take all of the things He has been showing me and really begin to ACT them out! God is so good! And I’m so excited to see what He has in store for us all this coming year! And as we like to say in Padre…ALRIGHT!!      -Hannah Schorr

 This week has been amazing! I feel like I have been gone for a month but it has only been for a week. God has helped me in so many miraculous ways this week, which I must say is when I got to talk to Kenn Kington who was our night speaker. Also, getting to hang out with everyone like Hannah, Todd, Laura, Emily, Gerry, Ashley, Jill, Braden, Samantha,and Russell. I am the only senior on this trip which I guess is a good thing. I am ready for him to show me ways this next year how I can collide with him. ALRIGHT!! AMEN SISTA!!       -Nat Nobles

Reflections on the “Padre” (No pun intended…)
Thinking back to last Saturday night, the eve of the trip to South Padre Island, I admit that I was nervous for several reasons.  Todd and I were transitioning straight from the New Orleans mission trip, and I can admit that I was exhausted, physically and mentally. Weariness aside, I had met only a few of the students on the trip and was apprehensive about being in such close proximity and spiritual intimacy with people that I didn’t know.  Lastly, now that I have officially made the transition from student to adult sponsor (“dark-siding” as Jill termed it), I was worried about developing substantial relationships with the students, setting the proverbial example, and all that comes with the territory of being a counselor.  Needless to say, all of these fears were alleviated almost immediately.  The opportunity to worship in song surrounded by the whole group, learn side by side with the students and counselors alike, and having deep, intimate discussions in our small group time was a transforming one to say the least.  I think that I speak for the whole group when I say that we all learned valuable lessons this week, but more importantly we encountered the Lord in a very real and powerful way through our interactions with each other.  I count all this week among one of my biggest blessings, in particular the relationships that were formed along the way.  I take away from this week new questions, answers to old ones, and many new friends, but most importantly: a deeper and more substantial relationship with the King.  So, thanks for all the prayers and support this week; it made a world of difference. Hope to see you all soon!        -Russell “Danger” Brown

 I have really enjoyed the past week, learning and getting closer to God. I would want any high school student who would not only want to have a great time but also become closer to God.    –Braden Miller

 

 This week has really been an eye opening (which according to Todd and Russell I got the eye opening thing down when I’m asleep) experience. Watching and listening to all the amazing speeches gave me a new perspective on certain things in life. Not only did it bring me closer to God but I became closer to my church family. (FT in the C)  I would recommend this to everyone because from the atmosphere, the bands, and the worship it really can be life changing.       -Ashley Davis

 

 I didn’t want to sound redundant but this week has truly been amazing.  We have had so much fun spending time with each other and growing closer to God.  Both band were great and it was so much fun praising God with them.  Jim from the Maze was so awesome.  We were all trying to figure out how he did his tricks.  And Kenn was such an amazing speaker.  Family time was probably one of the best times because we just got to spend time singing and talking with each other (even the one night when we were all eaten by mosquitoes).  The beach was so much fun with the games, finding hermit crabs, playing volleyball and dodge ball (which even though we didn’t win our game, our outfits were the best), and just talking with each other.  And then we all had fun with bungee jumping or the reverse bungee even though most of us were terrified to do it.  I have just had a terrific time with everyone on the trip. God had an amazing time in store for us this week and we all enjoyed it. And all God’s people said…. ALLRIGHT!!           -Samantha Hoover

 

 I had an awesome time this week in Padre!  I really feel like God called me on this trip so that I would grow closer to Him.  This trip really opened my eyes to God’s amazing love for all of us and helped me grow stronger in my faith.  I really liked the music this week, both bands were really good and I loved worshiping together with our group.  I loved all the people that went on this trip and feel closer to all of them.  Oh and the beach was great too.  We didn’t win any games during our rec time in the afternoons, but that’s okay because we had a blast trying.   I feel like I will go home changed from this trip.  =)         -Laura Price

 

 WOW – what an incredible time we had in South Padre at Fun in the Son.  This week’s theme was “When Ordinary & Extraordinary Collide” and we focused on the Book of John and how Jesus wants us to have a collision between His truth & the reality of the real world.  I had many collisions during the beautiful week on the beach and with the help of the bands, speakers, Natalie, Hannah, Emily, Braden, Ashley, Samantha, Laura, Gerry, Russell, Sarah & Todd I better understand how He wants me to use His Word and follow His example of how to have collisions for His good.  I am not going to lie and say it was convenient to stay on the beach and have free time every afternoon – I LOVED that part.  (Ashley has a future as a crab hermit hunter/gatherer if college doesn’t work out.) The most amazing part of the trip was my new FAMILY – what a blessing to spend a week with some of the strongest Christians of FPC Midland!  I never get over how deep the faith of teenagers is and so many members of 1st Presbyterian Church have been important in their walk (teaching Sunday School, VBS, children’s choir, chaperone, small group leader, or just a friendly face on Sunday morning) – please be proud of OUR kids.    This had to be my favorite trip ever – thanks for the prayers.       -Jill Spannaus

 This past week at Padre was an amazing experience.  The speakers at the camp were so thought provoking, and the worship bands were awesome.  We still can’t figure out how the “psychological illusionist” did the crazy stuff he did, and I may never think about homelessness the same after hearing an author discuss his 5 months of living on the streets.  Getting to play on the beach may be the draw for this week, but it becomes an afterthought once you encounter the community and spirit that is so overwhelming there.  I truly feel blessed to have had the opportunity to hang out and worship with such a great group from FPC Midland.  This was my first time to attend any kind of church camp, and it was so much more than I had imagined.  I’m looking forward to hopefully returning to Padre for more Fun in the Son in later years.       -Gerry Weisenfels

 

 
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