One more day

Tomorrow is the first day that we will be spending with the community kids. This is what we’ve been working hard and preparing diligently for. Monday ends up being the most hectic of all the days, so be sure to keep us in your prayers as we all try and work through this first wonderful, busy, exciting day.

Much of today was planning and preparing but we still had a little down time where we were able to build relationships with new people, and for those of us who have been here before, continue to maintain relationships that have basically been on hold (because of the distance) for a year.

Tonight was also our first Epilogue, which is a worship service that is held on Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Epilogue is one of the most powerful and meaningful parts of this trip, so I am glad that we were able to get one under our belt already.

We’re all looking forward to tomorrow. Tomorrow is the day we’ve all been waiting for.

I was unable to post due to no reliable internet connection yesterday, but I wrote a blog and posted when I had the chance today. Be sure to read yesterday’s post as well.

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Back in the Saddle

Back in the states now. I’m proud to say that I beat jet lag. I didn’t have one problem with tiredness or fatigue. First day back in the office today and even though I did have a long list of things to do, I finished it fairly quickly, so I had a bit of time to reflect on the last three weeks of my life. England was wonderful- the Minnis Bay Holiday Club has had a major impact on my life.

Without getting into it much, this summer was very frustrating for me. It was definitely a test of my patience. But Minnis Bay melted away all those stresses, all those worries- and for the first time in what seemed like a lot time, I felt like I was doing ministry. I felt like I was able to use my gifts to serve the kingdom. It was a breathe of fresh air.

So to close this blog entry, I’ll throw out two lists.

What I don’t miss about England:
-the food… sorry Brits, it’s not like your food is bad, it’s just not as good as our good old American, over-fatty, over-processed tasty deliciousness.
-all the tiny cars… seriously, why are your cars so small but you still try to cram 5 people into them
-crazy roads… forget that you drive on the other side, that didn’t bother me, but the fact that your roads are so narrow and you just park in the middle of the street. I love my wide american roads
-rounders…. it’s just a dumbed down, knock-off of baseball.

What I DO miss about England:
-The weather… it’s beautiful, it never got over 75 degrees
-“proper football”…. despite what my overly-american friend Ryan says, it really is a great sport and I love that everyone plays it there
-Birchington… my heart goes out to that community, which is bound to happen when you serve and pour your heart out
-Avtar… he has a heart of gold and his leadership is exemplary, Minnis Bay would not be the same without him.
-the community… nothing makes it easier to know someone than to basically spending 24 hours together. I knew the 10 kids we brought to Minnis, but not like I know them now. I met several people and in the course of 2-3 weeks I built amazing relationships (which leads me to my next thing)
-my boys… Stephen, Gid, Jeff and Fabian… the relationship I built with these guys are going to be life long. distance is just a small bump to the friendships I made with these guys

As you can see… the things I miss massively out weigh the things I don’t miss. The things I don’t miss are really just a joke and if I had the choice, I would go back in a heartbeat.

England, Day 14

What a wonderful end to a wonderful two weeks. Today was the last day of the holiday club and it is a little bittersweet. Sweet in the fact that we can finally received a well deserved break and get some much needed rest, but definitely bitter in the fact that our time is done.

As much as we were able to accomplish, in my heart I feel a tug from God that the work here is not finished. There is still so much more that needs to be done. But I’m still thankful for the part of God’s plan in this town that I was able to be a part of.

I came into this trip, not knowing what exactly to expect, but God has blessed me and my experience here. It was definitely something I needed and I thank God for giving me the opportunity to serve Birchington. Be sure to pray for safety in travel as everyone goes back home from the holiday club. Pray for the lives of the kids that we ministered to. And just praise God for such a wonderful 2 weeks.

England, Day 13

So there is only one day left on the mission. I can’t believe how fast this whole experience went by. There have been a lot of good things done here, I only wish that I had a little bit more time here in Birchington to follow up on all this work we’ve done.

It’s been interesting reflecting back on the 2 weeks. There are definitely some awesome and amazing things happening during these two weeks, but like anything else, it isn’t perfect and there is some room for improvement. But that’s the joy in things like this, knowing that even thought it isn’t perfect, God still uses it to transform people’s lives.

As for me, this has been a very positive and encouraging experience. I was at a point in my life and in my walk where I was frustrated and struggling and these 2 weeks really re-energized my spirit. It made me remember why I wanted to be in vocational ministry and reminded me of what my gifts were.

I am already considering and praying about returning next year, the bridges and relationships I’ve started to build aren’t complete and I would love to continue what I’ve started here. This truly can be the begining of a life-long relationship with the community and organization.

Pray for God to breathe life into the last day. Pray for the children and young people – that they will hold on to Jesus’ teachings and will want to know more. Pray that this is only a beginning in the work that God is going to do here.

Thank you for all of your love, support and prayers during these two weeks, we have really felt them.

England, Day 12

We’re keeping on going. From my perspective, this second week has been more of a test against exhaustion. The tempter has tried and use our tiredness against us and has tried to use it as a barrier against the work that is being done here in this community.

Today we had a worry about the weather, it was forecast to rain all afternoon and if was the case then the afternoon event was going to be canceled. But fortunately the rain held off until later in the evening. The Afternoon Extravaganza took place on the beach once again, it was an activity called the Sand Village where participants were broken up into teams and together they build a village out of the sand (think sand castle like structures).

Then in the evening we had events for each of the age groups once again. The Twigs (ages 5-7) had a fancy dress party, the Tramps (Ages 7-11) had a talent show that even the leaders in that group had a chance to participate, the Trogs (ages 12-14) had originally planned to do something on the beach but due to weather moved to the location of the morning club and just watched Up.

Continue to pray for us…. pray for energy, we are all feeling tired but there is still work to be done. Pray for health, many of us are still suffering from nagging illnesses. Pray that our community action is blessed and that we can make a positive impact through serving.

England, Day 11

What a good day today. We had some fun, revealed Jesus just a little bit more, played some sports, built relationships and spent time relaxing.

Morning clubs were great today, the weather was beautiful so many spent more time outside than usual. I can only speak for the Trogs (12-14) because that was my group, but we had an especially good day today.

The Afternoon Extravaganza was back at “the Dip” again today, Avtar (the director of the Holiday Club) made a keen observation about the how impactful the work they are doing there is. The Thanet District Council (local government) had set up some very nice sport equipment (volleyball net, etc) in the Dip before we had arrived. It was some very nice equipment, but only a few kids were out there enjoying the free use of the equipment. But once the Holiday Club arrived with their “rubbish” (by comparision) equipment, kids started flocking out to “the Dip” and would rather play with us.

Avtar’s observation was that even though the nice equipment was there for everyone to use, since there was no relationship, there was no real interest in using it. And even though we didn’t have great equipment, the relationship brought the families. This goes back to what I mentioned in Day 4 about how vital relationships and relationship building is in ministry.

Tonight’s evening event was another team social where we drove to a little town called Deal where there was a nice little sport club. There we were able to play in a leisure pool they had with a small slide, play tennis outside, table tennis, air hockey, and (even though it wasn’t available to us) there was a nice football pitch outside.

These Team Socials that we have are such a relief. We have to be “On” so much during the two weeks while we are with kids and what not, it’s nice to be able to turn off, have some fun and have great conversations with each other.

Continue to pray for health, even though it isn’t as bad as it was earlier in the week, there are still some nagging illnesses going around. Also, please pray for an extra portion of spiritual and physical strength so we can finish off these final days of the Holiday Club strong.

England, Day 10

It was the first day of the second week!! it was so energizing to see the kids and having the opportunity to spend time with them again. We all had a great time at morning clubs!

The Afternoon Extravaganza today was the Tide Fight. We went to the beach of Minnis Bay and separated into teams and began to build giant mounds. The point was to make them as strong as possible again the rising tide. It was quite impressive to see how fast the tide comes up at this time of the day. So each team had to frantically build these giant mounds of sand. They had to stop building once the tide came up and hit the first mound.

During this next part it was funny to see how not only the kids but the adults yelling at the tide and the waves to stop. They just yelled and yelled but the tide was stopping for no one. Before we knew it, the tide had overtaken and knocked down the mounds, the one that was the last standing was declared the winner.

In the evening we gathered with our age groups again for an events. The Trogs (12-15) did the same thing that we did last Monday which was gather at “The Dip” and play rounders and “proper” football then finished the evening with English chips! Tramps (7-11) had a game night based on their new theme for the week – “Reach for the Stars.” The team then finished the night with another Epilogue that is always a good end for the evening.

Praise God for His faithfulness; He has been so good to us during this mission. Pray for strength, tolerance and patience as the team continues to work together. And especially pray for health: we had one of our (FBCR) kids out the entire day due to illness and several members of the entire team (including myself) who are suffering from some kind of cold bug that floating around. So if you could just pray for health so that this doesn’t drag down the productivity of the mission.