Youth Sermon upon return from Appalachia

Day One; Monday, June 30, 2014

May God’s words alone be spoken, may God’s words alone be heard.

Please open your hearts to hear the words of your youth as they reflect on their mission trip . Amen

READER -  KRISSY From the Journal of Izzy

As a self-proclaimed “veteran” of the Team Effort programs, some things never change. The lodgings leave something to be desired, an air conditioner is never a guarantee, and there’s always an element of surprise. But despite all this, despite the obvious lack of contracting experience in our instructors and the sweltering heat, Team Effort is still an amazing experience. Over the past two days, we’ve experienced working on the worksite and chapel. Both have been enriching and wonderful experiences.

A central theme of our Chapel , “brokenness and redemption,” drives our work for the week. It surrounds us in all parts of the day. In the work we do, we see the brokenness of the homeowners around us. It was a day of hard work; we thought we’d finish one thing, but then have to redo it… and redo it again to get it right.. (Laying down cinderblocks is harder than it looks.)

 It’s interesting to see how different people worship. Some raise their hands and sing, some sway, some clap. But the music is fun. Then the testimonies are interesting. Some of the staff come forward and share their stories, talking about their experiences, how they came to be where they are. I love the stories, hearing about people.

READER -  ALEX From the Journal of Matthew the “Mallet”

I am also a “veteran” of the Team Effort program. Last year a couple of us went to the Jersey shore to help Sandy victims. This year our experiences are both very similar and very different. This year our theme is “brokenness and redemption.” We can all see brokenness and redemption in the people we are helping. All of these families need a lot of help and hope in their difficult lives. We constructed two decks with stairs for these families.

Chapel service is very evangelical compared to ours. They focus more on the worship of Jesus, rather than the worship of God. In addition, their ideas about Jesus and God’s ways are contradictory to what we have learned in church.

For example, in one of the songs we sang there was a line that says, “Jesus pays our debts.” This implies that there is a greater being ahead of Jesus, and that Jesus was held for ransom to help us.

The Team Effort team  was  also big on the idea of, “God wants us to break in order to find redemption”. The idea that there is a God who looks to hurt us in order to make us closer, is not the God we worship and love. God does not want us to hurt and he definitely does not go around looking to find people to hurt. Beyond the annoying message the services were giving us, this trip was an amazing and enjoyable experience that I will never forget.

READER – MATTHEW From the Journal of Austin

I am not a “veteran” so its my first time doing a missions trip for St. James

and at first I really didn’t want to go, but now I’m here (because my dad made me) I'm grateful that my Dad made me go. Being here surrounded by great people and meeting fellow Christians and connecting with them is something new.

Being around the homeowners, I’ve been reminded how grateful I am for the house I have to live in and the food that God provides for me and my family to eat and a bed to sleep on. I am going to be more appreciative for my life and the people that love me.

READER – GABBY From the Journal of Rachael

I feel that what we are doing on this trip is making a big impact on my life, its not just a great story I can tell my friends back home, but it has helped me to see what people can accomplish if they really try and work together. It has been absolutely amazing watching our deck grow from just the deck part with the floor-boards, to nailing down, who knows how many spindles,  to make a fence around the deck, to then starting work on the stairs and the roof. While I have had many an unpleasant experience with bugs biting me, landing on me, and just obnoxiously hovering over me, it has not made me love the experience any less.

 I love the worship songs here, mainly because I know almost all of them, and the message was a great one. The message of  brokenness was truly insightful, it got me thinking about its true meaning and how it applied to my life, I have come to know that no matter how broken, how unloved and how awful of a human being you may think you are, God loves you and your faults no matter what.

My favorite memory from this past week would definitely have to be the bear incident when Matt came running into the Black Bear Inn saying he saw a bear the gradually we all hustled outside to the porch as it moved away, we watched it skillfully open the dumpster, grab a trash bag and then quickly run away with. However, the bear was not skillful or curious enough to then close the dumpster after stealing its dinner, rude.

READER - ALEX From the Journal of Liam

My experience during this trip has been a mixed bag. I most certainly enjoyed the building, friends, and chapel; however, some of the messages the TEAM Effort people have sent made me uneasy. During our builds they didn’t put any forethought into builds, like the foundation of stairs. Thankfully our St. James adults saved the day and had us build a proper foundation. The messages in Chapel about brokenness have made my image of God clouded. They made God sound like an abusive parent who is going to hurt us to make us welcome him. I didn’t like this message and it made me feel like I wasn’t good enough for God.

A major positive was the free time after work. Free time after work was a time of relaxation, fun, and friendships. We played poker, swam, drank Papa B’s amazing concoction of lemonade, limeade, and grenadine, and grew together as friends and followers of Christ. I met a lot of new people on the trip and became closer friends with everyone I’ve worked with. If anyone is on the fence about this trip I 100% say you should go and try it. This experience is one that I will remember for many years to come and hope that my next trip is just as fun as this one.

READER -  IZZY From the journal of Alex

This past week has changed how I look at a variety of things. To start, arriving on the worksite would have been somewhat of a writer’s dream. Both homeowners and Muleshoe community members alike each had defining qualities that I have only experienced myself through television. The homeowner of the house in which I worked on the steps for was one of the more “broken” people who we encountered on the trip. We met him not long after he may have had a stroke and had an apparent drug problem.  He is only 27. In his small trailer lived April, the mother of his children (Ariel and Selena, who also live there), and their pets, a kitten and a dog named Scooby. While he may have had some issues going on in the background, I was impressed with to see how much of a loving father he was, something that gave me hope for him when our group leaves.           

Aside from our time at the worksite, what has also affected me greatly has been the kindness and friendliness of the other kids in my group as well as our leaders, and the patience of the Team Effort leaders.

Trips away from home with people who I did not know too too well with the added bonus of putting power tools in my hand have never been what I would call in my comfort zone. However this has been a trip I would never forget because of them. I thank God for that because it has allowed me to both enjoy and work well on the work site as well as challenge myself religious wise on this mission trip.

Now I think I need to talk about the bear:

            So, there I was, alone, in the dark, having an innocent conversation with my mother, when I turned around and saw a bear, black as night. Then I turned around and realized I was four feet away from this bear, black as night. Using my instincts, I slowly backed away and immediately stopped the other boys from running straight into the bear, and then back around again to warn Matt to stay away from the foul beast, saving all of their lives (forever indebt they shall be). During our escape, Liam began to bark at this bear at which point it began to progress towards us, however we were reassured by Connor’s extensive knowledge on bears that they couldn’t necessarily gain much speed. Ultimately this ferocious creature was just out for a snack (one from a dumpster, thank god, and not from the human beings both panicking and observing from a too close to comfort distance). After it lifted up the heavy dumpster lid, it trotted away into the night with it’s garbage in hand leaving behind several excited youth group members unscratched.

READER - AUSTIN BROWN     From the Observations of Reverend Audrey, Reverend Melissa, Martha Boughner, and John Bylancik  regarding the bear!

And I quote,

Let’s not tell your parents about the bear until we get home!” Unquote

READER - LIAM From the journal of Conner Clark

 My experience the past week had proved to be a lot different than the year before.  Yes the music and the sermons were almost identical.  Other than those two similarities; the experience has been completely different.  We have a much larger group that overall shows way more enthusiasm than the group last year.  Through the experience, I have made more friends and strengthened the ones that I already had.  We all worked hard during the week showing off either our strengths or weaknesses. 

 We found out who was good and who was bad at hammering nails.  I won’t give any names but some could not hammer in a nail straight.  Either way, we remained patient and got the job done.  I also realized during the week how lucky I am to be living in such a great community.  Working on mobile homes showed me a side of the world that I had previously not experienced.

Once the week was done; our group had bonded and grew more than I ever thought was possible.  I cannot wait to go at it again next year with this group.    

READER - KATHERINE From the Journal of Krissy

One of the things that amazed me about both this year’s mission trip and last year’s is the fellowship. Both years we have been incredibly quick to form bonds with the people on our work site, and I find that very impressive. A mission trip like this brings people together under one common goal: to spread the love of God and to do his work, and it continues to both surprise and impress me how well that common goal brings people together. From the very beginning of the week on the work site, we were told to divide ourselves up and begin working on different jobs. Remarkably, the St. James and the St. Luke’s people did not force themselves to stick together, but rather, allowed themselves to get to know new people. Already, we not only know everyone’s name and where they go to school, but we have inside jokes and have truly formed a bond with these people.

I think that is a powerful example of just what God can do, bringing people together quickly and indirectly.

READER - KRISSY From the Journal Gabby the Birthday Girl

This trip was my first mission trip and I have to say it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.  I’m so glad I came because since it was overlapping my birthday I was hesitant to say yes. This trip had been amazing and taught me so much about God and the people I was working with, St. James or otherwise. I learned that Liam likes to put party hats in different patterns on his head and or his face and that Alex and Mathew can get panicked in scary situations especially when a bear is involved.   

But along with that I went to chapel where I saw a different kind of worship than I am used too.  And although there were some things they said that confused me or I didn’t quite agree with I learned much about the views on a different branch of Christianity.  This worship was centered on much praying and very good songs about the almighty God and how we should open up to him. It was a strong experience that I will remember for years to come.

And I also felt closer to God in other ways.  Thursday was my birthday and the night before me and my roommates slept on our balcony because it was so hot. Katherine exclaimed that she was so exited and happy that she got to spend my 14th birthday with me and I saw God in this girl who opened her arms so willingly to me. After she fell asleep I looked at the stars and felt God’s presence around me and after I finally fell asleep to wake up to a birthday hat being put on my head by none other than Alex.

READER - GABBY From the Journal of Katherine

After our lunch break I used the bathroom inside the trailer we were working on. It’s hard to imagine the homeowner, Jimmy, his two girls, and their mother, as well as a dog and cat living in such a small space. It’s not the most beautiful setting in the world, but the love that Jimmy has for his family is so great it appears to compensate for the shortcomings of their home. As we continue out hard work, I hope to leave their home in a better state than it was in this morning.

A mission trip just wouldn’t be complete without some sort of worship ritual- out evening chapel services. I truly enjoyed the music of these services, the songs were heartfelt and uniting, especially when we held hands and swayed. We have learned however, the importance of questioning the gospel lessons when we do not fully agree with the team effort leaders and their perspectives. Following chapel, a few minutes of small group time helps us to take in these new perspectives and compare them with our own beliefs. While it can be difficult and confusing to wrap our heads around different interpretations, it makes me grateful for the openness of our own liturgy and the freedom of a less demanding relationship with god.

READER - RACHEL From the journal of Andrew

Because I took a chance to toe – in  the  nails into the bottom boards and to appropriately spread out most of the gravel for leveling the cement blocks, I felt  as though I grew as a worker and a men doing God’s work . My group and I had nothing but resolve to make the stairs as a sufficient as possible for the good family that required us to make a difference in their lives. I personally never knew that I could do all those skills that I demonstrated on that day. If I had to choose one thing that I learned that day, I would have to say that hope and effort can make a person greater than imaginable.

READER - JOHN B

 On behalf of all the missioners we want to thank the members of the Youth Group who volunteered their time to fundraise, the  members of the Vestry, the Wardens, The Moore Fund and all of Saint James who supported us  spiritually, financially and with love and blessings.

AMEN

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