Week 8

2 Jul

Tuesday, June 26 – Wednesday, June 27 (36 hours)

These past two days we had what we called our “mission week” for the youth. Our team had been planning this time for a while, and we wanted to challenge the youth to reach out and help serve the community. I arrived at the church on Tuesday morning, and immediately went to our staff meeting. Here, we addressed upcoming events and issues going on with the church. Then, the senior pastor told the rest of the staff that the main focus for the next two days was this mission week, and that the staff was to help us in whatever we needed. The youth pastor is not very organized/does not plan well, and there were some things he missed. Since this was his first event he planned as the youth pastor, there was a lot for him, as well as myself, to learn. I found some of the things other pastors were saying to us very frustrating, and I know the youth pastor was getting discouraged. He had forgotten that all of the students needed to have permission slips to come on this event, and so we had to get on that issue immediately. Everything worked out, but a lot of things came last minute andΒ I could tell that some of the other pastors were worried. I could also tell that the youth pastor felt very sad and upset with himself for not doing everything perfectly. I talked to the senior pastor about this, and told him that the youth pastor needs to sometimes be encouraged. Many times, people are quick to criticize but do not offer help, support, or uplifting words. Later, the senior pastor, executive pastor, youth pastor, and myself met and went over some of the things we needed to do. The senior pastor and executive pastor encouraged the youth pastor and spoke great words over him. The youth pastor almost started crying, and this situation reminded me how kind words can truly make such a difference.

After these meetings, I went and bought all of the food for the event with the youth pastor. We had planned the meals for the kids so we knew mostly what to buy. After we went to the grocery store, we went back to the church and then the mission week began. Students arrived around 1:00pm and we had them put their sleeping stuff in the youth room. Then, we gathered all the students and first had them stuff bags of beans for our food bank. This lasted for a few hours, and we gave students snacks while doing this. Since our church runs the food bank, it was neat to see the students give back to their church and help the food bank. However, after students had been bagging beans for a while, a few students started complaining that they were tired. It was interesting to see how once a few people started complaining, others started complaining too and feeling “tired” as well. I, myself, even noticed that I felt more discouraged. I definitely realized the impact of words and how communication can so greatly can effect the mood of others.

When we wre done baggining beans, we had students go to a local thrift store. We carpooled over there, and once we were there, the owners gave us a mini-orientation, and shared with us the mission and vision of the thrift store. It was really neat to hear their hearts and I think it was good that the told us more about themselves. This helped us appreciate and understand more what we were working for and who we were working with. After they oriented us, we split into groups and then organized different sections of the store, to make it look more presentable to customers. I left early with one of the other leaders, and we went back to the church to start making dinner.

When I got back to the church, the youth pastor’s sister and her friend met me there, and we made dinner for the youth. I became frustrated because I could not get into the kitchen and did not have keys. I had to search for a while, and someone gave me the wrong key, so it took a lot of time. When the youth pastor got back he said, “Is this all you have done?” I was frustrated he said that and had to explain the situation to him. After IΒ  explained what had happened, he understood. However, we were both frustrated with the situation. Then, the youth came back from the thrift store and played soccer while we were cooking. We then served them dinner (pasta with meat, salad, and french bread).

After dinner, the youth got into their pajamas/comfy clothes and we played a game. This game lasted for a long time, and we played a few rounds of it. It is like scrades, but there are different versions of it. It was really fun and interesting to see how people acted and explained things to others. The youth thought it was hilarious when one of the words we had to guess was “Mexico” and they pointed to our youth pastor, who is Hispanic, and immediately everyone knew the word. Everyone was laughing, and I thought how funny it is how we can associate certain words/things with people. After we finished playing this game, the youth went to sleep.

The next day (Tuesday), I woke up frustrated. Originally, I had planned to get up around 8:00 and start breakfast for everyone else. However, one of the pastors came in and woke me up earlier, telling me that breakfast was ready. I was really confused and asked the youth pastor what had happened. He said he realized that a school that uses our church was going to use the kitchen, so they had to get up earlier to cook. I was upset because I am a very organized/planned person and things did not go according to how I had planned. I should have been thankful that they had gotten up earlier to make breakfast,and that I didn’t have to, but instead I was frustrated that the plans had changed. This is definitely something I need to work on πŸ™‚

After breakfast, the youth got ready and then we went to Seattle. We went to this organization called World Relief, which helps refugees adjust to their new lives in America. Students had to dress up and pretend to be actual refugees. This experience was unlike anything I have ever done before. Once we spilt into groups and learned who we were going to be, we had to walk around Seattle and find stations that World Relief had set up. We then got interegated at these different stations, and experienced some of what refugees have to go through in order to come to America. These experience was really intense, and even though we all knew it was a fake experience, it was still crazy for people to be so serious and asking us very difficult questions. Before we went on this experience, we were given fake names, and all of our groups had different stories of who our family was and their background. We had only a half an hour to memorize this information and this was the information that the people asked us about. At one of the stations, one of the girls in the group had to name every other group member and their name and relation to her. This was difficult because our names were very hard to remember and difficult to pronounce. There were TONS of questions we got asked about and had to remember, and the people interrogating us were not pleasant. After we did this experience, we got to meet actual real refugees, who shared their personal stories with us. It was crazy to see that real refugees live here in renton, kent, etc. It reminded me that anywhere I am (at the grocery store, bank, etc.), I could be acting with someone who has literally been through Hell. I want to always make sure that my encounters with others and my communication is kind, pleasant, and uplifting to all.

After we went to Seattle, students came back and had dinner and then we had an overview of the last few days. We also watched a short movie from World Relief, which showed us more stories of refugees. Students left very inspired and wanting to help and serve others even more. Overall, this was a very great experience and even though it was a long two days, I learned a lot and had a lot of fun.

Sunday, July 1 (5 hours)

Today, I got to the church and welcomed youth and hung out with students before service. We retold funny stories that had happened during our mission week. Then, we went into service for worship. After this, I took all of the youth to the youth room and I had student share stories from their experiences during the mission week. Other students who weren’t able to make it got to hear what we did. However, I realized that even after all these students told their stories, the other students who weren’t there would never be able to fully understand what happened and what we went through. It was interesting to note that sometimes no amount of communication will be able to fully explain things. Then, the youth pastor preached and had us split into groups and write down what kind of person we wanted to be for God and the attitude that we needed to have in order to be that kind of person. We shared in our groups our answers and it was a good time of thinking about who we are in Christ and who we want to be. After youth service, we had a BBQ outside with the whole church and I sat and talked with a lot of the youth.

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