Speaking of...goodness...I can't believe it's already been a month. It seems like just yesterday we were flying into the Denver Airport. And in just 3 days we will be landing in the Bay City that is San Francisco. I'm so excited to see what God has in store for us there. But for now, we're still in Denver, and there's still Kingdom work to be done here. Just like the song, "greater things have yet to come, and greater things are still to be done in this city."
Anywho, let's get started with the daily rundown:
We woke up bright and early, as usual, and attended Bear Valley Church for the early Worship Service. We've been studying personality types and which Biblical Characters fall under each category. This week was the Lion personality. To my surprise, I actually have a little lion in me. I took an online inventory test to see what I came up as. As expected, I am very much a "Golden Retriever" for the most part. I know you're saying, "really, Seth. You took one of those dorky online tests?" It's really not like the dorky online tests, I promise. This is legit, and I feel that it gives a pretty accurate read on what your personality is like. I recommend going and doing this yourself; just go to this site: http://www3.dbu.edu/jeanhumphreys/SocialPsych/smalleytrentpersonality.htm.
Just follow the directions at the top of the page and see what your personality resembles most!
Back to the day, though. I really have enjoyed Pastor Jim's messages, and I can really see God moving in him and Bear Valley Church as a whole.
After Morning Worship, we came back to our apartment on CCU's campus and had a FIFOW meeting. FIFOW is an acronym for "Facts Imagination Feelings Own Wants." This is a tool we were taught by Keith Inman to use for conflict resolution. Stepping through each step of the acronym, we can more easily resolve conflicts. Anyway, we had to have an emergency FIFOW meeting to handle something that had gone on. I won't go into details, but it all boiled down to miscommunication (as most conflicts do), and it was easily resolved.
We then went to Green Gables for the church services there. This week I led music, along with Chastain, and Chad Winston brought the message. Everyone did a great job.
After church was over, we went around to the various apartments handing out Father's Day packages. It was hard for some because of their family situations.
We came back and had some R & R time at the apartment, which was definitely good. After debriefing time later that night we had a random night of worship. Man, I can't put a word down to describe what it's like to experience God in the little things. That's what I love random nights of worship like that. We honestly need to worship God with our lives, in everything we do, but it's just really awesome to come together as a group and sing praises to God, and pray together, and read Scripture together...goodness. God is awesome.
I really felt God putting a particular passage on my heart. Zechariah 10:1 reads "Ask the Lord for rain in the time of the latter rain. The Lord will make flashing clouds; He will give them showers of rain, grass in the field for everyone" (NKJV). I feel God had placed this on my heart because there are times when we will face rough patches, there are times when we encounter dry spells and droughts. And when those times come, we just have to pray that God will bring the rain. We typically look at these times of rain and storms in life and feel negative. We get gloomy. But look what the rain brings: it brings life, without the rain the plants wouldn't grow and without the rain in our lives, we wouldn't grow spiritually either. The rain brings a pleasing aroma (or at least I think so) and that's a beautiful thing. We also see a rainbow after the rain. That's not just a promise from God that He will never flood the Earth again, it's a promise that He won't leave us "hanging out to dry." It's a promise that He will always be there with us through the deepest, wildest storms and that although it may seem rough at the time, we know that the storm will end and because of the rain, life will have lots of awesome flowers and other life that is just beautiful. The rain is a beautiful thing; we need to ask God to bring it!
So..in light of the passage in Zechariah, we prayed for rain Sunday night. God brought the rain--Spiritually, and physically. In fact, so much rain that we had to cancel all our regularly scheduled activities for Monday.
We had morning devo time with our team leader, Stephanie. And afterwards she informed us about the cancellations and that we had the day to regroup and re-energize ourselves for the week.
I was one of 4 people who went to the Creekside Assisted Living Complex Monday afternoon. My teammates and I sat in on some devo time with a few elderly ladies. We did an activity where we wrote out the highlights of their life--what they'd like to be remembered for. It was pretty neat hearing their stories.
Later that night, all 6 of the guys got together to have a little "man-time." We were mainly discussing topics for a "Man-votional" I was going to start leading throughout the week. I feel like it's necessary for us to have devo time as a co-ed group. But I also feel it's necessary for us to have devos as a group of guys too. We have to have that community as men as well. So we decided that we were going to go through Song of Solomon in our man-votionals to see what we can glean from that: not only the perfect picture of how Christ loves the church, but also how we are to love our spouses (whenever that time comes).
But for this night, we went through Lamentations 3. Goodness, if you haven't read that (or even if you have) I highly recommend you do so, it is packed full of awesomeness. I think my favorite part is verses 22 and 23.
Cindy Pelphrey (Campus Minister of 6 Owensboro campuses) flew in last night. Our devo time with her this morning was spent planning for the coming two weeks. She brought with her planned VBS's and was running us through who was doing what and where and at what time. We had two different themes: Avalanche Ranch (which was a lot like Saddle Ridge Ranch) and Beach Blast--which was more of a summer, tropical theme.
We got everything lined out and headed to our sites for the day. Today I was at 13th and Reed again. And we had a great VBS there. The kids were all great, and paid attention. Everything ran smoothly, as far as the overall structure of everything goes; which is good, because I was the team leader at 13th and Reed.
Devo time was awesome, we started talking about our identity in Christ, and who we are according to Him. Some key passages are: Psalm 139:23-24, Romans 12:12, Proverbs 14:13, Genesis 1:26-28.
We also talked about how we have to love ourselves before we can love others. And we have to accept God's love for us so that we can pass on that love to others.
We then went to our various sites. First stop today was Jewell Park for me. It was great there, as always. The kids there are so attentive and smart, and they really remember the stories and have good questions. It's just really encouraging to see that.
Here's a fun video I took during Recreation, haha. Some of the guys took the words "whoever tags me first wins" to mean "whoever tackles me first wins." Check it out:
After Jewell Park was Green Gables. It actually went decently well today. We had a good number of kids there, some of whom didn't usually come. They were attentive (for once) and, despite a few snide remarks, were actually really good. After the story we went to play kickball for about an hour or so, and had a great time with that.
After Green Gables, half our team went to Willow Glen Retirement community. I was not part of this group, but our group instead went out to eat at Chipotle (fast food Mexican-style). It's similar to Qdoba, but personally, I like Qdoba much better. But the food was still great.
Then we went to Mardel Christian Bookstore. It's pretty much exactly like a Lifeway. It was really awesome, and this was the second trip this week we made out there (first was Monday).
I really felt compelled to get Bibles for a couple of the kids I connected with at Jewell Park. So Chastain and I got those, and a journal for each of them, and we wrote in there a little inscription of encouragement on the inside, and also gave them our contact info to keep in touch.
We came back and had our first Man-votional, studying Song of Solomon 1:1-4. It was really packed with a LOT of good stuff, and so we went over that and discussed how we could apply it to our lives even now.
Devo time continued with our study of who we are in Christ and "unmasking" our past. The key scripture for today was Colossians 2:8, Colossians 2:13-15, and Romans 5:1.
We then went out to our sites. I was at 13th and Reed once again. And once again it went really well. The kids all enjoyed themselves, our team all enjoyed ourselves too.
After VBS, we came back and Chastain and I went and hung out with Jacob and Josh from Jewell Park. We took them to Coldstone (a wicked awesome ice cream shop) and talked with them about their lives up to this point and what their stories were with regards to coming to Christ. They are really cool kids and I know God has awesome plans for them.
After we got back to Jewell Park, we gave them each the Bible and journal we got for them and the look on their faces was priceless. They were so excited to get those things and it was just really awesome to see these young kids get so excited about Christ. It was really a blessing.
After our time with the boys, we came back to the apartments to get ready for evening ministry. Half of our team (I was included this time) went to Bear Valley Village to cook for the people there and serve free food and such. Our job was to play with the kids and keep them entertained while the adults got into conversation with some of the adults that were there with us.
I got the opportunity to expand my relationship with a few people I've met there before. One of whom was little Andrew (pictured below)
Oh my goodness, he's so sweet, haha. Some people get what's known as a "ice cream mustache." Little Andrew had a full-on ice cream goatee. It was so cute.
Then I saw Jim and Shawn again, but sadly I don't have pictures of them.
Overall, it was a great time there, and I know there were some awesome conversations going on.
Today is the day Rachel and I celebrate 13 months of being officially "dating" :) woohoo! She's so incredible and every day I'm reminded of how blessed I am, and how much God loves me and knows me. God blows my mind, He really does. Below is probably my favorite picture of us:
Today was also the day of our weekly field trip with the children. We went out to Bear Creek Lake Park and did all sorts of awesome things, from swimming in the lake to picnic lunch to paddle boats to canoeing. It was a BLAST! Sadly, though, I didn't put enough sun screen on my shoulders apparently. I got a little burnt, but not near as bad as some of the other guys in our group.
We started off with some devo time with Cindy. In continuing our theme, we were talking about "unmasking our past" and so we did a cool activity of taking these plastic masks and writing all the things were ashamed of on the inside of our masks. And then on the outside we wrote words opposite of those on the inside, and wrote words pertaining to our identity in Christ (words like forgiven, redeemed, justified, etc.) and then we also put scripture references by each of the words. It was a really awesome visual representation of my identity in Christ.
Key scripture included: Romans 8:1, Romans 8:35, Galatians 5:1, Colossians 1:22, 1 John 2:12, Titus 3:4-5, Galatians 1:10, 1 John 4:4-11, John 3:3-6
We then had the rest of the day off to regroup, relax, and get some much needed rest. I took a group to the Mardel Christian Bookstore again. And then afterwards we went to the Belmar Mall, which was a really cool outdoor mall.
We had the fourth and final message in the Personalities Series at Bear Valley Church this week: the Beaver. The Biblical representation of the Beaver personality is the Apostle Paul. Surprisingly, after taking the personality test I showed you all above, my second most one was a beaver. But after thinking about it, it did make sense, because I am analytical, sometimes overly critical, a perfectionist, and various other beaver-like things.
We then went to Green Gables to lead our weekly worship there. Chastain, Kayla Cooper and Kayla Mae Smith led music. And I preached again :). The title was "Flourish where you're planted" and scripture included Psalm 92:12-14, Luke 8:4-8, 11-15, 1 Corinthians 3:6-9, and Zechariah 10:1. Basically, we're plants for God and we've been planted for a reason. We've been planted to receive nourishment from the soil God plants us in and we've also been planted to give back spiritual nutrients to that soil as well. I used the example of crop rotation and how God rotates us around in different areas in different seasons for a reason--in order to feed us and also to feed others through us. And so regardless of where we're planted, God wants us to flourish there, and grow into beautiful spiritual plants for His glory.
Devo time was yet again awesome. Key scripture included: Psalm 8:1, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, Romans 8:10, Colossians 2:9-10, and Ephesians 4:24
We are complete in Christ, we are accepted, we are free. The definition of who we are is who we are in Christ.
We then went out to our ministry sites for the day. Today was Jewell park first. Again, great day. We were down a little bit in numbers, but it was still a great quality day for sure.
I (along with Marcus, Lindsey, and Becky) went back to Creekside Retirement Community after Jewell Park. We had another awesome Bible Study with the ladies there and we dealt with an activity where we somehow were given $200 million, and we were to plot out how we would spend the money. The elderly woman I was paired with and I decided to tithe the first 10%, then the rest of it was used on things such as a shelter for the homeless, shelter for battered women, shelter for abused children, etc. She was a really selfless lady, and it was really encouraging to get to know her and how she feels God calling her to do His work even in her old age.
Afterwards, we went to Green Gables for our weekly evening grill out. There were a lot of children that came out, and also a lot of families from the community (some of whom were not regulars). I played basketball with some of the kids who typically give us trouble by way of dirty mouths and poor behavior, but today wasn't as bad. That said, they did "school" me at basketball (at least, according to them).
Devo time was? Yes, awesome. Key scripture was James 1:23-24, Colossians 3:12-15, 2 Timothy 1:8-10, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, and Romans 12:2.
We learned that "No matter what happens, no matter how low you go to, as a follower of Christ the bottom of the pit is always solid and firm. And no matter how far you go down, He's always there.
We then went out to our daily ministry sites. Today was 13th and Reed for me again. It was really fun, as usual. And all of the children really were getting the stories we were telling them about Jesus, and loving every minute of it. They really like to dance. I'm sure videos of that will probably be posted somewhere in the near future. But I think we had a dance party there every day we were there for the last two weeks. It was crazy awesome.
Later that night we got the opportunity to serve alongside various churches in the area in a ministry called "Mean Streets." They go around to the various homeless locations and serve them free food and hand out things such as bus tokens, toys for kids, and all sorts of things. It was really awesome to see the receptiveness of these folks. And a man by the name of Xavier even asked if I'd pray for him there on the spot, which I was more than willing to do, it just kind of surprised me that he requested it, and approached me for prayer. It was really awesome.
Devo time was really cool today. Mrs. Cindy gave us an activity to find a quiet place all to ourselves, meditate on two passages of scripture (Psalm 25:8-10, and 2 Corinthians 1:3-4), and then say aloud the following 5 times each:
- I accept God's love for me
- God is in control
- Through Jesus Christ, I am clean in God's sight
- I release my fears to Jesus
- I claim the joy of being God's child
- Because God loves me, it is ok to be incomplete
- I accept God's healing of the painful memories of my past
- No matter what happens, I trust that God is working for my good
It was a really awesome activity and cool to see God use that to bring peace into my heart about things. And again, it was a really cool physical representation of God's love for me.
We then went out to our ministry sites. Jewell Park was yet again awesome. It was also a little sad because it was the last VBS at that location. After a wonderful VBS, there were many hugs and a few stifled tears. But I know God has great plans for Jewell Park. The kids there are awesome, and there's definitely a solid foundation in place to build upon.
After Jewell, we went to Green Gables for the last VBS there. It was actually an overall great day. There was some pre-teen drama (what pre-teen doesn't have drama?) but really outside of that it was great. For whatever reason, we didn't have many of the guys and the guys that did come got there much later. But everyone was overall well-behaved and very attentive to the story. They asked a lot of great questions and there was awesome discussion of how we could apply the story (Jesus calms the storm) to our lives.
As the craft, we baked brownies and it was really cool to see the children work together to accomplish a delicious result.
After Green Gables, half of our team went to Willow Glen retirement home again. They had a blast, and from the stories they told, they met some pretty interesting folks.
The rest of us stayed back and had some R & R. I had a really cool chat with Mrs. Cindy about various things, and that was really fun.
Devo time was cool and we moved on to a new topic of counseling others. We learned that "it doesn't matter who you are, if you have accepted Christ, you are called to minister to others."
Key scripture for the day included: Luke 19:10, Romans 6:23, Romans 10:9-10, and Ephesians 4:11-12. We also went through an outline of steps taken when counseling others, and discussed what to do in various situations.
We then went out to our ministry sites. Today was the last day of VBS at 13th and Reed. It was really sad and many of us cried after leaving. But aside from the sadness of leaving the children we've grown so close to, it was a really awesome day. You can really tell a difference in the children. The 13th and Reed kids were always one of the better groups as far as behavior goes and such, but still, there's even a noticeable difference even in them.
Here's Heydi and I. She's so cute, but until the very last day, she would not give me a hug (avarosa, en espanol).
Here's us with all the kids at 13th and Reed:
Later that night, we went to Bear Valley Village again. We a couple of people return from last week. Sadly, little Andrew and his family weren't there. But I met a new little buddy named Gabriel. Man was he rambunctious. Goodness, I've never seen so much energy. And I made the mistake of speaking in my broken spanish. Because he then assumed I spoke a lot of Spanish, and started carrying on full conversations with me and I just stood there, nodding my head and saying "......yea....si...." Thankfully I was able to talk with him a little bit thanks to the Google Translate App on my phone. Regardless of the language barrier, though, we both had a blast, and he wore me out. I was exhausted, but it was definitely a good exhausted. Sadly, I don't think we got any pictures, but if some turn up, I'll definitely post them.
Good grief, time has flown. I can't believe in just 3 days I'll be landing in San Francisco! Crazy stuff!
Anywho, today was our weekly field trip. this week we took the kids to "Lair of the Bears Park." I know, right? That's what I thought when I heard the name. But it's completely misleading. There were no bears. And there weren't even lairs. But it was a wicked awesome park. We went on various trails and climbed in trees and just had a blast with the kids.
At one point Marcus and I had to break up a fight between two of the children. But it ended up being a really cool experience. Because after they had some time to cool off (they got angry for a ridiculously silly reason), the boy I would NEVER picture apologizing for anything in his life went up to the other boy and said "I'm sorry." And then they gave each other five and a manly chest bump and went on. Marcus and I just looked at each other for a second. That was visual proof of the fruit of our labor, I feel like. It was just crazy awesome.
The rest of the afternoon went really well, no problems, no fights, a lot of fun.
Later that night, one of the college students that lives in Denver and helps out at Green Gables sometimes invited our team over to his house for a grill out and relaxation/hang out night. It was really awesome to feast and fellowship with these guys because they were really fun and have some incredible stories about what God's done in their lives. We played Catch Phrase and Apples to Apples and once it was dark we started a fire and roasted marshmallows. It was a really fun time.
And finally we're caught back up. I still can't believe it's July already. I can't believe I'll be home in less than a month.
But we can't focus on that now, because there's still Kingdom Work to be done. God has some AWESOME things lined out for us in San Francisco, I know He does. He even has some awesome things planned for us for our remainder of time in Denver--we're going camping tomorrow night at Mt. Falcon, be looking for pictures from that.
Thanks again, on behalf of my entire team, for your prayers, cards, and words of encouragement. Thanks for taking the time to read my blogs as well. It means more than you know, especially since I know I tend to be long-winded (it's the preacher coming out of me, I promise, I can't help it). Thanks for everything, and please continue to pray for us.
Pray for safe travel, pray for the hearts of those we were able to touch here in Denver, and the hearts of those who have touched us as well. Pray for the hearts that God has in line for us to reach out to in San Fran, and just pray for our team to remain focused on Him and His work. Pray for open hearts, and open opportunities to share Christ. Pray for boldness, and fearlessness.
Thank you again, and I love you all!