7 short days. But think of how much can happen in one week in one individual life. I remember the intensities of being 15, 16, 17, of meeting new people and savoring the best weeks of teenage life. This was one of those sets of 7 days for many of our students. I saw students scale ladders, conquer fears, step out of their cliques to forge new friendships and Bible's cracked. What a week. I never come away disappointed when it comes to a week with a group of students.
There were long days and short nights full of conversations with high school girls about the future and the present, relationships and hardships, loss and confrontation. Fullness is the only emotion I have to express how 7 days with students leaves me feeling. And the leaders, oh the leaders. I now understand why our leaders snuck off to have "meetings". Because those friendships are half the fun of the trip. We needed each other for sanity and for retreat, for laughter and for tears. Here is our crew for the week:
Joe, Laura, Me, Tom & Kelsey
*Ryan was able to join us 2 days in the week as well!
We completed our work of refinishing the entire exterior of a home for a woman in Holland, hung out with some great ministries doing summer kids clubs for low income families and made a generous church on the South Side of Holland our home for the week. It amazed me how smoothly things went, really without a hitch and I know it was so much bigger than us because a week before the trip, Laura & I found ourselves with an itinerary missing housing, transportation & food. And God totally superseded anything we could have planned as Montello Park CRC stepped in and graciously gave us full access to their space. I love that they believed in what we were doing enough to open their doors and trust us. And not only that, they had air, a full kitchen with 2 ovens and the ideal space for late night capture the flag, sardines and yes, dance parties.
As we camped out in Philippians 2:1-15 for the week I was refreshed by the reminders of pursuing unity and humility in order to "shine like the stars in the universe". There were moments where I was challenged to check out, to sit down, to be quiet and I followed those when needed but also felt a drive within me to keep on keeping on because those students really watch what you do. (that effort was greatly assisted by the vanilla creme coffee Kelsey picked up for me.)
Here are some pics from our week: