August 3rd, 2013
Today is our last day on the work site! It will only be through God’s power and strength that we finish the house today. We are praying for a miracle! We stayed super late to do some extra work yesterday, came back and had dinner, then went straight back to work for a couple more hours. We did not get back to have team time until 9:45 PM. In team time last night, we had our last bead time, and we talked about everything that needs to get done today. The list is long, and the students are tired. They are also very determined.
Please be in constant prayer for us today. We will need focus and perseverance to complete our mission. We want to be able to fill the house with the donated furniture (that God has provided!) and move Miss Mary in by the end of the day! Also pray that the professionals would be on time to work today so that we can move forward with certain aspects. We still do not have floors down…pray that the flooring guys would come and work efficiently to get done. Also pray for quick drying drywall mud. We need everything to dry before we can start paint, and there is A LOT of painting to do! Pray that even though we are rushing, we would remain careful in our work.
“So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days. When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God.” Nehemiah 6:15-16 (We have been studying Nehemiah – Lessons on Leadership.)
Thanks for all your continued prayers!
And a special thanks to the Lutz family for sending our team a box of Whoopee Pies! That really boosted the moral of the team at the end of the night last night!
August 2nd, 2013
I’ve asked the students to write a little something about their time here to put up on the blog. Here are some highlights and what’s going on in their own words:
Megan – “Hey y’all, I LOVE Pawleys Island! God and I have definitely become BFFs on this trip, and I will never be the same. I’m really learning how to not just hear the Word of God but to put it into practice. Please hold me accountable.”
Lily – “God definitely has changed my life for the better this past week and a half. I wasn’t a very passionate believer before this trip, and now I pray over four times a day. I’ve opened my heart to God and the amazing people he chose to go on this trip.”
Sarah – “God has really been working in me on this trip. I have opened up a lot since day one. I committed my life to Christ on Saturday night. I have felt so much better since then. I feel joy instead of happiness. I have built such a strong relationship with the Lord on this trip. I have also built really tight bonds with the people here through God. I feel truly blessed to be here on this trip.”
Alana – “On this trip I’ve become so strong in my faith. God has performed so many miracles this past week. And I have definitely changed for the better. Committing myself to Christ was the best experience of my life.”
Kristen – “I’ve been having an amazing time here! Tired beyond belief, but it’s worth it. God’s showed up in huge ways, and there’s been awesome miracles. All the months of planning have really paid off. Thanks for all the prayers and support!”
Kaitlyn – “Hey everyone! This has been such a ride – from VBS to working on the house to our spiritual “team time,” God has really been doing great things. I’m so thankful for the opportunity I’ve had to come on this trip!”
Maggie – “On this trip, I have really been challenged with a lot of hard work, not a lot of sleep, and God. In the end, it’s all been really good.”
Allie – “I have been having so much fun on this trip! Every day is a new challenge and I love being pushed to the limit. I have accepted God in my life, and since then, I’ve been joyful!”
Rachel – “Hey guys! I’m having an awesome time. This is really an amazing trip, and I can’t wait to tell you what God has been doing in my life.”
Morgan – “Hey everyone! I’m having an amazing time at Pawleys Island, and I’ve seen God work in so many ways. I have so much to tell once I get back!”
Rebekah – “This has been one of the best experiences of my life. God has been working more this week than I’ve seen Him. This group of teens is so blessed, and I love what God has been doing in their lives. I’m gonna miss this trip a lot (especially the food).”
Nicole – “There are many reasons why someone might choose to spend 17 days away from their own family and instead go “hangout” with 18 teenagers. But whatever your original motivation in doing something does not limit how God can work and change your heart. This week hasn’t just been about the construction work and sharing the gospel with the teens. More than anything, God has used this week to break down walls in my own heart, to renew this passion, and to be willing to embrace the ADVENTURE of following HARD after Him.”
Ellen – “There is no doubt that God has been stirring in the hearts of all our team members, including my own. I have enjoyed watching our students be challenged not only to work hard physically, but to search for purpose and set their vision on Him. I am praying that these students can return home to their families, and their families notice a difference in their lives. Our God is so good!”
Joe – “This trip has been amazing. We have seen God do some incredible things. It is such a joy and privilege to serve the Lord on trips like this. I am blessed!”
Bobby – “So ready to finish this house this week. I’m exhausted and dirty, but I’m still working. Our group is persevering.”
Chris – “I have seen the Lord work in miraculous ways on this trip. I am physically and mentally well. We will finish the house with the miracles of our God!”
Philip – “This trip has already helped me to grow mentally and emotionally. I really want to finish Miss Mary’s house because I believe she deserves every last ounce of my strength put into her house.”
Colsen – “The Lord has worked through the team in amazing ways. We have seen miracles from God in our worst moments. If one this is needed the most, it’s prayer.”
Nathan – “I have seen the Holy Spirit working through our hearts. Prayers are needed for finishing Miss Mary’s house. I am very tired, but I know God will give me strength to finish the house.”
Ryan – “I am having a great time here in Pawleys Island. God is performing many amazing feats and changing peoples’ hearts, including mine. I can’t wait to see Miss Mary’s house finished and furnished. The look on her face will be amazing to see knowing that she has seen the work of God!”
August 1st, 2013
So the last few days have been really long. We have spent countless hours at the job site trying to finish this house by Friday. God is continuing to show up and provide for the needs of the house. However, we still need a lot of prayer to get things done! We still have a need for some furniture, although prayers have been answered in that area. God has provided a full bedroom set, a dining room table, and a couch. More is still needed! We were informed the other day that Miss Mary threw away almost everything because it was all completely infested with bugs and mold. Our hope is provide her with as much as we can!
While on the work site yesterday (Wednesday), we had a lot of outside professionals, including our plumber and his crew, come in to help us. It was so encouraging to see the way our students worked with them to accomplish a great deal. Bubba has come the past couple days to finish the drywall, and if all goes according to plan, he should finish all the mudding today. Praise the Lord! People from the community are also stopping by to see how things are going, and we are getting the chance to talk to them about our team and what we’re doing. We were also blessed with the help of some Home Depot employees on their day off. They came and helped us level and install the cabinets; it would have been a very frustrating and time consuming job without them! We ask that you continue to pray for this outside help, because we’re going to need it! No one believes us when we tell them we are going to finish this house tomorrow. Also pray for provision for the budget so that we can set Miss Mary up with a quality living space.
Also, later today, I hope to be posting an update from each team member in their own words. (I’m still waiting on a few.) Be looking forward to that! Thanks for all your prayers and support!!
July 29th, 2013
Today was a mediocre day. We struggled on the worksite because we were all exhausted. It seemed like a lot of projects were at a standstill, so our students were discouraged. There is so much to get done by Friday. We also got some “bad news” from Robbie during team time. I say “bad news” because that was how he phrased it at first. He then went back and changed his wording because, although it may not be good news, it is creating more opportunity for God to work this week and provide us with miracles. First, he shared that the company that was donating the furniture is no longer doing so. Now, we do not know where any of the furniture will come from. (All of Miss Mary’s previous furniture was through away due to all the bug infestations and rotting floors.) The second piece of news was that the plumber is not coming until Wednesday, which messes up the order of many of our remaining tasks. The bathrooms are all still completely bare, and before we can put up any insulation and drywall, the bathrooms need to be finished. The floor is another big issue; it needs to get done, but cannot be done until after the plumber comes through.
It is hard for us as a team to assess what needs to be done when so much is depending on outside people. Our main drywall guy, Bubba, did not show up today. We need him to finishing mudding before we can get moving on painting walls and ceilings. Although work is getting done, the progress seems too slow to meet our goal.
So tomorrow, we need prayer for miracles more than ever. Here are a few specifics you can be praying for:
1. The furniture – there are still many things that the house needs that the budget does not cover, including furniture. Pray that God would abundantly provide all these things (furniture, air conditioners, etc.).
2. The plumber – pray that God would surprise us with the plumber arriving early. Most of the professionals that are helping us on this job have their own businesses. This means that they come by whenever they can, making it hard for us to schedule the remaining jobs.
3. Bubba – Please pray that Bubba would show up tomorrow, and he would work quickly and efficiently. We need to get moving on finishing the walls so everything else falls into place.
4. Hard jobs – Tomorrow, we are going to have a work team begin to install cabinets. Pray that God will give them strength and patience as they work on leveling cabinets in a not so level house. Also pray for other teams who have had to struggle through hard jobs. We have a team working on crown molding for a house that has crooked and slanted ceilings. It took them a day and a half to figure out all the angles; now, pray that they would be able to work quickly to finish up.
5. Motivation – We are feeling drained and its only Monday. Please pray that God would spark a fire in our hearts that drives us to work hard on this house. We need a renewed vision of our purpose, and we need God to see us through.
July 28th, 2013
Our Sabbath today was blessed with the presence of the Holy Spirit, there is no doubt about it. After the morning worship service at Pawleys Island Community Church (where the students enjoyed both the worship and the message), we had a couple hours for free time. Some of the group hung back at the school to nap and relax, while most of the group went to the beach to enjoy some body surfing and sleeping on the beach to recharge. Upon returning to campus, the students got the night off while the adults prepared a big dinner for the team. Twenty-two T-bone steaks were on the menu, along with potatoes, broccoli, and a surprise dessert. The meal was amazing, and the students were so happy to be consuming so much meat (particularly our guys!).
The team time that followed our Sunday night meal was not our typical team time. Instead of discussing our Bible study and giving out beads, Joe and I had planned an activity that we hoped God would use to take our team to the next level. As we prepared for this activity, The Mask Activity, we put a lot of prayer and thought into partner pairs and the presentation of the message. Within the activity, there are pairs who use plaster strips to make a mask of their partner’s face. It is a weird sensation as someone else puts this mask over top of your entire face, and it requires a lot of trust and communication. The purpose of the activity is for partners to open up to one another. The mask symbolically represents the masks we wear in life that are not truly who we are. They could also be stereotypes that you feel forced in to. There was an excitement about the activity initially. As pairs split up and spread out all over the basketball court, things quieted down as partners focused in on each other. After both masks were made, everyone joined into small groups to debrief the experience. Questions like, “What are some masks that you wear in your life?” “What did it feel like to take your mask off?” “What causes you to be afraid of taking your mask off?”
God was working in this time, because it led straight into the Gospel. Joe had presented a clearer picture of the Gospel before the activity, and it only strengthened the experience that most kids had. Tonight, God moved in the hearts of all our students, but we got to specifically pray with five students as they committed their lives to Christ. Praise the Lord! It was absolutely amazing to watch things finally click for some of these students, some who have even grown up in the church. Fear was no longer able to stop them from letting go control and completely abandoning themselves to the Father. It was a tearful night as friends celebrated together and worshiped our great God together. Please be praying for these students as they begin in their walks. Pray for our team as a whole as we move forward from last night to a long week ahead of hard work. We will be spending 35-40 hours over the next week completing a house that should really take much, much longer than that. God has provided us with so many miracles; join us as we ask for more!
July 27th, 2013
Friday was our first full day on the work site. We were able to accomplish a lot throughout the day as walls are finally up and different rooms are distinguishable. When we came in at the beginning of the week, we did not know what to think of all the open space and lack of floors and walls. Now, it is easy for us to imagine the finished product with paint on the walls (walls that we hung), cabinets in the kitchen, tubs in the bathroom, and furniture in all the rooms. Although we have come a long way this week, there is still an enormous amount to get done before next Friday. Please be praying with us for miracles! It will be a miracle if we finish Miss Mary’s house.
Another cool thing about Friday was our team’s renewed focus. We were reminded of our purpose here and that above all else, our relationships to God come first. We can work on this house all week and get it done, but if we are not in relationship with our God, it all means nothing. So the work site Friday was full of hard work, but it was also full of encouragement as students encouraged and challenged each other.
For most of Friday morning, I was actually not at the work site. I was sent on a Home Depot run with the LeaderTreks intern, Taylor. We hooked up our U-Haul trailer and headed over to pick up all the cabinets that would be installed in the new kitchen. I had a great time getting to know Taylor better. This is her second summer with LeaderTreks, and her second summer in Pawleys. She goes to Cedarville University, and is studying Early Childhood Education. She has done a great job with our girls, getting to know them and challenged them in their walks. The two of us had a great time chasing down Home Depot employees in order to get questions answered. In fact, she is there so often on errands for more supplies that most of the employees know her. They also know the project she is working on with the student groups all summer. They were all sure to ask how things were going, and one lady even offered her cabinet expertise to help us install the cabinets sometime this week. My time at Home Depot just goes to show that the community here in Pawleys is noticing the work being done to Miss Mary’s house. They know that Christian groups are coming in to serve. It’s so cool to see the impact it is having beyond just the four walls of the house.
Saturday was a short day at the work site, and our team actually split up for most of the morning. Everyone except for the food and water teams was at the work site while those two teams went shopping for this next weeks’ meals. After working in the morning and coming back together in the afternoon for lunch, our team showered and got ready to go out for some fun activities and dinner. We also hoped to find a Laundromat for all our dirty work clothes, but that plan fell through. (Luckily, there is two washer and dryers on the school campus where we are staying that we are able to use.) Our whole team enjoyed a competitive round of mini-golf before dinner. We broke up into four groups and competed against one another for the lowest average. The adults formed a group and came so close to winning, however, a group of two guys and two gals won out. Their reward was a box of Krispy Kreme donuts for Sunday morning breakfast. After our round of put-put, we enjoyed a great BBQ buffet restaurant. Saturday happened to be both Joe and Nicole’s and Robbie and his wife’s anniversary. Overall it was a great day to hang out as a team and have some fun.
Tomorrow we will be celebrating the Sabbath with a ton of rest to prepare for the week ahead. Please pray that we would take full advantage of this time. Pray that our focus would remain on our love for our Savior.
July 25th, 2013
Today, we witnessed a BIG miracle. But before I share that, let me catch up on yesterday as well.
Wednesday was a really great day for our team, so much so that we were rewarded with a trip to the beach and a pizza picnic. At the work site in the morning, we focused on projects and worked efficiently together, more so than previous days. Our students are finally beginning to master these difficult construction tasks that they have just learned like dry-walling, installing windows, installing flooring, and insulating. There has also been an increase in encouragement as we work throughout the day. At VBS in the afternoon, things were significantly smoother. The kids at Teach My People are more familiar to us now, so they respect our authority and are even excited to participate in our lesson and activities. Our team has done a great job stepping in and helping where needed. A great example of this was with our youngest group. Maggie and I were placed in charge of the youngest group of kids (1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders). They also happened to be the largest group. Monday was extremely overwhelming for us because we were unable to handle all twenty kids on our own. After evaluating VBS as a whole that night, the VBS leaders asked other team members to step in when they were free to help our class. On Wednesday, we saw the fruit of this re-evaluation and decision when we were actually able to have the kids sit long enough to teach the lesson on Noah. Even as our group traveled to other activities such as Recreation and Craft, our teammates stepped in to help engage with our rambunctious group.
Like I mentioned, we took a trip to the beach as a reward. It was so great to see our team enjoy each other’s company and just have fun in the sand and waves. After an hour there, we came back and enjoyed lots of pizza before going into our team time a little later than usual. The day as a whole began instilling oneness within our team. It will be exciting to see where God leads these friendships the rest of the trip.
Additionally on Wednesday, we had been praying frequently throughout the day for an electrician. Work teams would take breaks during the day, we prayed at meals, and we spent time in prayer at team time for God to provide us with an electrician. And there were actually two electricians that could potentially help us. The first was on vacation this week, but he said he might be able to work something out to come back early. The second had a dentist appointment early this morning and if things did not go well, he could be in surgery all morning. So we were praying hard for God to switch up some situations so that one of these men could make it to the work site. The rest of our work is dependent on first getting all the electrical work done, so in order to finish the house next week, we truly needed an electrician to come out today.
God provided, adding to a long list of miracles for this house this summer! We pulled into the work site this morning beside a brown pick-up truck, the pick-up truck that belonged to one of the electricians. By the time we arrived, he was already hard at work inside the house. Our team was overjoyed and praised our God throughout the rest of the day as we watched him finish the electrical side of things so we were able to do more projects within the house. We also later found out that this electrician was the one who had a dentist appointment this morning, only when he went in, and they said they were not ready for him. They were not ready for him this morning because our great God was ready for him to help our team this morning and serve Miss Mary and the Pawleys Island community. Thank you for all of your prayers as well! Our God is so good!
Today was also our last day of VBS, so you know what that means…WATER DAY! We had all the kids rotate through inside activities (including a messy craft where the kids made slime!), and then everyone went outside for some water fun. Like the rest of the week, organizing the kids was near impossible, so instead, our team went with the flow and had a huge water balloon fight with all 50 or so kids. It was an absolute blast! It was amazing to see how our relationships with these kids have developed over the past four days. As they attacked us with water balloons, and we chased them to retaliate, there was no doubt that we had fulfilled our purpose of showing them God’s love this week. The kids were filled with joy, and we were said to see them go.
God is truly moving in our team. We owe Him all the glory for our successes so far this week. We also praise Him for how He is moving our team into deeper relationships with one another. During every team time every night, we end with some encouragement using beads. There are four different colored beads: red representing leadership, blue representing risk-taking, green representing compassion, and white representing service. The students are encouraged to encourage one another by giving beads to one other person that day. They are supposed to verbally recognize something praiseworthy they are seeing in their teammate. It is not a time of light compliments and shallow recounts of something nice someone did that day. Instead, it is a recognition of the way God is working in someone’s heart. Our bead time tonight went to a depth that our team has not been at yet as students opened up and praised each other for the ways they are stepping out in faith. It was awesome to see our students truly loving each other as brothers and sisters. Please pray that this encouraging atmosphere would continue, and that relationships would continue to go to these depths as our students finish this trip with renewed excitement.
July 23rd, 2013
The stretching of our team is already evident. We are being forced to step out of our comfort zones and really do some hard work. Every single one of our work teams today was doing things they never imagined they would do. There was a floor team, lying down hardwood floors in a bedroom. There was a bathroom team working on demolition and reconstruction for our plumber to be able to come in and work. There was a window team who were our persevering champs! For most of the team, they have been working on the windows for the past two days, making every mistake in the book. Although they struggled, today they finally had the reward of completing their task and admiring the windows they had installed. (And there are still some left to do! Good thing they’re pros now!) Lastly, my team, we were the insulation/drywall team. Today, I learned how to cut and hang drywall, something I never thought I would be doing not to mention actually enjoying. After a few mistakes, we finally got the hang of things and can actually say that we’re excited to jump back into it tomorrow.
Please continue to be in prayer for our work site. The more and more we do, the more and more we see things that need to be done. In one word, it is overwhelming. Pray that we would have extreme focus and purpose as we step onto the site every day. Also, continue to pray that we would have an electrician willing to do all the electrical work!
VBS at Teach My People was a big improvement today. Although there was still craziness with the kids, our team had better communication. We are setting a greater purpose to stay faithful to loving the kids throughout our entire time there. Some of the kids are really warming up to us and softening as they interact with our team. Please pray that we all would have an extra dose of love to pour into these kids.
Every evening we have a group team time in which we evaluate the day and set action steps to improve the following day. For tomorrow, these are the things we are focusing on (Please use them as a guide to be praying for us): We are hoping to improve on effort. Our action step for this is to write “Be humble” on our arms to remind us throughout the day. We recognized Jesus’ attitude as humble, and we are hoping to emulate him by not focusing on ourselves during even moment of the day. The second area we are working on tomorrow is encouragement. Our action step for this improvement is thinking of the larger purpose and reminding each other of that. Lastly, we challenged our lunch prep team to improve the entire process of lunch; this includes setting out lunch items, cleaning them up, making sure enough food is packed for lunch, and emptying the cooler upon returning back from the work site. Their action step was simply dominating the job.
Please pray for us as we continue to stretch and grow!
July 21st, 2013
We made it! After two days of travel, we are shoved as comfortably as we can be into air conditioned trailers that typically act as classrooms.
After departing the church Saturday morning, we faced traffic once hitting northern Virginia, causing stress for an on-time arrival at our campsite. We stopped at some classic southern fast food joints (Firehouse Subs, Zaxbys…Joe and Nicole’s favorites). We arrived at the camp ground only one hour before the gates closed for the evening. We scrambled to set up tents before the sun went down and all the while we were being eaten alive by a variety of bugs. Our first big team challenged surfaced in the morning when we realized we had no matches to start the propane camping stoves. We were finally able to fashion a flame from the cigarette lighter of one of our vans. After a short while, we were able to enjoy fancy camping omelets in little baggies. We set out right before lunch to drive the final leg to the beach. There were a few frustrations along the way as we followed the lead of our student leaders (who had no idea where the place was we are staying). But after a late lunch at McDonalds, our team realized that we were simply across the street from where we needed to be. We actually arrived early to start off our weeks here with Robbie (the LeaderTreks guy) and Taylor (his intern).
Much of our conversations on the trip down and at our first few team times have focused on this question: What does a win look like for our team over the next two weeks? A lot of our students are expecting big things out of this trip. One of the repeating hopes is for deeper relationships with each other. Another popular hope was a closer relationship with God. Colsen cast a vision for our team that focused on loving one another by breaking down barriers between different groups within our group. Joe believes that a win for our team will be students who have open hearts to the ways God is working in their hearts and changing them.
Tomorrow starts our first day on the work site. This is where prayer comes in. Robbie has already begun talking to us about the house we are finishing this week. In his words, finishing this house over the next two weeks will take a miracle. Please be in prayer for us as we begin these long, hard days. There are going to be many obstacles that our team will be navigating this week. At this point, we are sure that we are going to finish this house; that is what we are setting out to do. We are beyond excited to put in the work both on the site and at VBS this week in order to love the people of Pawleys well. Pray that God is glorified in every minute of this trip!
July 19th, 2013
Less than 24 hours until our team leaves for Pawleys Island, South Carolina! Is that crazy or what?!? This trip has been in the works for quite some time now, ever since Joe took our team leaders (Kristen, Colsen, and Rebekah) to Chicago back in February for a training weekend. There, our student leaders dreamt big for this trip and began praying for the students who would join them and the people they would come in contact with in Pawleys. Even in this last week of preparations, our trio has been putting in the hours to get details in line. In fact, all of our students have been busy as they prepare to each lead in different aspects of the trip. Overall, our team is excited, even if it is a nervous excitement. For many of our students, this is their first big mission trip. On top of that, it is also many of theirs’ longest time spent away from home and family. Some of the nervousness is coming from not knowing what to expect from the work project and from the kids we will meet at VBS. Some also comes from the fact that Joe keeps telling us to wear the same work clothes every day! (Can’t you just hear all the girls cringing and screaming “yuck!” in unison??) One thing that we know for sure is that God is going to challenge us and stretch us in ways this week that we never would have expected. We are asking Him to show up big in our team this trip. Pray for us as we continue to grow closer and as we tackle this two-week adventure together!
Thanks to all of you who have been and are supporting us with both prayer and finances. Trips like this never happen without a lot of behind the scenes prayer sessions and fundraisers. We ask that you continue to pray for us as we travel tomorrow and spend the next two weeks serving the community in Pawleys Island. We will be posting updates, prayers and praises to this blog so be sure to check back!