God can use anyone, even the least likely!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

This morning during Small Group we were tasked by Squire April to dress for the desert… as you can see by the picture where Kyle dressed Mike, some people felt this meant going to the beach!

However, we learned that the unlikely things (umbrella, closed shoes, long sleeves) were actually the best for the desert.

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Just like these articles of clothing seemed unlikely but really were perfect, God sometimes uses unlikely people to do great things for Him in this world.  He can use any of us, no matter our age, appearance, gender, or challenges.

After more time at work sites and a great lunch, we got to go to the bowling alley!

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We have some great bowlers in our group!


Since it’s the last night of SERVE, the kitchen volunteers put on a great feast for us and we enjoyed a banquet together.  Everyone dressed to impress and enjoyed this medieval meal (without cutlery for authenticity!).

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After the meal, the Jesters taught us a medieval dance that tested our coordination.

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Coordination testing didn’t end with the dance!  To finish the night, we had a talent show where people could showcase their many gifts and abilities.  We had everything from comedy to dance to singing to piano playing and even a traditional pow wow dance!

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All together, here are the judges’ (the Jesters) comments:


It’s sad seeing the week coming to an end.  We’ve made such great friends and done such great things!


Tuesday – Knights take care of God’s earth!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Today’s theme was about being good stewards of what God has given us — such as His creation.  We continued to work hard at the work-sites, many including acts to take care of God’s creation, whether it be in gardens or helping people.  Much of it was hard work, but we still had a really great time doing good things and continuing to grow in friendship.

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The hard work wasn’t done after returning to Covenant Castle after job sites.  Lunch time brought a different sort of hard work!  We were visited by a monk who had taken a vow of silence and encouraged the group to join for lunch time.  If someone were to break their lunch-time vow of silence, there were penalties!  Needless to say, some people (*cough*Shellie*cough*) had a very hard time with this, and ended up losing all their utensils and even the table!

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Thank goodness the vow of silence was only for lunch!  I don’t think very many people would have made it for very long 😉


During small groups, we carried on with our theme of taking care of the earth and even made art from recycled materials.  These guys made beautiful flowers out of “junk”!





The day wasn’t all hard work though.  In the afternoon, we had a blast at Grand Prix, featuring go-karts, bumper boats and cars, batting cages, mini-golf and other fun games.

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There were even games where we got to soak each other, which was good — it was a pretty hot day!

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Back at Covenant Castle, Sir Shellie reminded us about what we’d learned during the day about taking care of God’s creation.  This is also something that isn’t for one week of the year; it’s something we need to remember for the OTHER 51 as well.






The night wrapped up with the Jesters leading us in an assortment of games that you might find at a medeival faire, such as bobbing for apples, shot-put, bocce-ball, and of course jousting (we used rolling chairs, pool noodles, and eggs… close enough, right?)

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What a great day….even if we do have to scrub the gym floor now 😉

Monday – Let the SERVE-ing begin!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Today began our time at work sites.  We were all eager to see how we were going to be put to work!  Job sites varied from spreading gravel, to gardening, to making snack bags for inner-city kids on their way to camp for the week.
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After working hard in the morning and coming back to a great lunch, we left Covenant Castle to go laser tagging!  However, not before putting Kyle in the dungeon:


During the evening service, we learned about the labels that God puts on us, versus the labels the world often does and how God’s labels are TRUE!   We are all God’s masterpieces, created in His image, and fearfully and wonderfully made!  What great news for all of us!

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After all of the hard work this morning and running around at laser tag, many of us were tired and hot.  Good thing the Jesters had some water games in store for us!

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Squire April, her trusty steed, and Skullery-Maid Bonita also had some shenanigans up their sleeves.  They challenged some guys in the church parking lot to a game of basketball!  Needless to say, the guys were very surprised (especially when they found out that their opponents were good!  Okay.. maybe not the horse…)

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Sunday – a day of sending

What a great feeling to be part of a church community!  This morning we spend worshiping and serving alongside Covenant Church.  Several people of the SERVE team volunteered in various ways, such as handing out bulletins, greeting at the door, serving coffee, playing with the worship team, and teaching children’s sunday school.

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Shellie spoke about our theme and how SERVE is a great opportunity to follow God’s call on us to serve others, but how it doesn’t just end there – there’s the whole “Other 51” weeks of the year!  The church then prayed for the team and our work as we SERVE others and learn more about following God.


The afternoon was spent learning about Manitoba’s history at Lower Fort Garry.  We got to see the sights, tour the buildings, and even touch real animal pelts!














At the end of the guided tour, Shellie determined that Ryan and Riley needed some “jail time” for their shenanigans while the rest of us went and hid around the fort.  They they had to find us 🙂  A lot of laughs and good times were had!








We had a great time and in the group picture we’re showing “5” and “1” with our hands to show the theme: The Other 51





During Sunday evening, we spent more time as “Knights-in-Training”.  Sir Shellie talked to us about what we fill our time with, and how worshiping and serving God should be part of all aspects of our lives.

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We’ve also been learning a fun new song called “Stand Together” (Click here to hear the song and see the actions).  Good thing we had the guys helping lead us tonight!  We hear Mike really likes leading actions 😉IMG_6813

After our training time, the Jesters once again led us in a crazy game!  Tonight was an epic battle of gold smuggling and sword fighting!


We can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!


And we’re off!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

After weeks of planning, organizing, networking, meetings, costume collecting, and doing goofy things like making giant feather pens, the day we’ve been waiting for has come and everyone is now safely in Covenant Castle!

Participants IMG_6523were greeted by seeing their name drawn and decorated by their mentor.  Each mentor took some time to read about interests of their partner and decorated their name to match!

The theme for this year is “The Other 51”, recognizing that one week of service for God is great, but what really matters is what we do with the other 51 weeks of the year!

For Special Needs SERVE, we’ve taken the theme one step further to make it a little more fun and interactive.  This year is Kingdom Quest: The Journey to Knighthood.  We’re all on a quest to SERVE our King (God!) more and more, and so this week, we are all “knights-in-training”.

Saturday afternoon was filled with several stations of medieval-themed activities and crafts.

Many had fun at our photo-booth:

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Jesse and Jaydon showing us what real knights look like.


Ryan and Riley getting themselves into “trouble” 😉

Meanwhile, inside the Grand Hall (gym), people were busy making all sorts of medieval themed crafts:


Brent, Donovan, Shawn, and Michael making mini-catapults.


Kerstin and Roxanne turning their regular pens into feather quills


Making medieval satchels! Theses were a little tricky, so teamwork was key!

Saturday evening’s worship service further introduced the theme of Journeying to Knighthood from Sir Shellie, but only after receiving instructions from Squire April and her trusty steed:


We almost had some technical difficulties (medieval times weren’t as advanced as now!), but good thing we had help getting the wifi signal:


The night closed with fun and games, provided by the “jesters”:

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We’re excited to see what the rest of the week brings and the new friends that will be made.


Mentors….Let the Training Begin!

SN SERVE is dependent on youth who are willing to give of their time, energy, enthusiasm to support peers who live with disabilities throughout the SERVE week.

We are so thankful for these youth/young adults and begin our time at SERVE with a day dedicated to building relationships with them.  This is code for FUN DAY.  Really, it is important for community building to develop shared stories– things that we can recall together and just laugh and talk about.  It’s also important to have these youth begin to problem solve and work together as throughout the week they will need to support, encourage and build one another up.

This year we decided to take the mentors on a self-guided tour of Winnipeg.  We provided them with an  iPhone App that was loaded with a photo scavenger hunt.  They were divided into teams and “released” into downtown Winnipeg.  So much fun… so many inside jokes… and only a couple of tense (to laugh at later) moments.  This is an amazing group of giving and gifted young people.  I am already so proud of them!  Enjoy the pictures that document their journey…. and see the day through their “eyes”.  These are some of the submissions we received for the Mentor Mania challenge.

Bookworm  Meet Team #1:   Shawn, Leah and Mike…  It was so much fun to see the photos come in from this group.  Knowing a bit of their personalities it was amazing to see photos that document proof of going outside of their comfort zone in different ways.  We spent a long time laughing at the stories that they returned with as their adventures definitely had some unexpected twists and turns.



Mike H. is a member of Covenant Christian Reformed Church.  This is his third year attending SN SERVE.  We are thankful for his ability to connect with participants and build relationships as well as his athletic gifts.  This week you may find him leaping over couches, playing basketball in the gym or leading quietly the participants that he is partnered with.  Although he doesn’t enjoy stepping into the limelight, his commitment to mentoring is most evident when it puts him in a position that requires him to SERVE outside of his comfort zone.  Thank you for being such a positive mentor and for being so willing to connect with others!




12Zorba   Leah D. comes to SN SERVE from Bethlehem CRC in Thunder Bay.  This is her second year attending SN SERVE.  Leah is very outgoing and VERY competitive.  We are thankful for her ability to laugh and find humour in so many different situations.  This week you will find Leah “hanging out with friends”, earning points for her team by participating in any intense game she can as well as quietly reflecting and listening with her participant.  Thank you Leah for your willingness to learn selflessness this week.





21DancingFountain  Shawn D. comes to SN SERVE from Edson AB.  This is his second year attending SN SERVE.  Shawn is quiet and sensitive to the needs of others around him.  He enjoys having fun and is a great support to his participant.  This week you will find Shawn working hard and having fun alongside his participant.  We are thankful for Shawn’s willingness to be a mentor and for the gifts that are growing in him as he SERVEs.






5PathofTime FollowTheLeader  This team has many stories to tell from their day, if you know them…. ask them about their time at the bank or the un-mapped train museum tour.  Thanks guys for the wonderful laughs!







9HistoricRailBridge   Team #2:  Kerstin, Jaydon, Katie and Brent.   This team demonstrated a commitment to working together right from the beginning.  Ensuring that they kept everyone involved and having fun, it was amazing to see their team in action.  In reviewing their photos it is wonderful to see how many included everyone…. way to go!







10ThePrairieGarden  Kerstin D. comes to SN SERVE from Edson, AB.  This is her second year participating as a mentor.  We are thankful for her leadership skills and her ability to adapt to so many different situations.  This week you may find Kerstin playing basketball in the gym or quietly supporting a friend.  She also LOVES group games and challenges and has assured us that although she may be up to willy-nilly, there will definitely not be hocus-pocus.  Ask her sometime, but beware— discovering what that means may induce a head ache!


15BridgeBuddies  Jaydon L. comes to SN SERVE from Covenant Christian Reformed Church.  This is his third year participating as a mentor.  We are thankful for Jaydon’s love of community and his willingness to jump in.  This week you may find Jaydon laughing with his groupmates or running to catch up with his participant.  Thank you Jaydon, for growing your gifts of leadership and committing to this week.



3StopandSmelltheFlowers  Katie VB comes to SN SERVE from Covenant Christian Reformed Church.  This is her first year participating as a mentor.  We are thankful for Katie’s sensitive heart and her ability to notice so many things about the people that she is surrounded by.  This week you will find Katie laughing with friends, worshiping with peers and (because of who she is partnered with) probably plotting some pranks.






8SpiritWithin  Brent P. comes to SN SERVE from Bronx Park Church.  This is his first year participating in SERVE.  He has a desire to follow God’s leading and further develop his gifts and love of ministry.  We are thankful for Brent’s commitment to challenge himself and his willingness to go beyond his comfort zone and give things a try.




ConferenceCall 24MoneyMoneyMoney  Team #3  Allyson, Emma and Lucas

This team was fun to “follow” through their photos.  They worked together and it was evident that they were getting to know one another, having fun together and making sure that everyone was part of this journey.






3StopandSmelltheFlowers  Lucas D. comes to SN SERVE from Surrey BC.  This is his second year participating as a mentor and we are so glad that he is part of our team.  Lucas is quiet, watchful and sensitive and enjoys the social aspects of SERVE.  This week you will find Lucas capturing many moments of SERVE through his camera, quietly leading and quite possibly staying up late into the night (it has been noted that he finds other ways to catch up on his sleep!).  I am so thankful for his willingness to give his all– even when it is hard.






25BackattheBus Emma B. comes to SN SERVE from Hope Centre Ministries.  This is her first year participating as a mentor.  Emma has a very cheerful nature and loves laughing and being around lots of people.  This week you will find Emma smiling and encouraging others around her as she further develops her gifts of leadership.  We are thankful for her kind heart and the gentleness that she has and brings to so many of the unique challenges of SERVE.






21DancingFountain  Allyson D. comes to SN SERVE from Edson, AB.  This is her second year participating in SERVE as a mentor.  Allyson is very conscientious and supportive of others around her.  This week you will find Allyson learning to communicate in new ways,  laughing with friends and working hard to do her job well.  We are thankful for her attention to detail and her quiet servant heart.







After the scavenger hunt, it was time to return to church for a BBQ and some hang out time.  We were deep but not profound and confused by some black magic (a game of frustrating proportions… until you discover the trick).  There was visiting and basketball.  Loved the relax feel of the evening and the community that was very quickly developing.    We took time to enjoy a shower and then met for some photo judging and many laughs.  We closed the day with some devotions on mentoring and a prayer for God to prepare us, calm us and use us in the upcoming week.

The girls decided to move into the sanctuary for a group sleepover…. can’t wait to see what tomorrow holds!

SERVE 2015… Getting Ready

SERVE Winnipeg has been spending many months getting ready for the upcoming week!

We are thankful for the many people who contribute in a variety of ways.  Slowly, Covenant Christian Reformed Church is being transformed into Covenant Castle.  The decorations/props are being transported, the various curriculum for small group materials and devotions are being printed and the welcome bags with activities to foster relationship building are prepped.  At this point we realize how important the little details are.  Before we begin we want to take a moment to acknowledge who has been working behind the scenes and in what ways.  (Pictures will be added shortly).

Michelle:  Michelle has spent the last few weeks gathering props and organizing fellowship activities and the devotional routines.  Throughout the week of SERVE she will be found in the Armory each morning as she helps each mentor/participant receive their daily devotional and then add to their “Armor of God”.  We are very thankful for her creativity and amazing sewing skills!

Carol:  This year Carol prepared our Devotionals– they are all based on the Armor of God and will help the Knights and their Squires (mentors) ‘dress for work’ each day.  Thank you for taking the time to shape this piece Carol.  If you want to read a sample devotional, you can do so  HERE.

April:  April has been spending most of her preparation time leading up to SERVE preparing and organizing the small group material.  There are a lot of details to look out for and we are so excited see the small groups in action.  Throughout the week of SERVE you will find April all over Covenant Castle as she helps mentors/participant find and complete various training tasks.  We are so thankful for her speed/agility and attention to thousands of details!  If you want to read a sample of the small group material you can do so HERE

Don:  Don has spent many hours gathering and organizing important information from each participant.  He has also served as a contact for people with questions and has organized volunteers who are willing to keep watch over the castle throughout the night.  Thank you Don, because of your hard work we are able sleep!

Gerry:  Gerry is our appointed details guy.  He takes all of the categories and creates wonderfully colour-coded spreadsheets that keep us on track and point out where we need to focus our attention.  He has also been a big part of organizing work sites and ensuring that each team has what they need in order to have a successful time of serving in the community.  We are also blessed to have Gerry attend the various fellowship activities and make sure that everything is paid for.  Thank you Gerry, for all you are giving this week!

Shellie:  Shellie has spent most of her time organizing the theme material and prepping for the worship part of SERVE.  Having fun in worship and seeing youth grow in their understanding of God as well as learning to serve him in new ways and every day ways is something that she is passionate about and hopes to share throughout the speaking portions of evening worship.

Bonita:  Bonita is our resident Chef and has spent many hours planning menus and shopping for ingredients to put together the sustaining meals that will feed the masses of the Castle.  Thank you Bonita for your amazing servant heart and delicious food!

Judy:  Judy is our worship leader for the week.  She has taken time to organize all of the music for the week and assembled a team of musicians who are going to be leading us each evening.  Thank you so much for helping to shape such a central part of SERVE.

Lisa:  Lisa has taken time to research, plan and book various fellowship activities.  Having fun together is a very important part of the SERVE experience as it builds relationships and strengthens community.  Thank you Lisa for contributing in this way….. (she is also part of the evening praise time!)

Alyce:  Alyce is our prayer warrior and has spent time leading up to SERVE to ensure that this week is bathed in prayer.  She has connected all participants/mentors and team members with a person who has committed to pray specifically throughout the week.  Thank you Alyce, for supporting us in such a vital way!

Helena:  Helena has leant support to the organizing of some of the work sites through connecting with community places and enlisting volunteer drivers.  We are thankful for your contributions as you have helped build the serving piece of SERVE!

Emma:  Emma has spent preparation time for SERVE planning the encouragement treasury.  You will get to know Emma more through the pictures that come in the following days as she is also a mentor this year.

Jesters:  Jonathan, Jeremy, Katie, Trevor, Spencer, Josh:  This team will be ensuring that each evening is filled with fun and fellowship.  They are bringing an element of excitement and silliness with energy that is such a gift to those of us who are feeling drained by 8:00pm.  You are invited to stop by and see this in action, but we will be sure to document the fun and share pictures as well!