Good Byes: July 25, SERVE Day 7

Today our routine has changed.  We get to sleep in a bit as breakfast is half an hour later.  There are some people who needed every minute of that half hour and it is a gift!

After breakfast and devos people begin packing up and getting ready for the final worship.  Parents/families and friends were invited to participate.

Today’s worship was a reminder that we can’t keep this SERVE experience to ourselves, we are called to share it with others.  In order to do that we must leave– we need to “Publish” our story and bring it to our families and friends, our churches and our neighbourhoods.  We need to leave. But the leaving is hard and it is sad.  We have made friends, we have shared stories, we have lived and played together.  Laughter and tears and we had both in worship.

After our service it was time for small groups and then lunch together.  During lunch, you could feel how difficult it was for some to say good bye.

I apologize for not having the pictures— I neglected to copy them to my computer before leaving (yes, exhaustion is setting in)– but the picture that I have in my mind is the group hug picture.  The picture of a group that has gelled, that has connected and has broken through many barriers together.

Before I close this day I want to share some “warm fuzzies” that have not made it into mailboxes:

Participants:  Donovan, Jeff, Matthew, Breana, Ryan, Riley, Dan, Kayla, Amanda,Kayla, Kim, Roger, Kyle:  You have been great teachers this week.  You have shared your heart and helped many of us to share ours.  You have been examples of enthusiasm, and encouragement.  You have helped us to laugh and shown us beauty in many little things.  We will miss you and hope that we can connect again!

Mentors:  Mike, Ashley, Dan, Jessica, April, Amber, Spencer, Heather, Jaydon:  It has been an honor and a joy to be a part of your journey.  Your openness to one another, your willingness to go beyond yourselves and your honest reflections have been inspiring.  The moments spent sharing how God is working in you is incredible and we will continue to pray for you.

Our Host Team:

Jenny:  The delicious food, the cheerful serving and the many words of encouragement were/are a tremendous gift to all who have served with you this past week.  Thank you for each ‘morsel’!

Gerry:  The schedules, the ‘missing pieces’ and the hours spent joining in are so appreciated.  Thanks for catching the vision and casting it further.

Don:  Thank you for giving of yourself this week.  For giving up sleep and for joining in where needed.  Thank you for sharing your gifts of administration and supporting SERVE!

Marv:  It has been fun getting to know you through this project.  Thank you for organizing the work sites and taking the time to get to know our team.  Thank you for the motorcycle rides and the willingness to get on board with SERVE!

Carla:  Thank you for being you– for all of the fun and creativity you brought to SERVE–whether driving with Hugh B. or staying up late– for all of the work you put into small groups and the countless little details that you helped with.  You are so appreciated!

Jonathan/Jeremy/Katie:  Thank you for coming on board and helping to build community through fun activities and silliness.  It was great to get to know each of you a bit more throughout this week and to witness you giving of your time — thank you for using your gifts to be a blessing to those around you.

Ken:  You have been an encourager and a supporter of SERVE.  Thank you for your many words— your devotionals were such a wonderful way to start each day.

Bonita:  Yes, we consider you a member of our team.  Thank you for being a part of the vision and although you were unable to be a part of it in person, you sure were here in spirit!

There are so many pictures and so many memories.  It’s hard to process all that has happened.   Amazing to be a part of and we pray that it will “BE” again.

Dancing and Movie: July 24: SERVE Day 6

Well there were not any pranks through the night!  Today some people woke up with a sense of sadness…today is the last day of work, we go home tomorrow.  It is important for us to enjoy the different parts of today and there are many!

We begin with work:

 Jeff and Amanda painting and Kim, Jaydon and Roger sorting potatoes… just two glimpses of another productive day.

Today after work we headed back for lunch and small groups and then some “down time”.  It was much needed.  We have kept a very busy schedule and the break was welcomed by many.  During this time some people had motorcycle rides, some did their nails, some practiced for a talent show.  It was relaxing and fun to be free to visit and chat.

Showers were a big hit once again, and many people dressed up in preparation for our banquet.

We had an amazing dinner— mashed potatoes, beef, veggies, salad and brownie with ice-cream.  YUM!

After dinner, everyone moved into the fireside room.  This cozy atmosphere was just the setting needed for a talent show.  Different people had signed up and rehearsed.

Steve and Andy (AKA Jonathan and Jeremy) came from afar to host tonight’s show!

There were many acts.  Here April and Kayla share their musical talents.

Roger keeps the beat.

As we moved from fireside to sanctuary we were welcomed by the praise team, and worship began.  Kyle does a great job of playing with the team.

Tonight’s Headline of the Day was entitled “You’ve Got Mail”  Here Jessica, Breana, Spencer, Matthew and Ryan are trying to figure out who is sending all of the mail.

Tonight worship was all about Surrender.  Surrender means giving up– giving up trying to “BE” all of these things on our own– acknowledging that we can’t Be holy, free, transformed by our own efforts.  When we try, even our best, is like filthy rags.  We took time to bring our own efforts and surrender them to God– to give him the control by letting go of the control ourselves.
Here Breana ,Jessica and Matthew spend time at the cross.  As each person left they were assured that Jesus makes them brand new.

 What a beautiful picture and what a beautiful reminder.  
After worship we moved into the fellowship hall where Lawson led us in line dancing.

 Toe-tapping instructions leads to lines…..

 Lots of fun was had by all.

You would think that after all of this activity people would be tired… well this person is and yet the fun continues.  As the dancing goes on, there is a large inflatable movie screen that arrived and was inflated behind the church.  We invited the neighbourhood to a viewing of “The Adventures of TinTin”… free popcorn, free juice, free movie— lots of fun.
It is a late night and everyone is having so much fun– but everyone is aware that tomorrow is the last day.

Pranks: July 23, SERVE Day 5

This morning began like many of the others– I try to get coffee before others get up! I tend to do some rounds through the church and also clean up the sanctuary a bit as I focus on what the day will hold.  Today, as I went in I noticed something quite peculiar;  Spencer was sleeping in the sanctuary….on top of a collapsed table!  Perhaps his room was noisy?  Maybe a bit too warm?  The answers came at breakfast.

Apparently a group decided to pull quite the elaborate prank that included the following steps:

1.  Make dummies in their sleeping bags so that they could hide and wait for Spencer to fall asleep… patience– amazing patience!

2.  Bring in table to lie on floor– they wanted to use it like a stretcher.

3.  Move Spencer gently and slowly on to table– he eventually rolled right on.

4.  Carry him out.

They did get stuck in a doorway and dropped him slightly.  The noise alerted the night hawk who then helped in a way.  Others woke up and joined in so that Spencer could be transported, asleep, to another location.

Breakfast was a time of giggles and stories as the pranksters told their stories.

After breakfast it was time once again to head off to work.

Another group in ‘vests’ in cleaning up the Downtown Biz!

A building project– a covered sandbox with a roof.  Swinging hammers and lots of fun!

 Roger loved going to work!

 Almost finished.

 Planting fun.  Kyle enjoys getting right in there.

 So does Amanda.

 Winnipeg Harvest was another site– and the group had fun assembling emergency supply bags.

 When the work groups returned they found out something a bit distressing– the kitchen staff had gone on strike and the doors to the gym were closed.

Here the group is coming up with a plan to apologize for their pranks and get back on the good side of Jenny and her team.

It was a song of appreciation and love and well…Jenny and team welcomed them in right away.

During lunch we discovered that we had another prankster in our group.  Amanda had been questioning and asking how to pull a prank on Amber.  Before lunch was complete, she had a team and a plan.

Right after lunch it was time for small groups.  Today the groups studied what it means to “Be Transformed”.  One of the activities was to take yesterday’s news and change it and make it something else.  It was neat to see the different personalities of the different groups coming through.

Once again it was shower time.  Amanda decided she needed to stay at church…. and the pranking started again.

While Amber was away, Amanda’s team hid all of her things and all of Amber’s things… and Amanda as well.  There was no trace of her in the building….so we did what any responsible leaders would do…we launched a full investigation!

Amanda was found… before bowling, but not before a missing person’s report had been filed.

 Amber’s things did not get found before bowling….I wonder why?

 Dan– excited for bowling.

 Highlighters were the highlight as many decorated themselves so that they would have glow messages.

 Praise and worship is a big part of SERVE.  Here is Emmy Lou and her team leading us… they did a great job!

 Today, Kayla helped highlight a part of scripture:  Be transformed…..

 It was time to call in our ‘Transforming’ reporter, Riley– to show how different things in nature are transformed.  Coal=diamonds, caterpillar=butterfly, seed=flower, sand=pearl… so wonderful to see transformation all around us.

 Donovan helped us ‘make cents’ of what transformation means… to be completely changed!

After worship, we went outside.  Hank, a member of CCRC, was leading in group water and egg games.  So much fun!

 Some of us were feeling tired and chose to watch the fun from the sidelines.

 Others found themselves right in the middle.

We wrapped up our evening with snack and then we were surprised by a visit from a local peace officer who had been informed of all of the “trouble” at this SERVE site.

Amber was charged with mentor negligence for losing Amanda.

She took it well– the cuffs are real and apparently this is a bit nerve wracking for her. 

But there were other charges as well–Amanda was charged with shenanigans and then we discovered that this officer was also spending the night with us as our Night Hawk… yikes!  Whose door should he be posted at?

So ends another fun day of SERVE.  The nights are getting shorter…..

Work: July 22: SERVE Day 4

Today there was a sense of excitement in the air at breakfast.  Not only were there pancakes and really big sausages, but we were getting ready to go to work!  Each small group headed to a different location.  This is an important part of SERVE– volunteering and blessing the local community– sharing gifts and talents that God has blessed us with– learning the joy that comes from SERVE-ing.
Here a group is learning about the “behind the scenes” work that happens at Bibles for Missions.  Donovan, Jeremy, Dan and Riley– Serving and having fun together.

Another group donned vests to clean up downtown Winnipeg at “The Biz”.  

 The MCC Thrift Store…..


We worked until noon and then headed back to church for a wonderful, delicious meal.  After lunch it was time for small groups.  Today the team is investigating what it means to “Be Free”.  They spent some time going through the Winnipeg Free Press in search of what the world says is “popular”.  It was neat to see how the small groups are becoming mini communities– supporting and working together.

Following small groups many people were excited to see that showers were on the schedule!  We are so blessed by our neighbours at Cornerstone who let us use their showers.

We showered so that we would be fresh and clean for our fellowship activity of the day:  Mini Golf at U-Putz.

Kyle, Jeff, Mike and Mike– had a fun time together.

 Matthew, Riley, Ryan and Spencer–enthusiastic team mates.

 Kayla, Breana, Jessica and April– keeping score and having fun!

 Kim, Dan, Jeremy and Ashley– loud and fun!

Amanda, Amber, Heather, Kayla and Carla– “Time sure flies when you’re having fun!”.

The church smelled so good when we came in– supper was ready and we were hungry and ready to eat.

Once again we transitioned from supper to worship– here Dan and Dono are part of a commercial.

Our sports broadcast was brought to us by Ryan– a report on fishing– he later interviewed an expert on the subject:  Dan, who explained in detail the use of a lure to snag the unsuspecting fish.  Much like how we are tempted by the ways of the world– it looks harmless but we can soon find ourselves ensnared and trapped.

 The word of the day was “FREE”– when we are In Christ– we are FREE.

After worship, the evening activities included BANANARAMA-  Everyone met on the lawn and assembled into their groups.  Here Dan, Riley, Trevor and Heather are patiently awaiting instructions– what WILL they do with their banana?

 The groups discovered that they were to use the banana as part of a scene/sculpture.  They could do anything they wanted to it and could include any found nature items as well.

Amanda, Jeff and team are planning their project.

 Kayla and April’s team seem to have a plan…..

 What is this team up to?

 One of the finished creations… a flower garden with a banana soil– they are hopeful that their creation will win.

 But wait— more instructions follow and teams discover that there is another step.  Each group must put their banana back together again– they may use toothpicks to help keep it together.

Trevor’s team must perform major surgery– they had turned their banana into spaghetti and shredded the peel!

Teams finished and were quite proud of themselves only to discover that the banana must now survive the drop test– Jeremy is the ‘drop judge’. 

Totally messy– lots of fun!

Here is a picture that sums up SERVE well– team work and support.  Amanda wanted to join the hockey game– without hesitation, several people jumped into action– adapting and problem solving (and lots of duct tape)—together this group plays and cheers and includes one another.    

Good night…. so excited for what tomorrow holds.

Commissioning: July 21, SERVE Day 3

This morning we began with a wonderful breakfast provided by the Men of Breakfast.  So thankful for John and Jake and their early morning volunteering to ensure that each SERVE day starts off with a good meal!

After breakfast, it was time to have devotions.  Pairs/groups are encouraged to find a quiet place in the church where they can take some time to concentrate on the devotional.  Really is a neat picture.

The focus this morning was worship.  Here is the worship team– Emmy Lou, Gerry, Roger, Kyle and Wil (Katie and Elaine were part too, but not pictured here).

 Our service began at 10:00 and was our commissioning– the sending out to be Christ’s hands and feet.  Covenant was also commissioning a team that will be leaving on Saturday to serve in Chicago– what a beautiful picture of unity to commission both of these teams together.

 We closed by forming a picture of unity by joining hands and blessing each other with “My Friends, May you Grow in Grace”

 Afterwards we assembled at the front of church so that we could have a group photo with all of us.

 Sunday lunch was a time for us to gather with our prayer partners.  Prayer is vital to a project like SERVE and this lunch was an opportunity for many to meet with those who were praying for them.

After lunch, we all piled into the Calvin Christian School bus and headed to the Zoo.  We were excited to see all of the different animals– but the bus ride was a highlight for many.

I know it’s a sideways picture, but you can see that Roger enjoyed the ride!

 Once at the Zoo we split up to allow people to see the animals that they wanted.  You can see that Heather and Kayla enjoyed spending the day together.

Sometimes we would bump into others from our group– it was fun to see the blue shirts.  Here Jonathan, Kyle, Amber and Amanda are on a definite mission.

More blue shirts– exploring the Australian Walk-About.

After the Zoo– it was time for small groups.  As a SERVE site, we have accepted the challenge to identify 1000 gifts of grace– realizing that in our busyness we often overlook and take for granted many blessings.  This week as we “Just Be”, we hope to open our eyes to the many gifts that are ours each day. 

 The supper team fed us another superb and delicious meal.  So delicious and so thankful for all of the wonderful volunteers who are taking care of so many things for us.

Speaking of volunteers, Harm and Mark make sure that the sound is balanced and the power point runs smoothly.  Thanks guys!

Every evening we step into the BTV studio where we go to ‘air’ and continue our investigation of our big assignment “Just Be”.  This morning during the church service, we learned that we must “Just Be….In Christ”.  Tonight’s broadcast is all about Be Holy.

Each small group plays a part of the evening worship service:  Welcome, Headline of the Day, Commercial, Closing station announcements.  Here Breana and Kyle are sharing their group’s headline.

Can we be partly Holy?  We used a special BTV milkshake recipe…that included a grasshopper.  Matthew and Kim found out that it is impossible to be partly Holy– it is all or nothing!

 We also learned that we can not make ourselves Holy– so wonderful to see how eager people are to participate.  Here Amanda and Hugh B. (our SERVE mascot) participate in a worship demonstration.
This evening included a bit of running, some laughing, lots of visiting, and snacks.  What a great day was had at SERVE!

Breaking News Update!

It hardly seems fair to write about all of our wonderful mentors and participants without giving you a glimpse of who they are– there are many others who have been a part of SERVE 2013, but I thought I’d start with these guys

 Ashley: Bubbly, energetic and sensitive to the needs of others.

 Donovan:  Deep thinking, listens to others and ready to help.

 Riley:  Eager, fun loving and full of drama and flare.

 Heather:  Quiet, gentle and patient with those around her.

 Kim:  Determined, independent and loves being in the middle of activity.

 Rodger:  Excited, energetic and thoughtful–loves to keep the ‘beat’.

 Jaydon:  Keen, curious and a dependable team mate.

 Kayla:  Infectious laugh, forthright and empathetic towards others.

 Dan:  Musical, hard working and an enthusiastic participant during activities.

April:  Contemplative, positive and encouraging towards her teammates.

 Breana:   Sensitive, humble and willing to try new things.

 Ryan:  Curious, energetic and a real “team player”.

 Spencer:  Adventurous, fun loving and respectful of others.

 Matthew:  Joy-filled, enthusiastic and excited to be with friends.

 Jessica:  Helpful, aware of others needs and brings out the joy in others.

 Jeff:  Thoughtful, diligent and excited to grow and learn.

 Kyle:  Strong, musical and loves to play tricks on his friends.

 Mike:  Dependable, trustworthy and gets along with all of his team mates.

 Amanda:  Happy, inquisitive and has a GREAT sense of humour.

Amber: Loves to laugh, supportive and enjoys helping others have fun.

Kayla:  Laughs a lot, loves to be close to friends and sensitive to the needs of others.

What an amazing group of youth/young adults  who shared life during SERVE 2013.  So many funny stories — pictures of learning, pranks and tender moments.  I am honoured to be able to connect with them and am so proud of who they are.  Blessed.

Arrival: July 20— SERVE Day 2

It is late and as I look back on today it is amazing how many things have happened.  We began our day with breakfast together– important to note because the food is such a huge piece.

After breakfast it was time to begin our orientation.  It is important to spend time as a team going over all of the different facets/pieces of what this SERVE week has.  I was so impressed by how focused and attentive our group of mentors is.  It is a lot of information to process at once:  What is the vision of SERVE?….What is the role of a mentor?….What is expected of me?….Who is coming to SERVE and what do I need to know?….What are the rules?…

At the end of our session a mentor challenge was issued.  Each mentor was asked to write their own covenant– a commitment that they were making for the week.  Interesting and amazing to see these youth rise and accept a challenge that many shy away from.  Certainly shatters a stereotype!  I have saved their different goals that they have written for themselves and we will look back and reflect on them on Thursday.

After orientation– we ate lunch and then worked hard to set up the church!

Amber and Jessica used their creative gifts to start working on our BTV set– amazing!

 Heather helped in many ways– here she is folding and sorting the ‘Daily News’!

 This was a fun group to watch— Jaydon, Mike and Mike had an interesting approach to building a coat rack.  The end product was a success– the process, well…….

 Spencer and Gerry– improvising and building a backdrop–

There are others who were busy in other areas and it was amazing to have everything fall into place and ready to go for the arrival of our participants– additional thanks to April, Ashley,Dan, and Carla who must have been too quick for the camera to capture.

When it was finished– I could move into my new office!

Soon the foyer was a bustle of activity as people began arriving– suitcases, air mattresses and lots of greetings and good byes.

The focus of today was on getting to know each other.  Interviews and photo booth as well as an interesting photo journalism assignment given to small groups.  The small groups met and began their assignments.

This week we are investigative reporters, studying and trying to ‘break’ the next big story:  JUST BE.  Small group materials and devotions are all set up as a newspaper and everyone eagerly began their assignments.

After a delicious dinner we got ready for worship— live from the studios of BTV– our broadcasting station.

I will be adding additional photos tomorrow (let’s call it a breaking news update)– photos that show you the small groups and worship fun.

Gathering for worship is always a highlight– the enthusiasm and openness always strikes me– such a beautiful picture and so much fun to be a part of.

Worship tonight had the team sign up for a special assignment, identify the most reliable source– a source of truth– God’s word.

For our evening activities we broke into groups and delivered flyers to the surrounding neighbourhood– we’re inviting them to an outdoor movie on Wednesday night.

Most people settled into their rooms and were eager for sleep.

I asked the mentors for a reflection on the day and here are their closing comments/thoughts– sticking with our theme, some have put them as headlines:

“Mentor realizes that great friend will be made.”

“Small group coordinator is shocked by productivity”

“Mentor happy to meet new people”

“Jubilation at Covenant”

“Friendship is easy to build”

“Small group was really fun– it is so much fun to hang out:

“Really glad I’m a mentor”

“Mentor impressed by how fast community is formed”

Tomorrow is a day that we gather for worship— be commissioned and meet our prayer partners.

Updates will be given… g’night.