Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Youth Experience

What do you get when you have a Connie who is so confident in her stellar sense of direction that she doesn't print out a map to get to a friend's house where she has gone at least a half-dozen times before? You get a Connie who is 45 minutes late to an event that she is in charge of, and you fully appreciate the need for a GPS.

I couldn't take it anymore - not another Wednesday night without my Youth Night kids. It's been two months since I've been able to really hang out with them! So last night the girls got together for a photo/video scavenger hunt race downtown. I made phone calls, arranged rides, wrote riddles, planned three courses, then donned my hand-painted fish t-shirt and Peter Pan Converse shoes and headed out with Maelynn to "swing by" and pick up one of the girls from the southside. Bad news is, we went the wrong way down her street for 10 minutes. Good news is, we now know three different ways to get to that house!

When we met up with the other girls, hugs were rampant. Then we split up, ran around, got pictures and videos, had some good laughs, and managed to get the girls home by sunset. Maelynn and I got to go inside our girl's house when we returned her. The room was dark and hot, but the hospitality and conversation was light and refreshing. Visitations are quickly becoming my new favorite aspect of ministry.

Last night, I had a dream about all the kids. They came over to my house one or two at a time, and they were excitedly planning a surprise. I woke up before I learned what the surprise was (though I tried very hard to finish the dream!), but I woke up with a happy sense of anticipation. Youth group will begin again in three weeks, and we have lots of ideas and plans in the works. And I think God's got some good plans brewing too... I'm sure he's got a few exciting surprises up his sleeve, and I can't wait to find out what they are!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Horn of Africa Relief

Being in a place where some of my dearest friends are refugees has given me a new perspective on the world. I used to look at Yahoo! news' articles on movie stars and health food tips, but now my eyes go to world issue stories that involve war and natural disasters that tear countries and communities to pieces. It's heartbreaking stuff, and hard for an optimist to read and learn about, but it is better to know, to be bothered and burdened by it, and to ask God how I can help, rather than look the other way and pretend it doesn't exist.

It seems that there is always somewhere in Africa that is facing extreme crises, and recently the countries of Somalia and Kenya are being hit hard with a severe drought and famine. I know and love several Somalis and Kenyans here in Fort Wayne, so this crisis has my attention, and I ask you to pray with me for the victims who are suffering and have lost loved ones during this time.

International Teams has a team of servants on location in Kenya who are working very hard to provide relief for these victims. You can read about the situation and I-Teams work there, and you can be a part of the aid and relief, at this website: Please read about it, share it with others, and remember to express the love and compassion of Jesus for refugees in your community and around the world.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Going places: mission boards, African church, international pastries, and endless summers

Today's million dollar question: How does one "briefly" state their view on "the need and nature for Atonement"? Ministry related applications can be mind-bloggling sometimes... At first, this question made me stare blankly at the screen, feeling completely overwhelmed. Then I just wanted to write "it is absolutely needed. it's nature is amazing. the end." And when I actually started writing, the "need for Atonement" bit took up two pages... *delete, delete, delete* and try again. Briefly... really? It took God the entire Bible - Old and New Testament - to express this to us! Oh, silly mission board...

Actually, tonight I got to have a delightful dinner with a member of a local mission board, and I decided I have a new aspiration: I want to be the director of a church mission board when I grow up. Do you know why? It's because these people get to talk with people in ministry all the time - hear exciting stories about how God is at work all over the world, in urban centers and remote jungles and everything in between. They get to see pictures of people and places and things they may never get to see personally, they get to check out pottery and silk screens and fans and spices from every continent and country, and they get to see the smiles on the faces of God's servants that are so big and bright that they just know those world travellers are living life in one of the biggest, most exciting, most fulfilling ways possible. Granted, mission boards do a lot more than just listen to stories, but I would think that is the coolest part of their jobs!

Yesterday, Tall Hannah and I attended an African church service. Of course, we got hopelessly lost and arrived an hour late... but in the process, we found a little international bakery shop, which we decided to visit after the service. The second half of the service was wonderful... we sang familiar songs like "Shout to the Lord" and "Above All," but with the beautiful African accent infused, and a flair of African rhythm. The pastor spoke in English and had a translator (not sure which language, though - Swahili? Lingala?). And I think everyone in the room gave us hugs and greeted us warmly with huge smile and an enthusiastic "God bless you, my sister!" Every church should greet that way, in my opinion.

We returned to that little bakery after church, and were amazed at the variety - there must have been a pastry for every language in the world! We started out with the intention of getting two pastries... after all, they looked delicious, but they may have been dry and stale, right? And there were no price tags, so we couldn't risk spending too much. But the varieties were too amazing, so two became four pastries, with two spontaneously added tea cookies, and Hannah valiently offered to cover it if the cost was outrageous. We were even  more blown away when the total came up as $4.10! Wow... we went home and had a delightful Mad Hatter Tea party, and made a glorious sugary mess, and deliriously declared at the end of it all that we would definitely be going back to that international bakery. And bring more friends. Fort Wayne must know about this place.

For our Saturday night adventure, Hannah and I watched "The Endless Summer," and ate pineapple and rice. It's been a weird dream of mine to do this for some time now, as I read about this ritual in one of my favorite books, A Delirious Summer, by Ray Blackston. The movie was a surfing documentary from 1966, in which these two California surfers decided to chase the summertime around the world so they could surf year-round. That is all I will tell you about the movie, except that it is on Netflix Instant Play. If you have any imagination and since of wanderlust (both of which I have in bushels), you should watch it. With pineapple.