Tag Archives: youth

Into the Unknown

This morning in Sunday School, we talked about the Prophet Jeremiah (chapters 42-43).  Israel asked him to seek God’s will for their lives as their enemies were coming.  What God told them was completely illogical, and went against what they thought they wanted to do.  We also talked about other examples in the Bible where God asked his people to do crazy things—Noah and the ark, Abraham leaving his country to follow God to an unknown place, Jesus asking us to love our enemies, and on and on.  As the students were reminded, there will be times that God asks us to step out in faith and do something that goes against what the world says is logical.  And when that time comes, if we choose to follow Him, he has something better planned for our futures than anything we could dream up for ourselves.

 

We are at that place in our lives.  We absolutely LOVE our students, youth parents/families, church staff, and Wesley.  However, we have felt God calling us to something new, and we know that when God leads us, we must follow.

 

Words cannot describe the heaviness in our hearts as we deliver this news.  We will miss so many people, and we thank God for the time that He has given us together.  If we only focused on the leaving part, we wouldn’t be able to make it.  But we know that God has a bigger plan and purpose than any of us could imagine.  He has a plan for our family, and He has a plan for the Wesley Youth and their families.  Since He is calling us to begin a new chapter, we also believe that He is already preparing someone to come and love the students and minister to all of the youth families.

 

We would also like to give some insight into this decision.  As most of you know, Staci’s family is in Oklahoma, and Michael’s family is in San Antonio.  This means we are almost 9 hours from Staci’s family, and 5 from Michael’s.  As Josiah has gotten older, it has been difficult being so far away.  It is our desire for him to grow up closer to his grandparents and other family.  As we began to feel God drawing us to a new stage, we felt Him leading us towards the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.  This will be a great central location between our families (3-4 hours for each).  Staci also has a lot of family in Dallas, including her grandpa who was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.  Many of you also know that we went to school in Dallas and met there.  All that to say, we feel the DFW area will be a great next step for our family.  We have also considered the Tyler area, because of our love for Pine Cove, the area, and Staci has family there as well.

 

In August, Michael began pursuing his Alternative Teaching Certification in Middle School Math.  One of his favorite parts of youth ministry is teaching the students, and we are looking forward to this new career choice.  We also feel that this will be a great springboard for ministry to students in a different setting, because we all know how much impact teachers can have on students.  While we have absolutely loved working with students for 5.5 years (over 3 of which have been at Wesley), we feel it is time for a different pace.  We will still be a part of ministry at whatever church God leads us to, but it will be on a volunteer basis.  This will also give Michael the opportunity to become more involved in the worship ministry of the church, which has always been one of his passions.

 

We have also applied for a ministry called Apartment Life.  If we are accepted into this program, we will be able to minister to people at our future apartment complex by planning a monthly event, welcoming new tenants, celebrating new babies, etc. in exchange for a portion of our rent.  We will also be encouraged and empowered to build relationships with our neighbors, possibly start an apartment Bible Study, and invite them to church.  Our prayer is that this will allow Staci to stay home with Josiah.

 

Please keep our family in your prayers during this time of transition.  We are trying to sell our house, and Michael is currently applying for teaching jobs.  We have no clue how God is going to work all of this out…all we know is that He is calling us to step out in faith.

 

We will continue to pray for the students, families, and Wesley as they are also in a time of transition.  As we mentioned earlier, we believe wholeheartedly that God has someone wonderful planned to come in and work with the students.

 

After visiting with our pastor and sharing all of this, we have collectively decided that our last Sunday will be January 5, unless Michael gets a job and needs to start before then.  It’s all coming so quickly…and it’s taking a lot of faith to resign without having something else lined up.  But we just keep on praying that God will provide and that He will help us rely on Him wholeheartedly in this time.  And while we are so sad to leave everyone here, we are excited to see what He has in store for our family.

 

Thank you to all of our friends and family, both here and away, for all of your encouragement and support.  We are so blessed to be a part of the ministry at Wesley.  While leaving our students and the youth families is the absolute hardest part of all of this, we know that God has a plan.  And just like we learned in Sunday School, His plan is always better than anything we could dream up for ourselves.

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–Michael and Staci

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P.S. If you’d like to read about our decision to move down here over three years ago, you can click HERE.  It’s a great reminder of how God orchestrates everything and how His plan is always the best.

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A Post Of Thankfulness Part 2 – By M

Hopefully you caught part one of my Thankfulness List.  If you didn’t you can check it our by clicking HERE.

Here is the second half of my list, starting with number 16 through 30 (and as mentioned before, this is in no particular order).

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16.) Friends – I’ve had a lot come and go in my life, but I’m thankful for all the ones that have meant so much to me.  I don’t really have many anymore.  I guess that’s a part of growing up.  But for those that I do have, I am thankful.

17.) District Youth Director Meetings – Speaking of not having many friends, the UM Youth Directors in our area are beginning to meat monthly and I am really excited for the connections we’ve already made and will continue to make.  It’s so nice to be around other adults who totally get where we’re coming from 🙂

18.) Fusion – On a similar note, I’m proud to be a part of a new youth movement here in Southeast Texas that we’re calling Fusion.  A group of Youth ministers have come together, crossing denominational boundaries, to bring our students together for passionate worship with the ultimate goal of breaking down barriers and helping students into a deeper walk with God.

19.) My Guitar (acoustic) – Love my Larrivee!  It’s been a big part of my ministry for 8 years and I still love that it’s not a Taylor or a Martin 🙂   (this is a picture from a while back… you can tell cause of the hair)

20.) My Guitar (electric) – The second addition to my musical family.  I’ve had my Peavey amp for many ears because I got a killer deal on it and never had a good guitar to play through it.  It’s a big part of my ministry through music today and a big part of my contribution to Fusion.

21.) Music – You’ve probably seen some of our music posts on this blog.  I love to listen to it.  I love to play.  Music is awesome

22.) Thanksgiving – (put it at 22 cause that’s Thanksgiving day this year)  What is there to really say… family, food, fun, football!  Second or third best holiday in my opinion.

23.) Christmas Season – This would be the day after Thanksgiving also known as Black Friday.  I hope you’ve experienced the joys of Black Friday, but I digress.  I love Christmas and I love the Christmas season!  The music, the lights, the atmosphere, the weather… it’s all so perfect!  (And another vintage picture)

And now things take a bit of a material/superficial turn:

24.) My Bed – It’s warm, it’s comfy, it’s soft, I love it!

25.) iPhone/iPad/iMac – OK, so I don’t want to sound like an Apple fan boy or anything; I promise I’m not.  But I do love our computer and the iPad is just so convenient and fun.  I always thought the iPhone could be overrated, but I’ve really enjoyed my 4.  It may be 2 generations old, but it works great, it’s easy to use, and I love the apps.

26.) MyFitnessPal/RunKeeper – Speaking of apps; I’ve been really trying to work on getting in better shape and losing some weight.  RunKeeper helps me track my running and I like being able to actually gauge my progress.  MyFitnessPal is a calorie counter and I started using it Labor day weekend.  As I’ve followed the daily plans and cut back on my calorie intake, I’ve lost 16 pounds in just 2 months.

27.) New dSLR camera/HD video camera – Staci is big into photography and I love doing video work.  These new cameras have been awesome for our family and documenting Josiah’s early life and our family experiences.

28.) DVD/Bluray Collection – I know, it’s nerdy.  But Staci and I never watch live TV (The few TV shows we actually keep up with we watch on Hulu), so we pride ourselves in our collection of movies and TV shows.  Superficial? yes.  Awesome?  Heck Yes!

29.) Modern Conveniences – I know this is kind of general and vague, but I was running out of space, and I’m just so glad for electricity and plumbing, and cell phones, cars, planes, etc.  It’s just nice.

30.) Upcoming Family Vacation – Family time is something I’ve always cherished and now that we live so far part it’s very hard to come by.  So it will be really special spending so much time with all the family.  I’m glad everyone wil get to spend so much with Josiah too!

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So these are a few things I am especially thankful for this season.

What are some of the things you are thankful for this year?

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– M


A Post Of Thankfulness Part 1- By M

I’m not on Facebook all the time, but I get on enough.  Anyway… I guess the popular thing to do for the month of November is to post something everyday that you are thankful for.  I think this is a great idea and awesome way to remember the true heart of the Thanksgiving holiday (Turkey and football are nice, but you get my point).

The only thing with posting something you are thankful for each day, most people start strong and by the second week of November most people stop.  So I decided to make sure I get all 30 days of thankfulness in, I’m going to post all thirty things right here, right now… but so I don’t bore everyone to death I’m actually going to break this into 2 posts –15 today and 15 later this week– and I’m going to try to keep each one relatively short so you can read through them all.  (Lastly, they are in no particular order)

Here we go!

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1.) My faith – It has made me who I am today

2.) My wife – The way I’ve described it before is that we are so much better together than apart.  Staci helps me be a better person in so many ways and challenges me to always grow and mature in my faith and in my daily life…. and we have so much fun together and so so so much more!

3.) My son – He is a sweet little guy and has already shown me so much about life, unconditional love, and so much more.

4.) My family – Since I already mention my personal family unit (Staci and Josiah), this one is for my immediate family.  Couldn’t be blessed with better mom, dad, brother/sister-in-law, and sister.  Also, all of Staci’s family is so special to me.  You hear all kinds of in-law horror stories… none here!  🙂

5.) My family – I know I already said family; this is for all the extended family!  I love my aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. And once again, all the in-laws are awesome too!

6.) My job – Working with Staci is awesome. And getting to hang out with our students is awesome!

7.) Our students – We have an amazing group of kids at Wesley.  Love them to death!

8.) The Wesley Staff – While I’m still focused on the job front, we do have an incredible staff at Wesley

9.) Wesley Church Members – OK, one more for Wesley.  We do have some really awesome people in our congregation who care so much about their faith and each other.  What a great church family for Josiah to be raised in!

10.) Our house – Being able to build it from the ground up was a pretty cool experience. We love it and couldn’t be more happy to be here.

11.) My Heritage – Can’t lie… I love being a Mexican.

12.) The Spurs – Grew up loving them, going to games, watching them on TV.  I have lots of great (and not so great) memories with this team.  Love the way the Spurs really bring the city of San Antonio together… which brings me to…

13.) San Antonio – My home town.  It was an awesome city to grow up in.  I still love going to visit when I get the chance.  Mom, Dad, you better never move from there or I will be mad!

14.) The internet – Let’s face it… you wouldn’t be reading this if it weren’t for the inter webs!  But honestly, I love it for the quick and easy access to information and for how easy it makes keeping in touch with friends and family through email, facebook, blogs and…

15.) Facetime/Skype – I love that even though my immediate family are hundreds of miles apart we can still keep in touch through video chat!  And, it’s not like the really choppy stuff from back in the day; we’re talking quality audio and video here.  It’s especially nice with Josiah here so that he can see his family and they can see him even though we are so far apart.
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So those are a few… I’ll have more up soon so stay posted!

During this month of Thanksgiving, what are some things that you are thankful for?

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– M


Quick Update – By M

It’s hard to believe that we’re already just about a third of the way through with the summer 2012, and it’s been a whirlwind month for sure!  So before things get even crazier with Josiah’s arrival getting closer by the day, I wanted to go ahead and post up a quick update on what’s been going on in the Elizondo world.

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– First of all, my Spurs lost, and it breaks my heart to no end.  There’s no reason we shouldn’t have won the series against the Thunder, but oh well… now Lebron’s happy with his ring… boo…

– Activities with the youth since my most recent post: Beach Day, High school mission trip, Movie night, Middle school mission trip, Pool Day and more!

– UM Army, our high school mission trip was awesome!  We went to Gonzales, LA to work for a week.  My group built 2 wheel chair ramps (my first and second ever), one of which we completed within 1 day (including demolition, planning, and building from the ground up).

-Ramp #1: 32′ long

– Ramp #2: 46′ long (Done in a day, with the help of another work group)

– Big House is our Middle school mission trip.  It is much less building intensive and more focused on lawn work/painting/etc.  This year, I didn’t have a work team, but had the privilege of directing programs (i.e. leading all the evening activities).  It was awesome getting to lead worship and plan the fun stuff.  One night we went out to the beach to cool off, have dinner, and do some music.

– It has been loads of fun getting Josiah’s room together!  Maybe you caught my Instagram teaser of a blog that Staci is currently working on of Josiah’s room… that Post will be up very soon!  If you didn’t get to see that picture, check it out: (PS… it’s blurry on purpose)

– I celebrated my first unofficial/official Father’s Day!  Staci got me a magnetic frame that can hang on my office whiteboard for pictures of Josiah.  She also got me a really cool new polo!  I love polos!

– Watched Inception for probably the 10th time at movie night with the students!  Still love it!

– Got our youth intern, Tyler Bell, addicted to LOST!  I love to spread the LOST love! …Oh and when I mean addicted, I mean addicted.  This guy has watched 5 full seasons in 4 weeks and is on the final season already!

– Less than a month till “The Dark Knight Rises” comes out and I can’t flippin wait!!!!

– Josiah will be here so so so soon!  And we’ll get posts up as soon as we can once he gets here so stay tuned for some awesome stuff coming up in the next few weeks!

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So what’s been going on in your world at the beginning of summer 2012?!

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– M


Harry Potter Week (last summer)

Last Summer, I posted that we were planning a Harry Potter Week with our youth students.  You can read about the plans HERE.  The week was a lot of fun with Harry Potter themed food, drinks, and crafts.  We watched a different HP movie each night and concluded the week with a trip to see 7.2 at the theater.

Michael and I recently watched all of the movies AGAIN in preparation for our visit to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Orlando this coming December! (At least that was our excuse…)  And I recently joined Pottermore, and it made me want to re-read all of the books again.  But I have way too many other books to read first.

I never ended up posting pictures from that week and decided that it’s better late than never.  So here are the pictures from Harry Potter Week that should have been posted last summer.

Most of the ideas were found in these two books: “The Unofficial Harry Potter Party Book” and “The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook.”  (You can click on each title to take you to the Amazon link.)

 

Sunday: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

  • Craft:  Wands

Mine & Michael’s (we formed ours at home to try the craft out)

Some of the completed wands.  They turned out so good!  All of the students REALLY liked this craft!

  • Snack:  Chocolate Frogs (I bought the molds HERE)

These were great!  The molds were super easy to use, and the frogs looked really good.  We decided to put mini marshmallows in some of them, and those turned out good as well.

  • Drink:  Butterbeer (recipe found HERE…used #5, but I’d like to try #1 on my own).  I don’t have a picture of this, but it was AMAZING!! The students loved it, and I can’t wait to try Universal’s version.

 

Monday: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

  • Craft:  No-Sew House Ties

These were really easy, and they made for a great craft.

  • Snack:  Pumpkin Pasties

These took a LONG time to make.  And I can’t stand pumpkin, so I didn’t try one.  But the students who tried them really liked them.

  • Drink:  Pumpkin Juice.  I don’t have a picture of this, but I did try it, and I can say it was good!  I think the pineapple, etc. made it where the pumpkin wasn’t very prominent.

 

Tuesday: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

  • Craft:  Wizard Money: Galleons, Knuts and Sickles

The students could paint their Wizard Money with whatever they wanted.  I chose a metallic paint, and over time they stuck to each other.  It’d be better with a flat paint and then add glitter.  But they were cute.

  • Snack:  Acid Pops

These weren’t very good.  They were a little too sticky.

  • Drink:  Polyjuice Potion

This actually turned out to be really good!  Michael was saying last night that we need to make some more.  You can’t see it in this picture, but there were gummy worms in the drink, which added some fun.

 

Wednesday: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

  • Craft:  No Mess Quills

For some reason, I didn’t get a picture of these, but they turned out cute.  They were definitely a cheap but practical craft.

  • Snack:  Dragon Eggs

  • Drink:  Liquid Luck

This turned out to be one of my favorites, even though it was simple.

 

Thursday: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

  • Craft:  Extendable Ears

I didn’t make this craft, but here is a picture of one of the student’s

  • Snack:  Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans

These were SUPER easy.  I just made a label and put them on small cups.  We just used regular jelly beans, but you can purchase actual Bertie Bott’s Beans if you’d like.

  • Drink:  Pensieve Potion

This was another that was simple yet good.

 

Friday: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

  • Craft:  Pygmy Puff

These were super cute.  Mine is still on my shelf at work.

  • Snack:  Cockroach Clusters (found HERE)

Simple no-bake type cookies, but they were good.

  • Drink:  Butterbeer again.  It was just too good!!

 

Saturday: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 1 at church, Part 2 at the theater)

  • I honestly can’t remember what we did this day.  I think we told the kids they could finish up any of their crafts or they could bring a shirt to draw on.  But we might not have done anything.
  • I think we just had popcorn and leftover snacks, but again I could be wrong.  I was just too long ago!

It turned out to be a GREAT week!  There were lots of game ideas, etc. in “The Unofficial Harry Potter Party Book” but we didn’t have time for that.  And personally, I enjoyed that book more than the other.  “The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook.” was a fantastic British cookbook, but it wasn’t practical for what we were looking for.

So if you’re looking for a theme night for one of the Harry Potter Movies, or if you’re just wanting something fun to do, I highly recommend some of these crafts, snacks, and drinks.  And try out some Butterbeer even if you haven’t seen the movies.  It’s great!

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–Staci

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SAMESTATE Concert – By M

Still trying hard to keep these posts coming regularly 🙂

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Recently, Staci and I, had the privilege to put on a free concert at Wesley Church where we work.  I have never felt so overwhelmed in my life, and yet never felt so rewarded afterward (… well, actually it at least ranks in my top 5 rewarding feelings for sure).

I never knew there was so much that went in to putting on this kind of event.  I wont go in to all the details or anything, but from booking the band, to providing for their stay, to getting the equipment rented, and trying our best to get this thing some publicity, it was quite a task.

I think one of my favorite parts of the whole thing was actually getting to meet the guys from SAMESTATE and Climbing Blind (we booked them to be the opening band).  They are all great people and it is so awesome to see honest, Christian young men trying to do spread the Word by using what God has gifted them.  It is also cool to be introduced to some new music that I probably wouldn’t have ever known about other wise.

Here are a couple of pics from the show:

Climbing Blind

SAMESTATE

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And Some of students:

You gotta go check out these guys!  They have great music and great hearts!  I wish the best for them and hope that God continues to use them in their ministry!  I leave you with this last thing:

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-M


Craziest Summer Ever – By M

For those of you who subscribe to us, and others who casually read our blog, you may notice hwo Staci and I have not posted since mid-July.  Welcome to our crazy summer life!

I decided to throw some thoughts and other random things about the summer into this post.

– So I did the math the other day and 42 days out of 78 day summer we spent doing some kind of a youth activity (not including Sundays for Sunday school)!

– Within those 42 days, we spent 24 of those days outside of Beaumont and 22 of those nights were spent out of our own beds due to our 2 mission trips (UM Army and Big House), 1 camp (Lakeview), and 1 conference (Youth 2011 in Sacramento)

– Oh yeah the days above only include days spent away due to our youth.  We were also gone on a week long vacation in New Braunfels, TX (hittin up good ol’ Schlitterbahn and Canyon Lake).  We also spent several nights in Houston with Staci’s cousins who live there.

– Throwing out a round number, we spent a good 2/3 of our summer busy and away from home!  CRAZY!

– It was really rewarding though.  UM Army was incredible and Big House was lots of fun.  It was great bonding with the students at camp, and, what can we say, California is awesome and the conference was great!

– … well let me rephrase that last sentence… Sacramento and San Francisco were awesome!!!  L.A. was overrated.  No offense!

– The Holly wood sign was pretty cool though, but about the scariest road I’ve ever driven on in my life.

– The Golden Gate Bridge was really pretty.

– Oh yeah we still have one more overnight “Lock-out” with the students this weekend! yikes!

– TX represented well at the Youth 2011 conference (3 different main entertainment acts and teachers were from South East Texas!)

– Our house is almost completed and we move in literally 2 weeks from today!!!  (For more pics on the house check out my facebook page)

 

All in all our summer may have been outrageously crazy, but it was way worth it!  I love our job and house down here and I wouldn’t trade it for anything!  God has really blessed us and we are excited to see what God will do in the future!

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What have you been up to for the summer?

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-M


Harry Potter Week

For those of you who are Harry Potter fans, it goes without saying that the last movie is just around the corner!  You can watch a trailer HERE.

A lot of our students are huge HP fans, and when we came to our church they were in the middle of doing a Bible study called “The Gospel According to Harry Potter” on Wednesday nights.  (The study took clips or themes from HP books/movies and then taught about the themes using Scriptures.)  We took our students to see HP 7.1 last fall when it came out, and we had a great time.

Sometime between then and now, we had the idea to have a Harry Potter Week building up to the new movie this summer.  Well, that time has come!

The movie actually releases next Friday, but we’ll be at camp next week.  So we’re having HP week the following week.  Each night, we’ll watch one of the HP movies, and have a HP inspired snack and (optional) craft.  I’m super excited because:

  1. It’s Harry Potter
  2. I love cooking and doing crafts
  3. I love planning things

So in case you want to plan your own HP party, I thought I’d share our plans.  Almost all of the ideas came from “The Unofficial Harry Potter Party Book” and “The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook.”  (You can click on each title to take you to the Amazon link.)

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Sunday: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

  • Craft:  Wands
  • Snack:  Chocolate Frogs (I bought the molds HERE)
  • Drink:  Butter Beer (recipe found HERE…using #5, but I’d like to try #1 on my own)

Monday: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

  • Craft:  No-Sew House Ties
  • Snack:  Pumpkin Pasties
  • Drink:  Pumpkin Juice

Tuesday: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

  • Craft:  Galleons (possibly Knuts and Sickles too)
  • Snack:  Acid Pops
  • Drink:  ??

Wednesday: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

  • Craft:  No Mess Quills
  • Snack:  Dragon Eggs
  • Drink:  ??

Thursday: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

  • Craft:  Extendable Ears
  • Snack:  Treacle Tart
  • Drink:  Liquid Luck Potion

Friday: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

  • Craft:  Pygmy Puff
  • Snack:  Rock Cakes (or if I’m low on time, Cockroach Clusters found HERE)
  • Drink:  Pensieve Potion

Saturday: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 1 at church, Part 2 at the theater)

  • I’m still debating whether or not to do a craft and snack this day since we’re watching two movies…thoughts?

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I’m really excited about Harry Potter Week!  Any ideas we should add?

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–Staci

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**All Crafts taken from “The Unofficial Harry Potter Party Book

**Pumpkin Pasties, Pumpkin Juice, Treacle Tarts, and Rock Cakes taken from “The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook“; All other Recipes (other than those noted in the plans) found in “The Unofficial Harry Potter Party Book”


U.M. Army – by M

Staci and I just got back from a week long mission trip in Huntsville, TX. For those of you who aren’t familiar with U.M. Army, the trip consists of putting students into small groups of about 4-6 with an adult. The teams are then sent out to do work on different people’s houses. Many of these people that the students work for do not have the means to be able to pay for the work that needs to be done to their house.

This week I had 9 students in my group. It was an extra large group because we were really hurting for adults this week. My group had the oppurtunity to work for a lady we’ll call Ms. Sara. Our project was to build a new front, 8×8, covered porch, as well as a 4×8, back porch.

It was a tough week. We had record setting heat, and not a lot of time to get a whole lot of work done. Not to mention that, although I do have remodeling experience, I have never built anything from the ground up.  But it was awesome to see how God worked through our group as well as the whole UM Army group throughout the week.  And it is cool to think that I now have the know-how to do some pretty awesome building projects.

Monday was a tough day. We ended the day not having completed much except for putting a few really deep holes in the ground (that had turned out to be in the wrong places), and built the beginning of a porch frame that was the wrong size. Our group finished the day extremely defeated. But God lifted our spirits on Tuesday as we finished the day having our 4 corner posts set as well as the beginning of our deck.  The highlight of our group’s week (except for finishing the deck) came Tuesday afternoon.  At this point, we had our 4 main corner posts in as well as our frame and cross braces.  Everything had 5 screws in it and was ready to go… well, ready except that we had forgotten to check if the door would open once we put the decking on.  I asked, very reluctantly, for a deck board that we could place across our frame.  I placed the deck board, reached for the door, pressed the handle, and began to pull…  Time stopped…  My heart stopped… it, it, it, IT WORKED!  The door swung open with about a half inch of clearing!  We cheered!  But the test wasn’t over yet.  I moved the deck board over to double check the door.  It swung closed!  WOOHOO!  After making so many mistakes and having so many defeats within the first two days, this was definitely what our group needed.  Tuesday ended with a make-shift deck and stairs that just allowed Ms. Sara to get in and out of her house.  Tuesday complete.

Wednesday we began hot and early in the morning.  We all decided that we needed to at least have the deck mostly complete and the stairs in so that Ms. Sara could easily get in and out of her house.  So with our spirits much higher, and a goal to reach in mind, we began hard at work.  As we tried to dig in for the stairs we hit a big problem (pun intended).  Ms. Sara’s yard was covered in all kinds of crazy tree roots.  We’d dig for a few inches and hit a root.  We’d eventually break through after 10 to 15 minutes of beating it with a shovel or pickax.  Then we’d dig another couple of inches and hit another root.

We figured ways around the roots and continued to work and work:

Finally by the end of the day, this is what we had:

We were almost finished.  Thursday would bring us to the final sawing down of the 4×4 posts, finishing the handrails, and puting on the roof; all pretty daunting tasks.  We began slowly as we hit another snag.  Our circular saw decided it didn’t want to cut anything anymore.  We changed the blade and still nothing.  Luckily our Color Group Leader had an extra with him that we were able to use that day.  The afternoon capped of with a visit from my Pastor and his wife, as well as our UM Army director, and others from the group as we wrapped up the roofing job.  This is what it lookied like as we finished Thursday:

So Here’s a nice before and after shot (ps.. the before shot is just of the staircase that used to be in front of Ms. Sara’s house.  I took the picture of it once we had already moved it.)

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Now Ms. Sara can easily get in and out of her house and even set a chair out on her deck and enjoy the cool evenings and breezy mornings.

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Oh and I can’t forget the awesome job on the back porch that half our team did.  Before, there was nothing. After, there was this:

The truth is, this picture doesn’t really do the justice of the difficulty of this project because of the steep grade on the backside of the house that you can’t really see in this picture.

Anyway, my group knocked this one out of the park and finished the week by painting up this blue house on Friday:

I’m really proud to have been the leader of group “Yellow – S”!!!

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I also had the opportunity to speak Sunday, Monday and Tuesday nights as well as lead worship on Thursday.  It was such an awesome experience and it was awesome to see all the work that God had done through the week.  It really is too bad that we have to wait a-whole-nother year until the next trip.  But Staci and I leave soon for our Big House trip with our middle school students which will be a lot similar, but on a lot smaller scale.

It’s awesome to see so many students doing so much for the good of others and connecting with each other and connecting with Christ.

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When was the last time you went on a mission trip? What did you do? Where did you go?  What did God do?

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– M


Cooking for 90

On Tuesday of last week, I didn’t think I was going to survive.  I’d been cooking for a group of 90 students and adults at U.M. ARMY (our high school mission trip) for a little over a day, and I thought I was going to die.

I called my mom and left a voice message that was something to the effect of, “Momma, I just wanted to call and talk.  Oh, and I have a new appreciation of you.  Cooking at camp sucks.”

Earlier that day, I’d tried to light the stupid gas oven for over 15 minutes, without success.  I finally just sat in the floor and almost cried.  I’d been to MANY camps, mission trips, etc., but I was way more tired than I’d ever been before.  Maybe the fact that we got up around 5:15 a.m. every morning had something to do with it…  I now understand what they’re talking about when they say that cooks have the hardest job.

I was honestly wishing that I hadn’t agreed to be the kitchen coordinator.  But then I was able to go to the pool with our students…and everything changed.

I walked around and took some pictures of the students in the pool and playing volleyball.

And then I had a chance to just sit and talk with some of “our girls” and some other students on the bleachers.  And it was literally the highlight of my week.

For any of you who have been a part of a youth ministry (either as a student or an adult), you know that a LOT of connecting takes place over the summer.  So much bonding happens at camp and other events.  Quite a few of our students that went haven’t been very active in the youth group up until this past mission trip.  So I was hoping for a chance to really bond with them.  And since I had to be in the kitchen (or going to Wal-Mart or Sam’s) all day, I felt like I wasn’t getting that.

But on Tuesday night, it was great.

We just sat and talked about school and sports and youth camps and Compassion International and lots more.  I feel like God gave me those couple of hours with those girls.  In fact, I know that He did.  He knew that I needed it–not only so I could get out of the kitchen before I tore the oven out of the wall but also so that I could grow closer to some of these girls.

Because ministry happens when relationships are formed.

Wednesday through Friday, I was able to go out and visit the work sites for a few hours in the afternoon.  After we (Michael’s mom and a girl named Becca–who completely saved me in the kitchen!) went on our daily Wal-Mart run (which consisted of 3-4 baskets full of food to get us through the next day), we’d hurry and prepare that night’s dessert and/or snack, and then we’d have some free time.

Since I was craving time with our kids, I was able to drive around and visit the students and see all of the awesome work they were doing.

I was SO proud of them!  They did everything from build wheelchair ramps and porches to replace siding on houses to painting to fixing floors and roofs.  It was awesome to see God use them to bless the people in the town where we were.

Even though I felt so tired before I headed out to see them, it became one of the best parts of my day.  It was as if I was re-energized after I saw what a great job they were doing.

By the end of the week, I was really glad that I was asked to be in the kitchen.  All of the recipes turned out great (thanks for all of the desserts and snacks, Mom!), and I was able to go and visit with everyone instead of just having my work group of students.  God knew what He was doing–as always.

In fact, I’d like to do kitchen again sometime.  Granted, I’ll do a few things differently–like take my own pans, mixers, etc.; buy thin bacon instead of super thick bacon (I guess we should have looked at the package!); etc.–but I would like to do it again.  Well…maybe without the gas ovens.

It turned out to be an incredible week.  And I’m thankful that God allowed me to be a part of the ministry that took place.

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What is the biggest number of people you’ve ever cooked for?

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–Staci

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