Video

Special Moments

We’re almost done! The kids are downstairs enjoying a pizza and t-shirt signing party. They’ve been so excited all morning!

It was like herding cats, but we got everyone on the stage for a song in closing today. I can’t post video from my iPod, but I will post it as soon as I get home.

It’s been an emotionally draining week for the team. We haven’t posted as often as we intended, and we apologize for that. God has sent some amazing children into our lives this week- their stories break our hearts and their smiles and laughter have healed our souls. It’s going to take a little time for us to unpack our thoughts, but we’ll be sharing their stories with all of you as soon as we’re able…we promise!

The hardest part comes in about 15 minutes when we have to say goodbye and head for home. Keep us in your prayers for safe travel, but we especially ask you to pray for the children we have come to love this week that they may continue to live in The Light that we have taught them about this week.

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Day 3 Begins

The kids will be arriving in about an hour for day 3 of VBS. We’re all finishing last minute preparations on our lessons – today we will be teaching the kids about Jesus and the plan of salvation. It’s a big day!

It was supposed to be water day in Recreation, and God must have thought that water was a great idea because it’s been raining since the very early hours of the morning. Plans are flexible though, and we’ve decided to take advantage of the kids’ creativity and hold Rec on the indoor ramp this morning. Human log-rolling, a game they’ve created as they move between classes will now be on the agenda. They’ll be so excited!

Keep the kids in your prayers as we present today’s message. Pastor Bob and I had an amazing discussion with our 12 and 13 year-olds yesterday after one boy asked us who God was, and some of the other kids chimed in to help us answer. We can’t wait to see what discussions will come out of today’s lesson!

FYI, Laurel made a new friend at the Bottomless Lakes yesterday. It was amazing to watch…the butterfly seemed to think she was a flower and fluttered around for at least 10 minutes, landing on her several times.

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A Very Special Girl

My Roswell Vacation Bible School experience began by saying hello to some familiar faces from last year and meeting new ones. The kids gathered on the Westminster playground, until we could group them in their classes. As Bible School was about to begin we moved the kids from the playground to the sanctuary. Along the way I found John Hemmerlin on the ramp to the sanctuary with a young girl in tears. He had been consoling her on the bus ride from the Boy’s and Girl’s Club to the church. She was very emotional and unsure that she wanted to be at Vacation Bible School. I aided John in his efforts to encourage her and between the two of us we got her convinced to come to the sanctuary. While getting to know her I found out that she loves music and crafts. She spotted Laurel standing at a microphone as soon as we sat down for opening. She asked me if we were going to sing and if “that girl” has a pretty voice. I said, “Yes, she has a very pretty voice. And she loves to sing too.”

As the morning continued we found out that our new friend, Lailynn, has some pretty serious medical issues.   And she must follow a very strict diet. Her stringent diet would be a struggle for most adults much less a ten year old girl. She told us that she brought her own lunch with her. (We always feed the kids lunch after VBS, before they return to the Boy’s and Girl’s Club or home with their families.) She asked Rich if she could call her mom to see if she could eat the lunch we had prepared for the kids instead of her packed lunch. Rich spoke to her mom who was wonderful and explained her daughter’s very serious condition and confirmed that she needed to eat her packed lunch.

When lunch time came around the rest of the kids were eating hot dogs and cookies and drinking kool aid. By now Lailynn was visibly upset that she had an ultra-healthy lunch while the other kids were enjoying hot dogs. I found her sitting alone on the steps leaving the fellowship hall. I talked with her briefly and then asked if she might like me to ask if Laurel would play her a song on the piano. She didn’t hesitate at all. She was excited to hear Laurel play. I got Laurel and we headed to a room with a piano. Lailynn listen and watched as Laurel played a large part of Amazing Grace that she has memorized. We even sang along together. Lailynn left when the bus headed back to the Boy’s and Girl’s Club in great spirits.

As we discussed Lialynn’s situation after Bible School Rachel very quickly volunteered to eat a healthy lunch that fits Lailynn’s diet, with her in the room with the piano over the next four days of Bible School. So Rachel, Laurel, Lailynn, and I will be eating lunch together and sharing music as well. I feel blessed that Laurel is here in Roswell. Music heals, and God has certainly blessed Laurel with the gift of music. Lailynn left Vacation Bible School with joy because Laurel ministered to her using the gift that God has given her. And I am so proud of Rachel. She stepped up with enthusiasm and set a plan in place to be a friend to a girl she had only just met. Great things are happening in Roswell.

What is our mission here?

Every year we travel to Roswell with a specific mission in mind. Our goal is to serve children with a Vacation Bible School. And every year we are struck with other things that God wants us to do or focus on. And it’s not at all what we expect.
This year I have been praying for the congregation here at Westminster. That they would start to step up to the challenge of “doing” mission, on any level necessary to jumpstart something bigger! And that is a great goal! However, is it God’s plan? I’m still not certain.
Tonight, Friday July 11th, four of us had a very unique opportunity to be a part of something that some might call weird, uncomfortable, awkward. Adam invited me to play and sing at a tent revival just up the road from the Boys and Girls Club. Several people got to worship God in song and testimony! It was awesome, and nerve-wracking! I have never played or led worship in that environment. It was an awe-inspiring moment to be sure.
But what happened next was even more amazing.! The pastor, referred to as Juan Loco, or crazy John, had everyone gather together, moving forward toward him. We closed our eyes, and he asked us to hold hands with the people beside us. Then he told us to pray for those people. It didn’t matter that we didn’t know there names or situations. It was sufficient for us to just pray! To just call on Jesus’ name!
Now, coming from a Presbyterian church, it was awkward to hear most of these people praying out loud! We just don’t do that! Why, I wonder? It was a beautiful thing to hear so many people saying the name of Jesus aloud, and praying that Jesus can “save your soul”, “give you rest”, “pull you out of addiction”! It was awesome! So I prayed out loud for these two men beside me, I squeezed their hands and I truly felt God’s presence in that place! It was humbling and intimidating and scary and everything that our safe walls shield us from. The man on my left had found Jesus, actually led some worship with us previous in the evening. So I prayed for his music ministry, that God would bless him and expand his territory. The man on my left was one of the men and women that brought and prepared food for us that night. I found out later that he was in a bad place, that his family was struggling and he was struggling. And before he left he came to me and shook my hand and thanked me for my prayers. And I didn’t even know what I was praying for!
This man’s church was an open tent, in the worst part of town. Where he serves the children that run the streets. The children of drug addicts, and dealers. Of abusive parents, or the parentless. The man who gives everything he has, and asks for nothing in return. 35 years in this ministry, and going strong!
Watching this worship service makes me question how we can just sit back and watch as stuff happens, without taking steps to stop it, or to at least minister to it. To be there for these kids, means the world to them.
I sat in a circle at the end of the night, for us (he was staying with food on the tables for hours, or until all the food was stolen), and watched as he prayed with a child. He said, “repeat after me… Jesus, I thank you for my mother and my father. I thank you for saving me. In Jesus name, Amen.” Then he turns to me and says, “I want you to pray with these children!” And my heart stopped. Talk about being thrust out of your comfort zone. I come from a church that doesn’t teach us to pray out loud, that almost doesn’t seem to encourage it! Yet here I was, being humbled by this man to pray for these two boys, not much younger than my own! So, while holding their hands, we prayed. It was an amazing God moment. And now my heart is torn. Is God giving us a new direction to follow, an invitation to do VBS at this pastor’s tent next year, which we received (he even said he would pay for it all, that we would need for nothing while we were there, talk about God providing!!)? Or, do we continue to help Westminster Church realize that they can do what we are doing for them on their own at some point (do they even want that)? Or, maybe an alternative. Can we do both?
I don’t know what is in store for us this year, but I do know that God is definitely in control! We need to step out of the way, and let God do the work that He has planned. Not because of us, but in spite of us so that His glory can be seen!! To God be the glory, no matter the mission! Let His will be done here in Roswell, as well as back home!

God Bless!

Roswell, Here We Come!

We’ve spent the last year fundraising, writing a special VBS curriculum, missing the people that we have come to love over the past several trips, and preparing our hearts for another trip to Roswell, NM.  Now we have less than a week until we leave to return to Westminster Presbyterian Church, our home away from home.  We’re excited!!!!

We have a team of 29 this year – 20 who will leave on July 10th via the open road and travel the approximately 1700 miles through 8 states to arrive in Roswell on Saturday afternoon, and 9 who will travel by air.

We will be leading a FREE Vacation Bible School at Westminster Presbyterian Church for the children of Roswell and the surrounding communities, and providing them with a hot lunch before they leave each afternoon.  As we have learned in past years, even our best layed plans cannot compare with the experience that God has planned for us.  We can’t wait to see what God has in store for us this year!

Check back often as different team members will be posting updates as we get free moments.  We are grateful for your prayers and your support as we undertake this trip…know that we always return as better, more God-focused people who are better equipped to engage the world around us because of this experience!