Friday, June 28, 2013

Getting Jiggy with the Piggy!

Pat's Kountry Kitchen & Rafting!

High Ropes Fun

Fun-Day Friday!

It’s Funday Friday!  Many people chose to sleep in and skip breakfast today. (Breakfast time doesn’t change…it was still 7:15.) Lauren, Elise, Casey, Jake, Big John, Chuck and I all met to eat…and then this leader went back to bed. Hehe! We woke the rest of the crew up at 9:30 and they went through their morning routines and headed up to the high ropes course. All of us got to pick two of the four different courses/swings/rock wall to do. It was great fun to see them encourage each other and come to each other’s aid!
I don’t do unenclosed heights. It petrifies me, so I am 0 for 3 when it comes to times I have participated in the high ropes course. Today, the teens (and leaders) bullied….er, I mean encouraged me to do the swing. They put you in a harness, attach you to a rope, haul you 250 feet up into the air and expect you to pull a cord to drop yourself…where you then proceed to swing through the air. I told them I would do it (mostly because I told them I wouldn’t make them do something I wouldn’t do) and got strapped into the harness. (I was crying before I even stepped off of the ladder. It was SOOOO scary!) They hauled me up and because I didn’t want to be “that girl”, I actually pulled the cord. The teens told me that they have never heard a scream that scared in their entire life! (Perhaps my next job will be doing the voice over screams for scary movies…. ) I was glad that I did it though, because it allowed me to encourage those that were on the fence. I got some really great pictures and am hoping to get a few of them up on the blog tonight. (I’ll download all of them to facebook so the y.m. page will have them for people to tag themselves later in the week.) Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. (I’m just glad that they didn’t ask me if I would do it again! Yikes!)
After we changed for white water rafting, we headed to the mess hall for pizza, corn, salad and cookies. We answered some questions about rafting and then headed up to the outpost to check in for our trip. The guide leader did a great job going over what to do when, and double checked all of our equipment. We then boarded a bus and took a quick 20 minute ride to the put in. Our group had four rafts, with one of them being shared with another group. Erich, Christine, and I took that raft so the teens could stay together. From all of the stories I heard later, each of us had a great guide and only two people fell out! (Sorry Laura & Emily! ) The rapids were all class 3 & 4 due to the rain that they have had lately, and it was a great ride! (The water is normally about 1200 CFS , but today it was closer to 1600….just for the white water enthusiasts out there.)  At the end of the trip we took the bus back to Whitewater Express and walked back to our cabins.
We took showers and headed out to Pat’s Kountry Kitchen for dinner. Apparently all of the other groups from around TeamEffort had the same idea, so it was a pretty hopping place. The food was delicious and it was great to get to spend one last-sit down meal together before we leave tomorrow.
After dinner we drove back to camp and dropped off all of those who wanted to go to the ‘bonfire/dance party’ at the Riverhouse. Meanwhile, I took those that wanted/needed to go to the Piggly Wiggly with me. It was the most entertaining trip to the grocery I have had in a long time! We laughed at the “Mountain Yeller” …which is a generic version of Mountain Dew, picked up a Piggly Wiggly Shirt and even rode the kids Merry Go Round! (Well, the teens rode the merry go round, I just laughed and took pictures.)
It was such a fun-filled day. We are planning on leaving around 9:30 or 10 tomorrow, so I am sure you will all here lots more from us when we get home. Thanks for praying for our successful trip, and please continue to hold us in your prayers as we journey home. We miss you and are excited to come back to our families and the St. Michael Community.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Human Fish & Two Places at Once :)

Finished with the home, but not with the LOVE

What a Blessed Day! We had so much fun and got so much accomplished that I am exhausted just thinking about it! (Ok, really I am exhausted because I did it, but let’s not split hairs here!) 
We got up this morning and ran down to breakfast. We had cheez-whiz omelets and hot dogs (again) along with hashbrowns. We made the executive decision that we would eat pretty quickly so we could get to Ms. Retha’s house before the 65% chance of rain hit. (I love Jake…when I mentioned there was a 65% chance of rain, he told me he was going with the 35% chance of non-precipitation) Turns out, he was pretty much correct. It only drizzled a little bit, and that was when we were already finished with the stuff we had left to do that wasn’t undercover. (Awesome!) We were able to get the whole list of items finished before we left for the day by working together and pushing each other to be the best we could be. It was great! The painting, brush clearing, and touch up items all got done along with the pole barn getting cleaned! I was so proud of the teens!
Last night after we blogged, Erich and I went to Walmart (on a scary pitch black country road with no street lights…….just saying) to get Retha a Birthday Cake. It turns out that her birthday is Friday and with no family, she decided that she would just work and maybe go out to eat. We picked up birthday cupcakes and a card and presented it to her when we were leaving her house. She was so touched she started to cry. The teens all gave her hugs and thanked her for letting us work on her home. She asked for our address and promised to write. It was kind of sad to see her standing on the porch waving goodbye, but as Ryan put it so well, she isn’t truly alone because we left our love for her in the new refurbishments we did to her home.
We got back to camp just in time to eat lunch (chicken nuggets and limp French fries...but great salad) and change into our bathing suits to go to the blue holes. As it turns out, we called to get better directions for the holes and they were closed because they had to release the dam due to all of the recent rain. We drove to Parkersville and went swimming at the lake there instead. I thought the teens would be disappointed, but they didn’t care as long as they got to spend the time together. They played chicken, climbed up on plastic buoys to jump off of them, and just enjoyed each other’s company. It was so much fun.
We left the lake and started to drive towards Blue Ridge, GA because the counselors told us there was this great ice cream place called C Bolts that we had to try. We got to the other side of Copperhill and realized that the work site we had the last time we were here was only about a block away, so we went and revisited it. Our porch and side steps/deck were still standing and in great shape! (Kudos to the team that went 4 years ago! ) Mrs. Galloway came out and said Hi to us and everything. It was kind of fun to revisit that time with our seniors.
After we left the Galloways, we stopped at the Tn/GA line and got our picture taken in two places at once! Casey was in heaven because she said it was on her bucket list. The rest of us hammed it up for the camera. We drove another 20 minutes into Blue Ridge and had dinner (courtesy of ‘Big’ John!) at the Serenity Garden CafĂ©. It was super yummy and a family stopped us to thank us for serving their community. It was neat to see the teens get recognized for what they did by total strangers.
We walked across the street and had ice cream at the 3 Sisters Shop, (They won an award at the daytime emmy’s, so it was fun to see it in real life) and then headed back to chapel.
Tonight’s chapel was all about the idea of taking it home and knowing that we are loved by God. It was fun to sing and dance for Jesus one last time and then we watched a video that the counselors made for all of the groups. Dan gave the witness talk and then each individual group was led outside to their tiki torch that was lit and we circled around it. Eli gave me a bucket of sand and explained to the teens that in order to build our foundation on the “The Rock of Jesus” we had to be willing to give up the ‘sandy foundation’ in our lives. That is, whatever is holding us back in our faith lives. Each teen was to take a handful of sand and then release it at some point of the evening, symbolizing leaving their sandy foundation and returning to the Rock that is Jesus Christ. Eli then left to go and play the guitar for all of the groups and I went around the circle and asked God’s blessing on each of the teens as I prayed over them. After everyone was blessed, we tossed our sand over our shoulders and went to the cross in the middle of the field. At the base of the cross was a giant metal tub of sand with rocks hidden at the bottom. We ‘dug’ through the sand to get our rock and then went back to the chapel to have our individual group time. We talked a lot about our day, and did our “best part of the day, Hey Gods, Yeah Gods, and Mad Props.” It was very special because the teens bought each of the leaders plastic ducks (long story….ask one of us who went) that represented our personalities. (Have I told you in this post that I love our teens yet?) 
Now we are off to bed (or to blog) and many of us will choose to sleep in tomorrow morning. It’s another big day. Praying for lots of fun and laughter. We miss you all and pray for you nightly!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Work Shirt Wednesday & Jen's Birthday!

Work Shirt Wednesday!

Hooray! I feel so much better today! (That list I told you about yesterday……we rocked it!) Christine and I got the girls up at 6:45 (like normal) and then shooed them out to get breakfast. We stayed back because it is Jen’s 18th birthday and we wanted to decorate the cabin. We put balloons on the rafters, hung a huge banner outside on the porch, and hung streamers from the top of her bunk bed. (Christine bought Jen her very own trim paint brush for her birthday. These are a hot commodity on the worksite. Ha!)
Most of the teens dressed in TeamEffort ‘work shirts’ today for Work Shirt Wednesday. They are a silly mechanic/factory looking uniform that says TeamEffort on the back and a random name on the front. They were contemplating calling each other by their shirt name….so all day you saw them looking down at their shirt to see if someone was calling their name. (Names like Pierre, Hollywood, Hitesh, Mohammed, Hawa etc.) Very silly fun!
After our breakfast (same as yesterday) and morning commute (where the seniors surprised me and switched vans so I could spend some time with them also), we opened our day with prayer. Chuck started, Eli did the devotional, and John did the memorarae. We offered up praise to God whether it rained or shined…but we were definitely hoping for the shine! We had so much to get done. We sang Happy Birthday to Jen and presented her with a funny headband that says, “It’s my 18th birthday”. She wore it all day! (I think she just did it to make us happy.)
Last night at group time we laid out who was doing what. Eli started to tell the group what needed to be done and the teens immediately told him that they had their jobs down and got to it. (It cracked me up.) Within minutes an assembly line was started to unload John’s truck, the roofers hopped up the ladder, the outside painting crew started the primer, the tools for the screen door installers were set out, and the weed whackers were roaring. The teens worked non-stop until 12:30 when the roof was finally finished. (We made the executive decision that we weren’t going to eat lunch until it was done…so thank our good God for the Endres family who sent tons of snacks and chips for us to munch on while working.  They were devoured!)
At lunch (sandwiches, chips, and snacks!), we sat down and discussed our plan of attack for the afternoon. The outside painters noticed that the soffits were rotting and that there were wasp nests underneath the overhang boards. We decided to change out the soffits and found a squirrel’s nest up there as well. I made the teens get out from under the attached carport until I could take care of the nests. (There ended up being 12 of them! Ugh…so scary!) After the walls were scraped (by Elise, Lauren, Jake, and Lydia) we started to get extra people on it. (John and Chuck finished installing the new screen door. ‘Big’ John, Sara, Laura, & Ryan finished the roof. Erich, Emily, Caitlin, & Sam finished all of the landscape.) Meanwhile, Jen, McKenzie, Casey, Christine, and Megan were inside painting. Joe was running around making sure everything was running smoothly and doing all of the little behind the scenes jobs that need to be done and no one else wants to do.
It did drizzle just a little bit, but that didn’t stop any of us from getting our jobs done. (We only work a half day tomorrow, but think we can get the house painted, the gutters hung, and the inside living room done. Wish us luck!) God really did bless us with a productive day! (Eli told me at the end of the day that we did two weeks’ worth of work in our week….I corrected him (jokingly) and said that we did two weeks’ worth of work in three days!) I really am so proud of these teens! They represent our parish very well!
When we got back to camp, we took showers and had a little down time before dinner. We walked to the mess hall and made Jen drink out of a Happy Birthday Glass (Thanks Laurie!) and after dinner we ‘surprised’ her with a cake and candles. We sang (really loud) to her and then everyone started clapping for her. (Emily wouldn’t let her take the headband off, so everyone knew it was her big day. I’m not so sure she was happy about this, but she was a really good sport.) Today was the first day I didn’t have to go to a store to get anything after dinner, so Christine and I went back to the cabin to rest. (Yeah!)
Our group was the first to get in line for Chapel again, and loved having the front row. (If I can get the video to load, you can watch them ‘dancing in’ the worship team. It is so fun to see them screaming and jumping around excited to be worshiping God. After the dancing and stretching, the real praise began. We sang songs projected onto the large screen and then heard Oscar’s witness talk. He discussed how we need to know that God is on our side in hard times and that no matter how bad things get, He will take care of us. We need to persevere through them, not try to circumvent them because it will make us stronger. That endurance leads to character….character leads to hope….and hope is in the power of God. He did a great job. He made each person look around at their own youth group and said that, “These are the people you are going home with. This is your spiritual support. Be that support for each other; especially in times of need.” You could see some tears in our teen’s eyes when they realized that they truly were loved by each person here. (Ok, so there were tears in my eyes too.) Have I mentioned what a great group of teens we have?!
Our small group time came and once again was filled with laughter and sharing. I really love this time of the day most. I get to hear all of the work site stories that I miss because I run around all day from group to group. We share our “best part of the day” and do Hey Gods, Yeah Gods, & Mad Props. Tonight we ended with ‘glow bracelets’ in honor of Jen’s birthday and then were told that they had to hook up with someone who had the same color bracelet that they did (either tonight before bed or tomorrow morning) and find out what their partner needs help with in their spiritual life. We made a pledge to pray for them and we will be reminded to do just that throughout the day (and weeks) to come.
It was a great day. We got a lot accomplished….but even better, we saw the Holy Spirit in everything we did and everyone we met. Please continue to pray for us….as we pray for you nightly.
(P.S. Hope everyone weathered the storms back home ok. My phone kept going off with weather alerts!)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Girl's Cabin

Lori Anne & Christine's to nature. :)

Party on the Rooftop.......and part of our wonderful 'Weeders'

The Gorgeous Teens, Ms. Aretha & a Shot of the roof!

Lists...and Patience

Ok. I admit it. I am an eternal list maker. Sometimes I even make lists for my lists. It helps me stay organized, on top of things, and frankly, sane. I love the feeling of crossing things off the list…no matter what it is. So please understand that this morning when I woke up, I knew exactly what needed to be done at the job site and was ready to get started! We went to breakfast (pancakes and little hot dogs, waffles, cereal, milk & juice), picked up our lunch coolers, and headed out.
John and Chuck left right after they ate to go to Home Depot to pick up a new screen door for Aretha and some screen to fix the screen door she already had. It was a nice little gift from the teens (and adults) to her from us. (She was very excited to receive it.)
We arrived first and said our morning devotional prayers and then broke into groups to get our jobs done. (Remember my list….so far so good!) Christine and the painting crew headed in to paint the living room trim and ceiling, Erich and team went back to work on the weeds, my crew started scraping the outside of the house to get it ready to paint, and John’s group went up on the roof with Eli. We were worried that the storm was going to come in around 1:30, so I really wanted them to get working on the roof. They were a little peeved at me because I told them that the second it started to rain they were to get off the roof. (The arguments were: it’s just misting…there isn’t lightning….you’re just being a Mom ~ well, I don’t care, you don’t know that, and yes, I am! )
Everything seemed to be going along well, but then Christine came to me and said that Aretha changed her mind and didn’t want her painting the inside of her house….she wanted the outside done first. Well, we couldn’t paint the outside yet, because we hadn’t prepped it. It took Eli and Christine reassuring her that everything would get done (on the outside and inside) that she wanted, but we had to get started in the house first. She was finally convinced and they got started.
John and Chuck came back shortly after we started and the ‘magic truck’ got immediate use. We were scraping the house by hand to get it ready for the paint, and John’s truck had the pressure washer. At first, Aretha didn’t want us using it so we scraped by hand. A couple hours later, Chuck came up to me and asked why we were scraping by hand. We explained that Aretha wanted it that way and Chuck said, “She told me that she didn’t want the teens using the pressure washer because she thought it was harder on them than scraping by hand.” (??!!) When Chuck said the machine would be easier, she changed her mind and let us use it. It went so much faster after that!
We ran out of a few things we desperately needed to work (like roofing nails, drop cloths, and wire brushes) so I made a couple of runs to Nicholson’s General Store. It is like stepping back in time. Everything on the shelves was priced by hand, the cash register was a calculator, and they didn’t take credit cards. The gentleman working the store walked me to everything I was looking for and even carried it to my car. (I remembered my manners and said Thank you….even though my first instinct was to say, “I can carry it.”) 
We braked for lunch and had our sandwiches, chips, water, fruit, and of course, snacks and cookies.  Right as we were getting up to work, the rain came down. It lasted about 45 minutes so a few of us rescreened the door under the carport, a few more painted inside the house, and each of us took turns playing Zoomey, Zoomey on the porch. It was a lot of fun and a nice way to pass the time. I made the teens stay off the roof for an hour after the rain. I was just afraid that the shingles would be slippery and even though they were cranky about it, no one complained.
Each of us had lots of jobs to do, (like cleaning the pole barn, roofing, painting, weeding, hanging a door, rescreening the sliding door, and scraping the house to prep for painting) and before we knew it, it was three o’clock. No one noticed the time, so we started scrambling to get the tools put away, the place cleaned up, and rushed back to get our showers in time for dinner.
Here is where a LOT of frustration came to play. Everyone was hot and bothered, the tools weren’t getting put away, none of our jobs were finished, and the jobs we thought we had finished were getting changed/added to/added on. The ride back was a lot of venting (mostly by me!) and a lot of “We WILL get this done.” As the teens went to get showers (or snacks) Eli stopped Christine and I and told us that TeamEffort wasn’t going to be able to send another group to Aretha’s house next week or else it would put them behind for the entire summer. He told us he prioritized our tasks for the morning and listed five jobs. Christine and I looked at each other and then politely reminded him that we have 7 open projects going. He had forgotten about a few of them and told us that we would have to do our best, and that what doesn’t get done, doesn’t get done. (Augh! This is my worst nightmare! Nothing to check off my list and no time to finish what we started!)
We ate dinner and then the teens (and a couple of our leaders) went down to the pond to play games. They had a great time and Casey even said it was her favorite part of the day because she felt like the group really bonded. (Wow! See, I told you the teens ‘got’ it!) Meanwhile, Christine, Erich and I went to Walmart (shocker!) to pick up some supplies we would need for tomorrow’s work day. While we were there, we picked up a pretty birthday cake for Jen. She has spent her past three birthdays with us on mission….and since this is her 18th, we wanted to do it up big. (Which means we need to get this blog done because I have lots of decorations to hang up after they go to bed. )
We made it back in time for chapel…and when we walked to the building, our teens were first in line to go in. Chuck and John told me that the teens got there at 7pm, (an hour early!) because they wanted to be in the front row. I was so excited and proud of them….and then, they blew it! (Ok, they didn’t really…) Every night they open up the doors and then play a game with the campers. Tonight they switched it up and asked for outgoing and energetic chaperones to come up and play the game. I looked around and all of a sudden, I was called out (BY MY OWN TEENS!!!) to get up on stage. (This is another of my worst nightmares. Standing up in front of 248 strangers and acting like I am outgoing. Ugh.) I did it…because they asked me to and we were escorted outside and told that we were going to play charades. I was supposed to be a bull rider. (This just gets worse and worse!) The teens meanwhile were told that they weren’t allowed to guess the right thing….they had to make up silly things and yell them out….all the while imagining that the person acting out the charade (the other leaders and I) was ‘pooping’. Don’t worry…they will pay tomorrow….I’m just not sure how yet. 
The rest of the praise and worship session went well. The counselor who did the talk wasn’t as good as yesterday, but the teens listened intently and were good sports about it. (Ask them about what happened when Eli announced that he was our leader. It’s funnier if you hear it from them.) Our small group time was great (as normal) and tonight we went around the circle and played “What was the best part of your day…it doesn’t have to be good, it just has to be the best.” I loved hearing them pick each other up with their comments during Hey Gods, Yeah Gods, and Mad Props. They are a special group and I’m blessed to get to spend time with them.
If you think about it…please say some extra prayers for good weather. We really need it nice to finish our jobs. Praying for you all nightly!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Aretha's Home & the Power Washer Crew!

Look! The blinds are white again!

Clearing the Brush! The yard looks great!

Don't Fall!

Bleaching the Walls & Happy Roofers!

Cleaning Windows & Roofing!

Ready for the Day!

It's Monday.....But it's all good!

Hello from the land of grateful teens (and adults)! (Yes Moms & Dads, I am talking about yours!) Today started out with breakfast at 7:15am…which consisted of sausage, biscuits and brown water, er….I mean gravy,  fruit cocktail, cereal, donuts, milk and juice. The mess hall is a large screened in room with picnic tables inside of it. Since there are 248 ‘campers’ here, we opted to eat at the outside deck so we could be together as a group. We scarfed the food right down, picked up our coolers and water jugs for lunch and got on the road.
Our work site is in Farner, TN and it is about a 25 minute commute to get there. We drove through gorgeous mountains and a little fog. (The teens in my van were taking pictures out the window, so hopefully when we get home you will have lots of pictures to look at.)
We arrived at Aretha’s house and jumped out ready to get started. Eli is our camp counselor and he is great. He began our day with a devotional reading from the Book of Psalms, and then Laura led us in a spontaneous morning prayer; ending with ‘Big’ John praying the memorare. After that we broke into groups and went to our ‘jobs’. Today our jobs included, putting on a roof with more peak points than I could count, bleach cleaning the inside walls, caulking holes in the bathroom and kitchen, scrubbing the windows and blinds, weed whacking/clearing an acre of land, and prepping the outside of the house to be painted.
I tried to tell Eli that my teens rocked and he better come prepared with things for us to do. He said that he had a long list for the week and we will be fine. At the end of our work day, he came to me and said, “Ok, you’re right.” When I looked at him quizzically, he said that our group was the hardest working one he has ever worked with and that he had to call and find out what other things we could do for Aretha because with the exception of having to finish the roof tomorrow morning, we cleared his whole list for the week. On the plus side, Aretha is now going to have the inside and outside of her house painted, and she is thrilled.
Aretha is in her late sixties and lost her husband seven years ago. She seemed embarrassed by the state of her home, but the teens made her feel like her home was perfect. I WAS SO PROUD OF THEM! Her house is in need of major repairs. There were holes in her shower where you could see outside, the floor was so soft in some spots that she put bricks in the room to stabilize it and keep people from stepping through, and the walls, windows, and shades were so dirty that it was hard to see out of them. The teens started right in and never made her feel like this wasn’t their version of normal. There wasn’t a single complaint and no one hinted that they were grossed out….I think the best look of the day was from Christine though. We were in her kitchen caulking her back door shut (yes, I know this is ridiculous, but it is what she insisted on….I kind of feel like I sealed her fate in a fire!) and Aretha told us that the reason she wanted it sealed was because a large black snake came into her home through the cracks around the door. I think it took everything Christine had not to run screaming from the room.  (She is terrified of snakes….so I dealt with that and she deals with all of the other bugs. )
We stopped for lunch and ate sandwiches, cookies, and chips under the shade of her free-standing carport. It was nice to get to socialize as a large group and hear the funny stories of the day. The teens really took charge and we made Caitlin be the ‘water’ girl. Every half hour she had to stop what she was doing and yell “WATER!” When we heard her yell, we had to stop what we were doing and take a water break. It was 91 degrees outside today and they were on the roof where it was easily 15-20 degrees hotter than that. We weren’t having anyone get dehydrated, so they did as they were told and just drank the water. (I think they just wanted to make sure I didn’t harp on them. Ha!)
We left the worksite around 3 and came back to camp to shower and cool off. It waited until we were all the way unloaded before it started to rain again. (We let the girls go shower before Christine and I headed down….they got stuck walking in the rain. Maybe it does pay to go last. Hehe!) After everyone showered, we ate dinner (bbq chx, au-graten potatoes, green beans, salad, and burgers) and then went to North Carolina to go to Walmart. (It is about 35 minutes from where we are staying…and is one of the only stores around.) I think some of the teens just went because they got to go in an air conditioned building for a little bit…did I mention it is hot and humid here? 
We made it back in plenty of time for chapel and it began with ‘stretching’ exercises to get ready to sing praise. (It was so neat to see how much our teens got into it. They were at a distinct disadvantage because being the only Catholic Group here, the other religions all knew the contemporary Christian songs, and we didn’t. It sure didn’t stop them from dancing and singing along with the words on the screen though. They had the most spirit of anyone!) Counselor Danielle gave the message tonight and she talked about her past year. It was her freshman year of college and all the mistakes she made that had her turning away from God and how she needed to know who she was following. It really hit home with the graduating seniors of our group, and our small group discussion afterwards was filled with a lot of reflections on it. We ended (as always) with our Hey God’s, Yeah God’s, and Mad Props. They had a lot more to say tonight and it is exciting for me as the ‘leader’ to see them really coming together as a team. We are truly going away from the upper class and lower class students and becoming one Saint Michael Community. It makes my heart happy.
The teens told me that they appreciate their homes and families so much more after today…..I do too. Thanks for sharing your kids with me. They are fantastic and that is due to their phenomenal upbringing. Good job Moms & Dads! Until tomorrow, Blessings on your night!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

We've Arrived....Quack!

Happy Sunday night! After about 6 ½ hours in the vans, and a stop in Jellico for lunch, we arrived safely at Whitewater Express in Copperhill, TN. Because of the ‘safe sanctuary’ policy that the Catholic Church has, TeamEffort Mission Camps gave our group our own cabins. They are much smaller than the ‘shared’ cabins, but the group is pretty happy about being by ourselves. The leaders are able to sleep out on the screened-in side room, while the teens take up the main cabin. We brought enough fans that each cabin has great air flow. (We will see tomorrow if the cabins are habitable in the heat when we get back from the work site.)
Unfortunately, it rained (hard) for about an hour and now the commute to the bath/shower houses are extremely muddy. Fortunately, the rain held off for us to get everything unloaded out of the vans, so our belongings stayed relatively dry. The cabins only have 4 electrical outlets, so I was really glad we brought the surge protectors/extension cords. (Have to charge all of those phones, ya know.) 
After we unloaded and waited out the little rain storm, we headed into Ducktown for dinner. Of course, we had to take a picture of the sign….it is a ‘quacking good place’. In order to get to Ducktown, you have to drive through Turtletown. (I can’t make this up.) As we drove into Turtletown, we had to stop and wait while a turtle crossed the road. Craziness!  We ate at Brother’s Copper Kettle and rushed back to make it to chapel.
The chapel service had a great big projector with the words of the songs being played by the counselor praise band. It was fun to sing along to the last couple of pieces. We made it in time to see the beginning video and hear a reflection by one of the camp directors, Rachel. She discussed the meaning of ‘foundation’ and how we each have a choice to make. We can choose to have a ‘loose’ foundation in our relationship with God and thus have difficulties going through life, or we can choose to have a strong foundation, thus when the difficulties come, we know we have someone even greater on our side.
After chapel we went back to the porch of the girl’s cabin to do our personal church group time. Chuck, John, and Christine led the discussion while Erich and I went to a leaders meeting. We made it back for the end of the group discussion and got to do Hey God’s, Yeah God’s, and Mad Props with them. Even only being here a short time, they came up with things to be prayerful about.
We aren’t sure who our camp counselor will be yet, but the teens are excited about getting started in the morning. We are working on a home in Tennessee, but aren’t sure of all the details yet. (They have a lot to fill us in on in the morning.) Speaking of the morning, our breakfast time is 7:15 so I am going to go corral the girls for lights out……which is technically 10:30 by TeamEffort standards, but we told the teens they could stay up talking quietly if they wanted….as long as they didn’t disturb anyone trying to sleep. (I bet this is the only night they stay up…..after working tomorrow in the heat, they are bound to crash early.)
Please continue to pray for us as we work for Christ in the community. Know that we pray for you nightly!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Gearing Up

It is a little under a month before we leave for our annual mission trip, and I am already a little misty eyed thinking about it. We have twenty-one total people going on the trip with us, and many of them are recently graduated seniors. Most of these seniors have been with me for four years, and the good works and service to our parish and the larger community they have accomplished is nothing short of amazing! I am excited about the prospect of getting to know our younger teens better as well. Each one of them comes with a wonderful heart and a love of helping. These are great attributes to have when working in an unknown area, with unknown people. Please continue to pray for the success of our trip, and the changing of hearts towards Christ. I am blessed to be with them, and am excited to get going.