Last Friday Christi, Dad & Mom all made the trip down here to WV. It was super fun to see and hang out with them. We met up in the front part of Walmart where people are all exiting and trying to grab carts. Oh you KNOW we stood right there in the center and had a little meet and greet time. They met Mark, and Kelly and then after about 20 min. they accompanied us on our shopping endeavor. It was pretty funny for them to get a taste of what we do every week. After we loaded up the vehicles with food, Dad followed me "home" to Lincoln County. He did a great job driving the curves and hills. Here, the roads say speed limit of 55 mph but really, its just from curve to curve the WHOLE way. We came inside to unload, and Dad needed a nap. :)
We spent the weekend relaxing and driving around to see all the "sites." In Charleston we stopped to see the Capital Building and there was this protest gathering going on. Mom was scared to death.... didn't want to get out of the car. I thought it was hilarious. But we got out took our tourist pictures and overheard some of the most cliche' speeches ever. :D While we were in Charleston we walked around down town and saw some beautiful streets. Then we saw the coolest thing! I looked up at the street sign to see that we were at the corner of "Hale" and "Lee." It was legit.
On Sunday before it was time for the family to leave, we shopped at Walmart where I accomplished another summer goal and bought a West Virginia T-shirt. Only $5.00!
Now for the students the past 2 weeks. We'll call them "Week 4" and "Week 5." Week 4 came and I was excited all week because I knew my parents and Christi were coming. The group was amazing. The students were not the oldest bunch, but many were right on in their relationship with Christ. It was SO encouraging to see that they "get it" and some of them are just going to be sophomores. WOW! Week 1 was also great because an adult leader brought her 2 kids. Sarah Grace, and Adaleigh. This was a huge highlight. I LOVE just hanging out with little kids and this summer I have been so refreshed every time I am around a family. Their mom Kamber was an adult leader, and the entire week, she was an incredible encouragement to me. We just clicked right away, and I was just SO thankful that she was willing to let God work through her all week long.
So after an amazing week, my parents came and it was like icing on the cake. Then it was time for "Week 5" For this week there were only 3 church groups. One was from Minnesota and brought 7 students, 2 who were older than me, and 1 who was my age. So it was a little different than our typical group. The other two groups were larger but I connected with many of the girls right away. On a fun standpoint, this group was great. We could laugh and talk about tons of stuff. But CLUB was torture. They didn't really know any of the songs, and trying to get them to let God in was a challenge. Teens were focused on each other's opinions more than God's and it was tough to experience. On top of this frustration, I started getting sick in the middle of the week. I still have it and basically, I'd say my throat feels like the size of a pea, my ears just feel funny, and there's just a lot of gunk in my throat. John thinks this building is killing me. :)
Anyways... back to the week. I kept trying to change things up, but it just didn't seem to fit the group. I had so much fun with them, but it seemed like we weren't moving from the fun to the spiritual side of things. By the end of the week, we had our foot washing service, and I was still discouraged. Usually, things come full circle by Thursday. But this week it didn't when it came to foot washing. This week took longer for me to process. It's neat because the one thing that helped me was a conversation my site had earlier in the summer. John talked about how sometimes I wouldn't see all of the work that happened in these kids hearts. But my job was to still ask questions when I thought questions needed to be asked. It was about following through with what God asked of me, and not allowing the visible "results" to get me down. What seemed ironic to me was that on our evaluations, several teens put that they did not like CLUB, however this group blessed me with the best notes of encouragement at the end of the week. I had notes from several teens thanking me for showing them that you can serve Christ AND have fun.
Moral of the story is: God has taught me a lot in the past two weeks. He blessed me with a wonderful group that was encouraging and on fire for Christ. But He also brought teens who were excited about life and still needed to find the other piece... What it means to let God rule in their lives. The work is not done yet, but I'm continuing on, trusting that God will make it happen in HIS time.
I am now preparing to start the last week of programming in Lincoln County. I cannot believe it. The summer is winding down quickly and I'm desperately trying to say my goodbyes. A few weeks ago we found out that YouthWorks! is closing the site here in Lin. Co. and moving to start another site in WV. This has been tough for me to process. I mean it makes sense to leave for a while. The work projects are just too far away. We are traveling 45 min. to get to a site to do a little painting and small repair. And housing has been difficult to find/maintain here. Even with these reasons, it is hard that we are being asked to gently close the door in Lincoln County when I hate to see the change.
This year there are about 50 kids on the kids club list with about 35 showing up everyday. Through disciplining, chasing them off the playground to sit back down, and playing INCREDIBLY competitive games of kickball, the little punks have stolen my heart. I'm sure I've carried 1/2 those kids around on my back, done obstacle courses and crafts up to wazoo and yet now that its almost over, I'm getting sentimental. So be praying.
This week will be tough. We are saying goodbye to Kids Club in Lincoln County, but I'm praying that this can be a time where we celebrate the summer and realize that God really has blessed Lincoln County. I am holding on tight to this: "God was here in Lincoln County before YouthWorks! came, and He will still be here when we leave."