Saturday, June 16, 2012
Hello everyone! Well...this week has been absolutely fantastic! At least it has been for me :). All week long I was working with the VBS group and it was a truly amazing experience. Those kids probably taught me more than I could have possibly taught them. And with Cerutti's permission (I have to ask real quick...) I'll tell you just one of the amazing stories........She said ok! Just one of the many friends that I made during this past week was a small eight year old girl named Stoney. She was one of the smartest kids that I've ever seen! Spitting out answers to our difficult Bible questions as if we had simply asked her for her favorite color. Besides being incredibly smart, she was also funny, kind, polite, and always striving to do her best. Well, it seemed like there would be no need to keep my guard up around this girl (unlike some of the trouble making boys in her group). Boy was I wrong. On our very last day with the VBS kids we taught them a lesson about how you can trust God no matter what (our theme for the week) using these small balls called Hoverballs. We placed one of these balls into a red solo cup and asked the kids if they thought the Hoverball could get out by itself. This question brought forth shouts of disbelief, which ended up being correct. By itself the Hoverball couldn't leave its red prison. Using this visual aid, we were able to tell the kids about how God can help them in difficult situations. The Hoverball represented the kids as individuals and the red cup was their problems or situations that they couldn't or can't get out of by themselves. By blowing into the cup, I was able to get the Hoverball safely out of its red prison. The kids went nuts! Most of them had a lightbulb moment and totally understood how God can help them even when no one else can. Well back to Stoney, after that display of God's love, the VBS team challenged the kids to show their family, friends, and anybody else their newfound (or renewed) trust in God's power in their lives. While the rest of the kids were exploring with their own personal Hoverball, little Stoney came up to me... "Miss Maddy?" "Yes?" "Can I show my dead kitty in Heaven the Hoverball trick? I want him to see how much I trust God to take care of him in Heaven." Well, I just about lost it right then and there. This little girl showed me just how much of an impact we make on their lives, even though we'd only been with them for less than a week! Stoney is just one of the many kids that made a huge impact on my heart. Thank you all so much for your prayers and thoughts. This was a fantastic experience for all of us. Though I'm sad to leave so soon, I know that there is just as much to do in Aurora as there is in New Orleans. Thank you! --Maddy Wilkin
Thursday, June 14, 2012
Today, we went to our job sites, whether it was painting the house, clearing lots, Green Light, or VBS, in the morning. In the afternoon we did a prayer walk and passed out fliers for tomorrow's Picnic in the Park that we are putting on with the other group. The prayer walk was cut a little short due to thunderstorm coming in. We then spent time organizing ourselves so that packing tomorrow will be easy. We went to dinner tonight at Mandina's. We all tried several different dishes that we had not had before. One thing we tried was turtle soup. It was pretty good. Before we went to dinner we went and saw the 9th Ward, which was the area that was hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina. It was a little unnerving to see so many houses still deserted and vacant lots. We did see the house that Brad Pitt designed and built in this area. It has been a great week seeing God in so many places and in so many people.
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
In the community where TCC is located, there are a lot of vacant lots because of people who abandoned their houses when hurricane Katrina hit. One of the most effective things TCC does for its community is cleaning these lots. The upkeep of vacant lots makes for less crime and raises the value of the houses. A few people in our group were sent along with guides and some people from other churches to mow, weed whack, and trim down lots. The New Orleans weather wasn't fun sometimes, but sticking through it was part of the challenge. All the hard work really paid off when people showed their appreciation. It was interesting to get to speak with people in the community weither it was a brief or long amount of time. The whole project just goes to show how effective it is to work hard and get out of your comfort zone for Jesus. It's super refreshing! :) -Bekah
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Yesterday was the first work day and there was all sorts of jobs to do. I was put in a group that went to an organization called Greenlight. Greenlight go's to peoples houses and then they change their old lights bulbs for more energy efficient ones. As we drove to the people's houses we got to know the people that went with us. It was fun to go to people's houses and hear there stories and to see how our living styles are the same. There were some houses that really stuck out to me one was with a little girl who was seven and she was brave enough to ask my name and before we left she told that she loved me. I was so amazed by this because this little girl who met me for like 10 minutes felt such feelings for someone she just met.It made my day!!!!!!! Another one was This older lady and she had a beautiful home and made us feel welcome.she offered us Drinks and wants us to go back sometime. My day was full of lightbulbs and fun. Not to mention the 2 Dona's. ~Emilie Benoit
Monday, June 11, 2012
Today the VBS group started out our day with an icebreaker. We handed out cups of M&MS and the kids each picked three from their cups. This let us get to know the kids a little bit before we started lesson. When we did start our skit we did the story of the roman soldier having faith that Jesus could make his friend better from a far distance. The kids really seemed to enjoy it! We also got to teach them the theme verse of the week which is: 1 Sameul 16:7 " People judge by outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart." The second group that we taught all came to the front and said the verse. It was really cool to see them all up there saying it! After that we sat and planned for the next few days then we ate lunch. After lunch we went up and changed into our bathing suits and went outside to play with the kids on a huge waterside! It was so much fun! The kids wanted us all to slide down on it. This was really cool because even though we didn't know each other that well they still loved us. This what I learned/took away from today. We should have a child's faith and love for God. We shouldn't question God and his plans for us. We also should just love everybody even people we just meet. Today was full of fun and some learning experiences. Overall it was so much fun! Keep praying for us! Thank! Hannah.
Sunday, June 10, 2012
Hey everybody! We are here in New Orleans! After a long drive from Illinois to Memphis and then Memphis to New Orleans, it is nice to relax at our new home for the week. Tomorrow starts the work! Fourteen staffers and students start work on Katrina rebuilding and six of us stay at the community center to help run a VBS day camp. There is another church staying with us and working with the same organization. All nineteen of them will be working with the builders, so First Pres. gets the VBS all to ourselves. But before all that begins, tonight we relax. Many are playing outside, some are preparing for the week to come, and there is a card game going on(which is to be expected with me around!). - Alex Dewane
Saturday, June 9, 2012
We packed, we drove, we conquered! (we set out at around 8:22) We also ate some fantastic food. For lunch, we ate at Cracker Barrel and I had fried chicken with three sides of country style veggies: mashed potatoes, French fries, and Mac n' cheese. It was very nutritious! Then we continued driving. Some of us had great conversations in the motorized vehicles while others of us, includeing myself, got some sleep. Eventually we got out of Illinois and arrived safely in Memphis. Then we met some of PJ's friends and headed on over to Beale Street. We watched the Beale street flippers do some awesome flips. We also walked around and visited a music store. For dinner we ate delicious ribs! Now we are safely back at First Pres. (of west memphis AR) We will spend the night here and continue our adventure tomorrow! ~John Gerhard Since this is my first mission trip I have yet to experience all that makes up a mission trip but as today comes to a close I have to say that it is not as bad as I thought it would be. The day started with loading up the vans and then on to the driving. The very long car ride then never seems to end ecpesially if you only got four hours of sleep the night before. I probably asked if we were out of Illinois about 20 times and then when we finally left the state I missed it. When we stopped for lunch at cracker barrel I learned how to play a new game and ate a lot. Then we set out on the road again funn........ When we reached our first destination we unpacked and then headed to beale st. To view the blues. We saw some amazing flips and heard some live music not to mention the smell and taste of fresh BBQ. Today was a great day and I can't wait to spend the rest of the week serving others to please the Lord!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ~Emilie Benoit
I am so excited to see what it is going to be like in New Orleans. We have been driving for about two and a half hours. We took a rest stop after a hour and 20 min. or something!! I am like oh boy this going to be a loooong car ride. In the suv we watched how to train a dragon and who knows what the twelve passenger van has been doing. I have just been imagining all week what the church will be like that we are staying at and how vbs will go! I can't wait to meet the kids and just show love to all of them! It will be so much fun spending so much time with everyone this whole week! I am sure it will be crazy! I'll let you all know all the crazy stories throughout the week. Please continue to pray for our health as we are down there in the heat. By the end I am sure we will all be exhausted, tired, and want to sleep! Lol well as you can tell I am bored in the car so I am impressed if you have read this far. Thanks parents for letting us come. I think we should be in good hands...I hope so. Pastor Jeff only slams on his breaks every 5 minutes and Jill and Cerutti keep chatting on the walkietalkies. Hannah is literally screaming because she found a snake under her seat. Alex Dewane is trying to put hair gel in rachel farnums hair and shaylyn and Maddy are quietly reading. So it isn't that bad in here. Well wish me luck! In Christ, Tia Carr!
We are off and on the road. Please be in prayer for safety as we travel to the Memphis area today. We have one 12 passenger van and a Suburban. We had a bit of a snafu yesterday when picking up the vans. We had put in to rent two 12 passenger vans for the 20 of us. Well when we arrived they had 2 suburbans waiting for us (that only seats 16 people), so after two hours of waiting and complaining/lobbying, we left with 1 twelve passenger and 1 suburban. So space is a little tight. Thank you to the Wilkins for their car top carrier, we fit everyone and our stuff. We will post more later today! Signing off now. Cerutti
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
The team is getting ready. We are packing and organizing ourselves for the trip. Today some of us are meeting to plan the VBS portion of the mission trip. Please continue to be in prayer for our trip, so that we can be the eyes, hands and feet of God. Also pray for safety during traveling and while we are there.
We will update again soon, so check back.