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Blessings… February 16, 2007

Posted by G in random stuff.
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The snow plow fairy visited this morning… I have just been driving through the foot of snow in my drive way.  It’s pretty cool giving Orvis the opportunity to use his 4-wheel drive, but last night as I was going to sleep I was thinking that once it warms up and then freezes again it’s going to be impossible to drive through the snow.  As I was laying in bed this morning enjoying the warmth under my covers I heard a fairy off in the distance… when I finally got out of bed I realized that he had visited my house.

 Now… if I could just figure out what happened to my 2 shovels… I think it was gremlins…

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Happy Valentine’s Day!! February 14, 2007

Posted by G in from the heart, truth.
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forget commercialism, back to basics…

<3“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
 
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

~ 1 Corinthians 13

I Want A Broken Heart… February 10, 2007

Posted by G in random stuff, youth min.
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A friend once told me long ago that when I tell a story I am sure to let you know the color of the wallpaper…  I tried to leave that information and more out of this one… tried is action word in that sentence!!   🙂

My heart has really been challenged lately with how to step outside myself.  I have also been trying to think of ways that would enable the youth to do the same and have a bigger picture of the world.  Yesterday I was talking with Mike about an idea and he mentioned that it would be better to get involved with what other organizations are doing instead of doing something on our own.  I totally agree… this is how we interact in Namibia… by coming alongside those that are already ministering within Namibia. But it’s hard to find organizations that would take 10+ volunteers at a time to work directly with the people… and in my thinking face-to-face contact is important.  (don’t get me wrong… the behind the scenes jobs like stocking shelves and stuff are important and quite necessary, but for the kids to really get their hearts connected to what they are doing… they need to put a face to the people that they are serving).  So, this challenged me to see what is out there and what other organizations are doing.

 While searching on the internet, I found that there are MANY organizations out there focusing on the homeless in New Hampshire.  A few weeks ago I had read a newspaper article that stated that 7 out of 10 children in New Hampshire live below the poverty level… and yes the poverty level is a relative term… While researching, I discovered that as of January 24th, 2007 the poverty level is $20,650 for a family of four.  Manchester has changed dramatically since I was young and has truly become an inner-city.  Children are forced to learn how to just survive.  One of the organizations I found really tore at my heart… the Salvation Army in Manchester… they are reaching out to these children.

Four nights a week the Salvation Army in Manchester holds what they call the “Kid’s Cafe”.  They discovered that there are countless amounts of children wandering the streets of Manchester in the evening and they decided that they wanted to provide a place for them to come and learn, have a hot meal, play and make crafts.  After school they provide tutoring and from 5:00pm – 7:00pm they run the “Kid’s Cafe”.  They also stated that they need approximately 25 volunteers a night.  I immediately sent an e-mail inquiring more information and continued to look and see what else is out there.  A little while later I went in to talk with Mike about what I had researched and when I mentioned the “Kid’s Cafe” he asked me to get the phone number so that he could call.  The man we needed to talk to wasn’t in, but the woman that answered the phone told us that we could come down.  Once we arrived we were told that volunteers need to go through an orientation training, but once he found out that we run a youth group at a church in Amherst (and we’re not just a couple of wackos off the street looking for community service hours) he allowed us to observe for the evening.

As usual I felt a bit awkward… not knowing what I should do.  Mike & I wandered around a bit and found the game room.  We met a couple of volunteers from the Ameri-core and one of them was giving us the run down of how things work.  They do tutoring after school and then the kids play and dinner is at 5:30pm.  I decided I wanted to play with the kids… and they had air hockey… SWEET!  So, I asked one boy if he wanted to play… and I got the look of “who do you think you are???” I didn’t let that stop me… I moved onto the next boy and he sheepishly said “yea…”  I toned down my competitve instincts and let Cody win… a girl, Alia, had come by and said she wanted to play with me… Cody didn’t want to stop playing so I told her she cold play Cody and I would watch… From that angle I discovered Cody’s cheating ways… 🙂  Soon it was time for dinner.  I walked down the hallway and Mike informed me of how they set up for dinner… 2 volunteers at the ends of each table.  I still figured we were observing so we just sat back and watched.  Then a woman came up to us and told us to find an end of a table… at that moment I was wishing we took that orientation.  I decided to look for a table with either Alia or Cody sitting there and I found the one where Alia was sitting at the opposite end that I was.  I quickly made friends with Kirsten 9, Seth 9, Tony (he is 8 and has safety-orange hair covering the original blonde…) and Omar 10… I already knew Alia 8 and her sister Megan 10, but was not close enough to talk to the other 2 boys.  Michelle was the other volunteer and she took care of all the stuff that the volunteers need to do… Praise God!!  Seth and Omar were telling me that I need to come to the activities that they are a part of after dinner (it’s segregated by age 4 to 6, 7 to 9 and 10 to 13 depending on the evening)  Omar was to be in the game room and Seth in the gym.  I told them that I was just observing and that I was going to go to all the activities. 

After dinner it’s pretty much like a machine… tables and chairs are cleared and the floor is swept so that the gym is back to being a gym.  Seth began to beg me to play dodge ball and I thought I got out of it when another of the volunteers told Mike and I to play.  I soon discovered… I do not like their version of dodge ball…. kids vs. volunteers… and the ball is WHIPPED at the kids… it’s not a fair game at all.  On the way home Mike mentioned that they need to toughen the kids up… awe man… as soon as the game was over Mike asked if I wanted to go check out something else… better believe it… we went into the game room and Megan was in there standing by the foosball table by herself so I asked her if she wanted to play with me.  I learned that she is a bit of a mini-me and gets more upset than I do when I am loosing so I had to try extra hard to loose in foosball… which is usually pretty easy for me to do.  🙂  Omar was acting all cool as he was shooting hoops… and gave me an “I’m the man” look when he finally shot a long shot in the basketball game.

After the games I went to find Mike and he was talking with Bob, the youth coordinator.  We learned more about the ministry and the kids in the program.  He mentioned that many of the kids are refugees from the Sudan, Darfur, Marundi and other African countries.  That they are brought into the country by agencies that don’t help them at all.  They are basically left to fend for themselves and not taught the culture.  As we were leaving I tried to say good-bye to as many of the kids that I met as I could.  I could count on one hand the amount of parents that actually came to pick up their children.  It broke my heart to watch Seth, Tony and Cody walk out the door onto the streets in the dark… in a pretty rough area of Manchester.

Congress ’07… I pray it’s not the last! February 8, 2007

Posted by G in random stuff, youth min.
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I 3 Donald Miller!This year’s trip to Congress was quite an adventure.  It was full of fun times, silly times, reflective times and of course constant learning and confirmations. 

It was one of those wake up at the butt-crack of dawn… finish (& start) packing and head out a little bit behind schedule type of days… which all worked out because my friend Jackie was on the same schedule… so we both made Erica wait 15 mins….  After stopping for coffee and finding our way through Boston by faith, we arrived in plenty of time.  We walked an unnecessary 4+ blocks to the convention center and found some nice seats in the balcony… my favorite place to be…  During the weeks leading up to Congress Jackie and I were wondering “who this guy is” that is going to be leading worship, Mike Hohnholz is his name…  he opened the morning with “Beautiful One” by Tim Hughes… I absolutely love this song and I was instantly in tears… ahhh… estrogen….  Later we ran into him and I let him know what a blessing it was for him to open with that song….

We heard rumor that some of the New England Patriots were going to be there so we decided that we needed to stalk down the information and those that were in the know… thanks Denise & Bill!!  It was true… Don Davis #51… “my favorite” Line Backer-Special Teams guy was attending and going to be signing autographs on Saturday.

One of the best parts of the event was that Tony Campolo, Henry Cloud and Donald Miller were all speaking about relational missions/ministry.  It amazes me how God works and has people talking on similar topics…  God is good…

Tony Campolo really struck me as he was talking about youth in poverty and he mentioned the 20/20 special “Waiting For The World To Change”.  This report made me think more and more about children in our surrounding communities and how there are Invisible Children everywhere (I’ll go on about their ministry another time) .  I have a few thoughts on how to step outside myself and how to bring our youth along side…

Henry Cloud was speaking on “relational evangelism”… how we need to live our faith and show Christ’s love through our lives.  It’s a beautiful concept, that most don’t grasp.  Real people living their lives, loving God… not trying to hide their “junk”, but striving to move past it… I need to stop on this one… I don’t want to go on a tangent…

Donald Miller was also speaking on being relational, but the main point was the story that we live.  He also commented on the fact that we take parts of the bible and twist them into our needs instead of taking the whole story as the narrative that it is and then see how the biblical story can relate into our lives… and how we can live it.  One thing he said that really stuck out to me was “The chief role of a Christian is to tell a better story”… my take… why would anyone think they need Jesus if we as Christians are just living as the world lives… instead of loving and living as we are called.  The above pic was taken of he and I by Jackie… some of the ladies are still plotting ways for him to fall hopelessly in love with me… Kathy is drafting a letter… Mike is out for sabotage…

Another highlight of the weekend for me was when Mike Hohnholz also played “Beautiful One” on Saturday morning and later that afternoon we saw him and he said that he thought of me as he was putting his set list together that morning… “AWE MI-IKE”that’s for you Jack… 🙂