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During this week, I learned SO much through, about and with the people I met. It’s unbelievable. The first step was meeting them on Monday and spending the whole day sweating with them at the Salvation Army and Rehab Center, which we also did on Tuesday. The next big thing was the amazing church service on Wednesday where we praised the Lord together and took up the offering of the bread and “wine” (juice). And then, there is Thursday. Thursday was the ABSOLUTE most emotional. Why, do you ask? Thursday was the last day we would be working with all of the amazing people we learned to know and love. The last full day we would be spending together, possibly ever. I guess all of that emotion caught up to us that night when we went to the “club” building to play a few games where teams can win prizes. After the games, we sang a few songs to worship. Then, Jerry, our Youthwork’s leader that did singing, and devotionals, talked to us about Jesus and about the feet washing. He announced that we would be getting into our church groups and the staff would be washing our leaders and our feet if we wanted it. They had us circle up and turned on some music. I guess that overwhelmed us because before we knew it the presence of God was felt by EVERYBODY. We all came closer to the people around us and the tears began flowing. We automatically found somebody to comfort even though sometimes we couldn’t even see out of our tears. But that was taken care of. People you barely even met came and wiped your tears off of your face for you. The love in that room was so immense. During that time, we not only held, hugged and cried with our own church group, but went around and prayed with others. The emotion in that room was the utmost example of indescribable. There was not one bit of awkwardness hugging other people. In that small amount of time, I believe I was closer to Christ than I have ever been. After a while some of us managed to go outside and even laugh a little, while one other church was still inside, washing people’s feet and praying. After that night, we were closer to each other than ever before. We went into the main building and talked and laughed for a while until we finally went to bed. Friday morning, upon departure, we were all tired and torn between wanting to leave and not. When it came time to leave, we were all so disappointed. At one point in the car ride, I placed Andrew’s t-shirt over
my head so I couldn’t see anything that would remind me of my time there. The memories that were created there will last a lifetime.
This entire trip was great! But the little church service we had on Wednesday night really impacted me. The whole trip I had been working on putting God first, because I really haven’t been, and because of that I had been feeling really guilty and like I didn’t deserve God. During the service, we watched a video about how God will never love us any less, no matter what we do. This really gave me a fresh feeling and reminded me I can always have a clean slate. Then we had communion and that reminded me that God died so that our sins may be forgiven. I felt like I was given a second chance. Then we sang a bunch of amazing songs and just praised God. The whole experience was very refreshing.
When I signed up for this trip, I had no idea what I was doing; all I knew was that I wanted to help people and work. When we got in the church vans to go to Savannah, I was pretty nervous, but as soon as we got there we were welcomed with open arms. I may be an extrovert but when we walked in, we all stuck together. We looked incredibly cliquey with our matching shirts and always standing in a circle. Just before dinner, I silenced my nerves and went and started talking to some folks from another church. These people were so cool and all throughout dinner we sat and ate while we swapped stories. Suddenly I was on fire to meet everyone and start getting to know everyone I could. When we got our work teams, we were a little awkward at first, but when we started working together, we were tight. By the third day, we hadn’t known these people for days; we had known them for years. We would skip down the halls singing out that we had no dignity! We didn’t care what others thought, because we were a family. As Sebastian Moralos put it, we didn’t have dignity, we had swag. Then from painting a house to dog piling a leader when they farted at three in the morning, we were incredibly close. We were at our worst with them and we were at our best with them. You know someone truly trusts you when they put their head on your
shoulder and just cry, but all you have to do is just hold them, comfort them. I will never, ever forget the relationships that were made this week.
This week I especially enjoyed the music and the singing. I believe that the music made me grow closer to God and think differently. I also came away praying more than I ever have in my whole life. That also helped me grow closer to God. Before I left for my mission trip, I would work pretty hard, but I didn’t enjoy it. During the trip, whenever we were working, I was always happy and enthusiastic. That has greatly improved my work ethic and my attitude. Overall the mission trip has greatly improved my faith in God and myself. I think this because doing work on the mission was for God and for the good of the people. All the work made me feel good inside because I was helping people, and showing them Christ. The work that I did this week with “team one” were, working with the Salvation Army, helping out at a Rehab Center, and painting people’s
houses for the city of Savannah. All of those projects helped me in many ways and blessed those who were helped.
I went into this week not really expecting anything. Sure, I went on the Wade Center mission trip last year, but each one is different. So with all I had heard about the trip (we would be sleeping in a church, possibly taking open community showers and being in the extremely hot sun of Savannah, GA), I didn’t know what to expect. At the beginning of the week, I was finding myself comparing everything to Wade-the music, the food, the jobs. I didn’t even feel like I was where I was supposed to be; it all felt wrong to me. But by the end of the week, I realized I couldn’t have been more wrong. When we started out, I felt like we were pretty cliquey (anyone would agree). We would always eat together during meals and hang out together in our room. Then, rather slowly, but utterly fast at the same time, we began to branch way out. We were put into work groups with kids from other churches, so that was the spark of the branch out, but then we got even bolder and branched towards people who were not in our church, or not in our work group. We made friends with anyone who was willing to ask our name and anyone who talked to us for more than one minute was immediately like our family. We became so comfortable around strangers, now friends; we were able to skip down the halls with dignity while singing Disney songs at the top of our lungs without feeling embarrassed. You would look around the dining room at free time and see a group playing cards, someone playing guitar, others singing along to the guitar playing, and yet others just sitting and talking. No one would guess that we had only known each other for less than one full week. These people saw us hot and sweaty, covered in paint. They saw us at our worst, when we first woke up in the morning. They would see us crying and without hesitation come to us, hold us and pray for us until tears cease streaming from our eyes. They would see us at all of these times, and yet, they still loved us. They accepted us for who we are. Bonds were formed this past
week, ones that I will never forget.
Servant of All By Susan Watson
Savannah, GA SMP 2011 with Youthworks! Ministry
When our team loaded up in two vans and left Montreat in the pouring rain, we could not imagine the week that would follow. We arrived safely at our destination, Grace United Methodist Church, and were warmly greeted by a humid 99 degrees F and sunshine. The theme scripture for the week was Luke 6:27 – 28, the words of Jesus: 27"But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.‖ When we were introduced to this verse and the idea ―Be different‖ during Club Group Time, it became clear to us that this week
would become a challenge to shake off complacency and apathy about Jesus’ call to us to ―be love‖. Jesus was different as he walked on the earth and interacted with this world. He was unaccepted and likewise, he calls us to be ―a special people‖ who are ―set apart‖ to do his work. (1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a dedicated nation, [God's] own purchased, special people, that you may set forth the wonderful deeds and display the virtues and perfections of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.) In this call to be different as Christ was different in the way he loved and served others, it was clear we would be different than we were before we answered His call to serve and love. It is so easy to stay the way I am and to take the easy way out of serving and loving, apart from Him. Soon after we arrived, the students were divided into separate teams for work projects. Youthworks gave each work team a name— ―Be Love‖, ―One‖, ―Free‖, Nonconformist‖, ―Wicked‖, and ―Security‖. The name ―Be Love‖ impressed me and reminded me of the theme verse in Luke 6, ―Love your enemies, do good… bless… and pray…‖ It is impossible to be love or serve the way Jesus did in our own strength. Being love and serving others, especially our enemies, is different and upside-down. It is painful to bear the faults of others and care for the unloving or ungrateful ones who curse us or hate us. Apart from His Spirit, grace and help, it cannot be done by human will alone. This week in Savannah, God worked in the lives of our Montreat team and also the work teams, composed of students and leaders from different churches who worked together on projects each day. Our team was called ―One‖, and we spent two afternoons playing BINGO and fellowshipping with residents of Savannah Rehab, a nursing home. Two mornings we worked at the Salvation Army in the warehouse and cleaning up the Store. When we worked outside two full days painting houses for the City of Savannah, the kids on our team were energetic and took initiative so well. It was amazing to see the teamwork and excitement they had for this project in spite of the heat and challenging conditions. They worked hard as a group and individually showed positive attitudes and cheerful hearts. At times, they somehow made the project seem more like a party. Shawn joined our group at the work site Thursday, our second day of painting. He introduced himself to the homeowner, Mrs. Caper, and asked how we could pray for her. I confess, I had thought of that sweet lady inside the house as an ―enemy‖ before that moment. In the darkness of my heart, I was helping, painting, going through the motions, but my heart was far from loving this person. Two of Mrs. Caper’s grandchildren came to the front door to watch us paint. They came outside and brought us frozen popsicles. They said they liked the improvements we were making on the house. When we finished and cleaned up the site, Mrs. Caper welcomed us
inside to pray with her. Shawn started talking with her and she shared about her life, her declining health and physical problems, her 23 grandchildren, and she showed us a Bible she had received seven years before when another group of students painted her house and signed the Bible and gave it to her. Shawn led us in prayer together, and I knew my judgment of Mrs. Caper had been ill-conceived. My focus was self-centered, not counting my trials ―all joy‖ or putting others before myself. I was not even doing my work heartily as unto the Lord. I was like the Pharisee who confessed with words, but his heart was far from Him. When we had our group meeting that night with all the churches, I suspected there would be a difference in our time together, but I wasn’t prepared for all that God would do. The Youthworks leaders asked us to separate into our church groups after a time of worship and prayer. We sat together in a circle on the floor. The Youthworks leaders brought out wash basins and towels and started to wash the feet of the Youth Leaders from each church and pray individually for each one. It was a powerful moment for all of us as the Holy Spirit overwhelmed us with an awareness of the deep, deep love of Jesus, that He would give up His life for us and serve us with His sacrifice and make us His children and forgive us and cleanse and save us and… so much was felt in that act, as we thought of Him washing the feet of his followers. We had responded to His action by washing feet in a symbolic way following His example, and He blessed our efforts with His presence. We prayed for each other and wept together for a long time, as we were realizing what great, endless love He has for us. We will always remember the closeness we realized that day— closeness to each other as brothers and sisters in Christ, closeness to each other as One Church--His Bride, and closeness to Him, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, the only One who is able to save us completely.
Savannah Georgia SMP Haylee Fortson
Wow that’s all I have to say about this trip is... Wow! It started out as a questionable experience and ended with a wonderful one. The trip started out like any gathering of many people who don’t know each other, quiet and awkward. But then as the week progressed everyone began to make unforgettable friends, who we are all still thinking about and missing. That was what really stuck out to me on the trip... the people. Everyone worked hard, prayed hard, and laughed hard all week long growing in relationships with friends and God. The most spiritual moments of the week were when we all washed each other’s feet while showering tears and snot all over our new friends. This hour and a half long crying session brought us all together. Leaning over each other and praying for one another’s faith and future. The praise was also amazing with just a simple drum and guitar we had a blast singing and dancing for the lord. While lifting our hands and praying, the sweet music showed us just how wonderful our God really is. We all experienced Gods greatness as we let the music ﬁll our hearts and lungs. The whole group would walk out of worship with the songs stuck in our heads and then the next day sing with the other churches as we worked hard in the heat. The work crews were spectacular as well, working in a hundred degree weather, trying not to let the sweat drip on the newly
painted houses that we all worked so hard to ﬁnish, then battling one another to get into the showers ﬁrst. It just amazed me how much fun you can actually have when you’re working hard. The showers where great also! Usually I would complain about having cold showers but in those circumstances we all would rather have cold showers than a hot one. I will miss everyone so much. I can’t wait to get in contact with my new friends and leaders. It is so great that we all have one thing in common... we all want to share the lords love with others and minister to the ones who have not yet seen the glory of God. I love all of my fellow Christians I met there and I will miss them, but I am glad to be home now as a more motivated Christian in North Carolina.
During this last week a lot of amazing things happened. For me the two things that meant most were the people and prayer. I made a lot of
new friends with the people I was working with. It was amazing to see so many youth working together for the same goal and their hearts were always focused on God. During worship time I was always overcome with awe and joy seeing so many youth praying and singing their hearts out for God. On our last night there, we were having a special praise time in which we washed each other’s feet. This was the most amazing part of the trip for me. We divided into our church groups for silent prayer and meditation. By the end of the night, I was sitting on the ground tangled up in a small group of teary eyed, runny nosed youth. We hadn’t even known each other for a week but we still felt so close and took no time hesitating before giving one another a big hug and lifting up a prayer for them. I love them all and saying goodbye was very hard but just having the opportunity to meet them and get so close to them means so much to me! And with God’s way of doing things who knows maybe I’ll see and meet up with them again during my life. Haylee and I even nominated one of the boys our human tissue!
Sunday- On Sunday we left Montreat. On the car trip Savannah read Hunger games. When we arrived, we got settled in and were briefed. For dinner we had Bar-B-Q sandwiches. Bed is at 11:00. So we have a lot of time and come to find out they have it scheduled, we have this thing called Club. We go in a building and they have a pile of mats to sit on. Club is like a worship service. We sing songs and Jerry (one of the Youthworks leaders) talks and then we got into our Montreat group and talk before bed. Monday- On Monday I woke up and got ready for the day. For breakfast we had cereal. My work team, which consisted of 4 Montreaters and 5 other people from another church were on the building clean up. So, after breakfast, we met in the hall and I am assigned to cleaning the girl’s bathroom with Ellie and Katy. After the bathroom is clean, we go to the
Club to do our devotionals. They give us special devotionals for the week. After devotionals, my work team and I go to get briefed on our work site for the day. In the morning we will be going to Chathan Academy then we will eat lunch (we packed lunch of ham sandwiches before breakfast) and then we are going to Savannah Square (a retirement home) then we will go to the Y to take showers. I go and get my stuff for showers and fill my camelback. I get in a van learn the names of my work team: From Trinity Church: A leader Billy and Crisno, Jake, Grant, Ellie and Katie. From Montreat Church: A leader Joel and Haylee, Elizabeth, Frank and Zach. We are riding in Trinity’s van. The name of our work Team is non-conformist. We arrive at Chatham Academy and me and Ellie clean classrooms. Then we eat lunch and head to Savannah square. When we arrive, we play Bingo with the residents. I go room to room and visit/meet the other residents. I meet a lady named Cathleen, Hudge and after that we head to the Y for showers. There is a big line because we got there last. After showers we head back to the church, where we are staying. We eat dinner and go to River Street. There are a lot of little shops. My favorite shops are the two candy shops. There was so much candy, my eyes probably doubled in size. River Street as you might have guessed is right on the Savannah River and there are so many HUGE boats. After River Street we went back to the church and did Club, which is like a worship service. After Club, we got into our church groups and talked about highs and lows and did this other cool thing; 2 people would tell about themselves and then we prayed over them. After that, we got ready for bed. Tuesday- I woke up at 5:50 to go on a run but there was only 2 people so I could not go, because the rule is you have to have 3 people. I had to be quiet until everyone else woke up. I was starving when Breakfast finally came after being up for so long. After breakfast, I got ready for the day and headed to Club. The theme for the week is “be different.” I did devotionals in the material that they handed out and headed back to the rooms and got my shower and work stuff together and climbed in the van to go. Today we will be working at an Educational Garden and at Savannah Square. When we arrive at our work site, I am overwhelmed by this overgrown garden with weeds. We begin weeding and weeding and it is SO hot after about an hour and a half the heat starts to really get to me and I am having a hard time focusing and I feel light headed and dizzy. I don’t think I could have kept working if it wasn’t for God pulling me through. I learned quite a lesson on how easy it is to get dehydrated and now I vow to carry my camelback with me everywhere I go for the week. After lunch we had lots of spare time so Sarah (one of the Youthworks leaders) said that we would go around and tell about our testimonies. I thought that this was an excellent way to get to know each other. I think that the Garden was probably my least favorite work site because of the heat but mostly because you could not see the fruits of your labor. After we shared our testimonies, we piled in the van and went to Savannah Square. Today we did crafts like bracelet making and painting. I made a bracelet for one lady and then I made one for Cathleen Hudge as well as painting a little box for her. I had to wait for the box to dry before I could give it to her and so right before we left I took it to her. I was so thrilled to see the smile on her face when I gave it to her that I am sure it was one of the most wonderful days of my life. It was truly inspiring. At that moment, I knew that I wanted to be a missionary more than anything else in the world. Even now, I am trembling just thinking about that moment. Everyone was already in the van ready to leave when I got in. We were on our way to the Y for a shower when Joel Barker remembered that he
had forgotten his camera so we went back to Savannah Square to get it. When we were at the Y, we were the last ones there again because of the delays. My work team needs to hurry because we are on dinner prep. We get done with showers and rush over to the church to make dinner. For dinner we are having tacos. YUM! I was starving and ate a lot of tacos, well, only 2 but they were big. After dinner I headed to Club. After dinner we went to the First Baptist African America Church in Savannah. I could write a book about this place but due to paper, ink and time shortages, I will only tell you one or two very important things if you do want to hear about it all, you may ask me about it sometime. There is something you need to know about me. When I feel God’s strong presence, I tremble and I was shaking during the entire time. After we returned to the church, we did Club and at our Montreat Church meeting Andrew and Trinity told about themselves and we prayed over them and then I hit the sack. Wednesday- I woke up and had breakfast and then headed to club and devotions. After devotions, we opened up our work project by painting a house. We piled into the van and went to our work site. We are painting a blue house into a green one. We also have to paint the trim which we will do tomorrow. The house is not too big which is good. We have fun painting and it takes all of our work time. I am ready for a shower and feel good after getting all that paint off of me. We ate dinner and my team was on dinner clean up. After dinner, we went to Wednesday Church services. It was fun. We did Club and Montreat Church groups and Alexandra and Joe is who we prayed over. Then we hit the sack. Thursday- I woke up and ate breakfast, did devotionals and went to the work site. The work we did was more detailed and it went faster. Then we went to shower and eat dinner. We played some games, had Club and then we washed feet and got into our groups and prayed for each other. Then we went to bed. Friday- We woke up, cleaned up and moved out. We went to the beach. Then we went to the hotel, did our devotionals and went to bed. Saturday- We got up early and had a long car trip and Savannah read Hunger Games.
This mission trip has really opened my eyes to the need of services in a community much like our own. I feel challenged to serve more in our church and community. I liked the friendship everyone showed on the mission trip. The enthusiasm to make new friends was awesome. Thursday night was inspiring. Working with the crew was cool and we accomplished a lot. So much work had to be done. Leadership was good. I could tell they really cared about us.
It was nice to hear about the guy accepting Christ. I love the people there on the trip too. It was fun to bond with some of the people from the other churches. It was so cool Thursday how emotional everyone got and how touched everyone was. I love seeing how appreciative everyone was when we were helping them and when we were done.
Savannah in Retrospect, Aric Moussette
God is faithful. I am awestruck that He delights in choosing fallible and broken people to proclaim his glory. Why he does this we will never truly understand this side of heaven. We see this in the lives of a bunch of teenagers and those entrusted to them. In Savannah we devoted our time among organizations that are doing the best they can with the plans God has given them and limited resources. We had fun with the kids at the Boys and Girls Club, visited lonely hearts at a nursing home, helped paint a house for a woman over her head in Hospice work, and spent hours laboring for the local Salvation Army. More importantly, when we went to these places we had the opportunity to pray with them. And that was just my team. Susan and Joel’s teams went other places performing similar functions. But it wasn’t what we did and where we were, it was who we were doing it for. We were doing these seemingly uncommon acts because inside the hearts of our kids there resides a place that fully realizes that their lives are worth significantly more than homework, sports, and social functions. Just like the rest of us who yearn to please our savior, there lies an authoritative desire to restore our world back to its intended meaning and focus. In all of our meetings, fundraisers, and work projects prior to the trip, the message was simple; let’s work for Jesus. Months before the trip we met, worked, and prayed together, reminding ourselves of this larger purpose beyond our immediate community. This was our common goal. The truly beautiful part is that God honored our intentions to serve him. As we sweat and labored together we shared an ever so slight glimpse of suffering for our savior. At the figurative end of the day, God was faithful to break down the walls of social complacency that can divide his church. God was faithful to bring light, conviction, and grace to the places in our lives we think we keep hidden from him. Thankfully, God continues to be faithful to bring those around us to challenge, edify, and help us to work through this sanctification. My continuing prayer for our Savannah team, our church, and myself is to bring the same kind of heart that we brought down there and bring it home. We need to bring it home to our families, schools, church and community. The prayer is that God will continue to use us as fallible and broken people to affect our community and world so that ALL will sing, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty!!!”
Georgia: by Joel Barker
“This one could use some help,” the nurse whispered to me as she maneuvered the wheelchair into the florescent-lit room and introduced me to Ms. Georgia. “What a fitting name,” I thought as I sat down beside this quiet, gentle woman at the nursing home in Savannah. The room was filling to over capacity. Bingo was about to begin. Billy and I had just arrived with our team of kids. Earlier in the day we had worked at a center for those with learning challenges. We had cleaned the building, painted benches, organized a storage room and sorted books in the library. In a couple of days we’d be out in the hot and humid southern air, painting the entire exterior of Ms. Diane’s house. Why? Three churches, each a different denomination, had joined together for the week. Forming six “teams” we fanned out over the city of Savannah serving in multiple capacities. We were doing this in a desire to serve our Lord and to follow his example of loving and serving others. But Bingo, was that a mission activity? In the past I had worked in far off places, delivering aid in floods and famines, presenting Christ to unreached tribes. I thought about it a moment. The verse that came to my mind was 1st Corinthians 10:31 “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” Yes! I could certainly serve God by loving and serving Ms. Georgia… and I hoped she would win a prize. Billy was an amazing Bingo caller, strong clear even voice. Steady and patient, game after game. It was obvious he was serving the Lord. And so were our kids! They paired up, loving and assisting those who needed help. I wasn’t sure if Georgia could not see well, or was just very slow. Initially she seemed resigned to defeat but as I kept finding and pointing out the squares in her matrices for her, she would slowly reach out with a chip and fill the spot. A few times she reached out and set a chip down, or thought she did, and nothing was there. I would gently pick up a chip for her; place it in her hand and point again to the spot. The first time she got Bingo and we called it out, a warm and happy smile spread across Georgia’s face. She won three prizes that day. And I was blessed.
Joe Boyd, Savannah 2011
I feel like without the planned day the teams’ worship would be limited and the members would be overworked or given too much free time. In order to balance the amount of work and worship time the day has to be planned perfectly. At 7:00 o’clock the staff would come around and wake up our mission team and other teams, they would give you 15 minutes to brush teeth and get ready for breakfast. After breakfast we were given chores to do. These chores could be cleaning up breakfast to cleaning the bathrooms. After doing these chores we would gather in the clubhouse and pray for our day and have devotions. After finishing we would head out into the mission fields. After a day’s hard work we would go take showers and eat dinner. After dinner we would do an evening activity. These activities could be going downtown or going to the oldest African American Church in the country which is in downtown Savannah. After this we would go back to the clubhouse and worship God and listen to a devotion. Without this balanced day we would not be able to worship and work our hardest.
When we got there it seemed like nobody was paying attention to us and we were just going to be in our own group the whole time. Then we started doing jobs and helping around the building and we made friends, it was a real fun experience after that. When we were working we got to know each other really well. One of the jobsites I went to was painting a ladies house. It was really fun because we were trying not to get paint on each other but then somebody flicked paint on somebody else and it turned into a paint war. The worship time was good. Each night we talked about what God did to make myself or somebody else happy. The music was really cool because everybody just got into it. And somebody started to dance and stuff which was fun.