There is a tornado warning for Milwaukee as I write this, apparently. I didn't see outside much, but there was some pretty intense lightning and I heard sirens. Luckily, I was extremely pressed for time today and rushed to get my computer for blogging (among other things) before I knew, so it will be safe regardless. I'm much more nervous about getting all my responsibilities done in the limited time I have.
The last two days have been pretty crazy. Most of what was my free time has been dominated by more meetings to figure out what we'll be doing for the VBS we're running at Hopewell Missionary Baptist this week, which we started today. We're learning a lot about presenting the gospel to kids of all ages, but it's been incredibly hard and they keep us almost too busy to work on it. We have to come up with skits, crafts, songs, and games for the kids, all centered around age-appropriate teaching. The first day was the beginning of John, which isn't the easiest passage for the young.
Yesterday we went to church at Hopewell. Like Berean, it was a predominately African American church. It was a bit harder to figure out than Berean; the worship again didn't have printed lyrics, and the large sanctuary created lots of echoes and made it hard to understand what people were singing. I still tried to follow along as best as I could, but it was hard to get over the unfamiliarity of it all. It was nice how they honored their guests and still tried to make us feel welcome.
After that we had a few precious free hours, which were followed by meetings, meetings, and more meetings with dinner in there somewhere. The full-time ministry people met to work on the curriculum, then the weekly meeting team convened (I lok forward to lending my media expertise from Twin Cities cru to summer project) and then more VBS meeting. We worked on this until everyone was dead tired and pretty much went straight to bed, trusting God for the rest.
We left for Hopewell the next morning by 8:45, arriving while kids were playing outside or eating breakfast. We got some time to set up for the large-group meeting in the sanctuary. Around 10, we gathered all the kids up and led them to the sanctuary to begin.
From there things were pretty crazy. The VBS curriculum we were using was mainly for up to 5th grade, but we had kids all the way up to advanced high school age, which led to awkwardness at times. We hadn't gotten enough time to prepare the lesson for the older kids (whom I worked with), and I think they were pretty confused. The craft we had (making handy nametags) was useful for names, but kind of boring for them.
Still, the first day was pretty essential for giving us an idea of what to do and how to proceed, and I think many kids really learned more about Jesus was a result of today. Despite the difficulties we were still able to connect with the kids despite the cultural differences; I made a few friends while playing on the church's Wii and cards. Scorekeeping for their almost-daily basketball games was also fun.
But ultimately, today was a pretty sobering look at the challenges that lie ahead for us. We had another meeting to address problems and changes immediately after getting back; we again didn't have enough time before evening events to finish everything. I was saddened to be distracted by the men's Bible study by all the stuff that still had to be done. Immediately after we finished up I bolted upstairs to get my laptop and start working, only to learn that we had to go to a basement room for safety. As I felt kind of frustrated with God for seemingly not letting me carry out my responsibilities to Him, I was reminded that it's not what we can do for God that's important, but what God does for us. As a techie I place a high value in getting things done right, but when I've done all I can, I can only trust in God to work in mysterious ways to complete His will.
So, pray that God would give us reassurance in that and peace/relief from the high stress levels of figuring this all out. Also for whatever damage the tornado does.
Composed ~9:40 PM, Monday, June 21st