Hey, I haven't posted for two days! Soon you won't hear from me at all!
This weekend has had some pretty intense highs and lows. Friday was our last day at Hopewell. It went pretty well; we discussed the Resurrection and some of the kids really seemed interested. We also got them into the reflex-based card game Egyptian Rat [Catcher/Slap/Screw/Race/Whatever], which proved to be a hit. There were very few kids in the morning, but more little ones kept trickling in and were quite a handful by the end of the day. One nine-year-old kept wanting piggyback rides, which was exhausting. My friends were pretty sad to be leaving, but I was mostly exhausted and honestly kind of relieved to be done. This was kind of troubling; I didn't think I should have been so eager to be done.
Anyway, after leaving Hopewell we had a few hours to relax before meeting up for the latest social event. I used some of this time to shave off my beard. I've had it for over half a year, since last December, but it felt kind of awkward while working with the kids, and was less than optimal in the nasty heat. (For those who didn't hear on Facebook, Milwaukee basically has two types of weather: horribly hot, humid, and cloudless days, and severe thunderstorms. A storm woke me up again last night, and hours after some daytime downpours we had more heat) Having a naked face feels pretty weird; after hte beard came off I just spent a few minutes touching my chin for the first time in months. Peoples' reactions were pretty good, but now I'm afraid I have a reputation for changing my apparance weekly, so I'm not sure how to keep that up.
We were apparently driving out to Oconomowoc (or some other incomprehensible Wisconsin place name), where a family affiliated with Cru, the Pekowskis or something, was hosting a party for us in their lakefront home. It was a pretty long drive, made longer by our taking city streets to avoid Summerfest/rush hour traffic. We got way out into the country, eventually reaching a picturesque road lined by old trees. (I wish I'd gotten a picture) The house was pretty amazing, with a great deck and a heated indoor poor (for wintertime, I guess). It was situated on a beautiful lake with a speed boat and pontoon.
After consuming some munchies, I got to go out on both boats. The pontoon ride was a wonderful cruise around "Crazy Man's Island" (Mr. Pekowski says you'd have to be crazy to live on it). We ran into the speed boat attempting to take people wakeboarding on our way. After both boats came back, I climbed onto the speed boat and we took off into open water. People then lined up to try their hands at wakeboarding. Most didn't have a chance; Jessi got going for a few seconds, but that was pretty much it. Still a fun stop-and-start time on the water. After everyone else was done, the older of the brothers who were piloting the boat got in and immediately began doing all sorts of crazy flips and tricks off the wake. It was extremely cool (and probably depressing to everyone who had tried it).
After we got back, grilled dinner was served and we pretty much hung out for the rest of the night. A fire and s'mores were made at some point. The highlight of the night were the quasi-legal fireworks, which were basically scaled-down versions of a 4th of July show. It was crazy fun. Overall, it was awesome fellowship and a great way to unwind after a stressful week. I was dead tired by the time we got back after 11:30 and pretty much went to bed immediately.
The next day we were helping with a kids' event run by City on a Hill, Super Saturday! It was basically a carnival with face painting, games, crafts, and a presentation of the gospel. Most of my work for it involved canvassing the neighboorhood handing out fliers and telling people to bring their kids. I'd had breakfast at around 8:30 under the assumption we'd get lunch during the training. Wrong! By 2:00 I was pretty dead when we finally returned to City on a Hill. As they seated the kids for the assembly (which pretty much put everything we did at Hopewell to shame), I had to slip upstairs for late lunch. After returning I hung out with the kids a bit and handed out journals (basically reflection/homework) as they left. It was hot outside and we were pretty exhausted by the time we'd finished packing everything up.
For dinner we went to Bayshore Mall again, where I knew there was a Five Guys (purveyors of the best hamburgers and fries you'll ever taste). Tim had to take his MacBook in to the Apple store to get a new battery, and there was also interest in visiting Barnes and Noble. I think I was the only one who got a book (a collection of George MacDonald quotes by C.S. Lewis). Five Guys was delicious, but surprisingly filling, to the point where I felt sick afterward.
After returning everyone downstairs decided to play "Underground Church"--basically Sardines, but with more strategy. One player had to go and hide to "plant" the church; everyone else then tried to find and "join" the church while avoiding capture by the two Roman guards. After this we converted the lounge into a movie room for Slumdog Millionaire. I declined to watch it, both because it was by this point disgustingly hot downstairs and because I was increasingly feeling a need for some reflection.
I was dissatisfied with how I handled the first week of ministry; like I discussed with Dave, I had trouble really engaging with the kids and I felt drained at the end of the week, not full of the Spirit. Project has been redefining what it means to trust God and showing me what true Christian love really looks like; it's good to get a clearer picture of how I'm valled to live, but at the same time it's sobering to realize how impossible this mission is on my own. I'm also feeling increasingly convicted of my sin as sin--not just problems in my life, but a persistent attitude of apathy and rebellion against God--as Owen puts it, an aversation to Christian service because selfishness has taken the place of love for God.
Today we went to Straightway Vineyard, the ministry site for the other vocational team next week. It was apparently in a converted warehouse, with one room set up pretty nicely as a small sanctuary. Their attendance was apparently surprisingly low this week. so Here's Life was about half of the conrgegation. The worship songs were surprisingly all new to me, but unlike the last two churches there were projected lyrics so I could participate. The pastor was informal, but Biblical and very good, remeniscent of Pastor Styeve from Hope Community CHurch at the U. Plus the sermon was on one of my favorite chapters, 1 Corinthians 13, and what living a Christian life of dynamic love looks like. One quote that was encouraging for me: "When people see that God is working with broken people, it's glory to God."
After that we went back out into the 'burbs to a staffer's dad's house for lunch. Much good chicken and fellowship was had. (And delicious dessert: ice cream sandwiched between Rice Krispy bars) This weekend has been most recharging and hope-giving after the week's discouragement. Next week we're tutoring young adults at Eastbrook Church, which shouldn't be nearly as nasty or cut into my quiet time with curriculum meetings. Be praying that God would use the broken people on our team to do His kingdom work and glorify Himself in Milwaukee!
Composed ~3:00 PM, Sunday, June 27th
Sacrifice and Worship
5 hours ago