The last two days here in Philly have went by quick. Yesterday (Monday) started the schedule for the weekdays. During the weekdays we wake up at 7 for breakfast, have a small devotional time at 8, get together for the “P2 Show” at 9:30, have our group devotions at 10:30, lunch at 12, and then finally go out to our church planter for the rest of the day afterward. I like that we get to spend the afternoon and beginning of evenings over there.
Yesterday Shawn (spelled it right this time) and Jaret did the guys’ devotional. Then, later Jess and Lynsey taught the group one. They all did well. I think the main thing that has been awesome is how into sharing everyone has been this trip. We essentially have to cut comments off each time because we’re running out of time. Then we went to Express Church (our church plant) and started the process of tearing down the skate park of the Y that hosts the church. I never thought I’d be tearing down a skate park, let alone with 22 of my friends. Nick and I were a few minutes late and it was both hilarious and awesome how hard people were already going when we got there. I think my favorite part was seeing Mistie, from afar, slamming away at a half-pipe with a sledge hammer as I walked up. The thing that did suck was that Lynsey and Jeri stepped on some nails and had to go make sure they had all the shots they needed. They are okay and in good spirits, thankfully. Anyway, it was a long day of tearing down and throwing weirdly shaped pieces of wood in a big dumpster. We went at it for about six hours. It turns out that skate park demolition is a pretty good “team-building exercise.” I was seriously amazed at the lack of complaining and fun had on the high schoolers’ part. These students came to serve and are doing sweet at it.
One of the best parts of the whole skatepark process yesterday was how involved the pastor, Justin was. He was out there all day with us leading the charge, as well as three of his sons. Throughout the day he also told us stories of how their church is going as well as encouraging us to have an outward, missional focus as we grow. He’s all about not building up huge churches, but continuing to move out and plant more where the need is. I like that and his words challenged me. It was also so cool because he told Laura and I that some lady came up to him in the morning and said she met some people from Ohio that said they were with him for the week. He said she said good things and that it could be a good bridge to get her to come out to a meeting. I showed him the video of the lady I talked about in my last blog that Mat and I interviewed, and it was the same lady! I was amazed at how God is already using that small conversation we had in the park the other day. It blew me away, in all honesty.
When we got back, Jaret and Shelba shared in front of the rest of the people at P2 about what’s going on in Express Church so far. After that it was sweet seeing a lot of our people mixing it up with some of the students of other churches. Some of them stayed up way too late playing cards and talking, but that’s par for the course. I’m glad everyone is having such a good time.
Today (Tuesday), we did the same kind of thing in the morning. This time, Tyler and Theo shared the devotional for the guys and then Nick and Graphs taught the group devotional. I love how into playing a part everyone has been this week. I rarely have seen a more clear vision of how all the different gifts of the body of Christ work together.
Once we got to our site, we started right at the skate park again. Justin was only there for an hour, but we got a lot of work done in that time. Right when he left, though, we were told of a tornado warning and had to go inside of the Y. The next few hours were spent in the gym playing basketball and different games, with some of our people going off and doing various serving things for the Y when need. Some of us felt a little discouraged that the weather (there were also thunderstorms) was keeping us from doing what we came to do. Pretty much everything we had planned was for the outdoors. However, people kept their spirits up for the most part and we had fun. It was also cool being able to build in with the pastor’s wife, since she was with us that whole time.
After the storm passed, we took everyone down to this local park. Katie and some other girls had an idea to do a slip n’ slide as an outreach event, and we were going to do that at said park tomorrow. However, that’s not going to work out but we are going to do kickball and other games (we’re calling it a block party) and hopefully combine it with a mini teaching and testimony sharing. It’ll all depend on who comes out, so we’ll see. We might pass out some flyers and stuff. Anyway, we went there to eat our dinner and to pray for the event tomorrow. If you read this before 5pm tomorrow (Wednesday), please pray for that. After we ate, we hung around the park and played around. A lot of people also met and talked to others who were hanging out at the park, too. I know at least three people said they were going to come to the event tomorrow, including one guy who was playing his guitar and singing songs while some of our people were talking with him.
That may be a lot of unnecessary detail, but hopefully it’ll be cool to see how this whole thing progresses over time. I’m excited to see how God is going to use this trip as we move forward to the last couple of days.
The last thing I want to say is how crazy it is what a difference one small conversation can have. I hope I take more of such opportunities in the future. Really, I guess it just comes down to caring about people even when it gets you out of your comfort zone. That’s hard, but worth it.
“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Then I said, ‘Here I am, send me!’”
Here’s a picture of us at lunch yesterday.