Guess who’s back?
Yes, last Tuesday I returned home after spending five weeks serving on Christian Endeavor’s summer staff, and now that I’m finally rested up (well, mostly), it’s time to get back into the blogging routine. What better way to do that than by giving you a summary* of what I’ve been up to for the past month?
For those who may have missed my Blogkeeping announcement at the end of June and are totally confused by everything I just said, here’s a quick rundown: This summer, I got a job with an organization called Christian Endeavor, which, among other things, hosts four weeks of summer missions trips called “Mission Weeks.” As part of their summer staff, I traveled with the team to our sites in West Virginia and North Carolina and ran the “Camp Office,” among other responsibilities I picked up as needed.
So, now that you’re all caught up, here’s what I’ve been doing for the past few weeks!
*see what I did there? Sorry, I can’t resist a good pun
I spent the first week doing staff training with the four other summer staff members and our two leaders. For the most part, this involved learning about our different roles, discussing “case studies” – different situations we might encounter and how to handle them – and going through different team-building activities.
It wasn’t all work though; there were plenty of fun moments as well! We spent one day hiking at a state park, and even though it was long and pretty tough, we got to see some awesome waterfalls, so it was worth it. The five of us summer staffers also got to spend some downtime watching movies and TV shows together, which was fun in its own way.
After about a week of training, we drove down to West Virginia for the first two weeks of our summer. The first week was particularly special to me, since my home church was joining us! Even though I had my job and they were busy at their worksite, I was still able to spend some time with them, which was nice. During the half-day on Wednesday, I got to go out to dinner with them, too.
The second week was a little different, since about half our team was down in Mexico doing another Missions Week there. Even though we were a bit short-handed in West Virginia, we only ran into a few glitches, which was definitely a blessing.
During both weeks, I had the chance to go and visit the different worksites the churches were working at, and even though I didn’t know all of the details of each project, I still saw a lot being done to impact the community and people living there. The projects included things like building decks and porches, fixing and remodeling bathrooms, drywalling, painting, and so on. In the past, I’d really just been limited to what I saw on my church’s worksite, so see the broader picture of everything that was being done was amazing.
We also had a few days off throughout – one we spent at the movies watching Spiderman: Homecoming (which I thought was an awesome movie), and another day, we went hiking and saw a neat waterfall. The waterfall was especially fun, since we were able to climb up and see it from above.
After two weeks in West Virginia, we packed up and drove another eight hours south to North Carolina. It was a good, if not pretty eventful, drive. I spent about half of it in one car with one of the other staffers, listening to the Hamilton soundtrack, and then right after lunch, we found out some of our Mexico team had to be picked up from the airport, so I went on that detour.
Fortunately, we all arrived in North Carolina safely, and the two weeks we spent there were also amazing! It was a bit of an adjustment, since there were a lot more people there, and I was having to get re-settled-in at an unfamiliar location, but all things considered, the time we spent there was great!
Like in West Virginia, I had the chance to go out and see the different worksites in North Carolina as well. There were some similar projects, like building decks and stairs, but the groups were also involved in different things, like staining wood, repairing community buildings, and doing yard work. There were a lot of projects being done, and many of them were brought to completion!
We enjoyed some days off in North Carolina as well, most of which were spent at the beaches nearby. I hadn’t been to any beach in years, so I really had a good time with my friends/co-workers, and a lot of great memories were made.
As I look back on this adventure and all of the things I’ve told you, I know there’s a lot more that I could say. I could tell you the story about how one of my coworkers dislocated his shoulder, or I could tell you about the awesome drive we had going home, but perhaps those are tales for another day (this post is already running long).
One thing that I loved about this experience, however, was seeing all of the teenagers* getting involved in making a difference. Yes, a lot of that was working on the different projects, which I know were a huge help to the homeowners, but I also got to see a lot of them get involved in other ways. We only had one staffer running tech for our evening chapel-like services, so a couple of teens stepped up to help him with that, and a number of others lent their musical talents to our worship time. There were teens helping in the kitchen, and others just volunteering for odd jobs when needed. It was awesome.
A lot of times, we tend to look at teenagers and say, “Well, one day, when you’re older, you can have an impact on the world.” But why not now? Young people are just as capable of service as any adult, and I got to see that firsthand these last four weeks. So as I wrap this up (for now, at least), I just want to say this: Don’t be afraid to have high expectations for young people, and don’t be afraid to encourage them to do big things. You’ll be amazed at what they can accomplish.
*I know that being 19, I’m still technically a teenager. By “teenager” in this context, I mean high school/middle school students.
If you have any questions for me, let me know in the comments! I’d be happy to talk more about the experience!
Until next time!
P.S. If you missed it, I posted a few things while I was away. You can check them out below.