Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Coolest Halloween Party EVER

Halloween Party of 2007; night of the mummy
click here to view pictures

What a night! We had such a great time that I wanted to post these pictures IMMEDIATELY for you all to enjoy while you're in the "Halloween Spirit," so to say. This year I planned the party with several goals in mind: include a variety of ages, include the parents, give them lots of candy, encourage them to watch out for each other, and give them a really great haunted house. Amazingly enough, I feel like everyone enjoyed themselves to the fullest. You can get a feeling for our events as you look at the pictures and read the captions. The key to this party turned out to be their small groups. I split them into groups, not by ages, but by bunches. Everyone got a character on their back and their found their group by figuring out what they were. By some act of God, these groups made the whole evening flow and brought the age groups together, since they were mixed up pretty evenly, as they watched out for one another. Everyone respected one another and stayed past the end. The most remarkable thing for me, though, were my helpers. I had 9 helpers and I needed each one of them. They really came through for me, scaring the kids, helping the kids, handing out candy, and cleaning up before they left. I couldn't have done it without them. So I think I will go get some sleep, and I hope you enjoy the pictures. I will remember this night for a long time, and I think they will, too.

Happy Halloween:)
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Friday, October 12, 2007

The building of our church

This Sunday we celebrated 70 years since the dedication of this church building. We had a special service with guest speakers and special music featuring the new organ bought after several years of fundraising in this church and investments made by many individuals in the US. I think there are many times that I take this building for granted.

We have a beautiful church which reflects the hard work done by the congregation members over the last 70 years and the other congregations that have helped it along the way. Would you believe that the congregation was saving money for a church building of their own for forty four years before they finally bought a piece of land, and then it took them twenty years before they were actually able to build the church. Talk about persistence and faith. Well, that’s this church for you.
I was also amazed to discover the story of our beautiful rooms upstairs that I use for my English Classes. Before the sanctuary had a heating system installed in the late 1990’s, the congregation met upstairs in these heated rooms during the winter, but even then the rooms were very bare and not suitable for children, so the Sunday School classes met in the manse. These rooms were remodeled with financial support from Faith Church in Minnesota in the spring of 2002. Our congregation members did a lot of the manual labor creating a pipe line for water to the Kitchen and improving the floors. The original idea for their gift was to provide us with a wonderful kitchen and room for Sunday School and Tea Time after worship. A few years later it served as an area for snacks for our first English camp, paving the way for our classes and everything that we offer to the community and congregation to follow four years and more down the road. It’s amazing how one thing leads to another.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The mature Youth of our church

Two weekends ago I dove into language immersion as I attended the annual National Youth Conference for our church. I’ve been to many youth gatherings in the US, so I thought I would know what to expect, especially looking at the program. But of course, many things about the weekend struck me as strange. It must be understood that the great number of people attending were 17-24 years old and either attending with several youth from their church or on their own. I hardly ever saw a group accompanied by their pastor. Many of their pastors were there, but they had other responsibilities, one of which was not babysitting their youth. I met some younger students who were 15 or 16, but they were usually accompanied by older siblings or fellow youth group members who could watch out for them. So this immediately caused some interesting developments. Much of the subject matter seemed very mature. Of the three seminars we attended, two were lectures not unlike a normal upper level 60-90 min college class without too many visual demonstrations or concrete concepts. The third involved us in an art project, which turned out to be an all day event and we came back after each meal to finish the project(seen in the photo-I don't know if you can tell that we're describing the scene where the adulterous woman is brought before Jesus to be stoned and he just draws in the sand), it was very intense I might add. There were many sports activities that you could attend like basketball, football(soccer), and petenque or you could also hang out and play board games in the tea tent(I thought this was the coolest thing ever). Anyway, another thing that was strange was that many of the presenters and musicians were over 50 years old. I love these guys, I know many of them on a personal level. They are phenomenal and legendary in our church. However, they’re not even close to the age of these kids. I think there were two events that I went to that were overwhelmingly received as incredible by the audience. No.1 was a “talk show” provided by some young guys 25-27. This looked familiar. They were funny, in a young but educated way. They used bad language, talked in a kind of flamboyant manor, and above all, just acted plain ridiculously on stage. At the same time they addressed many issues in our church and related to the culture of these youth. The audience loved it. The second was an hour long sermon on Communication using the Gospel of Pooh. No one thought of it as a “kid’s lecture,” in fact it had the opposite reaction joining their childhood memories with their adult faith. I really felt like the whole weekend was more geared toward Young Adults in the way that the youth were treated and the activities were planned. Maybe it's just because many of our youth have a more serious or mature outlook on life. In the end I really enjoyed myself, despite the half mile walks between each event, and I was amazed at how much I understood language wise.