As August comes to a close, I find myself reflecting a bit on the last two months. It has been a worldwide whirlwind! There were so many conversations, so many adventures, so many relationships, and so many memories, that a couple of paragraphs will not do it justice. However, as the old adage goes, a picture is worth a thousand words; and so this month, I submit to you a couple thousand words and I encourage you to ask the teens who went to Romania, Algonquin, or any of our TNT events, what their impressions were.
Romania: July 17-29
This was the 4th teen mission trip in my tenure at Pearce, and our 3rd trip to Romania. Each trip has left me feeling like “This was our best team yet!” and this year was no different. I was so proud of and impressed with the Pearce team. They loved each other and the Romanians so well and they were quick to build relationships and serve others. While in country, we ran a day camp that included teaching wiffleball, photography, and self-defense. The remainder of our time was spent encouraging the church in Sigishora and building unity in the youth group there. One of my highlights from this trip was watching Nolan Hopkins (pictured above with two young students) grow from a child who traveled to Romania with his parents, to being a contributing member of our team. He has matured greatly and was such a blessing to me and to the other leaders. He gained the new nickname “Spreadsheet” due to his keen interest in Duane Eich’s tracking of the trip’s income, expenses, and receipts. I should also thank the incredible team of leaders who made this trip such a success. Duane Eich, Karen & Maurice Hopkins, Diane Johnson, and Beth Honan are among the greatest gifts that have been given to me in ministry.
Algonquin: August 2-7
I say it every year, but I think it bears repeating: our Spiritual Disciplines Canoe Trip to Algonquin is one of the highlights of our ministry year and everyone should go at least once. This year, our group consisted of 23 students and leaders. It was a fabulous week of community building and growth in Christ. There is something about being away from phones, computers, and television that helps us to focus and really hear God’s voice. Add to that the daily physical challenges of paddling, carrying canoes and gear on long portages, and the requirements of setting up camp and cooking meals outside each day and you begin to appreciate what we have in life. I believe this trip helps to teach our students how to work as a community, how to achieve some impressive goals, and how to love people well—even people who haven’t bathed in a week! If you get an opportunity to join us in the future, don’t pass it up. It is an incredibly enriching and life-changing trip.
Tuesday Night Thing (TNT)
Again this year, it seemed we had to battle the elements every Tuesday night. Our efforts to get together for some evenings of fun and fellowship were repeatedly hampered by the rain. What is it with precipitation and Tuesday nights? We did manage to get in a picnic at Black Creek Park, a couple of pool parties, a night at Seabreeze, and an evening at the Clubhouse. I love being with teens on their turf. These young folks are able to simply be themselves. We laughed, we got caught up on life, and we created some great memories—all things that I hope propel us into the fall ministry season. Thanks to all of those who hosted or drove for us this year.
It is incomprehensible to me that we are at the beginning of September already. There is something comforting about the routine of the school year. I enjoy knowing I have regular meetings I need to prepare for. Our Wednesday nights (6:30-8pm, beginning September 16) and our Sunday Morning Small Groups (9-10:15am, beginning September 20) are weekly touchpoints that allow the volunteer leaders, the students, and me to connect. In addition to these times, we plan numerous special events like our service projects at Chili Commons, our fall barn party, overnight retreats, and the traditional progressive dinner. To help with keeping families informed, I have made efforts to provide a number of different forms of communication. Join the pearceteen page or the pearceparent page on Facebook, check the Pearce website frequently, and be sure to get on our texting service by texting PearceTeens to 68398. Additionally, you may email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, call/text my cell phone at 585-747-8407, or call the church at 585-594-9488. If there are other ways in which I can better communicate with you, please don’t hesitate to let me know. My team and I are looking forward to a great fall serving students and their families, and participating in what God is doing in their lives.