Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Summer in Bethel and all over the place

These past three months have brought lots of my BFFs to my little corner of the world, where the Cloud has settled for now.

In April, Sarah and her hubby Luke (Tyler, TX) visited New York, and we met up for a day of sightseeing and eating great pizza!

In May, Emily and Hudson (Columbia, SC) came to Connecticut and we spent a lovely day in Greenwich sailing and grilling out with some of Hud's fraternity brothers from Wake!

In June, Josh and Katherine (Nashville, TN) and Matt (Birmingham, AL) came for a weekend of reliving the good old days and seeing my life in CT!  Josh and Kat spent another night with me later in the week, after they made a trip to NYC to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary!

Earlier this month, I flew home to Illinois to celebrate Grandpa Corwin's 90th birthday and his and Grandma Cherry's 65th wedding anniversary! 

After the festivities, Taylor and I drove her car back her to Connecticut so she could spend two weeks with me!  My mom flew out this past weekend to drive home with her, so we had a few days of fun, just us girls!
                                                          Mom and me at Greenwich Polo

  Taylor and me getting ready to pick fresh strawberries--YUM!

This morning, the party's over.  My mom and Taylor have just started the 15-hour long drive back to Illinois, and I have a LOT of laundry to do.  I'm a little sad that all these much-anticipated visits from some of my favorite people are over!  But I'm feeling blessed by how much LOVE there is in my life!!

Over the next few weeks, I'll be traveling a lot with students!
{{I'm glad to have a few days to recoup before the party starts again!}}

On Sunday morning, I'm taking two students and one former student {now a college girl!} with me to Mississippi!  We're going to check out a new location for Summer Trips--possibly a place we'll send a larger group of Walnut Hill students next summer.  I'm really excited about the opportunity to spend some quality time with these girls as we travel, and for them to have a say in how we move forward with trips.  Please pray for our safety as we travel and that God would give us wisdom about this work site, a home for orphaned children in Columbus, MS, where a Walnut Hill family has just taken over leadership.  {The South is calling my name, and I cannot wait!}

Following fun times in Washington, CT on the Fourth of July, I depart with a team of 17 high school students and three other adult leaders for our annual trip to Nassau, Bahamas.  This is the absolute highlight of my work at Walnut Hill, where I just feel I am so in my "sweet spot."  The chance to take older students to a place where they encounter real injustice and to help them grapple with how God has called each of them to be an agent of His compassion is the most exhilarating experience.  Please pray for our team, that each student would grab hold of the God-sized vision of justice in the world through His Church!  {I can't wait to squeeze those little Haitian babies, or to be reunited with Pastor and Madam Joseph, or to see how God reveals Himself in the lives of some of my favorite high schoolers!!}  

After a week to repack and take care of some details in the office, I'll leave with our largest team (30 students and four other adult leaders) for Portland, Maine!  Please pray for this very young team (mostly 8th and 9th graders) as they serve with African and Asian refugees and as they begin to discover their role in the global Church!

Josh and Matt and I were reminiscing when they were here about our experiences at camps and on mission trips growing up, and Josh and I retold some stories from a leadership camp we attended after my freshman and his sophomore year in high school.  We laughed a lot remembering how this good ole' Southern Baptist boy taught us leadership skills--and how there was this undercurrent that suggested that since we were white and wealthy, we had the premium on leading like Jesus. {{YUCK!}}

Josh recalled how this guy had said that in order to be successful, you needed to shower in the morning {{WHAT?!}}, a message that presented lots of confusion about what it meant to lead well.  I came home from the trip thinking I had to be the very BEST at everything I did.  I have an old journal entry in which I had written a vow to myself that I would be the best daughter, the best friend, the best student and the best Christian I could possibly be.  {{EEK!!!}}  Those messages were so harmful for Josh and me in different ways; they were so NOT the gospel that our confused high school identities so desperately needed.  I'm not blaming my near self-destruction the following year on that leadership experience, but it is sad to me that those messages from well-meaning church people contributed to my confusion about who I was.

When I think about what we at WHY Ministries hold out to students as we take them on trips, that leadership trip experience is the exact opposite of what I want them to receive!  Instead, I want them to hear the message of the Kingdom, that Jesus came to redeem them and to invite them into a larger Story, one that is for ALL people regardless of talent, income, ability, or race.  He's invited them to participate in his suffering and his life as a part of his Church around the world.  {{I want our trips to ooze the gospel of his grace!}}  Here's to a summer of that!

What about you?  Where are your summer travels taking you?

I pray that the Cloud {{God's sweet presence and direction!}} will go before you!