Sunday, June 29, 2008

broken buses, bubbling beaches & birthday boys

For any of you who are interested in following up with how Mike is doing...he came back the next day with a huge smile on his face. He was happy to be at reading camp and seemed to have a much better day following his possible trouble at home. Thanks for your prayers.

The past few days have been a definite blessing to me. Tuesday and Wednesday were family nights at Impact. Tuesday was spent with some 100 Spanish speaking families as we introduced our summer program and what was in store. Wednesday night was expected to have decreased involvement, but God blew us away with a packed house. I thought I might only have two or three families from my neighborhood to pick up, but I ended up with two packed van loads and had to make two trips.

Broken Buses
: On the way home Wednesday night, we decided to take a bus, rather than make two trips to take families home. What a great idea, right? No. Bad idea. Very bad idea. To start things off, our bus stalled as we were politely singing "Jesus Loves Me" on the bus. We fixed it quickly and thought we were low on fuel. A few minutes later, we get a call from Dennis that his bus is broken over by Minute Maid Park. His was overheated as we spent about an hour working it our. God provided a water hose spout directly next to where he was broken down at. Thank goodness that we were able to mend the radiator hose and get back to the church safely. Needless to say, it was a long day (and week for that matter).

Beach: Friday could not have come soon enough. Myself, a few interns, and some teens took the early part of the day to relax in Galveston in the muddy waters. There were a lot of waves and it was free, so there was no right to complain. The night ended by spending the evening in Clear Lake with a few old friends from ACU.

Birthday Boys: On Saturday, Gabby and I took SeDarious and his two brothers Damion and DeAngelo to Zuma Fun Center, which is basically the same thing as Celebration Station. They had a blast. It was great to see them riding Go-Karts, doing the Bumper Boats, and attempting to play mini-golf. I have a feeling that we are starting to spoil them. But they need it. Who will show them that they are worth a day out if someone doesn't take them? Damion just found out he is being held back in school for the second time in a row. He needs some serious prayers as he learns and grows and acts out during his hard times.

Friends: On a side note, I was SO glad to spend the weekend with some very good friends. Cassie came into town and I we got to see Kelly and Julie. I also got to go to First Colony CofC this morning and was refreshed to be worshiping with good friends in a "close-to-home" way.

This week marks our official start to VBS. We'll spend the next 4 days working on throwing everything together before we get about 400 kiddos for the rest of the summer. I'll definitely be needing prayers for energy, patience, leadership, communication, rest, and joy as we work together to create something lasting for these children.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Mike and his mom

Yesterday was a tough one. Leaving for the afternoon is not always an easy thing for our children. For many of them, church is the only safe place they can run to and count on. Some of them have no consistency in their lives and very little positive relationships to turn to. For Mike, reading camp has been his safe haven over the past couple weeks.

As we were leaving on our van routes, all 15 kids were loaded and ready to go...except for one. Mike didn't want to get on. In fact, he refused to get on. First he wouldn't put his shoes on because there was a little glitter in them. Then he started getting fired up about a little glue and glitter that had gotten on his shirt.

After a few minutes of trying to figure out why this was such a big deal (and it wasn't about being OCD or anythng) he began to cry. Tears began falling as we coaxed him toward the van. A few feet futher, he planted himself on the ground and started balling. I talked to him for a bit, and figured out that he was not going to go home with anything that caused his clothes to appear dirty.

"My mom told me that I would be in big trouble if I get my clothes dirty." We cleaned the little guy up. The glitter was gone, and there wasn't a remnant of anything dirty. This still didn't satisfy Mike's peace of mind. I promised to talk to his mom and that it would be ok. He cried all the way home.

"Are you Mike's mom?"... "Yes, what did he do!?" I spoke with his mom and told her what a great kid she has. I told her she should be proud of him because he does such a great job and is such a bright little dude.

How scary it must be to go home in fear of loved ones. How do 8 year olds endure such hardship and trials of abuse? Surely God has provided these little ones with a faith and hope that goes much farther than this world. They are already stronger than I might ever be to keep moving on each day. Pray for Mike. Pray for the infinite amount of nameless others without a hope.

Here's a picture from last Friday. I took SeDarious, Paul, and DeAngelo out to Kemah to eat some lunch and ride some rides. We had a blast.

Friday, June 20, 2008


What a week it has been. I sometimes forget when I leave here how busy it truly is all the time. It seems like there is never a dull moment around Impact during the summers. Everything sort of speeds by out of control when we start the each week. I have been blessed during my time here already and it has quickly become a home to me again. I love these people so much and the opportunities I get to love and be loved.Over the past two weeks we have done quite a bit. We got our interns about 10 days ago and they have all been working extra hard since then. They're a great group and I'm confident that our teamwork will be outstanding. We've mainly been focusing our efforts on a two-week reading camp that we are smack dab in the middle of. Each afternoon, about 50 children come to strengthen their literacy skills by participating in a Charlotte's Web themed camp. They seem to love it.My big role starts in one week when we begin our mega prep for 4 weeks of VBS. I'm really excited about this part of the summer. On Wednesday all of the youth ministers, children's ministers, and interns went out to Cypress to do a ropes challenge course. We had an absolute blast! It was so great to see the way our teens stepped up to tackle each of the tasks. We did two high elements, which were a gigantic zip line and a huge swing. Needless to say, I am still very sore and achy from doing belle all day.It's easy to get caught up in the routine of ministry and just to go trough the motions. However, yesterday something happened that humbled me unlike anything before. I pick up one of the high school girls who is interning for VBS this summer. She doesn't live too far from where I am staying so it's not a big deal. Yesterday was the last day I will pick her up because her sister will be in town to do it in the coming weeks. It's important to remember that high school interns get paid once a week, and today was payday.

So as we are pulling onto her street, she says to me, "Jeremy, I'm going to give you something and you have to promise to not say no." So I say OK and she goes on to pull out two $10 dollar bills to me. She said, "It's for the gas". My immediate reaction was [impolitely] say, "No" which I had just promised not to do. But I caught myself, and let her know what it meant to me that she would do that.

On the way home, I couldn't help but get emotional. I had just experienced a true gift from the depths of someone's heart. I felt like I had never been served like this before. She took the time and thought to give ME something. It was a punch in the gut from above that it is not all about me and what I am trying to do for people. It is about what we do for each other. I'm reminded of the widow that gave two shekels because it was all she could give, but it was the richest and most savory offering to God. Marilyn's gift to me is sweeter than anything I could receive from the wealth of the world.

This was definitely my lesson for the week and maybe even the summer. It put everything in perspective. In other news...a ninth grader whose mom and sister are in a women's and children's shelter is staying with me for a few days. He didn't really have a place to go, so my "family" here was gracious enough for me to take him in for a bit after he's been with a different intern for a few days. He really just needs to know that things will turn out alright and there is some consistency amidst being without a home.

Well, I think I'm going to take a little bit to run some errands and then take SeDarious out for his birthday. Some of the interns went to the Space Center today, so maybe we'll go there. For now, have a blessed day and have some peace.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

summer in [humid] houston

I can't believe summer has already come and settled in. The last month, for me, was filled with the busyness of springtime graduations for Jacqueline and many of our friends from home. It seemed like there was a party or celebration or blessing every night of each weekend. It was a nice reminder of what church is and the kind of family that only God can bring together.

I write this entry from the Winter's home in Houston. I could not have asked for a better place to call my home for the next two months. I have the whole upstairs to myself (right now) and there is a Starbucks like half a mile away. I'm all set.

Tomorrow we start "work". For those of you who are out of the loop, I will serve as VBS Director for the summer. There is much to be done. We spent last week in several neighborhoods searching for more kids to sign up for this month-long experience. We'll get our interns on Wednesday and begin the official start of the summer for Impact's children's ministry.

Today I taught Kindergarten and was reminded of how church is an all day affair. I didn't get to lunch until 1 and then didn't get home until 3. Whoa. But I was blessed to have Tyree, DaJanae, Sedarious, Diamond, and Kiara sit with me at church. I'll try and get some pictures together soon!

Here's what YOU can do!: PRAY. Pray that I will make myself available for my fullest abilities this summer. Pray that I will stay focused on the core of what we are doing: Loving people and sharing God with them. Pray that I know my limits. Pray that I have a positive attitude. Pray that I don't stress. You can also send any financial assistance to me that you might have available. Kidding. But seriously.

That's all for now. I miss you if you're not in Houston. Call me. I have plenty of time to talk. There's no cable here. Very refreshing. Peace.