Montreat Youth Conference Day 2

Montreat Youth Conference Day 2

Monday is a very special day in the life of Montreat Youth Conference participant.  On Monday morning, after the first keynote, you get to meet your small group for the first time.  The small groups are not as small as one would normally think, usually having between 25-30 participants, which, admittedly, is much smaller than the large group of 1,200 youth.  The small groups are seemingly random, but the idea is to not have someone from your back home group in your small group.  This allows you to have meaningful conversations with other Christians who care about you but won’t be able to hold any revelations about you over you in front of your friends.  It is a powerful process that has worked for many, many years.  Strangers on Monday leave Friday, sometimes forming life long bonds.

Small groups usually break into smaller groups to have more meaningful conversations and to dig deeper into the messages of the day.  After a stirring keynote, where several hot point were brought up, participants moved to their small groups.  Keynote brought up important topics that we were able to unpack in the small groups.

After an all-too-brief lunch (and important nap) break, we were back with our small groups learning more about each other and trying to define what peace is.  We looked at famous peacemakers and talked about what it means to be a peacemaker.

Worship tonight was lively!  None of the youth had trouble following where the preacher as going with his sermon.  He was able to relate his family’s struggles as Asian-Americans to everyone in the room.  He was able to help us understand what peace means in the face of persecution because of the color of your skin.  He talked about his grandmother and the inspiration she was to his life.  And he helped us understand Jesus’ words about peace when he met his disciples in a locked house after his resurrection.

Please continue to be in prayer for us as we experience God’s peace this week!

— Adrian Martin

Montreat Youth Conference Day 1

Montreat Youth Conference Day 1

We arrived at Montreat, with 22 youth ready to participate in the Youth Conference.  This conference has been around for many, many years.  I started attending way back in 1990 (and that was nowhere near the first one!); that conference has stuck with me all these years later.  I remember the theme (“Just Before Daybreak”), members of my small group 33 (our chant was, “33, you can divide by 11!”), parts of the theme song (“So won’t you meet me just before daybreak, before the morning comes…”), and some of the daily themes.  This conference helped to shape who I am and continues to shape me to this day.

As we bring these youth to the conference this week, I am hoping that God will move in their lives and make this a memorable and life changing experience for them.  The theme this week is “The Missing Peace.”

Please be in prayer for everyone at the conference.  We are sharing this week with 1200 other youth (yes, that is one THOUSAND two hundred youth!) and are looking forward to the Spirit’s work in our lives.

— Adrian Martin

Charlotte Mission Adventure Day 2

Having a dozen middle school students for three days straight is a tough gig, no matter who you are.  On day two, though, these young people continue to amaze me with their kind hearts, quick smiles, and, well, clumsiness.

Today we began our day serving at the Carolina Raptor Center up in Huntersville.  We raked their trails to prepare them to have more gravel added to them.  Our job was to remove the debris like leaves, sticks, and even weeds so when the new gravel was added, it would go down smoothly.  We spent our whole time at the CRC raking the trails by the bird hospital and cages where injured birds recovered.

After a quick break for lunch, we traveled to Plantation Estates and played games with some of the residents of the medical section.  We split into two groups and one played bunko and the other had a wonderful time bowling.  Our youth really brightened everyone’s day with their energy and thoughtfulness.   Without prompting, they included the residents of PE and even made them feel very special.

So you’ve heard about the kind hearts and quick smiles, but the clumsiness?  We played laser tag tonight and one of our youth walked into a wall while playing.  Twice.  In her defense, the arena is darker with black walls and black dividers to create corridors.  But to run into the wall twice?  And then, in a stroke of pure awesomeness, she unfortunately ran into a wall in the Sardis House.  Thankfully her mom is spending the night with us and after she stopped laughing, was able to make sure her daughter was OK.

Please continue to be in prayers for our middle school students.  They love to help others and look forward to serving tomorrow!

— Adrian Martin

Middle School Charlotte Mission Adventure Day 1

I love middle school students!  They are full of energy, enthusiasm, and willingness to help others.  Today, we began the Charlotte Mission Adventure with 13 middle school students.  Over three days and two nights, we will serve at six different locations helping others in our community.

Today we began our morning at Rama Road Elementary School helping with some painting projects, including the blue safety line and the bright yellow concrete poles that separate the children from the buses.  We also painted four of the benches that the car riders hang out on.

While some youth had never painted anything before, some seemed like old pros.  It was nice to see everyone pitching in and helping as they were able.  Even hobbling around on the crutches as I was, I was able to lend a hand and show some painting techniques (and even quoted The Karate Kid – “paint the fence, up and down not side to side”).

After a brief lunch at church, we headed out to clean our section of the stream that runs beside Sardis Road.  Our group cleaned close to a mile of the stream and pulled quite a bit of trash from it.  Everything that is thrown from a passing car goes some place and unfortunately, most of it winds up in the stream.  So we cleaned it up and help tidy up God’s kingdom.

After an all you can eat pizza buffet, we headed over to David Abercrombie’s house for his infamous slip and slide.  The youth loved it!  David usually hosts high school students (as he has been a high school Advisor for long enough that one of his former youth now has a child in youth at Sardis!) but had a blast hosting the very energetic middle school students.  They loved sliding down his hill and couldn’t get back up the hill fast enough to do it again!

We had a devotion tonight about serving everyone, even “…the least of these…” as Jesus put it.  The middle school students’ insight and hearts should encourage everyone, especially our church and their parents.

Please be in prayer for us as we continue to serve in Christ’s name!

— Adrian Martin

Day 7 by Jack Bohlen

Day 7

Yesterday we arrived in Cusco on the bus and we checked into our hotel. It’s also a school built in so a couple of the guys and I played basketball. Next we walked through the plaza in the city and looked at cathedrals and political cartoons of trump and Bill Clinton. We then arrived to the market which was actually inside. There we shopped for all kinds of nicnacks and alpaca apparel. It was a fun experience because we could barter for prices so of course Adrian got ripped off and payed 40 soles too much for an alpaca blanket but he’s still a little mad about it so we try not to bring it up. After that we came back to the hotel to drop off our things and head to museums and dinner. First we went to the Incan museum and saw some of the ancient architecture and culture. Second we went to a chocolate factory where we got to try some chocolate and taste some of their desserts. During the tasting Kyle Bartel came up with a cool alpaca sweatshirt and told us he got it below in a handmade store for a reasonable price. After that everyone started to slowly migrate down to the store until we were swarming the place. A lot of us bought some alpaca gear and we all started to dress like natives even though we don’t look them. Lastly we went to a buffet dinner where we ate tasty alpaca and different types of potatoes and ended the evening with a show where a man made everyone a drink that helped with sickness. Currently everyone is healthy and ready to go to machu picchu where we will not be able to blog.

-Jack Bohlen

Peru Update by Adrian Martin

First I must apologize that we have not updated the blog in a couple of days.  We have some injuries and illnesses running through our group and that taken its toll on us.  First on Saturday evening, one of our youth slipped in the bathroom and hit her head pretty good, so we (Carrie, Rev. Sara, and I) drove with her to the hospital.  She checked out quite fine, but gave us a good scare for a bit.  Unfortunately, we did not think of getting the computer before we left so no one could post.  Then last night, I was hit by the illness that I spreading through us and the Peruvian workers and it kept me in bed for the entire afternoon and through this morning.  I’m still not 100%, but I am hoping to get there soon.

On Saturday, we worked hard to finish up our goal of getting the seven footers placed.  This is a five foot deep hole by at least six feet long and four feet wide.  We had to dig that out, place the 25 foot rebar studs in the holes, then pour concrete to stabilize it.  Getting the rebar in was tough as it kept wanting to tip over, so we have several people helping to stabilize it while the Peruvian workers tied it down.  Making concrete began as a process of shoveling.  A lot of shoveling.  We needed 150 shovelfuls of the gravel mixture per three bags of concrete.  Then we had to turn the pile over three times to mix it up.  Then the water was added and there was plenty more mixing.  Then we had to put it in wheelbarrows and drop it in the holes, adding large rocks that we cleaned earlier for support.

Later on Saturday afternoon, a concrete mixer machine did arrive and we were able to crank out some serious concrete.  We were able to finish the footers late Saturday afternoon and then enjoy a much needed rest.  Well, until the head injury occurred.

On Sunday, we began with a wonderful worship service that was translated between English and Spanish.  It was wonderful to experience Christian community with our brothers and sisters in another country.  The preaching was decent (at the request of the Peruvian pastor, I preached about “Following Jesus”) but to me the real highlights were when three of our girls (Caroline A., Camden, and Meredith) sang a song that moved some people to tears for how awesome an offering to God it was.  We also celebrated Communion and it was great to see us all come together around the table.

After worship and lunch, folks went hiking to see some of the wonderful sites around Urcos and then went to the market.  Unfortunately, this is when the illness began to claim its next victims and three of us (myself included) could not be out and about.

We are all on the mend and are excited about the next adventure on our trip: heading to Cusco and then onto Machu Picchu!

I am hoping to get some of the youth who had volunteered to write the blog to do so on our bus ride to Cusco this morning and then we can upload more later today.

Your continued prayers are really important to us!

Day Four by Jack Bohlen

I am 15 and I go to Providence High School. Day 4 of Peru was much more exhausting than yesterday. Today we worked with all the cement pouring and when you don’t have any machines to move materials or mix cement it’s a little more complex. Digging cement and the red clay in the 4 ½ feet deep holes is not at all like dirt or beach sand so the shovels up to the surface or into the wheelbarrow is much heavier and is hard on the back. This however made lunch and dinner taste so much better. Another challenge is the thin air and altitude. I myself have exercise induced asthma so bending down and shoveling with a mask on to keep out the dirt and dust makes it very hard to breath. So we have a saying that is get swoll. It means get stronger basically and it’s a fun saying to give us motivation and keep on going. Although we try our hardest we still can’t do anything right.  The Peruvians told me I needed to get out of the hole because he was afraid I would mess up which I was because they wanted perfect rectangles and I had a blob. You might think digging rectangles in clay with a pickaxe and shovel is easy but you are wrong. Every time I would scoop out my chiseled clay it the hole would look the exact same as it did before.

I did meet one man at the site who is a pretty cool guy. He was born in Italy but lived in Columbia so he can speak Spanish very well. His English however needs a little work but he gets the message across. And the first day he said I need strong brothers to help me and he pointed at me and Charlie Tucker. So I looked behind me to make sure he was actually pointing at me and indeed he was so I puffed out my chest and very manly like said what can I lift for you. And that’s how we started to get to know each other. After that we talked about each other’s’ past. Charlie and I saying we are from North Carolina as we lifted 100 pound bags of cement like a macho man would. When he said he was from Italy I started to get excited because I went there for spring break so I had some knowledge on the place. The first thing I started talking about since it was lunch time soon was the food. And he was surprised to see I knew some about the culture, and as the day went on Charlie and I would talk to him more and really liked him. So after a couple of chats and hard labor we became his go to guys which was kinda neat.

The cool thing about this trip is we all get along and talk to everyone in the group. There aren’t really a lot of groups or cliques; we all just laugh together in the common room upstairs (which is where all of the guys sleep). Altogether we are always upbeat and ready for the next task unless we have to clean the outdoor toilets then we are all “coincidentally too sick to work anymore”.  Also today we got our Peruvian money so we went out and splurged on the fascinating food and candy that is very cheap to us. I myself got a 3 liter bottle of Fanta because the water has a funny after taste and I like the different taste of cane sugar.

Also the view is amazing everywhere and I love the night time because the stars pop out in the night sky and it’s amazing. That’s really the only good thing about night because we can’t sleep well with the concerts or the pigeons that fight each other on the roof in the morning but other than that it’s breathtaking