Montreat Youth Conference Day 5

Hello my name is Andrew Beals and I will be a Junior at East Meck high next year. This is my second year of going to Montreat. This past week we have been in search of the missing peace and I am having a tougher time wrapping my head around that concept with what the pastor is preaching to us. But my small group and I have bonded together and I always say hey whenever I see them around town. Last night Sardis met with the keynote crew to have dinner together and my group talked to the guy from the Czech Republic; it was very cool talking to him about  the similarities and differences between the US and his home country. I have enjoyed the various themes of the days like Timber Tuesday and Jersday Thursday. On behalf of the Sardis crew I can say the graduated seniors will be missed and it will not be the same without them. Can’t wait till next year Montreat see u soon.

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Montreat Youth Conference Day 3

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Tuesday is also known as Timber Tuesday by Sardis Presbyterian Church Youth.  Our graduated seniors helped set up a schedule of suggested outfits for the week and Tuesday happened to be Lumberjack Tuesday (or Timber Tuesday).  Our group really hyped it up!  Check out the picture to see our lumberjacks.  And stay tuned for Hawaiian Day tomorrow…

Anyway, today, we discussed how God meets us in our broken places in our lives.  Small groups discussed lamenting and being angry at God, using the Psalms as a place to find comfort for these feelings, as they were expressed by the different authors of the Psalms.

Keynote pushed us again as they brought up topics that truly affect the lives of youth.  We were able to unpack more of this in our small groups and as a backhome group this evening.

Unfortunately, since it is past midnight (again) and sleep has been a rarity, it is about time to see if it can be found.

Thank you for your support and prayers!

— Adrian Martin

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