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.
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
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
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
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!
Yesterday, on our flight to Peru, I sat next to a woman who I didn’t know. If you asked me before our journey about what I was most excited for, you probably heard me enthuse about practicing my Spanish with Peruvian people. On the flight to Miami I sat next to two Spanish speakers and I was determined to make conversation. When one of them sneezed I said bless you, but in ENGLISH. UGH! I missed my chance. Luckily, we had another flight to Lima and I sat next to two Spanish speakers again. The woman next to me didn’t seem to understand English, so I was quiet in the beginning. A few hours into the flight, I had to use the restroom very badly and I didn’t want to go to the lavatory as that would disturb my seatmates. I practiced saying I need to use the restroom in my head in Spanish a few times until I finally said to the woman next to me “Senora, Necessito usar al bano” (Ma’am I need to use the restroom). I then quickly slid out of my seat and to the restroom as she mumbled something that I didn’t understand. When I returned, she spoke again and I could only understand a few words. I heard “rapido” and “linda” (quickly and pretty/small) and then I realized that she was saying I moved very quickly to the restroom because I was so skinny. She was probably confused as how I was able to afford a trip to Peru as in most South American cultures, being fat is a sign of wealth and being skinny is a sign of poverty. I’m not sure if she meant it as a compliment, but that’s how I took it and said “Gracias”.
After a bit of small talk later, I told her that I was going to Peru with my church to do Mission Work (“Trabajo de Cristo”). I gave her a rundown of our itinerary and told her that we were going to help the children (“Ayadamos los ninos”) which we technically are since we are building a multi-purpose room. Then she said something that I didn’t understand. She repeated it three times so I knew that it was important. Then she broke down, and I got it. Yo se rezare, yo se rezare, yo se rezare—I will pray for you.
A woman that I just met, that I could barely communicate with, said that she would pray for me, for us as we help others is Peru. Wow. I was a little surprised by this. I appreciated her support and promise to pray, but I never expected a stranger to be so inviting and kind. The next day, another flight, and a bus ride later, we were in Urcos. The Peruvians again surprised me by their warm- welcomes. The Peruvian Christians at the church where we had worship and supper constantly referred to us as brothers and sisters in Christ and praised us for pledging to work with them. They were so appreciative of us; it was almost as if they thought God sent us to save them. Then I wondered if they welcomed all American groups with such wide-arms. Our translators, Sara and Rusty, continued to tell us that people in Peru love their culture, love their towns, and want to share their culture. I didn’t completely believe them until today. I don’t think that I have ever spoken to so many strangers in Spanish before. It was so exciting! And a little stressful. At dinner, Tess Kelly was talking to the band that played for us during worship. She seemed so relaxed and was able to communicate effectively. Well, for the most part she was spitting out random facts, such as the United States has 50 states, but regardless the Peruvians were very entertained.
I am excited to meet new people tomorrow and adjust to the hole-in-the-ground toilets at the work site.
Blessings and Buenas Noches!
Wow, Christianity DOES spread worldwide. I know that that is super cliché, but I started to understand the un-explicit, non-verbal bonds that people hold through religions; religion surpasses any language barrier. And even though I didn’t understand most of the worship service at the Urcos Church, I knew that they praise God in the same way we do
Day One – We Arrived
After a long day of travel, we arrived in Lima and checked into our hotel at 1:00 a.m. local time. Unfortunately, we have to be ready to go at 5:45 a.m. to catch our flight to Cusco. A four hour night of sleep to begin mission trip is always a great way to start! At least most of us slept on the plane ride to Lima for a little bit!
We are excited to be here, but it might take a little bit of caffeine to help show that excitement!