June 22, 2018
After five days of mission, today was a day of exploration! Once the morning devotionals were wrapped up, we loaded the car and chased down the San Francisco skyline. The novelty of the San Francisco hills wore off after the youth group got out of the car and hiked up the hills on foot. After tackling those inclines, we stayed in the cars for awhile. In the thick of downtown, we drove to see the Painted Ladies where the home from Full House still stands.
Afterwards, we ate lunch in Chinatown, taking some time to enjoy a new environment and all of the sights/smells that come with that. Some of our group members picked up mementos of their time in SF in the many shops that Chinatown has to offer.
Full of Chinese food, our group then tackled Lombard Street (claimed to be the curviest road in the world). Our drivers safely took us down eight hairpin turns that faced an amazing view of San Francisco. Being the tourists we are, we continued to Pier 39. This area had shops, restaurants, sea lions, and a great view of Alcatraz. Seeing the pier, combined with the city, an azul blue sky, and churning water was both peaceful and amazing.
We couldn’t leave the city without taking another close-up look at the Golden Gate Bridge, so we stopped at the base of the bridge, right on the edge of the water and enjoyed a photo opp. The windy day eventually blew us into our dinner spot in a park that was a two minute car ride from the bridge. There we enjoyed a wide selection of food trucks while listening to live music and people-watching the citizens of the San Francisco Bay area.
Tonight, we heard our last testimony from our mission team here in California. They sent us off with a reminder that this week wasn’t really our mission. This week was training for the mission we have when we arrive back home in South Carolina. It was easy to see the effect of these words within our group. After our nighttime worship, our group circled up to say some kind words about James Hoyt since this is James’ last trip with the Senior High youth group before he starts his next chapter at college. Many a tear were shed (by me) during this special time of our youth members showing love to someone they hold dear.
As much as we want to stay here, we will see you in a few hours! Please join us in praying for a smooth flight back to the east coast. Ask and you shall receive!
Much love and gratitude,
June 20, 2018
Thank goodness we had a good nights sleep last night, because today was jam packed.
We started the morning at Redwood Gospel Mission Thrift Store. Our youth members spent hours sorting donations, cleaning dishes, sifting through clothes, matching shoes, and staging items for sale. We were so efficient that the thrift store ran out of jobs for our group, so they are dreaming up some yard work for us tomorrow. While still at the thrift store, we spent some time singing and worshipping the Lord.
After lunch, our group got to see where it all started. And by “it all” I mean the Peanut comic strips. We went to the Charles Schulz Museum and learned about the creation of Charlie Brown, Snoopie, Linus, Franklin, and all of our beloved Peanuts friends. Did you know that Charles Schulz insisted on including the story of Christ’s birth in the Charlie Brown Christmas Special? Fun fact.
Our second day of Vacation Bible School was even better than the first. More kids registered for our camp, so we had a great time seeing new faces and making new friends. Below, you can see some of those new friends attacking Sam Boyd. Today’s lesson focused on the Beatitudes. We got to share the hope that Jesus gives to the children who attended our VBS. I personally love the Beatitudes, so being able to share that scripture made my week. Our youth members got to play soccer, basketball, do arts and crafts, sing songs, and break bread with the community that suffered from the fires in October.
It has been nice having time to wind down tonight. We returned to our lodging from VBS around 7:30 PM and have been able to relax and enjoy one another’s fellowship. Tomorrow (Wednesday) is our last day of mission work. Keep us in your prayers that we may use this last day to make a lasting impact on this community and be permanently changed within ourselves.
See you soon!
June 19, 2018
Yesterday was quite an adventure. We woke up to a nice cool crisp morning, that reminded us nothing of South Carolina hot and humid climate. Our afternoon was just as perfect as well, with a refreshing 70 degree not cloudy feel. Just the perfect combination that allowed us to relax and marvel in God's grace and to be in awe of it too.
The beginning part of our mission we broke off into 2 teams. One team stayed at the church we are living at for the week and helped with the landscaping. Their Pastor Mike, was extremely appreciative of their hard work in just a few hours. The front and side that is visible to the road looks drastically different and truly has the curb appeal. The other group went to Redwood Gospel Mission to help at their thrift store. They have been sorting through donations that the ministry have been taking in over the last year to help with the wildfire victims.
In the afternoon, we stopped by Coffey lane to see what devastation took place last year. We met with Becky who was a victim of the wildfires and lost her home and she told us her story of the night where they barely had the chance to evacuate. We walked her lot where her house use to be. We got to see how charred the ground still is and the surrounding area is still laid in ruins. The trees are charred and sapped of life and the area still had the smell of smoke and ash lingering around. Becky told us of many elderly neighbors that lost their lives and how people were trapped within their driveways trying to escape and had to run on foot to safety. It was a humbling experience for all of us and allowed us the point of view to see that we are very fortunate and how the work we are doing is very beneficial to the community here.
Afterwards, we went to the park that is hosting the VBS and set up. We got there with our plans, our games and our preconceived notion of what was suppose to happen. The grace of Letting Go and Letting God was an amazing lesson to experience then. In the beginning only 6 kids arrived and it was tough to go with our initial plan. After taking a step back and reevaluating what we have, we changed our plan and it was beautiful. As well, by the end, we finished the day with 35 kids and it was spectacular to see the kids working with and playing with the children that showed up. Today should be an amazing day again with that and most likely more kids would arrive.
Keep us in your prayers,
Peace and Grace,
June 18, 2018
Welcome to the daily blog of the 4th presbyterian youth group mission trip of 2018.
We have arrived safely to San Francisco yesterday morning their time, but it wasn’t without some disruption. Our first trial to the trip is that our flight from Greenville to Charlotte was cancelled due to a computer error that has been plaguing American Airlines all weekend, but to much marvel and thanks to some dedicated parents we made it to Charlotte in time for our flight to San Fran. Shout out to Jeannette Goldsmith, Tracey Heller, Justin Grow, Jamey King, Ben Clauss with the vehicle of the Caudell’s and Suzanne McGee. You guys and women are the real MVPs of the trip. Thank you so much
The physical traveling, had no problems. A nearly 5 hour flight allows for many new experiences, jokes and stories to be shared.
This is where the start of our story of the missing luggage began. As we arrived safely, Christian Antwi’s oversized luggage went missing…. After about an hour of discussion putting many heads together (Christian and the luggage claim) we had determined that one of the 50 most influential people in Charlotte grabbed his luggage, thinking it was hers. Thanks to Mike and his quick thinking, he had found her LinkedIn account and messaged her about the switch up. During this time our kiddos were working their hardest at serving during the Redwood Gospel fundraiser. The event was spectacular with testimonies of how the organization changed the lives of the of many in the Windsor community and beyond. Our youth got the opportunity to listen and react to the stories being told…even if by the time the program started it was 11 pm (EDT). After a night of listening to the testimonials and working the event we were absolutely spent. We made it back to the church we are staying at and after a brief introduction to Praying Pelican from our leader Jessica, it was time to sleep….well except for Pastor Mike and Christian.
In the dark of the night, Pastor Mike received a LinkedIn message from Whitney (the 50 most influential people in Charlotte) and she had no clue that she grabbed the wrong oversized luggage by mistake. After many games of phone tag, Pastor Mike and Christian went on an adventure back to the airport pick up the traveling suitcase that contains many of the items needed for our mission work.
You know what they say, “A mission trip isn’t a mission trip without some hiccups”? I really don’t know if they say that but for anyone that has been on a mission trip you know that is the truest thing that can be said.
We are off to do some amazing things this week. May God be with us and may God be within the community we serve,
Peace and Grace,
June 18, 2018
We slept in until 8:00 AM this morning (or 11:00 AM EST) and it was quite needed. After the morning devotionals, we started our missionary training by breaking up into small groups and sharing our life stories with one another. It was a special time to see our youth and chaperones open up about their faith walk and be affirmed and prayed over by their fellow group members. With each activity, we learn more about one another, ourselves, and God’s work. Our group bond continues to grow stronger and stronger.
After the training, our host church invited us to worship in their Sunday Service. They have a Pastor Mike here too, so we felt right at home.
Soon after, we departed for the park that we will hold Vacation Church School in for the next three days. We walked the nearby neighborhood, handing out flyers to all who might be interested in joining us. We got to meet families who moved to the neighborhood after losing their home in the fires. Actually meeting people who were affected by the fires reminded us of why we are here. Tomorrow, we hope to serve these families through camp-like activities including soccer, basketball, arts and crafts, team building exercises, sing-a-longs, and worship.
As much fun as we had handing out fliers, I think the group was most energized by our trip to In-N-Out, a famous California burger restaurant. Afterward, we zipped down the Golden Gate Bridge for sightseeing and photo opportunities. We finished off the night at the Ghirardelli Square (which can be seen in the last two photos) near downtown San Francisco. Feel free to give your kids a hard time if they didn’t bring you back any chocolate from the trip.
Keep us in your prayers as we start our first day of Vacation Church School tomorrow!
June 12, 2018
Check in on Monday for updates on our Senior High Mission Trip! We will land in San Fransisco midday Saturday. Keep us in your prayers for a painless, speedy, and SAFE flight.