Aside

Sooo, It’s been a ridiculously long time since I’ve posted. I’ve been thinking about for a few weeks, but have been falling short every time. Why? Part of me is terrified of how potentially long this post could be considering everything that’s been going on in the last month + since my most recent post (and who really has time to 1) Write it, and 2) Read it. haha.) And the other part of me just has no idea where to begin.

I’ve gotten beyond that point in my blog where I merely want to document what’s been going on. I’m going on my 6 month of Internship (HALFWAY POINT, HOLY COW!!) and now it’s all about reflecting. What have I really learned about myself? What has this little church with a big heart in the middle of the Hispanic Ghetto taught me about ministry and God himself? There’s been a lot to the learning process, and not all of it has been positive. There have been days where I have felt like crying from the weight of the impossible looming over my head, and then sometimes I have literally skipped into the office because God is so GOOD and I want everyone to know it!

If I could sum everything up into one little blurp, it would be this… I read a few weeks ago, another blog posting that someone had shared on Facebook (Here’s the link, if you never saw it- it’s a good one: http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/yes-god-will-give-you-more-you-can-handle) To sum it up the guy talks about how we like to reference a verse from 1 Corinthians that tells us that God will not let us be tempted beyond anything that we can bear… The kicker to this is that if God had intended for us to be able to function without Him, then there would have been no reason for a relationship to begin with, and then we might as well have been just been born into a pile of sludge instead of a human-a complex, dynamic being created in the image of God. I think the day that I woke up and realized that I can’t do ANYTHING without God was the day that ministry started to make more sense…

With October being Cancer Awareness month, I’ve had some really great conversations with people about their experiences with cancer. People came to realize that their lives could at any point- take a drastic change. And it was at that point that I realized that my life has never been about ME. It’s never been about that girl from Alaska who traveled so far to go to school in Minnesota, how she’s traveled all around the country in the last 3 years, and how now she’s getting to go to Florida to work in a church- actually this just goes to show me that my life has been completely in God’s hands since it all started. Nothing has been coincidence- God’s had a plan and reason behind it all from the beginning, and he knew exactly how he was going to use this ridiculous Lord of the Rings fan with a phobia of bugs to glorify HIM and share the message of his Kingdom! We hear people say things like “God has done this in my life..” or “God helped me overcome this…” God isn’t just a Miracle Worker, or someone who helps you turn your life around, He is GOD and he chooses to have mercy us who certainly do not deserve it, so that we can spend eternity with Him. There really shouldn’t be any aspect of me, me, me here… It should all be about Him, Him, Him. And that’s where the nuts and bolts finally went together. As soon as I got out of my head that MY Internship was the start of MY ministry, and that God doesn’t give me more than I can handle, because we were never intended to do anything without Him in the first place, my outlook on things has gotten significantly easier. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’ve just propped my feet up on my desk and said: “Welp, if the Holy Spirit wants this Bible Study to go smoothly tomorrow, then He’ll provide me with the exact words…”, but after being a part of this weekend, where more than 500 people stepped foot onto our campus and I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off- it was hard NOT to see, that God is SO much bigger then me and what I think I can do on my own, because the truth is: nothing.

On another note of this weekend, yesterday was our Reformation celebration! Not only was it a great reminder that I’m getting rusty on my Theology, but that God raised up Martin Luther to BOLDLY and fearlessly proclaim the Gospel message to everyone! We were reminded that in our small(ish) community, God has blessed us with so many resources to glorify Him and here we stand! We can do no other…

Here are some pictures of this weekend and what’s been going on in the last month!!

The article from the Plant City Observer on “Trunk or Treat” from Saturday the 26th: http://plantcityobserver.com/2013/10/26/photo-gallery-hope-lutheran-church-trunk-treat/

       

From our Reformation dinner after the service!!

 

In Christ,

 

Brittany

 

 

 

All About GOD.

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Angie’s Prayer

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Today at the office, it was just myself and the Secretary, Jessica. Usually on these days we receive the strangest phone calls, have interesting visitors, or nothing happens at all. We haven’t had any visitors in a while, and since it was just us 2 girls, apparently we were due for one.

She showed up around 9 o’clock.

Jessica came into my office, slightly flustered and told me that there was a lady sitting out on one of the benches. (Thank goodness for our security cameras, otherwise, due to the location of the office doors, it would be really hard to spot people around the building…) She appeared to be talking to herself and she looked… unstable. (“Unstable”= mentally deranged, possible drug addict, looking for money, etc…) We have a history of certain individuals who come around looking for money. I’m sure every church does, but apparently we have our regulars and a higher number of them too…

Time passes. The lady is still out there. She walks around different areas of the building (not any less sketchy) and returns to the benches in our courtyard area. Finally, she comes to the office door and rings the bell. Jessica comes into my office and tells me to be ready to call the police, just in case. (I admit, this freaked me out quite a bit.) I hear talking, but my office is far enough away that the words are inaudible. I start panicking to myself. “Should we have come up with some sort of code phrase, so that I know if I’m supposed to call the police??” “Should I casually walk out of my office so Crazy Lady knows there are two of us here, or should I stay hidden in case I need to make that phone call that I’m uncertain about doing??” 

About 20 seconds later, Jessica comes into my office. “She wants someone to pray with her.”

A couple of things popped into my head, one of which was something along the lines of: “This lady is possibly on something illegal right now and the 21 year old is the one that has to go out and TALK TO HER??” 

Do I hear Bonus Points for my Spirit-Led, Heart of Courage??

At least my face and demeanor suggested that I had the situation under control. I walked out of the office, cool as a cucumber. (Jessica left the door propped open for me just in case…) If I had to describe her in one word it would probably be haggard. Her hair was unkept, she kept shifting nervously from foot to foot, and her face looked utterly exhausted. I put on my best smile and asked her what her name was. “Angie.” she replied. I asked Angie what I could do for her and she merely said: “Prayer. I just need someone to pray with me.”

It turned out that Angie was indeed a drug addict. But in that moment, what she wanted more than anything was the love and comfort of Jesus, to bring her out of the darkness that she was struggling with. We prayed together for a few minutes, and then afterwards, she in turn wanted to pray for me. After we were done, she looked at me with tears in her eyes and said simply  that this was what she had needed. I could sense that a weight was lifted off of her and she had acquired a sense of peace and hope that she didn’t have before. As she was departing, she joyfully exclaimed that all she had in her pocket was 2 dollars, but somehow, she knew that God was going to take care of her and get her through this hard time in her life. She thanked me for spending time with her and walked away humming.

There’s obviously a lot more to her story, but all I can do is pray for her, that she indeed finds the strength through Christ to overcome her addiction. That the love of her Savior far overpowers her desire to continue harming herself. And I pray that we too, in our most vulnerable moments, will have the courage to reach out to our Savior and know, that despite everything that we’re going through or have done- that Christ has ALREADY forgiven us by doing the most unthinkable thing entirely out of LOVE for us.

We all have an Angie in our life- someone who is struggling with an addiction, be it a drug, a behavior issue, or something material. Maybe you’re the one that needs the prayers right now! Either way, I pray for all the Angie’s of the world, to find their strength in Christ and reach out to Him for comfort and guidance. And I pray that as Christ disciples, we have the courage to offer our love and support for those that are hurting and in need of prayers. You just never know when someone will come knocking on your door and need just that!

In Christ,

Brittany

 

 

 

 

 

Grace Like Rain

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Hey all!

So, last night was quite possibley one of the best nights I’ve had in a very long time! Not to say that my life is dull by comparison (because it’s certainly not) but on the current scale of events that I’ve had in a while, this would have to be near the top.

Rock the Universe: A Christian Music Festival featuring bands like Chris Tomlin, David Crowder Band, Reliant K, Casting Crowns, (and my personal favorite) Tenth Avenue North, at Universal Studios! The worst part about the evening was surprisingly NOT the fact that there was practically a hurricane outside and most of us were soaked to the bone within minutes (If this were Alaska, I would have woken up this morning with a terrible cold, I’m sure!) but the fact that the whole night was spent CHOOSING between epic RIDES or epic BANDS.

The rides we went on were fantastic! Even though we waited in line for a while for some of them, they were so worth it and my kids had such a blast! By far the best moment of the evening though, was the Tenth Avenue North concert.

Tenth Avenue North is by far my favorite Christian band. To me, their songs are all about worshiping God, not as we hope to be, but as we are; broken and sinful. They portray the struggle (Check out their latest album, actually called The Struggle!) of needing to feel like you’ve got it all together, and the insecurity of knowing that we’re not. I love listening to them speak in between songs, because they always have such a great message. One that everyone can relate too and understands. The best one by far was about the Gospel itself; “The Gospel doesn’t free us so that we can think more highly of ourselves, and it doesn’t free us to look downward upon ourselves either. The Gospel frees us to forget all about ourselves.”

If you want to check out a video journal, by lead singer, Mike Donehay, knock yourself out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGJS5MLgMZc

I just stumbled upon this newer song of theirs recently, and it is really amazing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zulKcYItKIA

So, I’m standing there at the stage and TAN is playing. It’s pouring down rain, my shoes are uncomfortably wet, and of course the first time in 4 months that I decide to wear jeans- the experience left something to be desired…. But none of that mattered, because it was in that moment of being wet and gross, that I remembered what it felt like to be a Child of God; washed by the blood. Every raindrop that fell on me, reminded me of just how many times God has, and will continue to forgive me.

I realized in that moment, that this was my moment of worship. One of the most intimate moments with God that I’ve had in weeks. I think as a church worker, I’ve gotten so caught up with my kids, their parents, and other adults in my congregation, that I’ve forgotten to take my own time to worship. And I think that’s always going to be my ultimate struggle. I just got a new shirt from Kerusso, that’s Lord of the Rings themed (BOOYAH.). It has written on it: “Let Praise by Your Habit.” The dangerous thing for me is that that statement could easily develop into: “Let Praise Be Your Routine.” For me, when things become a routine, they lose their significance. It becomes more of a chore-something I have to do-like cleaning, or taking out the trash. Something that you do so often that it no longer holds as much meaning as it did before. I was awoken to this reality last night, which was a good thing in a way- I’ve come to realize one of my struggles, and now that I’m aware, I pray that God will help me to overcome the desire to make worship the normal and
“average” part of my day- but that worship will become what it was meant to be- praise and honor to God for what he has done- and nothing else. I praise God for the grace he has shown me!

 

(Wet to the bone, but still having a good time!)

Blessings,

Brittany

 

September Stuff, New Blood, and The Armadillo that Almost Got Away!

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Well, it feels like I’ve let my blog slip for a few weeks. I know for some people, that’s probably normal, but it feels weird for me to have such a big gap in time, not to mention, a lot has been happening!! 

First off, I can hardly believe that the summer is at an end. I feel like I just got here, and really, I’m halfway through my third month! That means I’m 1/4 of the way through Internship!! OH MY GOODNESS. That’s so scary. Time flies by when you’re having fun… So, with the start of school right around the corner, my kids are finally more consistent in coming to things and our numbers in Sunday worship are getting big! We’re at the point where the pews are starting to get a little squishy, so we’re ready to switch back over to 2 services!!

As I said before, LOTS of things have been going on recently.

This weekend, we had the privilege of welcoming the final member of our staff for the year: our new Vicar, Buck! Buck arrived to us on Friday afternoon, since I was the only one at the office that day, I got to be the official tour guide! We haven’t wasted any time putting him to work. Not even 12 hours after he arrived into town, he was asked to help with a wedding, and then our “initiation service” for him on Sunday was great! Our Clown Ministry (yes, that is REALLY a thing!!) made him an honorary clown and a bunch of our kids taught him how to do some silly things, and then we asked him some questions and welcomed him to the family! This is a picture of me and one of my kiddos dressed up as clown’s for the service:

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Today was his first day in the office, and now that he’s finally here, we get to sit down and talk Confirmation! Pastor is going to be letting us do the majority of the teaching, so it’s just a matter of us figuring out how we want to coordinate everything! I have to say, it’s nice having another student around, and especially one that went to CSP!

My next big thing that got approved for me to do is pretty darn exciting; I’m leading our congregation on a mission trip to Haiti this Spring!!! I’m STOKED. Beyond words. The Spring Break Mission Trip Tradition shall continue!! Our secretary’s Mom coordinates trips to Haiti frequently, so I will be working with her to nail down details and then she will actually fly down with us, which will be nice. Pastor is so excited for this opportunity for the church, because it’s the very first mission trip that Hope has done together as a congregation! I’m hoping to get people of all ages, and a significant sized group as well! 

September will be the month of “do or die!” I will be testing myself to see what I can physically handle! Confirmation is starting up the first week, I’m also starting a young adult woman’s Bible Study on the book “Captivating,” and mission trip meetings will start coming up. Not to mention the usual Sunday School, Youth Group and other fun events! This coming month may kill me. But the courage of men will NOT fail this day!! I say: CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!! But, if the next time someone sees me and I happen to look like THIS:

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You have my permission to help me slow my roll down a bit! 😉

Oh yeah, and an armadillo almost got loose in the Youth Room last week. The trustees were doing some work in their last Wednesday and had the door propped open. One of them looked back and say this little guy just chilling in the doorway:

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God has been very good to me. I recently just started a new book series called stories of the Infinite. I really am loving the first book, because the main character is a 17 year old female, who is called by God to be His Prophet and the way that the relationship between them is something that we as Christians should strive for; a relationship based on trust. It’s so hard these days to trust in God; His timing, the direction that our lives are going, and the things that happen. We know in our hearts that He is GOD, yet we still have the tendency to think that we know better than Him, and often times act accordingly to our own selfish will. Anyhow, if you’re in the pursuit of a good book series, I’ve had a hard time putting this one down!

As I close this post, I would like to ask that you would keep all of my kids in your prayers. Lot’s of them are starting to get really busy with the start of school, and I pray that their spiritual walks with Christ will still be priorities in their lives, and that for those that are unable to regularly attend worship, that they would find their own way to connect themselves (and others!!) to Jesus in their busy routines. Thanks for reading and God Bless, 

Brittany

A Sword, a Shield, and a Savior!

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Well, we just ended Day 3 of Vacation Bible School here in Plant City! It’s been a wild week so far, and I’m sure it’s going to continue to be so!!

First off, let me start by saying, if you’re interested in seeing more pictures of my week at VBS, I have a bunch posted on Facebook, so feel free to indulge yourself if you so desire!

One of the first things that I noticed about VBS planning here at Hope, was that there really wasn’t much!! It was amazing because things literally just fell into place. People just stepped into where they were comfortable, whether that be working in the kitchen, helping with decorations, or being a station leader, everyone just sort of started working and things got done! This is almost the complete opposite of every other VBS experience that I’ve had. Firstly, the DCE usually takes charge and delegates people to their certain roles. When I was at Camp and counselors were leading it, it was 90% run by us, with almost no help from anyone in the congregation. So to be the DCE now and almost running along the sidelines seems WEIRD and unnatural. My Mom and I actually had a good conversation about this last night and how it is probably good for me to be able to sit back and actually OBSERVE how VBS gets done instead of being so heavily involved in the planning process. Good point, Mom. And she’s right! It’s been good for me to see and experience that VBS (and other major events as well) CAN be run successfully without me being the one doing everything myself. (A good life lesson that this church has been teaching me.)

So! Basically last Sunday, all the people running stations and any other volunteers got together and we all got down to business decorating the church! We did the Group theme this year of “Stand Strong,” which is a Renaissance/Medieval time period theme.

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The Sanctuary took quite a while to decorate because we had lots of stuff to hang up and cover the walls with, such as a gigantic “castle” sheet of cloth as seen in the background, the banners and the movie screen (not visible.) But it looked great when we were done!!

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The most impressive room was probably the Narthex, done by two of my youth!! We had the drawbridge donated from somebody else, and then they worked hard covering the sides with black cloth, making our “river,” and putting everything else in place.

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And lastly, our Fellowship Hall got transformed in a Banquet Hall! Of course all of the other individual rooms took time to set up and decorate as well, but these were the main ones. All together it took about 8 hours on Sunday to set all of this up with about 15 people working together!

Our VBS ran during the evening, so the kids would come around 5:15 and eat dinner until 6, where we would open with a skit and songs. Myself and another lady were in charge of the “opening entertainment” which went very well! Afterwards, we broke off and rotated into 4 different stations: The Imagination Station, Chadder’s Theater (movie), Games, and the Bible Story. My group consists of 3 girls, and we rotate around with another group of 2 more girls and 2 boys. They are such a great bunch of kids and LOVE everything that we do and get so excited!!

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This is a picture of me in my Squire’s costume (minus my sword) entertaining some kids during our brief transition break! I tell you, it was NOT easy wearing a costume in 90 degree heat! There were actually lots of other challenges that I never saw coming mostly due to Florida climate that I had to adjust to!!

1. The humidity makes decorations NOT stick to the walls. We had to re-stick lots of things every day as many of our things would fall off during the night after the air conditioning had been turned off.

2. Most people have their VBS time during the evening because it’s SO HOT. But even at 8 o’clock it’s STILL 85 degrees… GUH.

3. Routine thunderstorms mean you must be flexible and have a back-up plan for all outdoor activities.

4. The giant Florida bugs like to come out when there are small children around, and therefore, you must be prepared to sacrifice your arm, leg, or whatever said beast will require of you to go away.

5. VBS in Florida is mostly a community event! Because there are so many churches in the south, everyone just sends their kids to VBS all summer long! So in fact, most of the kids this week, do not actually go to our church!

This week has been really great as far as getting to know some of my younger kids. I know, DUH, right, but most of the kids that I see regularly on Sunday, I actually don’t have much time to talk to, so they are still getting used to me, but today, I actually had a little girl come up to me after VBS was done and ask if she could give me a goodbye hug!! Hopefully after this week, I’ll have some more enthusiastic children during my children’s messages!!

With the Youth Gathering behind me, and soon VBS too, I won’t have any major events coming up for a while, so it will be good to dive into the school routine without anything big looming over my head.

Things are still going good over here in Plant City! I am still coming to terms with the fact that I will sweat buckets every time I step outside, and I’m thinking very hard about investing in one of those floating bed things for my pool, since I have gotten to be a regular visitor! The congregation is continuing to love and support me so much, and I ALWAYS have people asking me how I’m doing and if they can get me anything. 🙂 They sure do have a way of making me feel very special! Well, I’ll go ahead and close for now! We still have 2 more days of VBS, and every day the kids come more and more excited!! Keep your eye out for more pictures!

Blessings,

Brittany

Rainy Day Musings

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Greetings friends!

I’ve had quite a few things running through my brain today, so I thought it was time to share another blog post!

For starters, it’s been about a week since the National Youth Gathering. Pretty much all of my kids took off on Vacation, or have been visiting Family elsewhere, which means that I have not been having hardly any kids for Youth Events! Major sadness.

Another sad fact of life is that Florida has really taken “Rainy Season” to heart. I am getting rather accustomed to days filled with dark gloomy clouds, and thoughts of stopping at the store to buy an umbrella. A couple of times when I was driving somewhere, I almost had to pull over to the side of the road because it was raining THAT hard and I literally could not see in front of me. I had my first pesky invader this week: a cockroach!! YUCK. I nearly barfed when I saw it chilling next to my garbage can. I was told that unfortunately with it being so wet outside, some of those nasty critters will work their way indoors, just to escape drowning. How unfortunate. So no matter how hard I clean my floors and disinfect my counter-tops, those things will keep coming in? Precisely. #Floridareality. Another downside to living in the lower-48 version of Ketchikan is that with great clouds comes great lack of sun, and with great lack of sun comes white skin. No one knows this sad truth better than an Alaskan. I have now down-graded my aboriginal colored skin, to merely North Pacific Native.

On a less melancholy note, I went to my first major league baseball game this weekend! The family that chaperoned the Gathering with me and sent their kids as attendees took me along with them! It was Lutheran night at the game as well as Disco flashback, so their were other people from church that sat near us! The game was so-so. I’m not a huge baseball fan, but it was entertaining. The greatest part was eating ice cream and petting the live mascots of the Tampa Bay Rays! I wish we would have gotten to go to the Sunday game, because apparently they had an incredible first pitch thrown by Carly Rae Jepsen.

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The highlight of my week though was definitely receiving my first package from home!! Jenna sent me a fabulous 8 page letter, sharing with me the more entertaining portions of her mission trip in Guatemala! (Fun fact: the kids thought she introduced herself as “BaJenna” which apparently means “whale.” haha) I also got some sweet bracelets, and my favorite- Coldstone gift cards! Fist pump!! I can tell you that living in a tropical climate- those babies won’t last longer than 3 days tops.

Tomorrow should be a fun day- Pastor Rockey and family will be visiting, so I’ll get to show them the church and take them out to lunch somewhere! Small world benefits- people have family everywhere, so you’re never too far away to be unreachable!

After many conversations in the previous week, I am apparently lacking in a great many things as far as my Southern experience goes. I am literally making a list at home, but this is so far what it entails:

1. Chick-Fil-A. This place is apparently amazing and will rock my world, cure cancer, and end World Hunger just by the sheer magnitude of it’s awesomeness. I can only hope that I will not be disappointed.

2. Consume Sweet Tea as though it is the only beverage available to mankind. My kids will suck this stuff down like hummingbirds. I don’t understand this Southern infatuation yet, but maybe in a few months….

3. Perfect Southern Accent. This is actually a repeat from my Bucket List, and since I can’t really get any deeper South and still be in America, it is a gift from God that I am here, and must therefore take advantage of such.

4. Hot Boiled Peanuts. This is a food consumed frequently by the locals. It sounds like canned veggies gone wild, but apparently it’s a “must try.”

5. Learn to surf. Even if it kills me. Possibility of this happening: high.

6. See an armadillo. They are apparently frequent near highways. Apparently just not for people that want to see them.

7. See an alligator. Again, supposed to be frequent, yet still haven’t viewed one with my own eyes.

8. Catch a lizard. They are about as frequent as mosquitos in Minnesota, yet I still haven’t managed to catch one.

9. Make Jambalaya Grits. This is a real thing! I’ve had it before and it was AMAZING. Because it is both grits AND jambalaya, it’s a double Southern threat!

Thus begins my list. It will surely interchange between getting longer and shorter, as I gradually add to it and complete things, so any other suggestions are welcome! That’s all for now folks! Tune in again for the next epic adventure!

-Brittany

Living LOVED with my new Loves! :)

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Well, We’ve officially been back from San Antonio for about 48 hours, and I wish SO MUCH that I could go back to being with my kids that much! I saw things from them that week, that I hope won’t be pushed back inside of them once they go back to the reality of their lives. I was amazed at a lot of things, but the number one was how much my kids were able to be themselves around me after only knowing me for a month! 

It was a struggle for me to literally pick up the pieces of what the Intern before me had left and make sense of all of the responsibilities in such a short amount of time. It wasn’t anyone’s fault by any means, it was just awkward timing! I think if I had worked so hard to put together all of those details, work with the kids on their fundraising and build up the relationships with them over the year and then NOT go to the Gathering with them, I would have been crushed!! A part of me felt extremely guilty over the course of the week, while the other was extremely blessed to even have the opportunity! 

My kids were a very vibrant group that got along so fantastically well with each other. We had THREE sets of siblings amongst my 8 kids! I couldn’t even believe it! There were hardly any siblings squabbles, and unlike lots of other youth trips that I’ve been to in the past- I never once felt that any of the kids were the least bit secluded or uninvolved with the others. This was a huge blessing and something that I never had to address once! 

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(We were a bit loopy from lack of sleep!)

So, early Monday morning we took flight into the air at around 6 am! We had to get up soooo early, and we were exhausted the whole rest of the day! Me and Jim (one of the other Adult chaperones) went and registered right after we settled into the Hotel and the kids hung around at the pool. It went very smoothly, praise God, so we were able to get in and out relatively quickly. The Mass Event on Monday night was great! Unfortunately, we were all quite tired, so we were dozing a bit… I will say, I didn’t think the overall Mass Events were as great this year as they were the last, but I did think that the themes they picked out for each day and how they coordinated with the overall, were very well done. In short, we talked about how God IS love and we know what love is because of Jesus IS love and he LIVED and set the example for us to love others. We talked about how often times, our sin separates us from God and makes us feel unworthy and DELOVED, but then we remember the ultimate sacrifice and act of love that Jesus gave to us and it allows us to go forth and LIVE LOVED with the knowledge that we have a Savior who is bigger than anything in this world, and that we have the responsibility to go out and share that love with others. 

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I absolutely love this picture. One of the things that I like the most about Mass Events and the NYG gatherings in general are all of the different t-shirts that people wear. When you look around and see the rainbow of color, it is such a great representation of how different we all are, but how we all share that one common thing: the love of our Savior, Jesus! It is an incredibly powerful feeling to see so many people behind you worshiping from all over the world! It was a such a blessing to be a part of such a wonderful opportunity!

I realize that I’m jumping around in this blog quite a bit, but those of you that know me well, are probably not the least bit surprised. Random is, after all, my middle name! 

Anyways, it was a blessing to be traveling with this group of kids because only one of them had been to a Gathering before, so getting to see so much excitement and feel the anticipation of the possibilities of the unknown was cool! We had a great time not just in our Mass Events, but also during our Sessions as well! We went to a few really good ones, but the two that stuck out the most were on Mormonism and Islam. Such different worlds, yet both are literally in our backyard, and they present a very real and present difference in the people that we interact with every day, and it brought into perspective for my kids how literally going to the grocery store could be a time to reach out to our neighbor and love them. 

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Another great aspect of the Gathering was getting to see Classmates, Camp friends, and people from my home church! It felt like one big reunion!! I regret that this is the only picture that I have of people that I got to see there! Ever since I got to Plant City, I was looking forward to the Gathering, and one of the reasons was to get to see so many people together in one place. On the last day, it kind of hit me, that this was something that I had been relying on so much because it was a small window to bring me back to people that I might not see again for a very long time. It was heart-wrenching for a while, and even a bit panic-inducing as frantically made sure to see everyone that I knew would be there. As I left, I felt a feeling of sadness due to separation and being so far away, but than I realized that during the next Gathering, I could potentially be frantically searching for some of these kids in the same way. The Gathering is a great way to experience God’s love in the form of so many friends and loved ones, and although it was hard to say goodbye, I am SO happy to be where I am, with the people that I’ve grown to love, and I wouldn’t choose to be anywhere else than where I am right now. 🙂

OH. Something else that must be mentioned… The night that the Gathering ended, the kids were naturally wanting to stay up as long as they could, since they had no where else to be. I discovered something VERY important about them that night: apparently they have as many devious bones in their bodies as their DCE Intern!! I was standing at the sink about to wash my face for the night when BOOM, a bucket of ice was dumped on my head as 2 of my youth yelled: “HAPPY INITIATION, BRITTANY!!” We spent the next few hours plotting other crafty stunts to pull, and eventually decided on the boys’ room. I won’t go into much detail, other than,  it was good. And we got it on tape. 😀 

Well, I could go on for a LONG time about how great the Gathering was, the awesomeness of my kids, and the other great things we did and saw, but I better stop now, otherwise this posting will take a lot longer to read than most will want to sit through. haha. All in all, it was a great week. God blessed us with an amazing experience and I look forward to continuing our experience of LIVING LOVED beyond San Antonio, beyond Plant City, and sharing it with the WORLD. Take care, and God Bless!

-Brittany

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