Alright, you guys. There's no way around it... this post is going to be super long. But there's just so much that I HAVE to tell you about the absolutely amazing week I was blessed enough to spend in WVA last week! It would be unfair of me not to tell you! For those of you who know me, you know how huge of a part of my heart is captivated by this trip and all involved with it, from the kids to our entire mission team. This year marks my third year going, and I have to say that it was probably my favorite yet! Here's some pictures to try and capture in a small way the awesomeness of this week! (sidenote: I did decide to split this into two posts after I got started, so PLEASE come back for the rest of my post! I had a huge Godstop moment this week that has truly transformed me and has put me into a place where I feel like I'm actually doing/being where and who I'm supposed to be!)
And so we begin our week with the kickoff! It was a lot of fun with lots of games like Chuck-a-Duck, a fishing game, softball throwing game, etc. We also had face painting, which is where I helped out with! This picture is of me painting sweet Lexi Gregory's face with a smiley face! On my face is a gorgeous flower painted by Rae Ann!
This is a fabulous picture of two of my most favorite people ever, Sammy Ballard and Sue Hunt! Sammy is the co-director of the trip and Sue is one of our fabulous cooks. Sue is such an encourager and has become one of the most influential people I know. I love her! And Sammy has become almost like a second father to me! I love the way God shows through everything he does!
KEN! The gov-nah! Haha. Ken is awesome, and he is our other cook with his wife! Ken is one of the most amazing people I've ever gotten to know! He's bright and funny and a little sarcastic at times, but he is an awesome addition to our team!
This is Emily. Ha, she's another story that would take FAR too long to tell. But, I did paint that butterfly. That's what I call talent. Haha, well, at least I tried right!?
This is Shyanna! She is absolutely one of my favorite children ever. We both shared a first year together at VBS. She's one of the sweetest, most wonderful children I've ever gotten to know. I loved spending another year with her!
This is Alexis and Taylor! The first day we are in town, we go out visiting and looking for houses with kids to invite to VBS! These two were out riding a lawn mower with their uncle. They were staying with him and their grandmother for the week. We invited them to come and they told us that they were supposed to go back home on Tuesday, but were happy to come to church on Sunday, and then VBS on Monday. By Tuesday, they had begged their Mom into letting they stay for the rest of the week because they loved it so much! They were so sweet!
Rae Ann got to come with us for the first time this year and she fell in love with Arnoldsburg the same way that I did. Also in this picture is sweet Lexi and Shyanna. I love them all SO much!
Lexi and her friend Tysa! They were super sweet all week long and they are two of the smartest girls I have ever met! They were fabulous at remembering all of the things they were learning!
This is Nickolodius! He's one of the coolest kids out there, and his name matches his coolness! Seriously, you should get to know this kid. He is the bomb.com!
Water day! The rec team did an awesome job all week long, but water day was definitely a favorite! We got to soak kids with sponges and they had tons of fun getting wet! I'll admit that even the teachers had an awesome time in water day!
...let me explain, aiight? So, each day we had a 'secret signal' in our class and one day we decided to oink like pigs as part of it (the signal involved making a pig nose). Since it was a secret, no one else could figure it out! And Sammy decided to draw a pig on my legs. It was hilarious.
This is one of my favorite parts... the music time! I'll admit that the music got SUPERDUPERANNOYING by the end of the week, because Sammy woke us up with it every. single. day. And by waking us up, I mean he blared it REALLY REALLY loudly at six in the morning and wouldn't turn it off no matter what until everyone was up. Did I mention that he did this EVERY morning? But then, every day when these kids came in and the same SUPERDUPERANNOYING music started up, I would look out and see this look of pure joy and worship in their faces and my heart would just melt. The way Jesus shined out through them was absolutely amazing, and something I will hold in my heart forever and always!
Our first and second grade class. They were awesome all week! This is them doing one of our 'secret signals'. It's a secret, so you can't know what it means of course. But just know that they were the BEST class EVER!
Shyanna, my babygirl. I know you'll probably never read this, but I want you to know that I absolutely love you and that you are one of my most favorite people in the whole world. God has huge things planned out for you, just wait and see. As you continue your journey through this world, keep letting Jesus be the center of what you do. I love you, and I hope to see you soon♥
Sweet JJ! He is one of four that stayed with our mission team all week long. Their mom moved away a couple years ago, so they wouldn't be able to come if they didn't stay the week. He, Izzy, Jess, and Erica are four of the most special children you'll ever meet. It's true that throughout the course of the week there are several times when you want to remove any given child's head and only replace it when they are ready to leave, but all in all, knowing that you're impacting them is all that truly matters!
Brodie! He's practically my big brother. He cracks me up and I love watching him interact with the kids through rec! He's got an awesome fire for God!
Baptisms is always a super moving time of the week. The last thing we do on Thursday is have an invitation service where kids can come up and talk to counselors about decisions made for Christ. This year we had seven decide to be baptized! There were several who made decisions to accept Christ (but wanted to be baptized later) and many more who made rededication choices. It was awesome! This is Bradley, Shyanna's older brother. Seeing the life in his eyes was totally amazing!
BRADY SUMMERVILLE! He's been in my class every year and I was SO honored that God chose to work through me as I had the amazing opportunity to lead this sweet boy to Christ! The light in his eyes and the smile on his face was absolutely priceless and I've never been more proud of him! Knowing that he actually understood what he was doing and that Christ will be in his life forever is absolutely astounding!
Something else awesome was that during the invitation service, we had two kids from our very own missions team to make decisions, one to accept Christ (Terry-pictured above) and one to make a choice for rededication (Maddie-pictured below). It was cool to see God working through everyone there. The kids and the team!!!
Our awesome, amazing, wonderful, fabulous team! These people are for sure one of my most favorite hello's and one of the very very hardest goodbye's. They are my family and I love each of them with all of my heart. If any of you read this from my Mebane or Arnoldsburg family, please know that I love you with all of my heart and that I will be seeing you soon! ♥
Sweet Kenya, one of the most wonderful girls ever. She quickly became a light in our class and I loved her passion so much! I love her tons and I can't wait to see her again!
So, there's some of the basics of our trip! It was one of the best times I've ever had and most definitely is where my heart will always be. I loved it so much. If you aren't involved in anything that allows you to pour out your life into another life, I highly encourage you too. We go on this trip every year to share Jesus with these kids, but every year each of us leaves feeling equally blessed!
So, what are you doing that warms your heart and brings you joy this summer?