July 27th, 2019--It is crazy to believe that we just finished the last week of summer missions in Norfolk. We are so grateful to have New Covenant Presbyterian and Gateway Bible Church with us to help us finish strong. Each student missionary brought joy and commitment to serve others in all they did this week, and it showed.
Gateway Bible Church is located in Morgantown, North Carolina, and is the first out-of-state church to attend an EY2S mission trip. The first group of Gateway missionaries came last year, and we are so happy that they made the five hour trip to Norfolk to serve this city again for 2019. Despite the distance between the them and New Covenant, it was so awesome to see how the two youth groups blended together and became one big family.
Having New Covenant has been a blessing because this is the youth group our site leader Lydia attended. Lydia stepped in midway through the first week of summer missions to take over for Sam, and has done an amazing job. She has lead us all every step of the way; her heart for every child who came this summer and her deep love for Christ is evident in all that she does. She was so excited to have her youth group and to watch them grow this past week.
Both the youth from Gateway and New Covenant were very transparent with one another. As they built relationships with each other and deepened existing friendships, they began to open up with one another. We were so glad to see how God grew each of these relationships. We prioritize an environment that breeds openness and honesty in all things, and to see it come to life this week in this youth group was powerful.
For Connor, who was from Gateway he found that God used EY2S to teach him the value of transparency. He said, "It is good for me to be open with the other guys especially during breaking bread that we do have that good community and that we can support each other through that."
During our Bible study on forgiveness, there was an atmosphere of transparency, honesty, and care for each other. Frequently we stoped to pray for each other as student missionaries and leaders shared hurts and how they are working through forgiveness. Through the students' responses, the Lord's work in them was evident for all to see.
Blaine found that when everyone opened up in Breaking Bread, they were able to then take it to the Lord and draw together as a community. He said, "Thursday when we were Breaking Bread and everyone was so transparent with each other..We had a little prayer circle we would just lay our hands on the person and pray for them and that was really cool to see."
Not only has there been serious times of service, prayer, and transparency, this week has also had a lot of laughter, games, and joy.
This week we put the last final touches on the grouting for the tile at Mrs. Arlene’s house. We spent the week working exclusively at Norview Baptist Church. We finished painting the upstairs hallway and moved on to paint the boy’s bathrooms and the trim in the youth room. After enjoying having Norview’s youth group on the mission field with us, it has been such a blessing to be able to give back to them by repainting their youth room. We rehung posters in the hallway, and intricate process that brought a lot of laughs through the various mishaps. Through challenges (like difficulty with screws, posters, boards or saws) students persevered, prayed, and relied on each other for strength to complete the tasks set before them.
On Friday night, we hosted a worship night for all the student missionaries that came this summer. Students missionaries lead worship and prayer throughout the service. We were so happy for not only all the youth, parents and youth leaders that joined us, but to have Mrs. Arlene join us as well. For the service we intentionally selected songs that the youth groups had chosen throughout the summer for our nightly worship. We ended the service with our song "Let Us Adore", encouragement from Lydia, and fellowship together in our office.
For the past four weeks, we have been pouring into the kids at Young Terrace Summer Camp, with the student missionaries creating and leading a VBS. This past week, not only did the student missionaries have to say goodbye to the kids, but the leaders who have been there all summer did as well. It was a hard moment for everyone that last day. Time and time again we thought we were going to love them, but the love these children showed us blew us away. But it has not been all about us. Through all things every student missionary made an impact on the kids reminding them that they were loved and cared for every week.
Over the summer we have watched the kids' hearts soften towards the gospel and the Bible lessons. The built-up connections from previous weeks opened up opportunities to share the gospel, to share God’s love, and to talk about the Lord with many of the kids in Young Terrace Recreation Center. This week we finished out the Fruit of the Spirit by ending with gentleness and self-control through telling the stories of Joseph and his brothers and Saul chasing David. On Thursday we did face painting, a craft that brought smiles to the kids' faces as they painted all over the student missionaries and EY2S leaders.
Gateway and New Covenant helped us finish strong this summer. We are so grateful that they came. Looking back on this summer, we must give all thanks to the Lord, as He worked so powerfully this summer, turning Norfolk upside down for the glory of His name.