Our fifth week of the summer was actually our last week in Norfolk (afterward we headed back to North Carolina), and we got to spend it with a church that has been a part of Empowering Youth 2 Serve since the beginning: Avalon Hills Bible Church. It is always so much fun to work with Avalon students, getting to see them year after year and walk alongside them on their journeys in faith. A majority of the students had been on an EY2S trip before and they jumped right into this week.
Since this was to be our last week in Norfolk, we wanted to make sure we finished up the projects we had begun. And with a lot of hard work, the teams did! The rest of the old flooring was taken up at Buffalow Family and Friends Community Pantry and the new floor was put down. They finished the shelves and organizing at the Norview Baptist Clothing Closet. And they finished building a swing and getting the rocks laid out at the Buffalow’s house. (There was still a little work to do in the backyard, but the EY2S team will finish it when the summer’s over.) All through it, the youth group worked with great joy and excitement. They prayed over the various communities, came up with team names and chants, and worked hard out in the sun.
We at Empowering Youth 2 Serve are so blessed by our partnership with Norview Baptist. We believe that having a local church that can come alongside us in shepherding the people we disciple is so important. As part of our partnership with them, this week’s outreach was joining with them to host Norview Baptist’s summer Vacation Bible School. Pastor Jeff Luchen gave the Bible messages, his wonderful wife, Melinda, organized themed snacks, and their children were an active part of the games and fun. This year's theme was Champions for Christ. The students from Avalon stepped up in amazing ways, putting on a skit, organizing and planning games, learning and teaching songs and dances, and simply showing the love of Christ to everyone they encountered. While it was not a large turnout, we were so grateful for every kid that came. The Lord brought exactly who He wanted and the students were able to focus and pour love into every single child.
One of my favorite moments from this week was our Thursday night Reflection Ceremony. The Reflection Ceremony is a time where we start with worship and then continue to worship by encouraging and lifting up those around us in the ways that God is working in their lives. It is always an impactful part of the day. This Thursday, we found ourselves in the connecting hallway of the church that has beautiful acoustics. With the last bit of light from the day coming through the windows, we began to sing a capella worship in light of our Bible study on how Christ is always enough for us. And then we went into a time of encouragement. It was such a special and intimate time of being so intentional and loving towards one another. All in all, it was a great week. Thanks Avalon!