Sunday, July 7, 2013

Cheyenne, Wyoming :: part 2

Continuing to tell about my week on a youth choir mission trip to Cheyenne, Wyoming. . . . 

Sunday morning, June 9, we visited an air force base. We sung at the church, and the chaplain gave us a tour of the base. We saw and learned about nuclear missile carriers, including how only the President can authorize the release of nuclear weapons.

Sunday afternoon (as well as Monday afternoon and Tuesday evening) we helped with a unique ministry at Sunnyside Baptist church, the place we were temporarily calling home. I was asked to give a testimony in our church about it, so I'll just share those words here:  

Hi! My name is Megan and this week I got to take part in a ministry that took me by surprise at Sunnyside Baptist Church in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Every summer, they hand out 50,000 water bottles to people attending the Cheyenne Frontier Days. Besides offering a drink, these water bottles are hand labeled with stickers that share scriptures about salvation. When we arrived at the church, pallets of water bottles lined the gym walls, ready to be unpacked, labeled, and repacked. We soon split up into teams and worked together to ready some of these pallets. In three days, we labeled a little more than nine pallets, totaling close to 17,000 water bottles. It was refreshing to be a part of something that will bring refreshment to others. 

On Sunday night we performed our full concert at Sunnyside. There were few who attended, but they were very hospitable. 

Monday, June 10, was full of preparations for an Upward basketball camp, backyard Bible clubs, and construction work at Sunnyside. My camera managed to stay in my bag. I was a part of the group doing backyard Bible clubs, so I got to help cut out stickers and read through lessons.

The day also included a visit to a local senior center. While waiting to sing, one of my friends and I talked to a lady named Connie who had grown up in Georgia, then moved to Wyoming. It was fascinating to hear about her transition. 

Monday night everyone helped with a cook out/ carnival for Upward basketball camp enrollees. While we were ready for forty or more kids, only two showed up. Between cup stacking, face painting, a cake walk, and other games, we still had lots of fun. 

Tuesday, June 11, officially began the activities. My backyard Bible club had three kids: one little girl and, later, a brother and sister. We shared the story of Creation with the kids, telling them that they are God's most special creation. 

Tuesday afternoon, after a second visit to the senior center, we visited Vedauwoo State Park. Talk about Creation! I readily admit that my expectations were low. I thought we'd see a pretty forest and a few big rocks. A look around the park, however, rocked my preconceptions. We split up into groups, each with a leader or two, and were given a couple hours to explore. My group spotted another group already a ways up one of the rock-covered mountain and wondered how in the world they got there. A loud conversation ensued, pictured above, in which we got the advice of "go that way". Somehow, we managed to climb up the mountain too. 

I attempted to capture the view by taking a video. It was a struggle to get to the almost-top of the little mountain. In the middle of climbing a particularly steep rock, one of my friends got stuck, her shoe fell off, and no new hand hold appeared. I reached out my own hand, but she worried she'd pull me down. We called our leader over. I started praying. Aloud. It made me feel somewhat suspended in the moment, calm as help came through our leader. 

On our way back down the mountain, we spotted a moose in the trees. We stayed quiet. Thankfully, it didn't seem to spot us. We found out later that another leader had taken a picture of a moose, and the moose had charged her and our wonderful bus driver. While running away, our bus driver stepped in a hole and hurt her calf. She had to wear a special boot the rest of the trip, but thankfully no bones were broken and her driving was not affected. 

Wednesday, June 12, slipped in with more backyard Bible clubs (and Upward basketball camps and construction work), as well as a concert at another church in town followed by a beautiful sunset. We didn't have any kids at our backyard Bible club location, but they had eleven kids at another one. We heard that the kids were rough, but receptive.

Breakfast on Thursday, June 13, startled me. I was seated and watching our choir director as he looked around the room for someone, one of the leaders, to pray. Then his eyes met mine and he mouthed Will you pray? I looked at him and mouthed Me? I thought there surely had to be someone else he was really asking. Still, he looked straight at me. Will you? I nodded, knowing my answer was yes, though I would never have volunteered it. He quieted the room. I talked to God. We ate our food and I marveled at how a few sentences aloud could grow me. 

Thursday morning was the last time my group did backyard Bible camp. We hung out at the playground with our music going and activities ready. No kids showed up, once again, but we placed quite a few flyers at different apartment doors. Some of the flyers told about VBS the next week at Sunnyside Baptist Church. All of the flyers had information about the church. We hoped that someone would take note. 

On Thursday afternoon we sang at a juvenile detention center. We saw kids our ages, with quite normal faces, wearing clothes slightly too big. We sang a song about things changing in a moment, but God staying the same.  

On Friday, June 14, we packed our stuff, loaded it onto the bus, cleaned the church that had been nice enough to let us make it messy, and headed down to Ft. Collins, Colorado. There, I went white water rafting for my first time. After the complications of renting and putting on wetsuits, hearing the safety spiel, and riding another bus out to the Cache la Poudre River, we finally got in rafts (I sat in the front right spot) and learned how to paddle. The water was high, causing us to move quickly, but without the danger of all the rocks. Everyone in my boat managed to stay seated for the entire ride, only experiencing the river in waves that refreshed us in our hot wetsuits. On a calm part of the river, our guide asked us to sing one of our choir songs. We sang our one a capella song, a version of Move by MercyMe. Things got a bit interesting as we realized we were all altos, but it was a lot of fun. Our choir director passed by in his raft and was grinning. 

After sleeping on a church pew on Friday night, we woke up bright and early on Saturday, June 15, and headed home. It was a long, but good ride. The bus was a bit quieter than it had been the previous Saturday. Everyone was ready to reach the church, be picked up by their families, and get a bit of sleep in their own beds before coming back the next morning to do our concert in each service. When we finally pulled into the church parking lot, my dad, who had been out of town with work all week, picked me up. I arrived home to my mom, growing sisters, and growing puppies. I told them about my time and they told me about theirs, all of us glad we had been able to talk throughout the week thanks to cellphones, but glad to be face to face again. 

Sunday, June 16, Father's day, came very quickly. There was a breakfast/awards ceremony before church. Each student was awarded something, such as Mission Trip Romance (given to my friend who was given a pretzel engagement ring by a seven year old) and Chief Mischief Maker (given to the boy who was a part of every prank). I was given the Marry Poppins award, prefaced with "this girl would smile even if her arm was cut off." Glad we didn't test that theory! 

All three church service concerts went well. We sang our songs and even remembered the words. I talked about the water bottle labeling, finding it unnecessary to read from my slip of paper. Turned out those words had soaked into my head too.

As in the last post, I see the theme of "words matter" throughout this trip. 

The President's words matter.
Words printed on a water bottle matter.
Activities provide opportunities to share words that matter.
Everyone's words matter.
Words in the Bible  matter.
Words shouted on a mountain matter. 
Even in the most physically scary times, it's words that really matter.
Sometimes it's the very lack of words that matters.
Kids have a good idea of the words that matter.
Words spoken to God always matter.
Words about a place that has hope matter.
Words about a God that is hope matter.
Our choir director is always showing us that words matter.
Words, however delivered, matter.
Unique awards are words that matter.
When words can be soaked into your head, they must matter.

John 1:1 states that "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

I see that this trip was about words sung, words spoken, words written, and, most of all, the Word from whom everything else comes~


tinuviel said...

Wow! That trip was full of ministry, and not just musical. Good for you for climbing the rock mountain and praying aloud twice!! Thank you so much for recording your perspective on your journey here. Your words matter, friend. :)

(Glad with you that the Mary Poppins theory wasn't tested.)

Megan said...

Thank you for your words of encouragement!