2017 Youth Mission Trip Log - by Melissa Weickert, Youth Director

 Day 1 of the Youth Mission Trip to Washington D.C. is in the books! 
We drove 9 hours and made it safely! 
We've all been fed, gone through orientation, large group worship and small church group time. WHAT A DAY! And many more of these fun-filled days to follow! 
Tommy- "We are all doing fine and dandy."
Kayla- "Washington is great so far."
Hannah- "Really good food and really cool sights."
Zach- "Really wonderful people."
Melissa- "11 o'clock bedtime is too late."
We will update again tomorrow! Thank you for your continuous prayers
Melissa & FLCY
Another big day for the youth!
Day 2
We are here with Our Savior Lutheran Church from Minnesota (near Canadian boarder) and First Baptist from West Virginia (one kid plays the fiddle each night- very cool). We are staying at the River Of Life Church, which used to be one of their charter schools but is now used for groups like us. About 35ish youth including our own. And about 13 adults. 
We started our first day of service today. Ed took Tommy and Zach with a group to Food & Friends where they packed meals on wheels type meals for terminally ill patients in the neighborhood. Melissa took Hannah and Kayla to The Christ House which is an all male homeless/rehabilitation center where they cleaned up their outdoor space and laid new stone. 
Showers were right after lunch because at 3 pm we headed to the National Archive Museum. We were supposed to go see the monuments but it rained and called for severe thunderstorms. We played games, skits and hung out to kill time.
We end each night with large group gathering where we worship and bible study. Then we break out into our church groups. It's a great time for reflection on the day and preparing ourselves for the next day. 
The youth love the people they are meeting, their positive spirits, and the happy atmospheres they are experiencing. Ed and Melissa aren't too keen on driving 15 passenger vans around D.C. and trying to parrell park. 
Tomorrow is a full day of service. Overall, everyone is having a fantastic, fun and positive experience. We are excited to see what the rest of the week brings! We are living the GOOD LIFE!! 

Day 3
Today was an early morning for the boys as they had to be up for breakfast prep at 6:30 am. They made some awesome eggs, sausage, and tater tots. After breakfast we loaded up the vans and our service crews and headed to our service centers for the morning. 
Ed, Zach and Tommy were at Food & Friends packing home delivery meals. Melissa, Kayla and Hannah were at Martha's table where they chopped vegetables for a stew that would be delivered to families. 
After a lunch break, Ed and the boys headed to the Men's Mission. Melissa and the girls headed to Food & Friends and were able to deliver the mess the boys prepared to the patients who needed them. It was an exciting and fun experience! 
Once showers and dinner was over we once again loaded up the vans and went to the National Mall to tour some of the monuments! Time was short so we saw as much as we could. Following our short excursion, we came back for group worship and small church time.
The youth are loving the service projects, the positive people and new relationships they are forming! It's been so fun! 
Off to bed for another full day of mission! We're living the good life!
Day 4
Today, after breakfast we al headed out to our service projects. They were the same as yesterday. Ed and the boys went Food & Friends in the morning to make meals. After lunch they were at Central Union Mission making beds and folding bedding and towels. Central Union Mission is an all male rehabilitation center where troubled men can stay, join programs, and seek medical attention (similar to the girl's visit to The Christ House). 
Melissa and the girls were at Martha's table in the morning. They chopped kale, celery, zucchini and snapped over a bazillion green beans. They went to lunch at Love 'n Faith Cafe and had paninis and smoothies. Food & Friends was after lunch and the crew delivered meals to three families. With time to spare, Melissa's crew obviously stopped to get ice cream. 
After showers, Melissa's team had to prep dinner. They made chicken and rice casserole, salad, dinner rolls and Oreos for dessert. 
Once dinner was cleaned up, a local pastor, Ray, and some musicians from the community came and performed for the group. They got the group involved and pumped up. Ray had an AMAZING sermon with a very moving message. It was a great time that everyone enjoyed and was touched by. 
A lip sync concert followed and then our large group worship time. Small groups talked about best and worst parts of the day, and how we would take all this home with us. We then split into our small church groups and spent some time reflecting, talking about our experiences and sharing our thoughts. 
We've spent the evening- free times worshiping with youth who have brought their personal instruments. It's always high-energy, fun and brings the group closer together. The adults enjoy playing cards in the evening or "resting" and getting a head start on bed time. 
Tomorrow is our last day. The kids have already said their feeing pretty sad about leaving already. Tomorrow is going to be a pretty big day: service all day, community cook out and a very important group activity that I'll share more about tomorrow.
Tommy- "I feel like today was my ultimate come to Jesus moment."
Zach- "Getting to know even more wonderful people. I knew them but got to know them even more and that was really fun."
Melissa- "I'm proudest of my youths when I see them excited and enjoying their time serving others and the Lord! They are giddy!" 
Kayla- "I love all of it. The people, the aesthetic, the worship- good worship."
Hannah- "I like getting to know the people around me. Being able to get to see the people we are serving has been a wonderful experience. Oh! And seeing Kayla fall out of a tree today was pretty good."

Day 5
Wow! The week is over already! What an amazing experience. I'll keep it shorter since we still need to pack and get to bed soon. I promise the youth will fill you in soon!
This morning we headed out to our service sites. Ed and the boys did the same as they had all week. They did a great job keeping positive attitudes and making it fun even though they were at the same place all week. Melissa and the girls went to the Central Union Mission and washed down beds, walls, windows and folded clothes. After lunch the delivered meals again. We were even able to deliver extra meals to several homeless folks in the community. 
Supper was at the local Boys and Girls Club. The "dads" on the trip grilled burgers and hot dogs. We had a ton of food and we probably had about 20-25 community members join us. It was  a joyful time and everyone helped and had fun. 
After supper we came back and had ice cream sundaes. Then we met for our large group gathering where we worshipped and read scripture. Afterward, the YouthWorks staff washed the adult leader's feet, and the adult leaders then turned to wash their own church youth's feet and pray over them. It was an extremely emotional, reflective, and meaningful time for all of the groups. I know that our group especially loved this moment of prayer and togetherness. 
We met as small church groups to reflect on the feet washing and on the week. Our youth are so insightful and in tune to their thoughts and emotions, as well as their relationships with God. It's great to see that, watch it grow and develop. We are a very fortunate congregation to have such positive and serving youth!!
The youth are now worshiping all on their own totally unprompted. It's heart warming. I can't wait until they can share their perspectives of the week with you all. We'll choose a date on our drive home that we can share with you our experiences and I'll let you all know. 
The Minnesota church group will be flying home and driving 5 hours+ tomorrow. Please keep them in your prayers tomorrow as they travel. West Virginia I think is staying another night to sight see so keep them in your prayers for safety and a great experience. 
Please keep our own youth in your prayers as well as Ed and I as we drive back 10+ hours tomorrow. We will leave the housing sight at 8 am Friday morning and will make a pit stop in Gettysburg before heading home. 
Thank you so much for all of the prayers this week. We felt surrounded and full of love all this week and we know that you all were thinking of us. I hope you've enjoyed these updates and were able to learn a bit about our service and about our very brave and faithful youth. As I mentioned, we'll share more with you soon. 
God Bless and remember, we're all living the GOOD LIFE!!  
P.S. I didn't keep it very short did I?