We had an incredible trip to San Francisco with 18 high school students and four incredible youth leaders (well three anyway- Shelly Schmidt, Michaela Eskew and Marcus Kochis.) The youth spent their days doing service projects, seeing the sights and learning from the scriptures. They will share this Sunday at 8:00 and 9:30 more of their experiences, but I want to share some of the highlights with you too.
Service Projects: We painted blessings on wooden planks for Youth Spirit Artworks. In the hot sun, the youth thought through messages they want to share with underprivileged youth and painted them on wooden planks to adorn the center’s courtyard. One of them read “It’s ok to not be ok,” and other one read “U deserve the World.” Some painted scripture and crosses and art to bless the center. The youth also spent time at a Crisis Center, a Food Bank, Cleaning up garbage at a Skate Park and helping a local church decorate for Vacation Bible School.
Experiences: We spent one evening with an ELCA ministry called San Francisco Night ministries. They have what’s called an Open Cathedral, an outdoor liturgical service with hymns and contemporary music on the streets. We worshiped with homeless people and were surrounded with the noise and smells of the busy city. It was powerful to receive communion and hear familiar words in such a different setting.
Faith Formation: Each evening we gathered for a large group teaching. We learned that we are a “thread in God’s tapestry.” WE even had a loom and weaved thread by thread to think about how we are part of what God is doing in the world. We had individual quiet time, the best of which was when we went to Muir woods and communed with God under 1,000 year old trees. One of our faith formation times was on a beach at sunset and concluded with kids coming forward and reaffirming their baptism and receiving a blessing.
Community: This is the biggest thing that happened on this trip and why I think they are so valuable. The kids came together as a Christian community. Shy kids came out of their shells and everyone made new friends. They also messed up and got mad at each other and had to confess their sin and ask for forgiveness. They were being made into disciples. They grew in loving each other and I hope that love for one another keeps them coming together for worship, learning and fellowship in the coming year.
We saw all the sights of course and that was good, but the best part was the work God did in the lives of our youth. Thank you again for supporting this trip and even giving above and beyond when we got delayed for a day and had a full day of extra expenses. This congregation has proven that it cares about youth and is willing to invest in their faith.
I’m really tired and am going to take a long nap now. 😊