We left from the church parking lot in Palm Coast about 7:20 Sunday morning (July 6) for YouthWorks in Chattanooga, TN. I’m driving the minivan with half our 12-member group and Mark is driving Godzilla, his huge green pickup truck, with most of our gear and the remainder of our team. He’s got CB’s in each vehicle so we can keep in touch. That’s right, good buddy, CB’s.
The drive is uneventful. The trip took us about ten hours, including lunch, fuel and rest stops. The only traffic we encountered was between Macon and Atlanta, GA and right at the TN state line where I-24 and I-75 split. Our best rest stop sighting was a “Mish Mish Mish” T-shirt. We never did figure out what that was all about. Josh waited till 8:30 to open up his bag of beef jerky. I love the smell of beef jerky in the morning.
We pulled into the parking lot of a church called The Gathering about 5:15 pm, the last group to arrive that day. We joined youth groups from Marysville, MI, Dallas, TX, and Bremen, IN for the week, a total of about 60 middle and high school youth. We were greeted by Tonia, one of the on-site staff, who introduced us to the rest of the staff (Sam, Nathan and Helen) and got us ready for a supper of BBQ, mac and cheese and baked beans. Orientations for the leaders and the youth was followed by club, our evening devotional time. I found out that one of the leaders from Texas, Chester, knows my son Adam who is a pastor at another church in Dallas. It’s a small world.
YouthWorks has been in Chattanooga for many years and had a well-connected program including five kids club sites and eight service sites. We will get to work on a variety of projects in the community, and serve in diverse ways.
The initial challenges: one of our team has a pretty bad headache and has to go to bed early. I also discover that four of our youth have forgotten to bring bibles (eye roll). Some are apprehensive about the week. But I know that once we get started, they will get so much from this experience.
Josh was doing magic tricks within thirty minutes of our arrival, and did a few for our opening devotions, based on living like Jesus, whom came to serve and give his life for us. The theme of the week is Demo. Jesus is our Demo, serving, loving, and living God’s plan for us. The challenge this week will be to reach out, step in, let go and live like him.
I really love coming on these trips. It’s tiring and energizing all at the same time. This is my first trip without any of my own children, but I have known our youth for many years and am looking forward to the week.