Youth Gathering (Days 4 and 5)

 

Day four (Thursday) began with a worship service for everyone in the Alamodome. Worshiping with 25,000, hearing a great message from President Harrison, and a blend of music led by a talented choir, orchestra and band make it one of my favorite parts of the week.

Afterwards, we decided we had better eat early in the day, since the Riverwalk and dome areas were going to be very crowded later. We went to Dick's Last Resort on the Riverwalk, where the waiters are rude and the food is very good.

We didn't get back to the convention center in time for an interest center, so we revisited the exhibition hall and did a few craft things (headband and a backpack buddy.

We headed over to the dome early and listened to a Christian Mariachi band playing outside. Inside, the evening mass event included the amazing story of a young lady who was heard after spending six years in the hospital with a neuro disease contracted from a mosquito bite. Our guys in masks got on the big screen again, mugging a Community Life Builder.

After the evening event, we watched some fantastic fireworks outside the dome. We didn't get home til 11 pm, but everyone was hungry. Pizza? Sure, why not? Well, the delivery wait time was 2 hours, so I went to pick it up. Got done eating and asleep by 1:30.

Friday morning was pack, a final mass event, and head out for home. Liv and I were dropped off at a car rental place, so we could drive to Dallas for my son's installation. The rest of the group, who barely fit in the van, started east, spending the big in Lafayette, LA.

Overall, a great gathering. It took our group several days to solidify, and then it was almost over. We'll have to work more on that. San Antonio is a great city, but didn't seem quite big enough for an event of this proportion. Many of our group underestimated the amount of energy needed to last all week and do all the events. They were dragging!

 

 

Youth Gathering (Day 3)

Our first activity for the day was an excursion to the Alamo. Just a short walk from the convention center, crowds were small in the morning for this famous Texas shrine. I hadn't realized it was considered a shrine until the men were asks to remove their hats upon entering. I also hadn't remembered the historical and societal significance of the battle and loss of life there. A very simple place, it contains familiar names, preserved artifacts and draws you into a great story of courage and commitment.

From there we walked some of the Riverwalk and decided on Fuddruckers for lunch. We just beat most of the noon crowd, and then headed back to the convention center. We spent about an hour browsing the exhibits, getting some cool free stuff, and then attempts to go to an interest center. I say attempted because they all filled up long before we arrived, up to 30 minutes early. It seems like the venues aren't quite big enough to handle the crowds. Liv and I just slipped into a session called, “Is there Jesus after high school?” It was well done, but I don't think most of the youth there really grasped how much life changes after you graduate.

Afterwards, Josh and Hayden bought some masks that wrestlers would wear, giving our group a distinctive look for the rest of the day.

 

Determined to get to the Alamodome a little earlier, we then bought some Subway to take with us, and then walked down to eat our supper there. We got to the dome about 6:00 pm, and found that thousands of people had a

 

Ready camped out at the doors which didn't open until 7:30. I gave the youth a couple of photo scavenger hunts to work on, and we just relaxed a little.

The evening event included some dramatizations of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. President Matt Harrison played a little banjo, and Evan's pic of his head stuck in a cannon made the big screen.

We stayed after the big event to hear the Skit Guys, which is always enjoyable, and the headed back to the hotel.

 

Youth Gathering (Day 2)

 

Day two began with bible study after breakfast, followed by the successful quest to get our shuttle wristbands which hadn't been included in our registration packet. Mission accomplished.

The first interest center we attended was called, “Questions you can't ask your Mama.” The audience tweeted their questions, and the speaker deftly handled discussions mostly about sexuality. We heard him speak at the last gathering in New Orleans. He was humorous and very good, coming from the perspective that your current behavior has consequences, and God has something a lot better for you.

The second interest center was “321 Improv,” three guys doing a variety of improv comedy. They were excellent, and did tack on a short testimony at the end of their time, but I'm not really sure howmtheynfit into the whole gathering.

The sessions we attended were packed (meaning several thousand people.) We learned to leave a lot more time to do just about anything.

Mark and I then left the group with Rosemary to return his rental car.

When we returned, Olivia and I went and heard a few missionaries who had been in South Africa speak. Some were career, some were short term.

 

We headed out to a pizza place for supper, enduring an hour wait for our food. Of course around here, every restaurant is like that. On the way we ran into my brother-in-law Jeff with his group from Indiana. In the restaurant I saw Pastor Ingo Dutzman from First Lutheran Church in Boston, whom I knew from my years in New England.

We got to the dome about 8 for the evening mass event which focused on how we are so easily distracted from Jesus, which always leads to wondering if we're loved. We are always loved by him, and need that reminder often.

On the way to our shuttle, a voice cries out, Are you Adam's dad?” I have no idea who she was, but she said we had met before. Our youth are amazed when I run into folks know, but that's one of the blessings of being in the church for a while.

 

 

Youth Gathering (day 1)

 

The drive from Mobile to San Antonio is very, very long. We left a little later than we wanted to, but made it with no problems other than a little group motion sickness. As soon as you hit the TX line, speed limit goes up to 75 and it is off to the races. A Corvette passed me doing at least 100.

In his quest for the world's best hamburger, Josh was not impressed by Whattaburger. His research continues.

Our hotel (LaQuinta) is pretty nice and I slept much better on a bed last night. I'm rooming with the Ore twins. No major bruhahas. Yet. Refreshing glimpses of maturity.

Best sighting of the day: a terrified Hispanic man driving a very small car 45 mph merging onto I-10 just outside of San Antonio.

We ate supper around midnight at a 24-hour Mexican restaurant, which was excellent and even had some Mariachi singers.

 

Youth Gathering (on the road)

After a quick circle prayer, we nine youth and two adults loaded up ourselves and our stuff into our white 15-passenger van, and headed out…first to get money one person forgot, and then a forgotten phone. Then we got on the road.

Not a very exciting day, apart from a few heavy showers. We made it all the way to Tallahassee before our first stop. Very impressive.

We had plenty of snacks. Josh didn't stop eating from the time we left until we reached Lake City, about two hours down the road.

 

At our second stop, we observed an angry Asian man outside the Waffle House, not enjoying his cigarette at all.

We gained an hour, pulled into Holy Cross Lutheran Church where my friend Pastor Russ Gipson let us spend the night at his church. A quick supper at Panera and Subway, and then a little time to relax.

 

 

 

Youth Gathering (prequel)

 

Our high school youth group and I leave tomorow for the triennial LC-MS youth gathering in San Antonio, TX. With 10 youth and two other adult leaders, we'll take two days to drive from Palm Coast to the heart of Texas.

The youth have spent the last two days making t-shirts and accumulating snacks to bring in the van. I expect them to consume some massive amounts of food in the next few days.

This will be my fifth gathering. I survived Red Rocks in Denver in 1989, have been to three in New Orleans, and one in Orlando. I've been able to go with all three of my children, and that has made each trip very special and a lot of fun.

Most of youth and adults going with us this time are attending their first gathering. They have no idea what it will be like to be with 25,000 other Lutheran youth in one place at one time, worshiping, singing, dancing, yelling and making a bunch of new friends.

Right after the benediction tomorrow, we're off, two long days in a van ahead of us. Doesn't get any better than that.

 

LCMS Youth Gathering part 3

Monday at the gathering was our late start day: we didn’t have to be at bible study until 10:30. Some of us made the trek to the French Quarter to get some beignets at Cafe Du Mond. After a good study of John 4, most of us had lunch at the hotel which was OK but nothing special.

The group I hung out with then went to a couple of breakout sessions. One was called “Questions you can’t ask your Mama” (sexuality). The other was about how to help a friend who gets pregnant. Both were good speakers. After supper at a restaurant not too far from the hotel we hustled to the Superdome and just missed Megan on stage talking about Hong Kong. But she was able to save us seats in row 4 on the floor. It’s fun to be up close one night.

Our Tuesday began with our servant event. We took buses to the ninth ward and painted a house and cut a lot of brush from some vacant lots.

The gentleman whose house we painted had lived in the house since 1973. He was just getting done making repairs from Katrina. He left before the hurricane, but it took him 10 hours to go 100 miles. I don’t think they came home for about 6 months. A lot of houses were still in disrepair and vacant.

On the bus there, a couple sitting in front of me said, “You look familiar.” I played trumpet for their wedding 20 years ago in New Britain, CT. Unfortunately, I don’t remember that event, but we had a great conversation about friends from New England.

When we got back we grabbed some lunch and got to two afternoon sessions. One was a band called Ives. The other was about telling your story.

Tonight is the mass gathering divine service with holy communion. They’ve promised it will be awesome.