Monthly Archives: June 2007

The Big Five

Yesterday was Heather’s and my fifth anniversary. We didn’t do anything terribly wild to celebrate; had a little pizza at home after I got cleaned up from Middle School Mission Week and then went and saw Knocked Up. The big anniversary celebrating will come Sunday and Monday. After church we’re going to go out to the Indiana Dunes to do a little hiking, we’ve got reservations at a Bed and Breakfast in Valpo, and then on Monday we’re going to go visit a winery or two in Michigan. I’m really looking forward to that time together.

I enjoyed Knocked Up last night – it was a bit more vulgar than I had imagined it might be, but overall I thought it was pretty good. One line in particular jumped out at me as I sat there on my anniversary night. “Marriage is a lot like Everybody Loves Raymond. Except it’s not funny, it’s just really tense. Marriage is like an unfunny and tense Everybody Loves Raymond, except it doesn’t last 22 minutes… it last forever.”

I couldn’t disagree with those sentiments more. Over the last five years I’ve had opportunities to travel, I’ve completed my Masters Degree, and worked at two different churches on wonderful projects with wonderful people. Without a doubt the single greatest joy of my last five years has been my married life with Heather. I can’t imagine life without her by my side and am so grateful for the partner and friend that she is. I’m looking forward to many many more years!


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M&M – Day Five

We have just returned from collecting food bags in our neighborhood and are having a little break before our closing worship service. I thought this would be a great time to write since I know I won’t want to once I go home this evening. Heather and I have a 5th anniversary to celebrate tonight!

We were all pleased with our collection of food through the neighborhood. On Monday we distributed 200 bags in the community asking them to fill them with groceries for this afternoon. This afternoon we picked up 66 bags of food which I know will go a long way to helping Greater Hammond Community Service’s Food Pantry.

This morning we prepared a delicious baked pasta meal for the State Street Center and took it down to serve at noon time. I could tell that the clients at State Street were really appreciative and could tell that the youth were proud of their work and of the opportunity to serve people face to face.

All in all it has been a wonderful week. I am deeply indebted to all of the adults of Ridge Church who stepped up to make this week work as well as it did. Marie Cost, Marcia McCarty, Clare Bogs, Diana Rogers, Mary Doolittle, Robin Kijurna, Pat O’Brien, Cheri O’Brien, and Larry Temple all dedicated their time and energy to be a part of our time together this week. I am also grateful to Diane Comandella for providing snacks each day and for helping orchestrate our plan B for Wednesday, to Heather Clinger for joining us this afternoon to help with worship, and to Dave Miller for helping us pick up food with his truck. It truly is a blessing to be in ministry with such great people. Middle School Mission Week could not have happened without the help of these 12 wonderful people.

Thanks also to Morgan Midkiff for helping lead devotions and to Michael Brandner for helping out and for preaching during our closing worship service. I am blessed to have older youth serving in great mentoring roles.

And of course, thanks to everyone who participated. For it being the first time we have done anything like this at Ridge I would say it was a huge success! I am already getting excited for M&M ’08.


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M&M – Day Four

Today was, in my opinion, Middle School Mission Week’s best day yet. Part of it is probably that I implemented a new rule – youth had to do five push ups before they were allowed to ask me what time it was. This gave us something fun to laugh about, helped strengthen some of their upper bodies, helped them be a little bit more aware of clocks around them, and made them slightly less irritating than earlier in the week.

This morning we went to the Hammond YMCA where we helped do some cleaning inside and picked up some trash outside. We also had some time to play in the gym which I think was the highlight of the day for some of the youth. Probably the best part of their experience though was having lunch at the YMCA. The School Town of Hammond is providing free lunches to kids at the YMCA this summer and they invited us to share in their meal today. Each youth received 2 cold chicken drumsticks, a small container of watermelon, a small container of cole slaw, and a capri-sunish juice pouch. No one was overly thrilled with the meal, but we had some good conversation about how that meal, as underwhelming as it was, might be the best, if not only, meal that some eat today. I think that was eye opening for many of our youth.

After lunch we went to Children of Abraham, a very cool organization that takes donated obsolete and surplus medical supplies from the U.S. and ships them to developing countries. The group really dug in and worked hard this afternoon and while they were working harder than they might have so far this week they also seemed to be having a great deal of fun. As we processed the day this afternoon someone even reflected, “even a task that might be kind of boring on it’s own can be fun when you do it with friends and when you do it with a spirit of service to help others.” Maybe they are learning something after all!

It’s been a long week, but at the same time it’s hard to believe that it’s almost over. Tomorrow should be a great day and I look forward to seeing how they reflect on the week in general when all is said and done!

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M&M – Day Three

The last of our Middle School Mission crew just headed home for the day and it seems like they had a pretty good time today without me. This morning the weather forecast called for storms and so we made the decision to go with plan B for the day rather than the water park. There was some complaining, but all in all it wasn’t terrible.

Plan B was a couple of games of bowling, lunch out at a fun restaurant and then a trip to see Evan Almighty. They came back to the church giggling and laughing and hyper and it seems as if they had a pretty great day all in all!

Tomorrow we’re back to work and going to be working with a couple of neat organizations. We’ll be with the YMCA in the morning and Children of Abraham in the afternoon.

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M&M – Day Two

As I sit at my desk this evening I am exhausted, but it is a satisfied exhausted to be sure. All of the youth worked their tails off today and (after a little pep talk about attitude this morning) were in pretty good spirits all day.

This morning we were at the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana and primarily did salvage. Essentially we sorted through large containers of miscellanious stuff that had been donated by CVS and Wal-Mart. In all I’d say we sorted about a pallet or a pallet and a half’s worth of stuff in our three hours there. I must admit though, I was amazed by the amount of cigars, condems, diet pills, and margarita mix donated by those two companies. I’m guessing someone would be a little embarrased if they had any idea…

Our afternoon was spent at Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore. We had just settled in for some painting and roofing on some sheds – and the rain moved in. It poured buckets on us and so we quickly got everything picked up and headed for shelter. Fortunately (for us) the supply warehouse was way past due for some organization and so we quickly set to work on it. It was particularly inspiring to see the youth come together as a team and to create some super efficient assembly lines. It was also great to see the leaders of the group step it up. This is really a fantastic group of 13 middle school students!

Tomorrow is the group’s “play day” and the plan is to go to Deep River Water Park. One mom helped me put together a great plan B should thunderstorms come and so regardless of weather, I think that it will be a great day for all involved. My plan will be to stay back at the church, to work on my Sermon for Sunday and to lead our Youth BS (Bible Study) in the afternoon. I am looking forward to a little break from the 15 passenger van and being asked what time it is every two minutes!

Until later, be well.

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M&M – Day One

By all practical accounts the first day of our Middle School Mission Week was a huge success today.

This morning we delivered 200 grocery sacks to our neighbors with a letter explaining our week-long project and letting them know that we’d be by on Friday afternoon to collect canned goods if they could set them out on their porch. If even a quarter of the homes put out food I will call it a huge success!

We returned to the church from that project at about 11:30 and so we had some time to visit before lunch. We had a great conversation about hunger and the abundance that we take for granted in our lives. Listening to these youth describe in detail all of the food in their pantries and refrigerators was shocking. I was proud of them all for confessing that at one time or another they had stood in front of the fridge or pantry and thought “there’s nothing to eat in this house.” I then challenged them to think twice about those kinds of thoughts and comments in the future.

After lunch we headed a couple of miles north to the Boys and Girls Club at Columbia Center. I think our youth really had a great time there! We did a craft project with them, played a little bingo, and then went outside for some kickball. It was a hot afternoon, but I think everyone had a wonderful time. There seem to be some great possibilities for our youth group to partner more long term with the Columbia Center Boys and Girls Club. I look forward to processing those more in the coming weeks.

I’m off to rest up now for another big day tomorrow. Your continued thoughts and prayers are appreciated!

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M&M – Missions ‘n Munster

I realize that it’s a grammatical stretch, but our Middle School Mission week which kicks off tomorrow is cleverly called M&M. Get it? Mission ‘n Munster?

Anyway, I am really excited about this new program we’re piloting this year. Of course, like all good ideas, I have lifted this from other churches. When I was a Summer Staff Intern at Church of the Resurrection we had a Middle School Mission Week. I also helped one summer during college with MILK (Missions in Lawrence Kansas) at Lawrence First UMC.

We have 13 middle school students signed up to participate this week and I am so excited – I think it’s going to be a wonderful week. We’ll be talking about Missions and then serving in a variety of locations throughout the community during the course of the week. Tomorrow we begin with some introductory time and a “What is/are Missions?” discussion. The rest of the morning will be spent delivering grocery bags through our neighborhood. They each have a letter attached inviting people to make a food donation to Greater Hammond Community Services’ Food Pantry. We’ll be picking up the bags and hopefully lots of donations on Friday afternoon.

Tomorrow afternoon we’ll be headed up to the Columbia Center Boys and Girls Club to work with their Cadet Program for 6-8 year olds. Columbia Center is a neighborhood in Hammond that is less than two miles from our church. However, it is in an entirely different world. I look forward to seeing how my youth respond to the experience.

I hope to write daily during the week as a means of processing my experience as well as keeping any friends and family up to date. Please keep me, all of these youth, the adults who are helping, and the agencies we’ll be serving in your thoughts and prayers this week!

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