Monthly Archives: June 2008

Clingers in Transition

It has been a whirlwind week and a half and I’m now sitting on the floor in the dining room watching the movers empty our house and load things onto a truck. There are many blogs to be written, but for the time being I just want to point you toward Heather‘s so you can have some idea of what has been and is going on. I’m hoping to catch up a little over the weekend once we get to my parent’s place in Lawrence.

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M&M – Day Five

June 16th – 20th is Ridge UMC’s Middle School Mission Week. Each day middle school students will be gathering to participate in mission projects throughout the community. I’ll be reflecting on each day here.

Middle school mission week wrapped up with a nice and relaxed, but very rewarding day. We gathered at the church Friday morning, went through our morning routine of devotions and sharing and then stayed at the church for the morning’s project. A couple from the church had done the shopping and the planning for the youth to prepare a meal to serve at the State Street Center, an organization in Hammond that works with people seeking to transition out of homelessness. Our youth always seem to enjoy preparing and serving a meal for State Street and always impress me with their willing attitudes and energy in the kitchen.

After the meal was done we packed up and headed north to serve the meal. The youth were wonderful in their interactions with the clients and everyone who received lunch was truly appreciative.

We ate lunch ourselves when we got back to the church and then we went back out over Monday’s routes to pick up the groceries that people were donating to the Food Bank at Greater Hammond Community Services. We collected about as much food as we had last year (about 65 bags full), but I was hoping for more as we had passed out considerably more bags on Monday.

When we returned back to the church we had a little bit of free time to relax and to straighten up there and then we closed the day with a worship service. During the worship service we reflected on the week and had a couple of senior high youth share brief sermons with us.

Overall it was a great week. 14 youth and 9 adults all played a part in making this an incredible week and a great way for me to finish my time at Ridge UMC. Thanks everyone for a fantastic week!

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M&M – Day Four

June 16th – 20th is Ridge UMC’s Middle School Mission Week. Each day middle school students will be gathering to participate in mission projects throughout the community. I’ll be reflecting on each day here.

Today was another fantastic day. I was a little concerned about the youth being wiped out after their day at the water park yesterday and this morning started slow – they all seemed exhausted as they showed up. Once we got to working things really picked up though.

This morning we went to a new agency (for us) – Capes House. Capes House is an old apartment building that has been renovated to serve as short term housing for people (especially women and children) who are homeless. Many of the people receiving services from Capes House have recently been evicted because of a loss of job or other unforeseen circumstances. The work that we did while there wasn’t terribly rewarding (some cleaning/straightening outside) but it was good to connect with another organization in the community – especially one that Ridge Church has been so involved in supporting over the last year or two.

This afternoon we went to one of my favorite organizations, Children of Abraham. Children of Abraham is a fantastic non-profit that collects medical supplies from hospitals in the United States and distributes them to hospitals throughout the world. Some of my favorite things about Children of Abraham:

– It is an interfaith colaboration of the United Methodist Church and the Islamic Society of Northwest Indiana.
– The medical supplies that are collected would likely end up in landfills if not for Children of Abraham.
– The organization is very non-assuming, grounded, and grass roots.
– Champ Merrick, one of the key players in Children of Abraham embodies for me what it means to live a life of missions.

While we were with Children of Abraham today we began by helping stage a shipment that is being loaded Saturday morning to go to Tanzania. Once we got all of that prepared we began working to get things ready for a shipment to Liberia that will be going out in July.

As the day came to a close today the youth reflected on how great it had been to serve homeless families in Hammond as well as patients and doctors in Tanzania and Liberia. For me, that is exactly what Middle School Mission Week is all about.

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A Humbling Tribute – Thanks Bob!

Bob Birgel, a member of Ridge Church, writes a column in our local paper every couple of weeks. This morning’s was humbling to say the least and brought tears to me eyes.

You can read the whole thing or my favorite excerpt below:

Growing up, I always felt uncomfortable around clergy. They were holy, righteous and unapproachable, and I was small and a sinner. Over the next few years, I came to know Jeff as not only a pastor but as friend. He is wise, compassionate and caring beyond his years. He’s the first man of the cloth I’ve played golf with, drank a beer with and slipped and let a swear word out in front of without feeling I’d be damned for eternity.

Thanks Bob – for the kind words, for your partnership in ministry, and for always being such a supporter of Ridge Church. I look forward to the Birgel Family vacation to Kansas City in a few years!

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M&M – Day Three

June 16th – 20th is Ridge UMC’s Middle School Mission Week. Each day middle school students will be gathering to participate in mission projects throughout the community. I’ll be reflecting on each day here.

This morning we gathered at 9:00 (got to sleep in!) and shared a devotional and celebrated Jesse’s 13th Birthday with some delicious donuts before everyone loaded up and headed out for the day.

Today is a fun day of relaxing for the youth participating in M&M and they’re spending it at Deep River Water Park. I’d love to be along for the fun and games, but needed the day to work on wrapping things up in the office. Thanks to parents who were willing to provide transportation/supervision I’ve got time to get lots of great things done today.

This morning I met with our Treasurer to wrap some things up and then I spent some time in my office getting a couple of youth going on the packing they’re doing for me – thanks Michael and Robby! Now I’m at a local coffee shop to get my sermon finished up for Sunday. I’ll meet the group back at the church when they return from the water park to close our day together and to prepare for tomorrow.

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M&M – Day Two

June 16th – 20th is Ridge UMC’s Middle School Mission Week. Each day middle school students will be gathering to participate in mission projects throughout the community. I’ll be reflecting on each day here.

It’s been a long day and it’s late now, but I wanted to take a minute to reflect on what was a really great day. This morning we hit the road early and went to ARC Bridges, an organization in Gary that works with persons who have developmental disabilities. We primarily did yard/landscaping work and it was great to watch the youth problem solve and work with one another. It was also fascinating for me to listen to them talk about people who they know who have disabilities – the maturity level displayed by these young people was remarkable. One youth was even disappointed that we weren’t doing work inside with the clients.

After eating our lunches at ARC Bridges we headed up to a neighborhood in Gary where they are building 20 habitat houses in the coming years. We did some clean-up work on the sixth house and painted the sheds behind 4 of them. The neighborhood looks great and, as always, we had a great time working with Habitat.

We were out in the sun this morning and afternoon both and people continued to work hard through it all. Tomorrow the youth are headed to Deep River Water Park while I stay back at the office and get some things done for the week. I’m sure they’ll have a great time and I look forward to being out of the sun for the day!

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M&M – Missions ‘n Munster – Day One

June 16th – 20th is Ridge UMC’s Middle School Mission Week. Each day middle school students will be gathering to participate in mission projects throughout the community. I’ll be reflecting on each day here.

Today was really a nice start to the week. Some of the conversation was a little slow to get going this morning (admittedly 8:00am is an early start), but as the day progressed the energy level significantly increased.

After some fun ice breakers we started our day with some discussion about the difference between missions and community service. We looked at Micah 6:6-8, Matthew 25:31-40, and Matthew 28:16-20 to guide that conversation. It was rewarding to hear some of the youth processing through this conversation as the day went on.

During the late morning we took food bags into the community surrounding the church and hung them on doorknobs. We let people know what was going on with Middle School Mission Week and let them know that we’d be back on Friday to pick up any food that they’d like to donate to the Food Bank at Greater Hammond Community Services.

This afternoon we went to the Boys and Girls Club in Hammond and though it seemed as if they hadn’t given much thought to our visit we had an enjoyable time while we were there. Some of the youth helped with arts and crafts and did some drawing and others played games outside with the kids. We were done there earlier than we had thought we might be though and so we headed to get Frozen Yogurt on our way home.

In all it was a good day. There is a great group of youth involved this year and it will be special to spend my last week working at the church in such close connection with these fantastic young people.

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