Greetings from beautiful Laguna Beach, FL where we're enjoying CPC's annual youth beach retreat! So far we've had beautiful weather and a great time. Our speaker for the week, Todd Veleber (Student Pastor at Wildwood PCA in Tallahassee) is doing a great job challenging us on handling temptation. He's here with his wife and 4 kids and we're all enjoying getting to know them.
Every youth trip I've ever been on has stories to tell once we return ... and I promise this trip won't disappoint in providing stories, and it's only Wednesday. We'll come back talking about jelly beans, faces in bed getting splashed with water to wake them up, an "unsanitary" pool, up-tight leaders in a group staying in the building next to ours, and a broken down vehicle (it wouldn't be a youth trip without a van story!).
But the story I'll be telling is about God's abundant and amazing grace. This trip started out with all sorts of challenges ... no youth pastor, several regular students not able to attend because of scheduling conflicts, a smaller group than normal, several new students who've never been on this trip, and then the van breaking down in Troy on the way down ... all the ingredients necessary for a disastrous trip where one might expect complaining, whining, apathy, disappointment, and selfishness to set in. However, what I've witnessed is exactly the opposite. I've seen great attitudes, no complaining about having to squeeze in other vehicles after the van broke down, older students patiently stepping up to welcome and include the newcomers, everyone taking responsibility for their assigned times for clean up, actively listening during the large group sessions with Todd, good involvement in the small group discussion times, and an overall sense of togetherness. This group really seems to like one another and I sense the Lord has big plans for them in the future.
I'd like to think this good report is because we have such good adult leaders on the trip - and we do (Darrin and Heather Nold, Maja Clayton); or maybe because Melissa and Tanner are so effective in serving as youth interns (and they are doing a great job); or maybe because we just have a good group of students (and all of them really are good kids). But really the only think I can truly attribute this to is God's grace! He is so good and kind and is giving us a much better trip than we deserve.
But, like I said, it's only Wednesday ... we could still have major issues come up ... so I'm asking you to pray. And pray not just for the next few days of our retreat (we come home Friday) but pray for this youth group in the coming months and years. Again, I really do sense the Lord could do some tremendous things in and through them. Pray for our upcoming interview with a Youth Director / Music Leader candidate at the June 12 Session meeting. Pray for the students to continue to grow in the Gospel and for student leaders to develop within the group. Pray that our Father would use them to make an impact for Christ in our surrounding communities.