This has taken me longer to write up than I intended – I came home from Maine sick and I’ve been lying low for a few days. Even so, the trip was absolutely amazing.
In a lot of ways it was a year full of change. Our church has been going to Maine for a LOT of years now, but somehow this year managed to have new leadership EVERYWHERE. Of course, it was my first year leading and even attending the full trip. On top of that we downsized the group from two VBS sites to one and cut our team size in half as a result (making room to have a Chicago mission trip in addition to our international trip). Not only that, the Brigade Lodge we spend the week at had changed over leadership in the last few months, and our two host churches both had new pastors – the Stockholm Baptist church’s pastor started six weeks before we arrived, and the New Sweden Baptist church’s pastor had just arrived from California and taken leadership at his church a week and a half before we arrived! All that to say, everyone in charge of making this thing happen were doing it for the first time!
It was incredible to see our team working together, uniting, forming a team-wide bond that really carried through the whole ten days. The VBS came together incredibly! Our team was prepared, full of energy and ready to roll. It was so much fun seeing the kids from the region show up, from four years old through 12th grade – yes, you read that right, our VBS spans about fourteen years worth students! There is something absolutely thrilling to see our teens from Delaware teaching, preaching, leading, stepping up in incredible ways. And I was moved walking through the halls of New Sweden School seeing team member after team member praying with children to receive Christ. They presented the gospel, walked them through it, asked the right questions and then lead them to Christ! Amazing!
In the evenings, back at the Brigade Lodge, we spent a couple hours every night worshiping together and then working our way through the book of James in our team devotions. During their quiet time in the day, after VBS, each of the team members would individually spend time in prayer and in James. Then together at night we would debate, discuss, share insights, and pray together. For all of the adult leaders, some of our favorite memories of the team unity and interaction came from the group devotional time.
On our return, we had a great potluck dinner with all of the parents and a lot of other church members that turned out. Each of the team members shared their favorite or most significant memory or experience from the trip (in 30-60 seconds each!), which I did record the audio from and will post to the student ministry podcast feed in the next week or two.
For me, the trip was so incredibly worth it! I loved getting to know the students, leaders, and new friends in Maine! I think it would be safe to say that we probably had the youngest Maine mission team to ever make the trek; of the twenty students, thirteen are middle school students, six are freshmen and one is a junior – and they did EVERYTHING. They did the work, led the groups, taught the lessons, all of it – for a VBS that covered four years old through 12th grade. We threw a challenge at them and they absolutely stepped up to it and ran with it! Seeing God work through them makes my job so much fun!