My Time is Very Valuable…

November 17, 2011

From a quick glance at this title, one might conclude: “this sounds intriguing…Either he thinks too highly of himself or he has a good grasp on reality,” or “this will be a blog about him and how someone wasted his time.” Well, you are wrong (if you thought that)! It has nothing to do with me, sort of…you’ll see…

Today, I embarked on my journey from Doylestown, PA to Atlanta, GA for the National Youth Workers Convention. Convention related things don’t start until tomorrow, but I wanted to come a little earlier in hopes of making time to relax and reenergize myself before I partake in this information overload that will be thrown my way in all of the Big Room Sessions, Breakout Sessions, seminars, etc… Don’t get me wrong, those are all amazingly beneficial things, but I’m at a point lately where I need to be recharged.  I went to bed at 2:00 am last night and woke up at 5:45 am to go lead my High School students in a Bible study at a local coffee shop. After that, I took a quick nap, loaded up my truck, and hit the road. What should have been a 45-minute drive to the airport, turned into almost a two hour excursion on account of the rain and the people of Philadelphia’s inability to drive in said rain! I was frustrated! I just wanted to get to the airport, get on the plane, and sleep until I landed in Atlanta. Being that I am 26 years old, you would think I would know by now that I can never get comfortable enough to sleep on a plane. Long story short, I eventually got to Atlanta and then my hotel in the downtown area.

After I unpacked and freshened up a bit, I started walking in hopes of finding a restaurant some friends and I went to years ago when we were here for the convention (Max Lager’s Wood-Fired Grill and Brewery). I found it and the food was just as good as I remembered it being. However, the barbeque sauce was  ten times as good as I remember it being. They must have made some improvements since I was last here. For that, I am thankful!

I bet you are still wondering why this blog post is called “My Time is Very Valuable…”! Don’t worry, I’m getting to it!

When I was walking back to my hotel from the restaurant, I somehow ended up going the wrong way. I was tired, frustrated, and just wanted to get back to my room. Before I go any further, I need to give you some context of this city…

If you know anything about Atlanta or if you have ever been here before, there are a lot of homeless people on the streets. Some of them will play instruments on the side of the road in hopes of passers-by giving them some change. Some of them will just sit there with a coffee can and a sign asking for any spare change. Some of them will sing in hopes that you will give them money. And others will start walking right next to you, show interest in you, and help you get to where you are going. This latter example happened to me when I was here in 2008 and again tonight. The man that I encountered in 2008 made a huge impact on my life. We walked and talked and I got to learn a little bit about his life and why he was in the situation that he was in. As I got to my destination, God was laying it on my heart to help him but all I had was a ten dollar bill, so I gave it to him. I don’t know if it helped him very much, but that encounter really opened my eyes and gave me a new perspective on Matthew 25:35-40…

“35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”

In this passage, Jesus teaches that when you help people in need, you are actually doing whatever it is you did for Jesus.

I wish I could tell you that I remembered that guy’s name and that I regularly prayed for him, but I can’t. I did for a few weeks, but then I forgot about him. Until tonight…as I was walking into the restaurant I saw a guy standing near the side of the building who looked very familiar. He said “what’s up, big man?” and I nodded my head and proceeded to go get some dinner. I can’t be certain that it wasn’t the same guy, but the odds of it being him are very low. Regardless though, seeing that man tonight brought memories of 2008’s encounter back into my mind and God renewed those thoughts of wanting to make a difference in my mind.

Now, back to tonight…as I was walking around trying to bounce back from being lost, I walked past a guy who was singing something. And guess who this guy looked like?!? You guessed it, the guy from 2008 and the guy I saw earlier in the night. If it was the same guy, then God was definitely behind that beautiful orchestration. He looked at me and started walking and talking with me. He took note of my Steelers hat and started talking to me about the Steelers…not the Steelers of today, but the champions from the 1970’s. Now, keep in mind, I was lost and frustrated at the time. After a few blocks, we came to a cross-walk and waited for the signal to change that would grant us permission to cross. He asked me which hotel I was trying to find. Because of the frustrated attitude I had, I didn’t want to be bothered so I said “I’m just walking around…” But as soon as I said that, I got a gut check from God that pretty much told me that I’m an idiot and I need to help this man out. So I told him the truth and that I was trying to find the Sheraton Atlanta hotel. He told me that he knew where it was and that he wanted to help me out. Then he proceeded to tell me that besides the singing, he likes to help people like me out when they are trying to get around in the city. I reached into my pocket and gave him whatever money I had in there. It wasn’t much, and I told him that, but he said “that’s perfect!” I shook his hand and found out his name was Timothy. I thanked him and told him to go get himself something to eat!

So, you’re still wondering what this title has to do with anything, huh? I suppose it’s time to tell you. As soon as that guy stopped singing and started walking and talking with me, he went on a little rant that went something like this: “you know, I don’t have a job right now and I’m struggling, but I can sing and so I was just singing for those guys (points back to the group that had just walked away) and they wouldn’t even give me a couple dollars so that I could get something to eat. If they’re going to waste my time, they should just leave me the (expletive) alone. You know? My time is very valuable…” And that’s when it hit me. That man; although he didn’t have a job, money, or a place to live, still had an amazing grasp on reality. His reality was that even though he didn’t have much to offer, he wanted to use the little that he did have to help people. The group of guys that listened to him sing and then didn’t help him out were wasting his time. Time that he could have been using to help other people in whatever way he could.

So the questions that I want to leave you with are: Is your time so valuable to you that you aren’t allowing yourself to be tuned in to where God is leading you in terms of being the difference in peoples’ lives? Are you too busy or too frustrated to allow God to use you to help someone in need?

The reality is that our time is valuable. Not for the purpose of doing what makes us feel good but for the purpose of completing the good works God created for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). We can live by our own agendas or we can live by His, but either way, we only have so much time…

 – paulg

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Making a Difference in Lynn, MA – DUMC High School Missions Trip…

July 20, 2011

This past week I had the privilege of leading my first Missions Trip with my new youth group. Five of our adult leaders and I took a group of 39 High School-ers to serve the community of Lynn, MA (right outside of Boston).  It was a phenomenal week and one that I will never forget. I was blown away (again) by the way my new students welcomed, supported, and loved me. I wasn’t sure of what to expect going into the trip, but now that it’s over I realize that I had no reason to worry. I believe that bonds were formed, friendships were strengthened, and lives were changed because of this trip and I am so thankful that I was able to be a part of it all!

The leaders and I picked up the vans the day before we left and we had the students meet at the church the night before to load the vans. This was an exciting time because we all knew it meant that we would get to leave soon! We also spent some time decorating the windows of the vans to let people know who we were and what our purpose was (to spread the love of Jesus)! Once we had the vans packed, and the names checked off on the list of attendees, we all got to go home and get a good night’s sleep before we embarked on our journey to Massachusetts. We pulled out of the church at 8:30 AM and after two bathroom stops, one of which was extremely long (on account of the Starbucks that distracted our kids), and one lunch stop, we made it safely to the church we stayed at in Lynn, MA.

On our first night in Lynn, we had a leaders meeting where we spent time assigning all of our students into the work groups/locations that we thought would best fit them. Being that this trip was my first time meeting some of these students; it was a very difficult/stressful thing to figure out where they best fit. Thankfully, I had some veteran youth leaders there with me who were able to help me out.

Surprisingly there were no problems with the groups or who the students were paired up with. A few of the students weren’t happy with the work that they were actually doing and expressed to me that they would rather have been doing something different but I just used that as an opportunity to stress to them the importance of stepping out of their comfort zones and sticking it out to make a difference in peoples’ lives! I told them that we weren’t there that week for us, but for the people of Lynn, MA. These students really stepped it up after this and I was very impressed with them.

Being that I am the youngest leader in our group, I got assigned to do sports camp where we played football with community kids aged 10-14 all week. I got to take 6 of my students to the sports camp to help lead with me. It was great to see my students stepping up and being a positive influence in the lives of these community kids. I saw tremendous leadership qualities in all 6 of those guys and I think they learned a lot from the experience. Some of the community kids we worked with were tough and did not want to listen or follow rules, but overall it was a great experience for everyone involved. After we were done with sports camp each day, both I and Steve (the youth pastor from the church in Minnesota who was on the trip with us) drove the community kids back to the church. This was one of my favorite times of each day because as the kids were piling out of the van and we were waiting in the parking lot, I had the opportunity to sit and watch/take pictures of some of my other students loving on their group of community kids. It is great to see true ministry taking place and the love of Jesus being shown!

Each night, after we finished our work for the day, we got to do a fun, evening activity. On Monday night we got to go to Nahant Beach. It was a beautiful beach and provided for a great group photo.

If I could do one thing differently about this beach trip, I would make sure guitars do not get left at the beach. We had an incident where a guitar was left at the beach and no one told me it was missing until three days after the fact. By that point, kids had convinced themselves that it was brought back and was either stolen or hidden in the church somewhere. Long story short, the guitar was found and turned in to the police station and the student’s father will be picking it up during his already scheduled trip to Boston in August. On Tuesday night we got to ride the subway into to downtown Boston and spend an hour shopping and exploring the city. This was probably one of my favorite evening activities that we did. I got to walk around the city with 17 of my students and see all that that part of Boston had to offer. We also got a plethora of pictures and videos of a few of my students doing “The Bernie.”

For those of you that don’t know, “The Bernie” is based on the moves of the dead guy Bernie from a movie made in the 1980’s (Weekend at Bernie’s). Apparently it is a new dance craze that is sweeping the South…and apparently it has made its way to Doylestown, PA and now Boston, MA! Our group loves “The Bernie” so much that we got all of us together for a “Mass Bernie-ing” and recorded it with an intro tutorial! And yes, it will make an appearance in church whenever we talk about our trip!

On Wednesday night we got to go have dinner with people from the community at a soup kitchen called “My Brothers Table.” It was great to see my students and leaders sitting and eating with the people we were working with all week. And on Thursday we got to go to Gloucester, MA for a cookout/hangout time at the beach. We got to swim, play football, play volley ball, and climb rocks. It was a beautiful place and everyone had a blast. I treated everyone to ice cream in Gloucester and I think I won everyone’s heart because of it! haha

After we got back from the beach cookout, we had a worship service followed by a foot washing ceremony. This was one of the most powerful things from the entire week. YouthWorks washed the adult leaders’ feet and then we washed our students’ feet and prayed with each and every one of them. After some of the students’ got their feet washed, they went around the room and prayed with their friends. It was a very powerful and emotional evening and I was blown away by it.

A parent of two of the girls in my youth group asked me if I would have done anything differently. Now that I think back on it I realize that I wouldn’t change a thing. It was a great experience and a huge trip for me in terms of getting to know the students and building relationships with them. I am so thankful that God had His hands all over this trip!

A Special Thanks to Katie, Joel, Dan, Meredith, and Jenna!

Special thanks to Katie, Joel, Dan, Meredith, and Jenna for providing an amazing trip for us!

Now I have the Middle School Missions Trip to Charleston, WV to look forward to. We leave this Sunday. Woooohoooo!

–          paulg


Blown Away: The First Five Hours In My New Ministry

July 7, 2011

I’ve had many memorable moments with students in the past. All of these youth have impacted my life in a major way, as I hope that I have with theirs. I will cherish some of these memories for the rest of my life. As some of you know, I have recently been hired by a new church after a long (in my eyes) 14-month hiatus from youth ministry. It wasn’t my choice but it is what it is and I feel that God definitely had a reason for taking me out of full-time ministry for that amount of time. I won’t touch any more on that for now but rest assured that I will definitely be writing about it as soon as I can. Anyway, I got hired at Doylestown United Methodist Church on June 12, 2011 and my official start date was to be July 1, 2011. I left Belle Vernon, PA on June 30, 2011 and headed down Interstate 76 (the Pennsylvania Turnpike) to start my new life and new ministry. On my way there, I stopped at a huge Christian music festival called “Creation” that my new youth group and leaders were attending. And when I say “huge,” I mean 82,000 people HUGE! Creation is a four or five day festival. I only planned to stop for one day to get to know some of the youth and leaders that would be my new family. Stopping at Creation was key and had potential to be an extremely beneficial way to begin my new ministry. The reason for this is that I will be taking 39 of those students on a High School Missions Trip on July 10-15 and then 20 or so more of them on the Middle School Missions Trip on July 24-29. So breaking the ice, getting to know them, and getting them to know me was an extremely important thing that needed to be taken care of as quickly as possible since there is no youth group and no other way for me to meet/get to know them before the trips. I was blown away as soon as I pulled up in front of our groups’ camp site.

Looking down on Creation Fest from overlook mountain...

As I was driving the two and a half hours it took to get there, I couldn’t help but to feel nervous. I wondered how well the students would like me, if things would be awkward because no one knew me and I didn’t know them, would they want to meet me, would they be mad/hurt that I was the guy replacing their old youth pastor, etc. All kinds of scenarios were running through my mind but the conclusion that I came to was that I would have to just leave it in God’s hands and wait and see what would happen. And that’s exactly what I did. There was nothing else I could do.

As soon as I stepped out of my truck, I got “attacked” by my new youth group. All of the kids that were there (some were at concerts or at the various other attractions that they had at “Creation”) swarmed to me around my truck and started to introduce themselves. They were excited to meet me and it was such an amazing, warm, and welcoming feeling when all I expected was shyness and awkwardness. I was so blown away/overwhelmed with joy because of this. This took away all of the nervousness, uncertainty, questions, and broke the ice. I was able to focus on building relationships with them the rest of the time since this initial part was knocked out by them. God’s hands were definitely all over this and I am so thankful for that.

A small group of my youth on overlook mountain...

There was one other amazing thing that these students and leaders did for me that I didn’t quite pick up on right away. As I was meeting them I noticed that they all had some form of a temporary or henna tattoo on them. Some had them on their necks. Some had them on their arms. Some had them on their stomachs, backs, legs. And one even had so many of them on one arm that it looked like a sleeve. I noticed it but I didn’t put much thought into it because I was so amazed at how awesome these kids were. Later that night at one of the sessions/concerts one of my leaders was talking to me and she asked me if I noticed everyone’s tattoos. Then it hit me: it wasn’t just a coincidence! She told me that they planned it and all of the kids and leaders wanted to make me feel comfortable (since I have tattoos) so they went out of their way to put all of those tattoos on…AMAZING! I ended up staying for two nights because my students wanted me to stay longer.

So if all of this awesomeness took place within my first 5 hours of being there, I can’t wait to see what else God has in store for me, this youth group, and this church. It’s going to be good!

–          paulg


Texas Missions Trip: Day 6…

August 17, 2009

As I anticipated, I wouldn’t have any time to write for the remainder of our trip. We have now been home for two days and I am finally able to write these last few posts about our time in Texas.

Thursday (Day 6) was another long and tiring day. The cabin that both Jordan and I were in went from activity to activity, and broke up fight after fight. At this point in the week, the campers were tired and getting on each other’s nerves (worse than the day before). They were insulting each other, starting arguments with each other, hitting each other with whatever they could find, and various other things. The thing that set all of the chaos into motion was Mother Nature. Due to the thunderstorms that lasted all afternoon, our group was forced to stay inside at a place called “Grace House.” Grace House is a cabin type structure where games are played (board games, group games, etc.). The kids were so upset that we couldn’t go to the pool to swim. They couldn’t grasp the concept of why we can’t swim during a thunder and lightning storm for some reason!

What made this particular day interesting was that our girls (Abby, Katelyn, Kristen) were there running the games. So they got to experience the chaos of our group of campers. At first it started out as fun and games, but then it became an all-out brawl! The kids started wrestling with each other, and then it progressed to pushing, and eventually hitting. The counselors broke it up but it was still a bad situation with everyone mad at each other and still trying to fight. Some of the campers were playing games and having fun, but there were about 7 or so that were involved in the royal rumble! One of my counselors had to step out for an hour or so to try to calm down (that’s how stressful it was working with these kids at times). Some of the campers got upset to the point of crying and not talking to anyone. I had to call in back up (the main case worker lady who was there that week) to get through to one of the kids.

After the storms passed (weather storms…not the storms of the kids), we went to the sports pavilion where we played basketball, hockey, and rolled around on scooters! This activity was mostly a success. I say mostly because we had a few incidents here as well. One of our campers slashed another in the leg with a hockey stick. When the case worker from our cabin and I tried to find out what actually happened, we got conflicting stories from everyone who “saw” it happen. The kid who got hit said that the hitter did it on purpose. The kid who did the hitting said that it was an accident as he was going to hit the hockey puck. And another kid gave us two different stories of what he thought he saw happen. Long story short, we concluded that it was an accident and that others were blowing it out of proportion to try to get the hitter in trouble.

The rest of the day went well…until bedtime! I’m not sure how it first started, but at one point, when most of the cabin was asleep, one of our campers started flipping out. He was swearing at kids and leaders, hitting kids and leaders, trying to start fights, insulting everyone, making kids cry, and going nuts. The case worker said that it’s best to not give the kid an audience because it seemed like he just wanted attention. So we ignored his shenanigans for over an hour. During that hour, he still didn’t calm down. He was pounding on the wall, swearing, and yelling at people. My insult that he was calling me was “pork-chop head!” Tyler’s was “messed up nose.” And one of the other counselors was “nerd.” The funniest one though, was the name he gave Jordan. He was calling him “Jordan Head.” I guess he really couldn’t find an insulting thing to say to Jordan. Ha-ha.
During this whole situation, we had to have two other case workers come in to talk to the kid, and eventually, we had the person running the camp come to take him away for the night. After he was finally gone, our next task was to calm the kids down who he upset. The whole process from when he started flipping out until when we had the last kid calmed down was about 4 hours. It was a long ending to a long day. The kid that was causing the problems came back the next morning and was calmed down, but that was only temporary.

It was a chaotic experience for some of the counselors and campers. Although it was a bit much, I was glad that two of my students (from my youth group) were there to experience it and learn about what to do in situations like that. It was definitely shocking and a learning experience for them!

So, after reading all of this, I think you can see why I had no time to write about Day 6 on Day 6!

Until next time…

– paulg


Texas Missions Trip: Day 5…

August 13, 2009

My mind is not working properly right now due to nearing the point of exhaustion. I don’t know how long or how good this post will be, but I’m going to try my best. I can’t speak for the girls, but I know that this was a very long and stressful day for the guys! It was our first full day with the campers, and was non-stop busyness going from activity to activity. We had breakfast, went swimming, went on the ropes course, had lunch, had a lesson/worship time, went to arts and crafts, and went to play ultimate Frisbee. After ultimate Frisbee, the scheduled plans changed for the day. Thunderstorms appeared out of nowhere and we were forced inside. My cabin got sent inside to watch a movie. I couldn’t tell you what movie they watched because I laid on the floor and fell asleep until we were allowed back outside again (about ¾ of the way through the movie). After that we went to our evening activity/dinner time (Mario Kart racing on the Nintendo Wii). Dinner was pretty good too (chicken strips, macaroni and cheese, corn, and salad). After that we had campfire songs inside (because it was raining again). Then we took the kids back to the cabin for devotions and bed time. Surprisingly, we were able to get everyone in bed and to sleep by 10:30 PM. That’s two hours quicker than we did it last night. We should have received a reward!

I saw nastiness and cruelty today amongst some of my campers, and it was not pretty. It’s sad that kids pick on people that are different than them. But I was glad that they seemed to stop after the other lead counselor and I had a serious talk with them and took some of their privileges away! I can’t put names on here, but I would like to ask all of you to pray for my campers this week…pray that the nastiness, name calling, bitterness, and cruelty would not resurface and that these kids would get along, learn, and show love to each other!

I didn’t have much to write about today, but there is one more thing that I would like to mention. For a while before this trip, and even the first day or two into it, I was wondering if this was really where God wanted us to come for our Missions Trip. I wasn’t sure if it actually was, or if it was forced because I thought that I had to find something to replace our Mexico trip. But God keeps confirming to me that this is where He wants us to be at this time! We’re building relationships with people and campers, we’re showing the love of Jesus to them through the way we live our lives, and we are making an impact here in Porter, Texas!

For the last few days, I have been thinking about the benefits and blessings that making this place a place where we come back every year, or every other year would bring, but I haven’t mentioned it to anyone yet. Tonight, before the inside campfire song session, the girls asked me if we would be coming back here again next year. I told them I didn’t know about next year because of LIFE. Then I asked them if they wanted to come back and they all immediately said “Yes!” This made my day! I think it would be great to come back to minister at this camp again, instead of just leaving this year and never looking back or finding out what’s going on in the lives of the kids we ministered to! We started building relationships this week, and it would be great to continue and strengthen those relationships again in the future.  Nothing is set in stone, and these are just the beginning stages of thinking about this possibility of coming back. God knows what He wants, and He will make it known to us in His timing!

Please continue to pray for us as we minister to these kids. Pray for safety, patience, gentleness, and understanding. These kids come from a background we know nothing about, so we need God’s help to know how to get through to them.

Until next time…

– paulg


Texas Missions Trip: Day 3…

August 11, 2009

We have now successfully completed day three of our Texas Missions Trip. We started doing actual work today and there was lots of sweating done by all. It was another hot one today, as are most days in Texas. We spent a few hours getting the camp ready for the campers to arrive tomorrow. We spent time getting their material and paperwork together. We spent time setting up the sports equipment and what-not. We spent some time setting up the cafeteria and main lesson area. And we got all of the cabins ready to be lived in by a bunch of crazy 7-12 year old boys!

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After we were done doing all the pre-camp preparations, we came back and got cleaned up and tried to put a stop to all of the sweating. Then we went out to a highly recommended Mexican restaurant called “Chuy’s” (pronounced – chewies). I’m not sure how you get “chewies” from “chuy’s” but I wasn’t going to ask questions, I was just there to eat some good food! This was no ordinary lunch though; my students and I (along with Betsy (Keith’s wife…for those of you who don’t know who I’m talking about) back home in Altoona) were secretly planning all morning how we were going to surprise Keith by taking him out to lunch for his birthday. We purposely neglected to tell him happy birthday the entire morning, in hopes of making him think we forgot. Then when we got to the restaurant, we all text messaged him at the same time a happy birthday message. Mine said “happy birthday brother man, your lunch is on me!” He was surprised and happy that we all wished him a very happy birthday. Also worth mentioning about our lunch trip was that Jordan, Tyler, Keith, and I got sweet t-shirts from the restaurant. They had a lot of cool ones to choose from!

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Keith looking surprised the moment he got six texts at once wishing him a happy birthday...

Keith looking surprised the moment he got six texts at once wishing him a happy birthday...

After we got back from lunch, we all just hung out for the afternoon. The girls went for a run, the boys played video games and listened to music on their iPods, I attempted to nap (but was very unsuccessful), some of us played volleyball, and then we all went swimming. Some notable things worth mentioning about our swimming excursion was that Abby threw a ball and hit me in the back of the head, Katelyn and Tyler got attacked by fire ants, and we all went down this awesome blow-up water slide a bunch of times!

After we got back from swimming, the girls cooked us dinner (spaghetti and meatballs, salad, and garlic bread). The girls cooked while the guys sat around on the couches watching TV and hanging out. I felt bad so I helped a little bit (by cooking the meatballs in the microwave). So I was not entirely lazy, just a little bit! After dinner, Tyler, Jordan, and I went to put gas in the van, to rent a movie, and to buy candles for another birthday surprise we had for Keith. The girls baked brownies while we were out and when we put the candles in, they started to fall over from their bottoms melting. The brownies were still too hot! So if there is anything you are going to learn from this blog, it should be this: allow your brownies to cool down a lot before sticking thin, wax, candles in them! We then decided to put the candles in the ice cream and let Keith blow them out that way….and that was a successful plan! Now we are all relaxing and watching a movie.

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Tomorrow is our first full-day of ministry here in Porter, Texas. We have training all morning and part of the afternoon, and then the campers arrive at 3:00 pm! It will be non-stop busyness from that point on! I’ve done camp ministry before (as I mentioned in one of the previous blogs) and it is extremely tiring, but very worth it! Please pray for strength, knowledge, perseverance, stamina, and whatever else God leads you to pray for us. We will definitely need the prayers!

I have a strong feeling that God is going to use us to make a difference in these students lives, so pray that we are willing and open to be used by Him!

Until next time…

– paulg


Texas Missions Trip: Day 2, Part 2…

August 10, 2009

As most of you probably read, Day 2 was going to be split into two blog entries. I ran out of time last night and didn’t get to write the second entry, so I am doing it now (Day 3 at 8:30 in the morning).

The rest of our day yesterday went pretty well. It was a laid back and relaxing kind of day! After church (which was awesome, in case you wanted to be reminded again), we went to wal-mart to get stocked up on water and brownie mix (the girls bought the brownie mix). It was interesting to see how many rows in wal-mart were devoted to juice, water, sports drinks, etc. We don’t have that much space for drinks at our wal-mart because we don’t have as good of a chance of getting dehydrated as you do here in Texas. Lots of heat requires lots of hydration and replenishing!

After our first wal-mart trip of the day, we drove to Mike and Debbie’s house (Keith and Betsy’s family) for authentic barbeque lessons. It ended up being not much of a lesson, but the food was absolutely incredible, so it was well worth it! Mike gave us a few pointers on how to cook but mostly we just hung out and talked while the food was cooking. He had a slow smoker that he built. The fire is in a cylinder shaped thing to the right of the grill part, then a tube goes from that into the section where you put the meat, and then a tube goes off of that and that is where the smoke comes out. You can also control how much smoke comes out, which helps it cook faster or slower. It was pretty interesting to see. Mike said he started cooking the brisket in the smoker at 5:30 that morning. And to help you get an idea of how long it was cooking, we ate at 2:00 PM. He also had three pretty decent sized chickens cooking on a regular grill. He called them “dancing chickens” because they were standing up while being cooked. You may find yourself asking “how do raw chickens stand up?” Well, allow me to tell you! You take a beer can, open it, and shove it up inside of the chicken. This helps keep the chicken moist for the entire time you are cooking it. You then put the chickens on a piece of foil on the grill (to catch all of the grease). Because they are standing up, all of the fat drips off of it. They are supposed to cook for 2 ½ hours.  It was the best chicken I ever tasted. I asked what kind of seasoning he used on it and he gave me a container of it to take home with me. So I will definitely be using that whenever I cook chicken in the future. Also, to let you know how good it was…if you know anything about me, you know that I love barbeque sauce on everything. But this chicken was so good (because of the spices and moistness of the meat) that I didn’t even consider getting barbeque sauce to dip it in. That Good!

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After we ate, and ate, and ate some more, we all sat around talking and relaxing. Mike had a very relaxing roofed porch in his back yard. The guys sat around the table and talked while the girls sat in the kitchen and talked about girl things. We had a peach cobbler for dessert that was sooooo good! We left around 4:30 PM and came back to the house/cabin/mansion thing we are staying in to relax and hang out for the rest of the night.

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The girls went for a bike ride, the guys watched movies and played on their iPods, and went to the pool to do some reading and relaxing. After about 5 minutes of reading and floating around on a raft, most of our group showed up to swim and play volleyball. After that we took a trip to sonic for milkshakes and some food. Then we went to wal-mart for our second visit of the day. The girls went in to buy eggs, butter, and other brownie making ingredients.

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All in all, it was a good second part of the day. Tomorrow begins the real work. We will be helping Sheryl (the lady running the camp) get things set up and in order for when the kids get here tomorrow afternoon. It isn’t even 9:00 AM yet and it is blistering hot outside. I anticipate that there will be lots of sweating today.

I will write more later.

Until next time…

– paulg


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