Much has changed in the last few days.
As I stare out our back window at the now-barren trees and ponder the task of raking the leaves that blanket the grass that just a few short months ago was consistently getting pounded with the feet of my wee-little ones playing barefoot as they hopped in and out of their play-pool.
As I think about the bike-ride I’d like to take after work, I now must think about the hour at which my day begins in order for it to end with a ride that doesn’t include darkness.
The weather has changed. The hours of lightness have changed. However, as I pitch YMV’s for 2010 I am consistently reminded of the mental images that made 2009.
Today, my top five will invite us back to the Youthmark Mission Venture images that stood out to me from the summer of 2009. The stipulations for this top five: these images must be from the actual YMV’s (in other words they don’t include spring retreat, scout trips, training, etc.). These pics may not even be the most artistic or brilliant, but for whatever reason, they invite me to reminisce, dream and pray.
Without further ado, the list.
Honorable Mention: NorCal Launch; Kirk, Brian and Aaron. In many ways I see this as the core-team of Youthmark right now. This picture came shortly after the decision was made to bring Kirk on as part of Youthmark. Aaron was a “Lead” for us last year and is probably the most avid Youth Pastor-supporter of Youthmark! These guys bring me great joy and though we all look like we’re trying to be silly, I believe the picture depicts pure-joy. This is what I felt at that moment.
Five: Hanalei, Hawaii. Here is the one “scenic” picture of the bunch. If we would have had a second team in Hawaii there is no doubt I would have sent a team to Hanalei. This little hippie-town made its mark on me during my January scout trip. On the north-end of Kauai, this tourist trap of a town houses locals who talk openly about anything and everything. This picture will always remind me of the work I believe God is doing to spiritually remove the clouds of doubt and clear the skies for the Gospel to be proclaimed!
Four: The Welcome Gauntlet. This picture is from the MT/ID launch in late June. The team from Lake Sawyer Christian created an impromptu welcome tunnel for the other five churches arriving. It was quite the scene as teen-age strangers greeted each other in the name of Jesus!
Three: Surf’s Up! This image represents the 20+ other pictures I could present to depict the blessings we received the from the communities we served. Here the team from Living Hope Christian Fellowship of Bothell was given the opportunity to learn how to surf on their last full-day in Kauai. It seems about every team came back with a story of an exciting adventure they received from the host community during the last days of their YMV!
Two: RoadGrip day one! This was one of my favorite moments at each of the launches. On Saturday morning we would release the students and staff to begin a journey through God’s Word for the week. This picture is of Lindsay Knight (married to Youth Pastor Mark Knight of Burien Free Methodist). Lindsay found a great spot out in the grass in Dallas, TX to spend time alone with God. In the distance you can see several others doing the same.
One: “The Picture of the Summer.” When this picture came to my inbox at the end of the summer I immediately turned to Elisabeth and said, “there’s the picture of the summer.” I now know the story behind this picture and can tell you it truly represents what I think was the story of the summer. God’s unending grace through the unexpected twists and turns we are presented. Almost every team, and individual for that matter, came into the summer with the way we expected God to work. Almost every team encountered something dramatic take place back home with family members (car accidents, sickness, hospitalizations and in this case, a death of a loved one). These earthquakes of emotions presented opportunities to examine our foundation of faith.
I love the contemplation, reliance and worship this picture depicts. May we all be found faithful to turn to the One who is our peace.
Which one do you like best? Which one tells the best story?