Welcome to Second Presbyterian Youth Ministry!

Welcome to the Blog that is entirely dedicated to the youth activities at Second Presbyterian Church! Here you will find the latest information on outings and gatherings, photos, and more. Enjoy!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Last day of VBS and construction

Today was another great day for the Vacation Bible School and Construction teams. VBS was blessed with even more kids than yesterday which we estimated to be about 200, all with smiling faces. The children were able to work in the theme of "For where your treasure is, your heart will be also" Luke 12:34 by making treasure maps. Also, they learned new spainsh music that they all enjoyed and sang with great enthusiasm. In the recreational group, we were able to entertain the kids with the always popular baseball and smaller games such as cat and rat and musical chairs. With every different activity each child showed immense joy and never stopped smiling. However, saying goodbye to all these kids was very tough. With many hugs given and pictures taken, a feeling of accompishment washed over us but at the same time a feeling of sadness that we might not see some of these wonderful children ever again. This experience was life changing and seeing these wonderful children in VBS really opened our eyes to the kindness and joy that can be found all over the world in the children of God. - Tricia The construction team had another long and hot day out on the sight shoveling dirt and sand, tearing down a shed and salvaging the materials to be used again. Switching to construction for the last day I sholved and worked harder than I believe I ever have, luckily the hour drive back to the guest house gave me a great oppurtunity to take a long needed nap. However all the hard work has been so rewarding knowing that we are doing Gods work here. -Meghan

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wonderful Wednesday

Up at the El Cercado School, the work crew logged in another hard day on the construction site. The regular crew of Jerry, Dan, and Matt were joined today by Tricia, Derek, and Elizabeth Kline. We continued applying stucco to the outside walls of the Kitchen building; made rebar "cages" to go into the concrete forms above the windows and doors; and prepared the floor for concrete tomorrow. We also moved a big pile of fill dirt into the low spots in the Dining Room area to level out the base of that room.
The pastor's wife prepared another fabulous meal for us at lunch. Today was the obiligatory rice and beans, plus a beef cannoloni dish, fresh tomatoes, cucumber, cabbage, and fried breaded yucca. It was delicioso! Jerrry brought up some frisbees today for our little boy helpers, who have been keeping us company this whole week. They loved those almost as much as the baseballs, gloves and bat that Jerry gave to them yesterday. We asked one of the boys- Angel- what he did with his baseball glove, and he said it was back at his casa. Tomorrow they'll get some clothes and shoes! Not as much fun, but badly needed.
The VBS crew faced the monumental task of organizing and trying to manage the nearly two hundred kids who showed up today. Despite the large number of kids, we were able to pull a very successful and fun day of singing, crafts, sports and puppet shows. It was amazing to watch each member of our VBS crew fulfilling their role and contributing in different ways. It was another very exhausting, yet rewarding day at VBS.

A few more photos from the week

(First day in the Zona Colonial in Santo Domingo)
(VBS prep early Monday morning at the guesthouse)
(The construction crew heading off for a day of work)
(Kate and Anne at the top of the local cathedral)
(Second Pres youth Eli and Jon Marco Sanchez joined our group today! They'll be with us until we leave on Friday and then we'll all spend the night at their parents' condo in Juan Dolio)
(Ready for the puppet show of the day)
(Playing ninja)
(Tonight the group ate at the restaurant Bienvenida. We all left stuffed full of delicious Dominican food!)

190 kids today at VBS! Here are just a few of the faces....

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Yo tengo gozo, gozo, gozo, gozo en mi corazon...

Hola amigos, it's Kate Rivenbark and Anne Johnson. Today was the second day of both VBS and construction. Neither one of us were on the construction crew today however VBS was much busier than yesterday. We started the day off with the songs Alleluia and Tengo Paz como un Rio along with learning the memory verse for the day, which was Mateo (Matthew) 14:16. Afterwards the kids split into groups based on their age then began the rotation. In arts and crafts the kids made woven baskets out of construction paper and then used a bar of soap and washcloth to make pescado (fish). The kids were then able to decorate the fish and put it into the basket along with a slice of bread. In music, the children learned a new song called "Yo Tengo Gozo en mi Corazón" or "I have Joy in my Heart" in which we will play tomorrow morning before rotation. Then in Rec they played dodgeball, soccer, and steal the bacon. We ended the day at VBS with a puppet show for the lesson of the day. After the kids left, we ate our lunch at the school and began preparing for tomorrow. Back at the guesthouse, people used the free time to catch up on some sleep, shower, or bond with other team members over a game of cards. During free time, the two of us printed out individual photos of all the kids at VBS today that the kids will use tomorrow to decorate a picture frame. Most of the kids probably do not have many photos of themselves and we are hoping that we will be able to provide them with a unique memory of this week at VBS. After dinner our group took a trip up the road to a small ice cream shop. Everyone tried a variety of interesting flavors and treats. Our group is eager to discover what tomorrow will bring, and we wish for both a fun and safe day for VBS and construction. Adios amigos! (Elizabeth has posted an album of photos on Facebook. If you're a member of the Second Presbyterian Church group, you will access to them! We hope you will take a peak at what VBS looks like in the community of El Rosario!)

Day 1

What a day, amazing from start to finish. The Team started with a hearty breakfast prepared by our guesthouse friend Dan and our day began. The construction Team Matt Prescott, Jerry Lusk and Dan Frankl headed for the El Cercado for a full day of applied stucco to the walls and ceiling of the new kitchen building. A great lunch prepared by Pastor and his brother. Our team made a few new friends in El Cercado and look forward to another full day with some additional members of the Bibles and Brick Team.
Our friends at the Jim Smith School in El Rosario greeted us with big smiles and open hearts. Our Team was so blessed today by the love and happiness of God's blessings on the children in our care. Our Team has come together in the true spirit of God's love. We've been given a real gift of team work and camaraderie that will help us do great things for our Dominican friends. The day was hot and dusty but the games, songs and crafts made for special day. Tomorrow will be another blessed day for our Second Presbyterian Team!
(Matt Prescott at the construction site)
(Herman the tailor came tonight to measure us for new clothes)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Bienvenidos a la Republica Dominicana!

Today we woke up in a very nice hotel with an even nicer breakfast buffet. It had omelets, toast, fruit, and anything else you could imagine. And then some. We left propmtly at nine and rode for a short time on a suped-up retro van straight out of the 70's. We then arrived in the gorgeous colonial sector of Santo Domingo. Walking around the town, we were pursued by a persistent dog named Roberto. We took a tour through an old riverside fort and then browsed old antiques being sold on the street. We shopped in a store that spanned a few football fields in length before settling down to eat in a lovely outdoor cafe. Well, EVENTUALLY we got around to eating while the chef took his time making sure our food was absolutely perfect (and it was). We enjoyed each other's company while waiting, even if it made us a few minutes late.
(Group photo in front of the cathedral, "the oldest in the New World") Not that we were especially eager to get back on the bus. The next ride took over three hours and included an unplanned stop (*breakdown) on the side of the road. A bottle of what purported to be normal non-drowsy motion medicine acted to incapacitate half the bus for much of the ride. We still got to see some amazing sights, though. Locals hung out in big groups on the side of the road, and many came right through the street to knock on our windows and sell us peanuts, fruit, and lollipops. Passing by the seaside and along the mountains was awe-inspiring. We arrived in San Juan around four and we immediately swept up in a whirlwind of activity getting settled in, used to the compound, and prepared for the week ahead. After a lovely dinner we enjoyed a 1.5 hour church service conducted entirely in spanish, which was a very unusual experience for most members of our group.
(Photo: VBS prep at the guest house) After a sketchy back-of-the-truck ride back to the compund, we all "speed-dated" to get to know each other and share our hopes and fears for the coming week. It looks promising. -Tyler Anderson and Brad Prescott
(A shot of the guest house courtyard)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Reflections from Olivia

In the weeks leading up to our Beth-El mission trip, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I had never had the opportunity to participate in any of the trips previous to this one due to other conflicts. I can now say that the day I chose to sign up for this adventure was one of the best decisions of my life. During the trip I become closer than I could have imagined to the most incredible, caring, and inspirational people I have ever had the fortune of knowing. During our stay, my eyes were opened to a whole new community that I previously never knew existed. I now have a whole new appreciation for the work that goes into the orange that I like to eat for breakfast or the big, red tomato on my dinner salad. In addition, I cannot even begin to describe the awe I felt toward the people I met in Wimauma. I will treasure the conversations I had with these people about everything, from their everyday lives to their faith in God, until I die. Their openness about their hardships and their faith that God would help them was unbelievable. I want to thank 2nd Presbyterian, Beth-El, and the people of Wimauma for giving me the most enriching experience I have ever been a part of.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Reflections from Madison

This year's mission trip to Wilmauma, Florida was very eye opening. I feel like I know so much more about migrant workers than I did previously. Although we couldn't experience working at a migrant working farm, I really enjoyed getting to be immersed in this community. Everyone there was so kind and welcoming to us. I loved getting to work with Javier who was also very kind. I enjoyed getting to make the kits for people and helping out with the food bank. This trip overall was very fun as well as eye opening!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Reflections from Kirby

This year's mission trip to Wimauma, Florida was truly life changing. I can honestly say that the Beth-El Mission and the time spent with the community there forever changed my view on farmworkers; from my daily intake of fruits and vegetables to more serious issues such as immigration. As I headed down to Florida, I really had no idea how connected I would get to these people and their stories as the week progressed. I loved how involved we got with the community. On day one, we took part in a Spanish worship service with the people who attended Beth-El and then shared in a fiesta in honor of Dia de los Padres (Father's Day). On that Sunday we also got to know the children of the community as we played games, colored pictures, and talked with them during the Sunday School time. Then throughout the week, we interacted with the people of Wimauma in many different ways. Monday we Javier, our work-projects coordinator, and were assigned different tasks. Some of us, including myself, took to organizing donated items to then resell in a "store" inside of the mission. While others sorted toiletry items into personal bags that we ended up handing out throughout the week. On Tuesday we saw many faces and talked to many people during the food drive. My Spanish speaking skills got put to good use as Spanish was the first language of many people that came through that day. We also took part in the weekly youth group meeting that evening. We sang songs with the youth there and also listened to their leader, Keisha's, message for the week. Then on Wednesday, we delivered the food bank items to farmworkers on their lunch break and briefly interacted with them. Never have I felt so involved and so good about the work I was doing because we were seeing the people we were helping and knowing that we were making a difference in their lives. Also hearing first-hand stories about working in the fields from Javier and Rosalva (Beth-El's secretary) really made me realize how fortunate I am. We take for granted the fruits and vegetables in the grocery stores and restaurants, not realizing the back breaking labor a worker has put in to pick the fruit. I thoroughly enjoyed this mission experience and feel as though we really made a difference in the lives of the people with which we interacted!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Reflections from Sidney

Personalizing a controversial political topic changes one's views on that topic. Meeting people labeled "illegal" by American society made me realize there was another side the story; that these "illegal" people had no bad intentions at all, just bad circumstances. Mackaela and Andres were most likely children of illegal immigrants, but they had as much love and childlike charm as you'd like to encounter. These kids faced the possibility of losing their families everyday. Everyday together was something to be thankful for. It's easy to look at statistics, facts, and economics and decide that illegal immigration is harmful to our country. However, it's harder to agree with that when you get up close and personal with those who are "causing the problem." None of the undocumented immigrants want to harm America, but they do want to feed their families, and America is the only option. Any American could agree that he/she would do anything -illegal or not- if it meant keeping their families alive. This is the reason the problem of illegal immigration is so complex. Because of this trip and the people I encountered that "shouldn't" be inside our borders, I believe America should loosen the reigns on immigration laws so that immigrants do not come in illegally. The inevitable fact is, immigrants will keep coming over if it means their family can survive. "Illegal" status, tall fences, border patrol, and even risk of death won't stop them from trying-and often succeeding- in crossing the American border, so we might as well accept this and welcome more immigrants graciously rather than trying build a sand dune to stop a tsunami.

Reflections from Elwyn

My trip with Second Presbyterian Church to the Beth-El farmworker mission was fantastic! As some may know I am no longer attending 2PC because I live in northern Virginia. Because of this, it makes these trips all the more special. It's great to reconnect with old friends. It is amazing how close you can get to people in just a few days when the glue holding you together is fellowship and God's love. I enjoyed working at the mission and helping the farmworkers. It educated me about their tough conditions.
It makes me look at fruit differently realizing that a person works hard to pick that fruit to give their own family food. I enjoyed meeting Elizabeth and seeing how she interacts with the 2PC youth. I truly believe that she will go on to do great things at this wonderful church. I'd like to thank everyone involved in making this trip possible, and for allowing my sister and I to still go on these trips. These trips and the people involved are truly a blessing to myself and my faith journey. God bless Second Presbyterian Church.

Reflections from Caroline

The mission trip was a really enjoyable experience. The culture was so different from the one I am used to here in Roanoke. The people accepted us with open arms and never failed to share a smile. We as a group really helped this community. However, the best part of the week, even though the service was an amazing experience, was the youth group we went to. I remember walking in to loud, beautiful, soulful music. I felt so ‘stiff’ compared to the members of the local youth group, while we stood straight up by our chairs, the others were completely engrossed in the music. I remember looking over at one girl after I came in, she had her eyes closed and was singing her heart out to the music. Her arms never left the air during the entirety of the song. After the song the leader of the youth group said a prayer, and while I know I should have closed my eyes, I watched this girl because of the, I guess, ‘untraditionalness’ of her behavior. She wasn’t afraid to say what the prayer brought to her. After this prayer the leader, Kisha, greeted us. She then told us we came on the lucky night of the sex talk. Teenage pregnancy is an issue in this community along with pregnancy from rape, but Kisha explained how you can heal from this and be ‘whole’ in a sense for your future spouse. She also explained the difference between lust and love. I soon realized that this wasn’t a sex talk but a love talk. It was a talk of what love is and what love does. And then to end this experience they played this amazing song while Kisha prayed over the individual members of the youth group. The song was called Arms Wide Open by Misty Edwards and I invite everyone to go and listen to this and watch the video at this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-QcBtMp9VI . This song brought me to tears, no song has ever done this but my favorite hymn before. And the images in this particular video just made the experience all the more real. While we went here to serve this youth group taught us more in that one night then we learn in a month at ours, no offense Elizabeth. And I will take from this one night more than the rest of the trip.

Reflections from Alex

After two days of travel, the 2PC youth arrived at the Beth-El Mission, tucked away a few miles outside of a small town in Florida. We were surrounded by eerily beautiful curtains of Spanish moss, lizards scampered from rock to rock, and the scorching morning sun often turned to massive, rolling thunderclouds by late afternoon; a different part of God’s creation than we were accustomed to back in Roanoke. However, as awesome as the land around us was, it was the people and the openness of their hearts that truly struck me as beautiful. From the moment we stepped foot in Beth-EL to the moment we shoved our bags back onto the bus, this trip was as much of a learning experience as it was an opportunity to offer our assistance around Beth-El. And it was thanks to the incredible people in the community that we were able to learn as much as we did. I, personally, felt as though a drape had been removed from a portion of my vision; there was an entire lifestyle- of chance and hope and faith and persistent determination –that the migrant farm workers lived, of which I had never really been made aware. What was most amazing, to me, was the fact that no matter what backgrounds the people of Beth-El came from, and no matter how far away we had traveled to just take a brief step into understanding, everyone welcomed us with open arms and smiling faces. The faith, energy, and capacity for love that these people have are quite astounding!
Each day that we were there, our group took on different work projects, which really made me realize how hard some of the people in this community work out in the fields and how tough it could be, considering we were all absolutely exhausted at the end of only a few days of just general repairs, chores, and assistance. By the end of the week, we had created (assembly line fashion) somewhere between 700 and 1000 care packages to give to people in the community , spent hours working in the food pantry organizing items and helping people bring things to their cars, painted a classroom, opened a second-hand shop to make the necessities cheap and easy to obtain, and drove out to a field to distribute packages to the workers. Looking back, it’s pretty incredible to think about the amount of work we were able to get done in just a matter of days, work that will go forward to do even just a little bit of help to people that really need it. In learning all that we did about the harsh reality of the farm workers’, I sometimes wondered where God could be amidst it all. Where was He in a people who so clearly needed his hand? However, I found God in the smiles that they carried on their faces no matter how tough things could get. I found God in the faith that these people have despite having so little. That even when all else seems to fail, their faith would only strengthen. I saw God in the energy of the people during their worship service, and I felt his powerful presence in the tiny, dingy room that served as the local youth group, where their emotion and connection to God lit up an incredible spark of His company that brought tears to many of our eyes. Returning back home, I take with me not just the knowledge of a culture and people that I knew very little of before, but also the knowledge that even when it seems like God is distant and out of touch, He is always there even in the smallest and most humble of gestures.

Reflections from Meg

This year's mission trip to Beth-El was extremely eye-opening, and I had an amazing time, as I grew closer to God, the people on the trip, and learned lots about the migrant farm working community. Never before had I understand how laborious and hard the work is for the farm workers. I have a completely new appreciation and view on the fruits and vegetables in the grocery store and on my kitchen table. The talks from Sister Sarah, Xavier, Rosalva, Dave, and Ramiro made a huge impact on me, as I realized how hard the conditions are for the farm workers and I learned the harsh realities for those crossing the border and making a living in America. On the first full day at Beth-El it was so amazing to see the praise and faith this community had in God, during the Father's Day church service and fiesta afterwards. Additionally, playing with the children was fun and heartwarming. As the week continued, I really enjoyed being able to participate in helping with this community. Giving out food at the food bank was also hugely eye-opening, as it made me realize how many of the people within the Wimauma community were in need of everyday necessities. Another incredible experience on this trip for me was participating in the youth group at Beth-El. Their youth group leader, Keisha, gave an incredible sermon to us, and I loved singing songs and worshipping with them. This mission trip was so amazing, and I have made so many memories. The work we did daily and nightly devotionals were so special. I also had so much fun bonding with this youth group as we did the mission work together, took daily trips to the "Tienda Mexicana," and experienced God's power throughout this trip. This trip really opened my eyes and made me realize how blessed I am. I grew so much closer with God on this trip, as we did the mission work and experienced the Beth-El community. I feel so blessed to be able to make and impact on this community, and the community and experience I had at Beth-El made a huge impact on me.