Monday, July 30, 2012

After Day 71

We are back in Black Creek.  We are riding the most exciting wave of emotions and experiences we have received all summer.  This is week 3 of 3 consecutive VBS programs.  Let me tell you about the past two week and what we are looking forward to this week.

In Mankato, we were a large part of their Sky VBS.  Caleb Schmiege was Flash Skyrunner, a quirky character who did skits at the beginning of every day of VBS.  He also did the Bible stories for all the older kids. Peter did all the preschool work.  He told the stories, did most of the games and crafts and had a wonderful time doing it.  The experience of seeing preschoolers clap when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead is one of those rewards that God has given us this summer. Sam was in charge of the Imagination Station which ended being the hit of the whole VBS.  He had explosions, helicopter frisbees, and a slingshot that was being played with even after VBS was over.  Caleb Schultz taught the songs and ran the games for the older kids as well as doing the opening and closing skits of each day with Caleb Schmiege.  Overall, we all enjoyed the jobs that we did and we felt like we were really appreciated too.  Comments like, "It's so great to finally be proud of our VBS," or "this was the best VBS my child went to all summer" are still ringing in my ears. God is great.  We had many churched kids in VBS in Mankato, but we were blessed with a little under 10 non-churched children.  We pray that they learned to "Trust God" (the theme of Sky VBS) and to see him as their only means of salvation.

We then went to Lannon for our last week with them.  They also did Sky, but this VBS was a little different.  Not only were all four of us working on Bible stories together, but this VBS was three times the size of Mankato's.  Caleb, with the help of the guys, again go to teach the songs, but the fun for us was in the Bible stories.  From preschoolers completely engaged by the large man in the fake beard who just told us that he was Jesus to crew leaders laughing at Barnacle Bill, the deckhand on Jonah's ship, it was a wonderful experience.  The success of the VBS was very great here also.  Every year previous to this, their VBS had decreased in numbers as the week went on.  This year, the numbers not only didn't decreased, but they increased as the week went on! What a blessing!

Leaving Lannon was difficult, but we know that God will take care of that congregation and the friends we made there.  We will see them all again in Heaven, but we hope we can see them again before then.

After a Sunday night service at St. Marcus in Milwaukee which went very well, we travelled to Black Creek for our last VBS of the summer.  We are doing "Back To Jerusalem" here.  We are jointly teaching the songs, Caleb Schmiege is doing the upper level Bible study, Caleb Schultz is doing the teen leader Bible study, and Peter and Sam are helping with crafts.  We are all part of the opening devotional skits for each day also.

We have started recording again.  We are planning to record as many of our arrangements as we can before the summer ends and to send it to the congregations we worked with this summer as our gift to them.  Of course, when it is available, anyone can get their hands on one.  Watch our Facebook page for updates on when you can get our next demo.

Next week is soccer camp in Arlington, probably the biggest challenge of this summer for us.  We are getting close to the end.  Please continue to pray for us and the work we are doing so more people can be reached with the Gospel.

"Fight the good fight with all your might, Christ is your strength and Christ your light."

Saturday, July 14, 2012

After Day 55

It's been a while since we have checked in with our blog work.  That's because we have been very busy and loving it.  Let's catch up, huh? ;)

Our three musical events in three days went better than we even could have predicted.  Pewaukee was a great location to lead worship.  From the way the people talked to us after church, we surpassed their expectations.  We love when that happens. 

Our trip then took us to Wisconsin Rapids for two services on Sunday morning.  Both went very well.  Again, we were blessed with a lot of positive comments.  We did had a few comments that weren't thrilled with our work, and we regret that we can't please everyone.  We just hope that we can educate people on the benefit of changing the style of music that accompanies hymns.  It's always a learning process and we are thankful for the criticism as well as the praise.  It keeps us humble, focused on Jesus, and always improving.  We had the chance to do our hymn study between services, which is always fun for us.

We then headed to Grace in Ridgeway, MN for our first concert of the summer.  We were confident that we were musically prepared, but it's always intimidating trying something for the first time.  However, God brought us through it, and he blessed us and the congregation through the words of the hymns.  Grace received us very well and we definitely enjoy our time there both playing hymns and interacting with the members.

Next was Arlington for our second week there.  This was a soccer camp prep week.  We were getting a little nervous with only 11 kids signed up by the deadline that we had set (July 1).  But God once again reminded us that his timetable is different than ours and that we should just trust him to take care of us and bless what we are doing.  As of right now, we have expanded that number to 22 with a couple others still on the way.  Our first goal was to get at least 20 kids...way to go, God! ;)  We will keep praying that he expands those numbers so more kids can be told about Jesus through soccer camp.  Our lofty (but achievable for God) goal is to have 40 kids.  We believe that God can bless us with those numbers.  Please, take a moment now, stop reading this blog, and ask God to bless Soccer Camp in Arlington.

This past week has been our first in Black Creek, WI with Immanuel.  Pastor Steve has been absolutely wonderful in planning a lot of work for us to do.  One thing that we all appreciated were daily morning meetings for Bible study.  We all grew in faith and knowledge of God's love for us.  We studied humility, patience, contentment, and love in those studies.  We have planned a great deal of the VBS material that we will be presenting in a few weeks.  We spent four days canvassing various parts of Black Creek and Shiocton, WI.  We created a prospect list of interest in the new child care facility on Immanuel's property and in the church.  Pastor Steve even took us out to see The Amazing Spiderman.  Definitely worth seeing. :)  Obviously, canvassing tends to produce a lot of "no's," but God has blessed each of us at different times in canvassing as his will permits with great conversations or interest in the church and childcare facility.  We are praying that the Holy Spirit begins working faith in the hearts of the people we invited to church either by bringing them on Sunday, through meeting Pastor Steve and John (the childcare director), or by whatever means he sees fitting.

After worship tomorrow, we have a concert in La Crosse at First Lutheran at 6:30pm (if you're in the area).  We are really looking forward to this opportunity to play there.  After the concert, we continue our drive, ending in Mankato.  VBS starts Monday...oh boy!  It's going to be a quick turnaround, but we know that God will take care of us and continue to bless us.  Pray for us, please. :)

"Your grace is enough for me.  Heaven reaching down to earth, I'm covered in your love.  Your grace is enough for me."