Monday, July 21, 2008

Final Thoughts

Greetings to you all once again.

I'm sitting in my garage at the moment watching a kind man reseal my driveway. I've just completed the pictures for you all who were on SERVE so you should be getting them this week. Enjoy looking at them. The video's will be coming later on in the year, just so you know.

As I sit in my chair, looking out of my garage, I reflect back on the past week. It sure went fast. LOTS of planning went into this ministry event, and the fruits have now been seen. Hopefully they will continue to be seen for years to come. It was truly an honor to work with the planning team, the many volunteers, and the mentors. You were all amazing.

It was equally an honor to host our 11 participants. I must say that going into this week, I was a bit nervous about how things were going to go. I had my own concerns about how I would manage anything that might arise from the week. However, I ended up learning so much and had an awesome experience. Here are some of the things I gleaned from this week.

1. The amazing amount of volunteers who eagerly wanted to help us out this week. They just kept on coming. THANK YOU to all who gave of their time and talents, especially those in the kitchen with Anne. That was ALOT of work you all put in.

2. The unselfish attitudes of our mentors. They put their participants first in everything. Some participants were easier going than others, and in it all, the mentors all stepped up to the plate and helped each other. Truly a team effort.

3. The willingness to learn on the part of the mentors. Some had never done this before, but they were willing to learn and grow from this experience. I understand they'd do it again if we offered this again.

4. My own need to learn and change as the week went on. By that I mean we all prejudge people based on the information that we know about them, and once we meet them we have choices to make about how our attitudes are going to change about them. I can say that that was surely true for me. I think of one participant in particular whom I put into a box as I got to know him/her in the first couple of days. This box was not justified, however, and I needed to come to understand and appreciate him/her in a new way before progress could be made in his/her attitude change as we progressed through the week. Once I did that, things seemed to get better. If I whould have chosen not to do that, things might never have changed, and it would have been my fault, not the participants.

5. The amazing gifts of our participants. Each one may have some sort of special need, but as we went through the week, and shared stories together, we found that each one had at least one unique gift that they brought to the group. That was another eye opener for me. God gave each participant something special in their lives that they could bless others with.

So, all in all, it was a great time of fun, stretching, growth and learning. I'd certainly do this again, but of course have to confer with our planning team to see if that would actually be the case. If the mentors and participants are any indication, we need to do this every year, right gang!!!?

I'll end by doing something I couldn't do all week because I was just too busy. I'll give you, the team and participants and mentors, my warm fuzzies for the week. Yes, all can see them, but hey, building up the body of Christ is always a good thing. So, thanks again to you all for making this week successful, joy filled, and God honoring. May you have a blessed summer, and I hope to see many of you at another Special Needs SERVE sometime in the future.

No particular order, FYI : )

Anne Harbers. A tower of strength. Ready to take on the challenge. Kind, loving, a GREAT sense of humour. Thanks for ALL your work. Much of it above and beyond the call of duty. You are always smiling, and you enjoy what you do in the kitchen and it shows. It was truly an honor to work with you and watch you having so much fun with all the volunteers. Enjoy your rest (though I know you don't really rest much) : ) and we'll talk in September about doing another of these, eh!!! : ) Snicker, Snicker.

Grace. One of our Community life coordinators. You did an AWESOME job. Thanks for your creativity and your willingness to give of yourself (especially during the end of school). You were always smiling, even when we had to change things on the fly. Thanks for the flexibility. You are a gifted teacher and it was truly and honor to work with you.

Tamara. A real trooper. Determined, and a control freak (like me, so I can say that!!) but gentle and kind. Ready to lend an ear to anyone who needs to talk. Thanks for latching on to this idea when I presented it to you some time ago. We have now seen what God can do when we follow His leading. It was an honor to work with you on this ministry project. It will be wierd not working so constantly on it, since you are so easy to work with. Thanks too, Ian, for your graciousness in allowing Tamara the time to make this important project be part of her life. You are an awesome couple.

Shellie. Hmmmmm, what to say. : ) So much actually. You have a great dry sense of humor. The quiet sarcasm sure helped me get through the week at times. You have such a gift with people and your talent as a teacher came through so much in your talks. Just amazing. I didn't' know you well before this week, but it was great getting to know you and allowing me to become part of your life. As you move, may God bless you and your family. I hope we will see you again here in Ottawa for a SERVE project.

Annet. Truly one of a kind. You are always giving, always wanting what's best for others. Thanks for all the work you did with the quilting group to make those wonderful quilts. Thanks for hosting some of the Mentors a day early, and thanks for your quiet and gentle spirit. You work doesn't go unnoticed. Thanks for all your organizing on the prayer side of things too. VERY important stuff and you organized that very well. We know this week went well because the foundation was already laid in prayer.

It was also neat to see you having fun during this week, and also being stretched when things got tense at times. Like me, we've all learned and grown in this week.

Evert (Annet's husband), I also wanted to thank you for your work every day in the kitchen, and driving, and other stuff. It was neat to see you have fun and even stay longer than you had first envisioned for yourself. : ) This week has been infectious for many of us, and it has been a joy to watch that occur in your life, and others.
Harold. Quiet, caring, an encourager. Thanks for all your work in organizing the work sites, and the transportation. I'll miss the daily driving log updates I needed to print off as we approached the event (just kidding: ) )

Bea. WOW. You and Grace did an awesome job, as I knew you would. The community life material was top notch, and you too were flexible when needed. Thanks for all your hard work behind the scenes. You gave us all much to learn from, and the activities were lots of fun. Thank you both for doing this together. Now that Peru and this are completed, enjoy some time of rest and relaxing with family and friends.
Janine. Hey, our resident photographer, only because I roped you into it. However, you did AWESOME! The pictures are great and we now have lots of memories (4 gigabytes worth, actually). Thanks for putting up with my demands for that PERFECT picture opportunity. You should get a medal for that alone. : ) Thanks for your work with the work sites as well. You did great and the places we went to work were wonderful. Thanks for your constant upbeat attitude, and your smile and laugh. As you move within Ottawa, may you have a blessed summer. Oh, and yes, I'm still hoping you'll stay on as a youth leader in the pictures...I promise. : )
Lindsay. Our praise team leader. Thanks for allowing us the opportunity to praise God through your gifts and the gifts of those who assisted with you. Thanks for letting the participants join in with you too. They had a blast. May God bless you as you continue working and using your gift of music to bless others.
Jackie. Always smiling. Always laughing. Talking even faster than me (I do talk fast, and when tired am known to mumble too). I often wondered if you actually breathed; the sentences seemed to never have a period in them. Thanks for coming on SERVE and giving of yourself. You truly were a blessing to all present. Keep smiling. It looks good on you.
Rachel. Quiet, thoughtful, pensive at times. I know this week wasn't always easy for you, but you stuck it out, and you should be proud of yourself for that. May God bless you as you continue to surround your family with the love that you have for them, especially your sister. It was good getting to know you.
Kyle. Our resident Canadian Idol prospect. Kyle sang for us while we were on the trolley ride, and he has a VERY good voice. Thanks for coming Kyle. Thanks for your positive attitude. Thanks for your constant smiles. Even in the early mornings, when I was VERY tired, your smile made my day.
Silene. A wonderful person. Not to outspoken. Always observing. A gem. Thanks for coming out as a mentor. I know you had a BLAST. It was neat to see you tackle the high ropes course with such excitement. You carried that through to the rest of the week. I hope we see you again at SERVE.

Rey. What can I say about Rey. : ) Our Spiritual Life coordinator. Serious, yet a good sense of humor. Caring and a genuine love for special needs persons. Thanks for all your work with the mentors and making sure they stayed spiritually health during the week. Thanks for staying up with me in the wee hours of the morning when needed. You were AWESOME. I'll miss that smiling face every day.
Rebecca. Hey, you are AWESOME. You worked so hard this week. You had such fun too. Nice to see you making new friends and joking and laughing with them. I hope you had a great time at SERVE. I hope we will see you again.
Hannah. Oh, Hannah. Our resident blonde. (I say that in a good way BTW : ) ) Hannah is certainly one of a kind. She is so kind, loving, and fun to be around. She's always seeking the best in people, and she takes bugging very well (yes, I did pick on her a bit during the week, but just couldn't help myself). THANKS a bunch for coming to SERVE Hannah. You were a blessing to us all. You carefree nature rubs off on people, and that is a gift. May God bless you this summer and beyond, and hey, watch out for those doors that jump out at you and attack you. !!! : )

Rebecca. Hey, thanks for coming on SERVE. I know it wasn't always easy for you here, but you persevered and made it through. You sure liked the line dancing and the trolley rides. You have a nice smile Rebecca. May God bless you and your family.
Julia. A real trooper. The patience of Job. Always smiling, even when there was reason to cry. Thanks for coming. God brought you here for a purpose, and that was evident as our week progressed. Thanks for your constant positive attitude, and your willingness to take up the challenges of the week. You can come back to SERVE anytime!!!!!! : )
Amy. How you doin! ? You sure had a GREAT time. I was truly amazed at how much you actually fit into your suit cases for SERVE. So much stuff in so few bags (just bugging you). You sure had a great time on SERVE and it was fun to watch you having so much fun. You've made some new friends, and I hope you keep in contact with them. Blessings to you and your family.
Geert (I pronounce it with a long e). The sole male mentor this SERVE. Even so, you held your own. That's becuase you are a man of character, kindness, gentleness, and love. It was truly an honor to get to know you. My only wish is that if we hold this again, that more males would come to SERVE and that they would be just like you (a tall order I know). Thanks for coming to SERVE and giving of yourself in many ways. Being the only male you had to do a bit more than you bargained for, but you you did it without complaining or being selfish. Thanks. See you sometime in Athens at that Verburg place : )

Olivia. So smart. Always wanting to talk about something. A hard worker. Never quits. Great smile. Thanks for coming on SERVE. You did AWESOME. I hope we see you again.
Stacy. One who came from Michigan USA. She was on an Encounters expereince here in Ottawa several years ago and wanted to come back again. Thanks for doing just that. You did GREAT during SERVE. I remember you coming the first time. Scared (of me of all things - go figure : )) apprehensive about a new place, new country, etc. Now I see you as an independent woman, able to face the challenges that God places before her (That high ropes course being one of them, eh!!). Really neat to see. I didn't get to talk to you much during the week, and for that I apologize, but I know you made new friends, have many new experiences to share now, and hopefully will come again to share in another SERVE experience in the future. Blessings. Say hi to your family.
Hey Danni. Or is it Danny.....maybe just Danielle? Thanks for coming out to SERVE. Your constant smile is infectious. Thanks for the positive attitude and the jokes during our mentor meetings. Thanks for being a team player and giving up your week with Geert (yes, they are an item, to be married in October). I know you didn't get to see much of each other (actually, I think it bothered Geert more than you (tee, hee). )

Blessings to you and Geert as you prepare for the wedding. I'll see you sometime in Athens for sure.
Jovita. A joy to be around. Thanks for the complements during the week and I hope I honored all your request (sorry about the card playing thing. Just ran out of time). : )

Thanks for coming on SERVE. You worked VERY hard all week long. It was a pleasure to have you here.
Danielle #2. Well, not really. She's cut from her own cloth. One who is DEATHLY afraid of heights. Couldn't get her to do the ropes course. No Way, Not gonna Happen, forget it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

However, what she hold in fear of heights, she makes up for in quality of character. Truly and honor to get to know you. You put up with my bugging about things that came up during the week, and I thank you for your generous spirit. May God bless you as you continue to be a blessing to others.
Jenny. An amazing woman. A depth of character I haven't seen much of in my life. Thanks for sharing your testimony with us. Truly inspiring. Thanks for your kind words to all of us during the week. Thanks for showing us your love for God in such real and amazing ways. You worked hard during SERVE and you enjoyed yourself. May God continue to be #1 in your life.
Adrianna. That dry, whitty sense of humor. Always a smile for the camera. Always a quip just when I needed one. Neat to watch you overcome your fears on the high ropes course. You did an AWESOME job. Thanks for sharing of yourself, your gifts, your fears and your love for others and God.
Tyler. The hardest worker on the team this week. A great guitar player who loved to give pointers to Shawn. Always a smile in the morning (after his cup of coffee of course). Thanks for coming on SERVE Tyler. I hope to see you on Tuesdays at Friendship again next year.
Shona. Hey, you are a great person. Always smiling. Ready to give a supportive hug. REALLY excited about your birthday. Fun to watch. I hope you had a good celebration time with us. Thanks for all your hard work on SERVE. It was neat to watch you making new friends here, and I hope they stay fast friends for a long time. I hope we see you again.

Elysha. Mischevious would be the word that first comes to mind for me as I watched you during SERVE. A great smile, sense of humor and team player also come to mind. Thanks for coming to Ottawa and sharing of your time and talents with us. It was a pleasure to have you as part of the team. May God bless you in this year to come. Keep smiling. !!!
Shawn. Hey man. You have a great sense of humor. Always trying to draw people around you into what was going on. Not wanting to take those cold showers (I don't blame you for that one) and your playfullness at bedtimes was always fun to watch. You too are a great guitar player. You and Tyler make a great team. Thanks for coming out to SERVE. You've now had a taste of Zeeland's SERVE and Ottawa's so I'm curious to know which you liked more (just kidding). I'm just biased towards Ottawa of course. Hey, may God bless you and your family, and I hope we see you again.
Melissa. Quiet, funny, caring, sensitive, and you like volleyball (I coach it). Thanks for coming on SERVE. You are a pro at this sort of thing. That became evident right away. Thanks for your smile, your laughter, and your love for the others on the team. You are a woman of God and it shows. Blessings to you.
Joanna. Another prankster in the group. Our Tom Boy. You did a great job during our primping time before the trolley ride. I know THAT wasn't the funnest part of your SERVE experience : ) For the record though, you looked very nice.

Thanks for coming to SERVE. You were AWESOME. You drew people in, and you handled yourself well. You worked hard and you knew how to joke around too. I like that. Blessings to you, and I hope we see you again.

Alex. Always a smile. The FIRST one up each morning. Ready and willing to help in the kitchen, or with our custodian. Not afraid to work. Using his smile to try to get more food out of our kitchen servers, but to no avail. : )

Thanks for all the laughter you have brought into our lives Alex. It was truly a pleasure to have you as part of the team. May God bless you richly as you continue to learn more about God and yourself.

And last, but not least. ME !! I figure, hey, why not compliment myself once in a while. So, here goes. That strange man. Control freak at times, yet knowing when to let the reigns loose. Amazed and humbled at the gifts and talents of all who helped in SERVE, and the generosity of people who gave. Video and picture crazy. One who needs little sleep on Youth Events, but is NOT a morning person normally (just ask my family). One who is constantly amazed at what God can do with the plans of his children. Thankful that this SERVE is completed, yet sad to see the very same. Grew alot, and coming away with a better understanding of those with special needs.

So, enough about me. Blessings to all of you and I hope to hear from some of you, the team, in the weeks and months to come. To God be the Glory for the things HE has done, and will continue to do!!!!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Our last member of the leadership team

Greetings again all.

I'm sitting at my kitchen table, looking out my window at the gentle rain that's falling here in Ottawa. Woke up at 10 am today, but still feeling a bit tired. Spent a couple of hours in the office tidying up some loose ends for SERVE, and then it was homeward bound.

I trust all of you who were on SERVE came home safely and have been talking incessantly about your SERVE experience. : )

I'll post a final entry on Monday, as well as get those picture out to you as soon as I can.

However, as I promised at the beginning entry, below is a picture of Grace, another of our team leaders. She assisted Bea in our community life. Did a WONDERFUL job. Thanks grace.

So, if you have comments about the blog, or about your experiences, by all means, you who were on SERVE, start posting them here. For those wanting to hear Jenny's testimony, I did tape it, so you'll have to wait for the DVD. That may take a while, so I ask for your patience.

Blessings. Have a great day.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Day 7 - Thursday

It's Thursday afternoon now. 5:15 pm. The church is quiet. No sounds of laughter coming from the kitchen, or mentors and participants running around the church. No one to ask me a question, or bug me just for fun. No Janine taking pictures, or Shellie rolling her eyes at my dumb comments.

Just the sound of the air conditioner humming away in the sanctuary. An erie sound, now that this place has been filled with so many memories.

Everyone is on their way home now, and soon I will be too. It has been a good week together. Read on and find out how the final day materialized. Tomorrow or Monday I will post one last blog entry with some thoughts about the week, and each member who came or helped out.

We begin at about 1:00 am this morning. Shellie is talking my ear off, and I'm nodding alot, and working on my pictures. Had to in order to get things done. We also had some good discussions. It was truly good to get to know you Shellie. You were amazing this week.

I couldn't help but post some of the pictures of the girls who kept us company in the early hours. Here is Danielle singing a solo. It was so high pitched I couldn't even hear it. If you look really close, you can see her tonsils.

Shellie used a broken motorcycle for an object lesson yesterday. The girls attempted to put it together using sticky tack. I think it worked too.

Then there was alot of noise and screaming and I realized that Hannah was being attacked. She laughed so hard she almost peed herself. Oh, and you should ask her about those doors that keep walking into her. Quite painful.

Here Elysha shows off her talent of touching her elbow with her tongue. We all tried it and couldn't do it. AMAZING

After a couple of hours sleep, it was back to work. Well, for the kitchen crew at least. They kept us fed, and worked VERY hard.

Bethany helped us out each morning. THANKS a bunch for your work Bethany. (She gets special mention because she's in my youth group).

After breakfast Jenny shared her testimony with the group. Thanks for doing that Jenny. You did GREAT. I will remember your words for a long time.

It was time to clean up the rooms, but I think this was just amazing. Amy's stuff was EVERYWHERE. It took Amy and Janine about 45 minutes to pack everything away. It was a miracle it all fit !! : )

After clean up time, Lindsay spent some time jamming with various participants. They had a Blast.

It was Shona's Bday today. She woke up Danielle V at 6 am just to tell her that. : )

Here Melissa and Elysha are taking notes on my blog picking out the 1/2 truths so they can reply to them sometime. (at least that's what I THINK they are doing) : )

Adrianna-Rose catching up on some last minute warm fuzzies.

Then it was time for Worship again. The band just keeps growing.

Shellie once again did an excellent job of speaking to us. Today's final theme was SERVE. She used oil, water, salt. You'll have to ask why and what for.

Shellie also used rolled up paper and books to illustrate how we are strong with God surrounding us.

Then it was time to give some gifts. For the past many months, Calvin's quilting group has been busy making a quilt for each participant that came to this year's SERVE. Annet represented the group, and here holds a magnificent labour of love.

Each participant was called forward and handed a quilt to take home with them. Here Olivia poses for us. Again, too many pictures to put on the blog, but we did get a picture of everyone receiving their quilt, and that will be coming to you soon.

Now you need to know that through the entire week, Shellie was dropping hints that she REALLY liked the quilts. That she'd REALLY like to have one, but she knew that there were only enough for the Participants. Well, I'm a sucker once in a while, so I gave in and was able to acquire one. We thank you for all your hard work this week Shellie. More than you signed up for. Enjoy the quilt.

Tamar wasn't with us, so we presented a quilt to her for Anneke and video taped it. It's a very nice quilt. We hope Anneke enjoys it.

And then, low and behold, who should arrive, but the DeWaards. They were swarmed when they came into the building. We were able to present the quilt to her, and I think I even saw Tamara get misty eyed. Oh, and I think the hospital staff is still wondering where she went. I here she bolted out early. Didn't I tell you she'd be here !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : )

Janine did a GREAT job taking pictures. However, it seems that one of her eyes just won't open any longer. The hazards of taking great pictures. THANKS Janine, and yes, we'll try to find someone else to do it next time.

Janine has been a youth leader here for as long as I've been here (6 years). It's been a joy to work with her and Chad, her husband. Thanks for all your hard work and putting up with me. This picture was just for fun.

As you've read, today is Shona's Birthday. She's 29 today. She's been talking about this day all week long. She thoroughly enjoyed herself and just LOVED the pink cake. Isn't is lovely. It was a bitter sweet day for her, in that she also had to leave the many new friends she made. Many tears were shed.

Tomorrow is Olivia's Bday, so we got her a cake as well.

Here is Olivia proudly posing with one of her two ice-cream cakes.

Shona did the same.

Two peas in a pod.

It seems that Jackie and Hannah will be having Bday's this weekend too, so we sang happy birthday to all four of them, and then we devoured the cakes BEFORE lunch.

Here Shona is making her wishes.

So too is Olivia.

Serving the cakes.

Some parents came to experience this morning as well. Here two of them get acquainted.

Tamara looking over the blog. I don't think she thinks I'm always telling the truth, and she wanted to verify.

Time for one last picture before saying goodbye.

And then it was time to say goodbye.

Here Kyle and Olivia say goodbye. At the beginning of the week they were strangers, but now they are fast friends.

And time to clean up the church. Took about 1.5 hours. Thanks for helping clean up everyone.

So you have the facts of the day. I've got to do one last errand (dropping off freezers) now, so I'll post a more phylisophical blog entry either tomorrow or Monday.

Blessings as you all travel home. May you arrive home safely, and may your sons/daughters share much with you about this week.