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Who I amReside in St. Louis Missouri currently, Lived in California & Colorado.Husband.Father.Pastor.Football Enthusiast.Teacher.Learner.Dreamer.Reader.Friend. [thoughts & comments blogged here are my reflections living life trusting Jesus as God]

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Student Ministry & Missions part 2

Here is part two to the articles I am writing for YOUTHMINISTRY.COM on our Uganda, Missions trip this past summer

In the first article I shared with everyone some ways of how we prepared for the trip. Here are some notes I wrote down over the 15 days of our trip that I made a priority as the point person.

I do not buy into the misconception that just because you’re on a missions trip you should pray more. We kept encouraging students, leaders—and I reminded myself—to stop and speak with the Lord.

“24 Hours”When we met as a group we always gave our team a “Here’s the next 24hrs” information update.  Students responded to this well, as it gave them enough info without overwhelming them, and it was also a great reminder to our leaders as well. The information was bite-sized and just what they needed to know. This also gave us a chance to allow students to share highlights or insights from their last 24 hours. It was always a rad moment for everyone to hear each other, and how they processed the trip. These debriefing moments were usually highlights for our team.

Leaders ConversationsI made it a point to have constant communication with our leaders. Hourly I’d keep them filled in with any news they needed. Half way through each day I’d be sure to touch base in depth with a few leaders just to get a pulse from them on what they are observing. A big question I found myself asking was just how they were doing health wise or if I could get them anything. As everyone was going through their Diet Coke withdrawal about day 3 I took 1.5 hours to find enough Diet Coke’s for all my leaders & the smiles I got from them was seriously heart-warming for me.
911 MomentsWe had a couple incidents during the trip that forced me to ratchet up my A-game on care for others. One of those was for a leader whose father passed away while on the trip. I had a plan in place for each incident we experienced and having quality leaders around me who were able to help carry out the details was great.
Model Flexible Mind-setI had several leaders and students comment on how my attitude and ability to be flexible with certain things that occurred during the trip was very noticeable. It was a great reminder that what leaders model to those that follow will often mimic.  

Engaging StudentsEach day I made it priority to talk to almost every student at least a few minutes. I also made a mental note to pull 1-3 students a day aside to talk with them in depth about their experience and what’s going on in them. As the youth pastor, every chance I had each day to give students a faith stretching experience I tried to take advantage of it with them. It’s one thing to push students to an experience; it’s another to tell them you’ll share with them in the experience. Plus this gives me some great follow up topics for future conversations this fall.

REALLY!?!?!So often I’d have this thought of “REALLY!?!?” that we were experiencing what we were. I’d share it out loud and try to help everyone wrap his or her thoughts around the reality we were in. This caught on quickly and it helped the FUN FACTOR increase for our trip. From 11-hour bus rides, to the events with the families we were with, or swimming in a pool in the middle of the savannah of Africa.

Self Processing TimeI made sure I took anywhere from 5-30 minutes a day for myself. The last thing I wanted to do was be done with this experience and have the feeling that “I missed a lot” because I was so busy trying to lead well. These moments of pulling away and processing were incredible, rich, and very good for my soul.

This experience was incredible, and I am very grateful that I took the time on the front end of the trip as well as being mindful of everything during the trip.

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