Today was another fully packed day that followed a similar schedule to yesterday…we began with breakfast and morning devotions. The theme for the day is citizenship and we were challenged to think about what it means to be a citizen in the Kingdom of God. We used the passage from Mark where Jesus discusses with his disciples and those trying to trap him about the commandments. Jesus says:
28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” 29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’There is no commandment greater than these.” 32 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.
We heard that as citizens of God’s kingdom we have two commandments to follow, love God and love others as we love ourselves. As citizens of this kingdom we cannot be concerned with our actions; what makes us holy, clean, or pure. But if we focus on our identity and living out that Christian identity rooted in these two commandments then our actions will fall in-line with our character. Of course we will mess up and of course we will go against our moral compass…we are human after all and there was only one perfect person in history. Because our sincere and deep love of God is a reflection of how God loves us then we can remain firm that God will welcome us back again and again just like the Prodigal Son.
After wrapping up our devotional time we headed to our work project site where we continued the work we started the day before. With the lawn and yard clean and mowed our goal was to finish the prep work on the house and hopefully begin painting.
We continued prepping the house for painting by taping the windows and scraping. It wasn’t hard work but it was tedious. Because everyone helped out we were able to get it done. Then we started painting! That was when everyone came alive. Everyone had a brush or roller in their hand and though we didn’t have a whole of time we painted as much as we could. So far we have only painted the back of the house, but I am feeling really confident that we will be able to finish the painting in the next two days since we have everything prepped now.
By 11:00 it was quitting time and we went back to the school to eat our lunch and wait for the kids. After lunch, we broke into two groups with Alissa, Jake, Laurel, Ms. Katie, and Fr. Rob going to Kids Club, and Grace and I going to Sports Camp. It was a beautiful day to be outside! A far cry from the cold rainy afternoon yesterday. The kids were more well behaved, not having to be cooped up in a building for two hours and we all had a lot of fun. We will try to get more pictures of our afternoon projects tomorrow.
After a great afternoon with the kids we all went back to the school to shower and relax. Some of us hung out in rooms reading, while others played cards in the cafeteria, and others went outside for some exploring. It was a great way to unwind after another busy day. At 5:00 we began dinner prep and it was a fantastic dinner because it was Taco Tuesday!!! But what made it really special was that Jolene, or Grandma Jo as she is referred to by the whole community whether they are blood related or not because she loves and cares for everyone, made us fry bread. This is a Native American tradition and is found across different tribes. For those of you who have not had fry bread…I bet you actually have because it is just like fried dough, only in this case it is not just a desert but is used in different ways; fry bread tacos, fry bread pizza, and even fry bread burgers. Laurel saved her fry bread for desert and covered it in sugar. I on the other hand covered mine in taco meat and fixings. It was delicious.
After dinner we played a poverty simulation game. (Look out St. James you might see this game in the near future.) It was a great way for the youth and adults to engage in an activity that helped us understand the tough decisions that people face while living in poverty. We had a great discussion about the experience and our youth provided some amazing insights. I was proud to see our youth thinking beyond their experiences and walking in someone else’s shoes, even if it was just a game. I know that what they are seeing, the people they are meeting, and the activities they are participating in are changing them. It truly is a privilege to be here with them on this adventure.
When the game ended we had a snack and then transitioned into our worship time, which they call Club. We sang songs, talked about our day, prayed, and continued the theme of citizenship. It was a great way to bring the whole day together, to process our experiences, and to give thanks to God. We were once again reminded of God’s love for us and we were encouraged to draw a heart in marker on our hand. Everyone participated…everyone!!!
Since we have been ahead of schedule the whole week so far we ended Club earlier than normal so we were able to go outside for Compline while the sun was still setting and the skies were draped in the beautiful hues of the last rays of daylight. Ms. Katie led us in Compline from the New Zealand Prayer Book, which has a heavy emphasis on love, service, and nature. It was perfect for our setting and our day. It truly was an amazing day with some amazing youth.
We then came back into the school and everyone went to bed early…a good sign of a job well done. Tomorrow will be similar to the last two days, but there is an awesome surprise for the youth and we haven’t told them yet. It will be epic! Tune in tomorrow to see what happens.