This Sunday, the youth celebrated the start to the New Year by baking and decorating some resolution-busting cakes for the staff at the Battle Building. To continue UBC’s ministry engaging with and supporting the hospital staff, our youth made and decorated four cakes that were delivered Monday to the staff lounges on each floor of the children’s hospital. In between mixing batter (and forgetting the eggs, and re-mixing the batter), spreading icing (and eating icing), and showering the cakes (and the floor) with sprinkles, the youth found time to pray for health and endurance for those working in the Battle Building. (To be completely honest, we also found time to eat homemade pizza, and play a game of life-size battleship). Included with the cake delivery were about 80 cards written by the youth, thanking the staff for their hard work, letting them know our church is praying for them, and wishing them the best in the New Year!
OIAM (Operation Inasmuch) has become a signature ministry of UBC over the past several years. Each spring, members and friends of our congregation come together to serve our neighbors through painting, building, gardening, cleaning, and more.
Another annual tradition that occurs each spring is Mission Madness, a program of the CBF of Virginia that organizes local mission sites around the state, providing the opportunity for youth groups to engage in service projects similar to OIAM. Youth from UBC have attended the past two years, and this year UBC has been approached about hosting one of these events, which usually bring 200-250 youth from across the state.
With the blessing of the UBC leadership, the Missions/Ministry Committee, and the leaders of OIAM, we are excited to be hosting Mission Madness this year at our church on April 17-19, 2015. This is a major undertaking, but it will enable us to make a dramatic impact in our community.
We will be combining this Mission Madness event with our regular OIAM, so please note that OIAM will be taking place a few weeks earlier this year! Many of the work projects will be similar, but there will also be new opportunities that are unique to the larger scale of this joint endeavor, such as preparing food for our many volunteers.
Expect to hear more about this in the coming months, but we encourage you now to begin thinking about how you might participate. In addition to the logistics of feeding everyone, we will need experienced UBC folks to lead project sites, overseeing the work of the youth, who can do the “heavy lifting.”
Finally, with so many volunteers this year, we will need to find quite a few worksites, so if you have ideas for projects, please share those with Erin Brown or Phil Woodson, who are helping to coordinate this event.
What an exciting weekend this will be, combining our well-established OIAM day with the energy and enthusiasm of Mission Madness! Imagine what we will be able to do for our community together!
The young adult brunch last Saturday was a fun and delicious get-together, with 20 adults present. Thank you UBC for providing childcare for the seven little ones so that their parents could enjoy adult conversation! We were happy to welcome quite a few new faces this month, and we would love to have anyone who’s interested join us next month at our regular date, the second Saturday, Dec. 13. (We don’t all attend worship at UBC, and all are welcome.) Our plan for next month is to enjoy Charlottesville’s Christmas decorations with our annual Holiday Lights Tour. Thanks Peter for driving the church bus! Mark your calendars now and invite a friend!
Our young adult group is having brunch this Saturday from 10:30 to 1:30 at the home of Erin and Will Brown (4000 City Walk Way, Apt. 351). All are welcome! We may have some new faces with us this month, so this is the perfect time to join us. Childcare will be provided for those with young children. Feel free to email Will if you have any questions. Hope to see you there!
On Monday, November 3, the youth got together at church to make 6 giant batches of chocolate chip cookies (don’t worry, we cleaned the kitchen)! Then we gave them away to people walking by the church, students on the Corner, and employees and patients leaving the hospital. What a great way to spend the day off from school: spreading a little bit of edible joy and love on a Monday afternoon! 🙂
Last Sunday, our youth had the chance to prepare and serve dinner at both the Ronald McDonald House and the Hospitality House. It was a wonderful chance to learn about and serve with some of the ministries in our immediate community, as well as a chance to have fun and challenge the inner chef in all of us!
At the Ronald McDonald House, 2 adults and 6 youth had one hour to make tacos for 40 people. Our two sixth-grade boys bravely took on the task of cooking 9 pounds of taco meat. Despite the fact that it was by far the hottest job in the kitchen, they worked cheerfully and neatly the whole time. And by neatly, I mean that at least 85% of the taco meat actually made it to the serving tray. Not too shabby! 🙂 The rest of us prepared rice, corn, chopped vegetables without losing anyone’s fingers, used more plastic gloves than anyone thought possible, and generally had a blast working together in the kitchen.
The staff person working that night took some time to explain to us about who the house serves, and we learned that it is not only children undergoing cancer treatments and their families, but also children awaiting heart and other transplants, and families at the hospital for other medical emergencies. As we served dinner that night and talked about the experience later, it hit home for the youth that even though we had a ton of fun cooking together, the meal we prepared was meeting a real need for families going through very difficult times, and several teenagers asked when we can go back and serve again.
At the Hospitality House, some of our older youth prepared spaghetti for the guests. After teaching one high school junior the important life skill of how to boil spaghetti noodles, and after said high school student sent shards of uncooked spaghetti flying all over the kitchen, the meal went pretty smoothly! One of the guests who ate dinner at the Hospitality House that night told our youth that she had just spent all of her money for the rest of the month on supplies for her child who is in the hospital. Before she got to the house, she didn’t know if she would get anything to eat that night, and was thrilled to arrive and find a spaghetti dinner waiting for her. When our group got back together later Sunday night, the youth who served her were excited to share with the others how they had seen God at work in that situation!
Overall, we were thrilled to serve at both the Ronald McDonald House and the Hospitality House this week. We had fun cooking together, and we also learned from the sobering but meaningful encounters with families we served. It hit us that there are so many families in great need, literally right around the corner from our church, and in one evening we were able to minister to them in a simple but significant way. We are grateful for the experience, and hope to serve in this way again soon!
On Sunday after church, the youth headed to Riverview Park for an aptly named Afternoon of Awesomeness. After sharing a picnic lunch outside on the most beautiful day God has graced us with this fall, the fun began.
There were team competitions. Boats were made from aluminum foil and tape, and raced down the Rivanna River. Impressively, one boat even remained intact! Relays were attempted, with the sole purpose of getting each team over the finish line in absurdly hilarious fashion…. How would you attempt to get a team of five people across a field, letting only 4 feet and 2 hands touch the ground?
Then there were challenges for the whole group. Do you think it’s possible to fit 10 teenagers into a circle 1.5 feet across? They didn’t either…. at first! But through lots of varying input and ideas, many failed attempts and re-attempts, the group managed to get everyone on board, and stay balanced there long enough to sing a rousing rendition of The Muffin Man. I’m not sure anyone knows why we chose this song to celebrate. 🙂
We had the chance to discuss the importance of trusting each other and trusting God, and explored some of what the Bible has to say about this (not always what you would expect)! And finally, each of us had the chance to live out that trust, falling backward off a picnic table into the waiting arms of the rest of the group. Though initially some of us were hesitant, everyone had the chance to experience the thrill of falling, and the reassurance and support of being caught by 20 or so outstretched arms.
It was fun! It was a chance to get to know each other in a different environment, and celebrate strengths and abilities in each other that we didn’t necessarily know were there. It was a chance to laugh, and then fall over, and then laugh some more. It was an opportunity for some of the younger members to let their voices be heard, and lead the group toward success. It allowed the group to affirm each member, quite literally catching her as she plummeted to the ground from atop a picnic table. It was a chance to eat two entire packages of Oreos over the course of the afternoon. It was a chance to fellowship in God’s creation on an absolutely beautiful day.
Did I mention that it was awesome?
This Sunday, October 5, the youth will gather after church to share a meal, and then head to Riverview Park for an afternoon of team-building games and challenge activities. We’ll make and race boats, see how many people we can fit in 2 square feet (let’s shoot for EVERYONE), do trust falls, and get everyone up and over an invisible wall, all while learning the significance of trusting God and trusting others. Come join us! (We’ll return to the church by 3pm).
There is also a brief youth parent’s meeting this Sunday, immediately following church, in the choir lecture suite. We’ll discuss upcoming events and sign consent forms for the year! See you there!
An Open Letter to the Youth of UBC:
Well, this is it. I’ve handed over the keys and turned in all my receipts. By chance, I came across a quote by Azar Nafisian, an Iranian writer and professor of English literature best known for her book, Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books – that best sums how I’m feeling right now:
“You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place, I told him, like you’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you’ll never be this way ever again.” – Reading Lolita in Tehran
It’s not a sad, mad, or other highly charged emotional feeling (those are the bottom of the pond) – but it is strange. I know that we’ll all continue to be friends and see each other around town, in school, or on Facebook – but it’ll be different. I would almost equate it to the same feeling I had when completing the Harry Potter series. I was big into Harry Potter and as it so happened I was, regretfully, going to be at camp when the final book came out – so I asked Ellen, ever the dutiful girlfriend, to mail it to me. She did. Between the designated camp times and late into the night I would read – page after glorious page. And suddenly… it was done. It was great, amazing, and inspiring. I laughed, I cried, and then – all too quickly – it was over. I would have to find something else to give my energy and attention to…
I remember how all of my campers were riddled with jealousy and upset that their parents wouldn’t mail them their own copy. I remember how they would ask to borrow it just to get a taste of what laid in store – it was really a great allegory for drug addictions. But secretly, behind my dropped comments about what may or may not have happened and hidden under my exclamations that it was the best book I’ve ever read – I was actually envious of them. I envied the journey – the thrill of experiencing it all again for the first time and I felt… strange.
And that’s almost exactly where I am now. Feeling accomplished but somehow lost. Knowing that my heart has expanded exponentially over the past three years with love and hope for every single one of you – knowing that through the presence and work of the Holy Spirit we have accomplished so many great things together – knowing that you will continue to do wonderful and holy things – I am still so very very envious. To watch you grow, learn, mature, engage, and outwardly demonstrate your faith will forever be one of the greatest chapters in my life – and I simply don’t have the words to express my unending gratitude.
And so here’s the part when I talk about how much you’ve grown and changed – and then say no, it’s me that’s grown/changed the most. I’ll follow it up reminding you of all the wonderful things you’ve accomplished on mission trips, your impeccable leadership, and how mature you all are in your faith. I’ll wrap it up with some standard quote from somebody’s graduation speech about making the most of the time you’re given and then knock it out of the park with a bible quote… because after all, this is church stuff we’re talking about.
But we know each other too well for all of that – don’t we…
So, there’s this:
Which is perfect because even though we’re saying goodbye for now – we’re all going the same way…