Jesus Changes Everything

Many memories shared with experiences we’ll never forget. The speakers and musicians were phenomenal! We’re excited to be able to share what we learned and experienced with y’all during a ELCA Youth Gathering Share Night – date yet TBD.

Until then, if you did not get a chance to watch the live-stream during the Mass Gatherings or for the Live Bible Studies everyday, please check out the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America’s ELCA Youth Gathering YouTube playlist. 

 

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God’s Grace Changes Everything

Friday was our Service Day and boy did we have a great experience! We had the wonderful opportunity of servicing a local church: Riverside United Methodist Church. Some painted the narthex (walls and trim) with William and Anthony and some helped throw things away and move things around in the church with Bruce. Everybody at our site worked well together and it was awesome to be a part of and witness.

The amount of hardship they encountered after Hurricane Harvey was hard to comprehend. Their church is only feet away from the bayou; because of that, their church was filled with water 12 get high. William shared about the loss of many lives and how there are people who are still affected. He explained that snakes, alligators and sharks were swimming around when the water came and went and came and went and came and went with no where to go. There were piles of cars on the interstate that it looked like a junkyard. The amount of mud that remained took many skid loaders and shoveling to remove. They have done a lot of hard work to clean up and recover. The church is beautiful and I’m glad we could be a part in the beautification process. We had lunch delivered to us from Jason’s deli and Pastor Lee invited us to stay in the their air conditioning. So we gladly accepted!

After lunch we headed over to the NRG Arena for a celebration of service filled with music, games, and activities. Since we did community life the day before, we decided to go check out Interactive Learning in the NRG Center. They were able to check out what they wanted to do for today as they had 9 AM – 1 PM as a group of 10,000 instead of everyone all together. It was a nice, relaxing environment to have their last full day of the Gathering.

The Mass Gathering touched on some have subjects, so our Final 15 (reflecting on the day) was a little longer. The amount of courage and vulnerability these speakers have to be able to share their testimony with others is absolutely amazing! I’m thankful for all their stories as they are unfortunately relevant stores for your to relate to: eating disorders, cutting, mental illness, medical illness, having a disability, being different, etc. All worth hearing and as one speaker said,”There’s grace for that.” No matter what your story holds, we are all “magnificently imperfect” as another speaker shared, so there’s grace for that.

God’s Call Changes Everything

Let me paint a picture for you:

31,000 people in a stadium jumping, clapping, and singing with flashing lights, loud music, completely surrounded by fellow Lutherans engaging in worship. What a wonderful experience to be a part of! This is definitely something we all will keep with us today and always.

The theme for today was God’s Call Changes Everything. All of the speakers touched on how that looked like for them. From a practicing Hindu who became an ELCA pastor to a lady who lost her sight at an early age and learned to play piano and sing despite people telling her she wouldn’t make it as a singer. Is important to remember that it’s ok to not know your calling right now. We have to trust God in the process.

From a Houstonian welcoming us to the bayou, to a practicing lawyer who works at advocating for children who get incarcerated and don’t have a voice. He talked about the power of proximity and how we need to stick up for people who are different than us; to love others and be hopeful that we are able to make positive changes in our world.

No one got lost and we all made it safely back to our hotel, reflected on our day, and got a good night’s rest. Today is our Synod Day so out journey continues!

Free Day: NASA Johnson Space Center

We stayed at the Johnson Space Center until 3:00 PM today and we’re on our way back to the hotel. It was a lot of fun to read about and see all the history of NASA. We had a lot of moments of “hurry up and wait” to see the rocket (boat), to eat lunch, to rode on a 30 minute tram tour of the campus, and then figuring out transportation back to the hotel. All worked out great! Pastor Rick had arrived as well! God provides!

Tonight we prepare for our first Mass Gathering at NRG stadium. If you’d like to tune in through a livestream online, go to this website: https://www.elca.org/YouthGathering.

Enjoy some pictures from today’s excursion!

We’re All in Houston!

The bus arrived in Houston just before 4:00 PM. They made it to the hotel, had supper, and are relaxing after their long journey!

Here’s a picture of them in the pavilion of their hotel! What a view!

I landed in Houston at 8:25 PM. I even got to see NRG Park from the plane! I will meet up with the group tomorrow morning at the Johnson Space Center. I’m excited to catch up with the group and continue our adventures in Houston!