Notes from Our Youth Mission Trip to Marvell, Arkansas

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Today, the crews working with kids in the community (both at a kid’s camp and a sports camp) held a ping-pong tournament, played basketball, and did crafts and board games. Two young girls at the kids camp styled hair and did nails for members of our work crew, including some boys and adult leader Jerry, which they loved. One 10-year-old girl even gave Emma E. an impressive full head of cornrows! Any difficult situations that did come up with any of the kid’s club kids were handled with great patience and understanding by the crew working at the site.

The work crew said they have lots of little jokesters in the group that always give them a good laugh. Today, for example, some of the kids were telling us how old we are. According to them, Kyle was 1,000 and Maria was 20. 

Another of the kid’s club work crews spent the morning at a local nursing home, where they heard lots of wisdom and great life stories from the residents. They also got to paint residents’ nails, serve them snacks, and even share their musical talents. The work project crews were scattered around the area today doing lots of awesome work. One crew worked on painting a local home and getting to know the resident, while another continued work on painting the exterior of a local church. One other crew, before painting, spent their morning at the humane society cleaning and distributing dog bowls. MVP Carmen cleaned shelving in the room that houses the cats, and the rest of us walked some very excited dogs and gave them baths afterward.

Dinner was Taco Tuesday night complete with jamming to salsa music, followed by cake and ice cream in celebration of our beloved bus driver Wendell’s birthday. Our evening activity was a tour and short walk at the Mississippi River State Park, where one of the rangers also made us peach cobbler over the fire with a Dutch oven. Needless to say, we were all very full after that.

We had a great worship service and discussions in our nightly small group. We look forward to another day of awesome service — more updates to come!

Written by Maria and Hannah Sorensen, First Congo high school youth

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Being in Marvell in the middle of July, it’s not a surprise that there would be a heat advisory. Despite this, we prepared ourselves to spread the Word of God at our individual worksites today. First, we took the time to make sure we were about to spend the day doing our work safely, by drinking LOTS of water and Gatorade. As some of us were setting off to work with kids at day camps, other groups were getting ready to paint a local church and help out at different houses in the area. Personally, I was spending the day at a local woman’s house, Jesse. Jesse worked as a social worker in the area and needed some work done at her house with some touch-up painting and an installation of a screen door. I can’t get over how, although the people may not have much, they have the most positivity and love to give. It truly is an eye-opening experience and it offers an opportunity to see life from a new perspective.

During the evening, we shared God’s love through a dinner offered to us at a local Baptist church. We shared stories with each other and bond as our very own Jack Murphy led us in a sing-along that included some Journey, The Beatles and Jason Mraz. It was a powerful experience that connected us with our local community, and for that, we are grateful.

Written by Joel Morien, Director for Youth Ministries

Thursday, July 20, 2017/Friday, July 21, 2017

Hi, everyone!

Well, all good things must come to an end and today, we had to say goodbye to little Marvell, Arkansas. It was a bittersweet morning; as our crew cleaned up the building in which we worked, I took time to reflect on the impact we made on the community, especially the children, in just four short days. This week, I had the opportunity to work at a sports camp where I connected with some of the most precious kids I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. My mission this week was more than just playing games with kids all day (by the way, it was fun to get out on the court and play hours of basketball in the warm Arkansas sun!). It was about learning their stories and digging deeper behind the shells many of them have had to build growing up. Needless to say, it was emotional. The good moments were amazing and the not-so-good moments were challenging, and sometimes even a little scary. Yet, the tools I have built for myself through working with these beautiful children will help me for future opportunities.

We parted ways with our YouthWorks staff just before 9 this morning and jetted (or should I say bussed?) off. We got to pass the time by watching fun movies like TangledHerbie: Fully Loaded and Sing! but most of us napped and relaxed after our week of hard work. We did a few stops for lunch and bathroom breaks and most of our traveling was down the county highways of Arkansas and Missouri. Traveling through the hills was quite an adventure and absolutely gorgeous!

Finally, we reached Steelville, Missouri around 6 PM. I was in awe of the area's picture-perfect small Southern town vibe and it sounds like the owner of the lodge we are staying at also owns an old-fashioned soda pop shop downtown, where he will treat us to, well... treats! 

Sounds like we got our dose of Southern hospitality! 

The Wildwood Spring Lodge is breathtaking and overlooks a valley below. It sounds like it will be a fun, relaxing weekend before we come home on Sunday!

Jack Murphy


Saturday, July 22, 2017

Wow, what a day! 

Today we went tubing on a river in Missouri. Some of us floated on the tubes and some of us swam in the river alongside the floaters. Even if you didn't swim a lot, you had to get in the water every once in a while because it was so hot! 

It was about 6 hours and super hot outside. We left early in the morning after the amazing breakfast we had at the lodge. We used so much sunscreen. We spent most of the day on the water and came across a really cute dog who followed us for a little while. We also had tubes for water and our packed lunches that the Wildwood Springs Lodge packed for us. 

After the tubing trip, we headed back to the lodge and ate a delicious meal. For dinner, we had pulled pork, potatoes, beans and several other things. Their food is so good and is one of my favorite things about the lodge. We then got to go to an ice cream shop. The owner of the lodge was kind enough to invite us to get free ice cream.

It was really hot today and I got to hang out with my friends, which I didn't get a lot this past week because we were in different work groups. Today was a day to reconnect with some people from our confirmation class. It was a fun day and topped off our week. As a treat, we get to go to an ice cream shop and do our final worship. We celebrated our seniors which honored all of their hard work and dedication to the church and to us. It was a beautiful service with many tears shed and hugs given.

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