Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Kansas Group

I can’t believe that I just lost my blog this morning on my ipad when I went to cut and paste some how I messed up and it went into cyberspace lost forever. I want to take the next couple of blogs to reflect on the different groups that came for the month of June to partner with New City – Barrio.

I had spent a few hours on the phone with Dan and James trying to persuade them that coming to Phoenix when it is hot to do urban missions is truly God’s heart for them. After talking with these two younger brothers they decided to bring a small group from their Kansas church to explore that it would look like if their church was moved to be more urban mission minded. I was actually able to meet with Dan and his wife at Matt’s for a breakfast and chance to talk about South Phoenix.

I still can’t believe that James, the young Civil Engineer, actually had his group drive straight through from Wichita KS to Phoenix. They left rather early on a Saturday morning and arrived around 9:30PM utterly exhausted. I still had all of us meet to talk about the gospel, God’s heart for the poor, reconciliation and loving your neighborhood. We had snacks and they went right to bed.

We allowed them to sleep until around 8ish on Sunday. We were going to visit Pablo’s church, sing a few songs, share a testimony and then collapse back at the Bennett Casa. They enjoyed Pablo’s small church family and stayed after church to greet and talk to many. We arrived back to get ready for a typical New City BBQ on a Sunday afternoon. It was hot but we still had a large group of over 50 attend and we had carne asada for main course. We eventually had to ‘kick’ everyone out because our next day was going to be a long one and an adventure.

We arouse early and gathered at South Ranch to make a trek to the Grand Canyon to hook up with my cousin Patrick. Our main purpose in going was to attend the first summer evening Rim Worship Service with the National Park Service Ministry overseeing it. My group loves to travel and especially stop at the McDonalds that is half way and also the Starbucks. We had a large group and it was surprising that we didn’t have any real drama on the way going to the Canyon.

We caught up with my cousin at the main visitor’s parking area. I was taking a big risk going on a holiday, Memorial Day, but my hunch paid off the park wasn’t totally packed. Patrick gave us a tour of the main area, which was breath taking and Lupe was able to play tourist and take his pictures. We even had some great shots of deer and elk that were close up. We drove to the far side of the canyon to enjoy a different look. This was also a take your breath away moment for everyone. We were all getting tired and then headed to Patrick’s house for some dinner.

We at first were going to BBQ at his house but decided the day before to make chili, have French bread, watermelon, chips/salsa and cake for dessert. The dinner worked out great and everyone was thrilled to have a house to chill for a few hours. We walked about a ½ mile from his house to the outdoor worship site for the Rim Service. We had a large group of 50+ which meant their first service wasn’t going to just be a few faithful. The backdrop of the canyon and the sun setting was incredible. We listened as a group of college students shared their reasons for spending the summer at the canyon, sung some songs, prayed together and then listened to lesson from the gospels and closed with singing Amazing Grace. It was an awesome time and we were now ready for the trek home.

I knew that we were going to arrive at a rather late hour, like 1:30 AM. So the following day we let the group get some zzz’s. We did our morning devotional and got prepared to do the next 3 mornings of simple service projects. We painted the front block wall of Molly, tore out her front porch and mixed concrete and did a ramp and also connected with her twin grandsons and her daughter. That night we did our usual dinner and discussion at our house and had a large group. We played football in our greenbelt area and finished with one of the Kansas group sharing their testimony.

The next morning we had a gourmet breakfast and got ready to paint on Earl’s trim at his house and then also tear out another porch to do another handicap ramp for Charlie who was Molly’s neighbor. The second ramp came out easier than the first and we mixed and poured it in an hour or so. The guys helped with this and we ended up talking with Charlie who is a double amputee that has to do dialysis three times a week. We did our usual Pecos Pool trip and the kids quickly bonded with the Kansas group.

Thursday morning we did Matt’s Big Breakfast and everyone had a great time and loved meeting Ernie the owner and special friend of mine. Today we were going to do a real dirty job and clean up Art’s backyard that hadn’t been touched for 3 months. Imagine the amount of dog poop with 8 dogs. The group was great at diving into their job and made it look incredible considering that the back yard is a dumpsite for used engines and abandoned cars. We crashed back at the house and did another devotional and urban mission discussion. We did our usual Thursday night game night at the park. This was a great time playing football or doing crafts with the other teens/kids.

Friday was to be our homeless experience for a morning. We went to AZ Organizing Project to listen to Gary and Running Deer. We had a great time listening and asking questions. We also connected with Tillie who oversees Women of Wealth. This was a very eye opening time for the group. We ended with taking water to the homeless in the downtown area. I am sure that everyone was ready to come home, shower and crash.

We had decided to have just the group do First Friday in the downtown and see the cultured side of Phoenix. We had fun walking around a couple of the areas that have galleries, taverns, outdoor vendors and live music. The group enjoyed watching Darious and his group jerk for about 30 minutes. We were ready for dinner and made the decision to do In and Out Burgers. This was as always a great dinner and fun time before going home to see the group get totally packed.

I still can’t fathom rising at 2:30AM for the drivers and getting ready to rock and roll non-stop for the next 20 hours. Yet, James and David were up early and ready to roll by 3 AM. This was our first older group which truly was a joy because they didn’t have to be entertained and they really wanted to ask the tough questions and reflect on God’s call to them to step up and think outside their box and challenge their friends back at home. So good-bye James, David, Jen, Phila, April and Ann!