youth group of the year

We’ve had three teams come and go. Houses have been repaired and painted, shades have been built, floors have been tiled, and a lot of food has been eaten. It’s hard to believe that half our teams are done and gone. Time flew by. And now, it was time for me to go on another adventure.

Ever since we arrived, I’ve heard the church youth group talk about Trail of Hope. It’s a native youth conference, a place for these guys to be encouraged and see what other native youth are doing around the area both on the rez and off. It’s like their own version of Christ in Youth conferences that I went to summers in high school.

I didn’t think I was going to get to go. It wasn’t until the night before that it was decided I would go. Chris and Townie had to stay to run errands and take care of things around the church. But God granted me yet another crazy adventure.

I wish I could express how much I love these people, especially the youth. Two of the girls have been my traveling companions as I pick up kids for kids club and they have been so much fun. The boys are always running around and helping me cook for the teams and Daniel the youth leader has become a friend that can be both crazy and serious. I was so excited to spend this time with them and share in the experience of Trail of Hope.

As with most things here, this trip was completely unpredictable. Everyone was chasing us off on Saturday, saying we were going to be late. In reality, the conference started on Sunday, and we had to buy some tarps and camp out on Saturday night since we were a day early. I loved it though: the randomness of life and the spontaneous decisions. They make my day without even knowing it.

The actual conference was really good, a little different from ones that I’ve been to in the past, but it was yet another learning experience for me. The kids were the best part. I got to see them learning more about God, I got to see and hear them worshipping and singing, and as always, I got to laugh with them and have fun.

And God spoke to me too. It’s a place I would never have expected to be and yet God showed me how I got there. I got to go to a seminar on missions, I got to meet some really cool people that are working with native youth. And I was challenged by what God is doing in my life. I knew after the first week that these people and this place would hold an extremely special place in my heart. I saw that even more as I spent time with the youth and Daniel on this trip. They mean so much to me, more than they might ever know.

On the last night awards were handed out to the youth pastor of the year, youth group member of the year, youth group of the year and there was a lifetime achievement award. Our youth from New Testament Indian Gospel Church won youth group of the year. I could see it coming. I was so incredibly happy they won. No other youth group deserved it more. These kids help out so much. There’s no way Chris and Townie and I could survive without them and what they do for us. And on crazy days, they keep us sane. When I see those boys pull up, I know the day is going to be alright. They make the long days worth it, and knowing that we get to hang out with them all summer is so wonderful.

They so deserved it, and when they opened their gift they were shocked. They won a Wii for being the youth group of the year.

And no one deserved it more. You gotta love them.

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