Youth Mission Trip Update

All Angels’ Youth return from a week in Memphis participating in home repair and leadership development.

MEMPHIS – JULY 2018

Thanks to the generous support of family, friends, and the entire All Angels’ community, 11 youth from All Angels’ were able to spend a week in Memphis, Tennessee. In short, it was a challenging and transformational week.  Our team of 11 youth and 3 adults partnered with Service Over Self (SOS), an organization that has been serving the Memphis area for over 30 years with sustainable community development practices. They challenged us to see where God has already been at work – inviting us to join in the story of God’s movement in the place we came to serve. Our team helped repair roofs, cleared brush, served at a community center, met over 150 youth from around the country and learned from locals about their experiences of poverty, racism, and injustice.

Some highlights from the week include:

  • Finishing repairing two roofs of elderly homeowners that had extensive roof damage and yard brush removal needed to stay in their homes.
  • Visiting the Civil Rights Museum, located where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. Giving us a better understanding of the history and context of the civil rights movement and how it connects to the biblical call to justice.
  • Learning from local Memphis residents about the political, social, and cultural differences from our life in NYC.
  • Spending time worshiping and praying as a team – being challenged to consider our role in bringing justice and truth to the spaces we live. We were called to remember that mission is not merely a trip we take or something that happens far away, but something we live day in and day out.
  • Sharing our own journeys of faith and hearing testimonies of people from Memphis
  • Learning the story of a man living on the streets, and getting to go shopping for him so he could have clean clothes for an apartment interview.

As we left Service Over Self, we spent time as a team debriefing the experience before returning to New York City. Youth reflected on how they wanted this trip to change and transform their life back in NYC. Here are some paraphrases shared by youth.

  • “I’ve seen the power of prayer. The team leaders could not be that happy and energetic at 6 in the morning without God’s help. I have tried praying more powerfully and boldly this week, and it felt nice. I want to grow in prayer.”
  • “I was moved by testimonies on our team. I want to take more time to learn about others stories.”
  • “I sat and talked with a family from Alabama. We talked about our lives, and I learned how different their lives are from mine in NYC.”
  • “I was hesitant to come on this trip, and often downplay with my friends when I’m going to church camp or on a mission trip. I want to share more openly with my friends about my faith.”
  • “I was so tired and exhausting trimming all those hedges – then the scripture came to mind about the vine and the branches, and it had a different meaning to me. Scripture came to mind about God giving us strength, and it made me want to push through the exhaustion and finish the task.”
  • “I realize that being a good friend is a two-way street. I want to get to know better people who are different from me, but I’m going to have to step out of my comfort zone.”
  • “It is not fun being around people who think so differently about things spiritually, culturally and politically, but it is good for me. It helps me see the bubble I am living in”
  • “Being without my cellphone has been good – I’m enjoying what we are experiencing and realizing I’m not missing out on as much online as I think I am.”
  • “I’m starting to understand the power of the cross. I hadn’t given it a lot of thought before.”
  • “I’m learning its ok to rest and not always be active. I overdo it, and then I get hurt.”
  • “I struggle with anxiety, but God has helped me push through my times of anxiety this week”
  • “I didn’t know I could feel so much joy shopping for someone else.”
  • “I feel pressure to always be funny – I’m learning I don’t always have to.”
  • “Big Dog’s testimony was so powerful. He’s right – I have a lot more in common with people who are different from me that I realized. We all need food, shelter, clothing, community, and love.”
  • “I don’t always spend my money the way others think I should. Part of human dignity is getting to choose how we spend money. Big Dog helped me think differently about giving money to someone who asks for help.”

All of us can find wisdom in the words of these youth.

  • When do we assume our differences are too vast to build friendships?
  • How can we stretch ourselves to build relationships with our neighbors who live on the street?
  • How can we lean into the power of prayer and scripture to sustain us in challenging times?
  • How can we learn from others who are different from us to stretch our own way of thinking?
  • Might we be surprised by the joy that comes with radically giving to others?

Where in the World is Christine?

The vicar is going places.

Jim and the wardens have given me some additional vacation time this summer which I am gladly taking! This past Sunday was my last Sunday till mid-August. Here’s what I’ll be up to:

Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, CA, June 17-26

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When I tell people I’m getting a “demon” from Fuller Seminary, they look concerned. Why is Fuller giving out demons? And why would Christine want one?

Before you start performing an exorcism on me, a demon is a “D.Min” which stands for Doctor of Ministry. It’s a program geared toward full-time pastors and Christian leaders to strengthen and deepen their ministry practice in a particular area. I thought for sure that I was done with school but the opportunity to study with Dr. Tod Bolsinger was too good to pass up. He wrote Canoeing the Mountains: Christian Leadership In Unchartered Territory, one of the best leadership books I’ve read in a long time. It scratches exactly where I am itching in this season of life and ministry leadership.

Dr. Bolsinger writes, “In a rapidly changing world, the primary task of leadership is to energize a community of people toward their own transformation in order to meet the challenges of the uncharted terrain before them.” And this begins with the leader. When I learned that Dr. Bolsinger had a demon cohort on leading congregational and organizational change, I thought, I’m in!

In Chicago, June 29-July 4

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(Chicago Cubbies!)

I’ll be back in NYC for two days, one of which will be spent with the staff finalizing plans for next year’s ministry calendar. Then I’m off to Chicago where my family will be congregating for my niece Kara’s wedding in what will surely be the coolest wedding celebration my family has ever experienced. She and her fiance are both artists and working as graphic designers. Word on the street is that their reception will be a circle of their favorite food trucks which I am of COURSE not more excited about than their actual marriage… their sacred union as husband and wife is infinitely more important than tacos as we ALL KNOW… [stomach grumbles]

In NYC, July 5-13

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(with my brothers Rich Villodas, lead pastor of New Life in Queens and Jordan Rice, lead pastor of Renaissance Church in Harlem)

That Sunday July 8th I’ll be preaching at New Life Fellowship in Queens, one of my favorite churches in New York City. They have over 70+ ethnicities represented in their congregation. I love their warmth, passion for the gospel, commitment to contemplative prayer and social justice, along with a good dose of emotionally healthy spirituality. I’m looking forward to strengthening relationships with the larger body of Christ in the city as we witness to the love of Christ together. I’ll be back in the church office the week of July 9 through 13 to do some mid-summer catchup and finalize fall plans.

Family Time in Korea, Thailand and the Adirondacks, July 14-August 18

 

 

(the adorable Kim family)

This leg of my summer is the part I’m most excited about. My family is scattered across the globe in Korea, Thailand and the States, and it is very rare that we are all able to be together for an extended period of time. It’s an interesting time to be there given all that has been happening in the news with North Korea. It’s questionable what Trump actually accomplished with Kim Jong Eun in Singapore so I’m thinking we need to get a real peacemaker in there and wrap this thing up. #vicargettingthingsdone #EnneagramType9

 

 

(going to be in my belly soon)

My sisters and I will then fly to Chiang Mai, Thailand where Grace and my brother-in-law Bob serve as missionaries with the Evangelical Covenant Church as the Asia Regional Coordinators. Having this precious time with my family is of course way more important than all the delicious Korean and Thai food that I’ll be eating along the way which is totally not the main reason I’m taking this trip. [stomach grumbles again]

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(good times with the hubby)

All this will be capped off in the Adirondacks with the one and only Jimmy Lee, my favorite person in the world. I’m looking forward to being out in nature, hiking, reading, taking naps and eating good food cooked by not me. (reading over this, I’m seeing a theme here…)

I’ll be back at church on Sunday, August 19, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, well-rested and well-fed. I hope you all have a wonderful summer and looking forward to sharing our summer adventures when I get back!