Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Alabama Teen Camp UPCI Youth -- June 18, 2008 -- Day Two

Funny how those guys who thought all the coughing and gas passing was funny at midnight last night don’t think it is too funny at 0730 this morning. These clowns did not want to go to bed last night and now they don’t want to get up this morning. They have it all backwards. Confused about when to get in and when to get out. The thing that they have to remember about sleep is that you need it and you need to get all you can when you can. All the pictures are at this link.

The morning started off with a bang with my good buddy, Pastor Perry Wells from Vincent, Alabama. He told this bunch of kids this morning that things went pretty smoothly last night except for at Midnight Madness there were about 1001 Skittles lying around that needed to have something done with them. So before breakfast could be started, they all had to be picked up. So we got the Skittles taken care of and scooted off to breakfast.

The Dothan gang pretty stays together for most of the days as you will notice from all the pictures, today wasn’t any different. They were all together at breakfast except for one. He managed to slip away from me although this was the first time he had managed to do so. Jacob Puckett went missing in action. So I went off in search for him. I looked in the concession stand, no Jacob. I looked on the front steps, no Jacob. So I decided to go into the auditorium and see if he was there. When I opened up the doors, I was being serenaded by a drum solo although I could not see who was playing. However as I turned the corner and looked all the way across to the platform, Jacob was playing the drums. He was apparently having a time with it. So I went over and told him that if we did not get breakfast then we would miss it for the rest of the day. So we headed back toward the cafĂ© and had a hearty breakfast.

Our first session of the day involved a forum of sorts. Numerous questions were asked to Sister Vanderford (forgive me for not knowing her first name), Jeremy Sherrill, Shaun Meeks, Kelly Martincic, David Goodwin, and myself. Good questions and good advice came from all around. Hopefully some of it connected with the kids.

Then Brother Kelly Martincic, one of the sectional youth directors, preached “Your Father Has the Final Word” from Genesis 35. Again, it was a good message that challenged the youth to understand that God has much control in the circumstances of our lives and it will work toward His plan if we will just be faithful to what God desires.

After this session, we were turned loose for lunch with recreation to follow. Lunch today consisted of the other end of the box of the chicken fingers. In one end, I think they pack chicken fingers and in the other end they pack what is left of the chicken, such as toes, lips, ears, and such and put it into a handy little patty. That is what we had for lunch, chicken patty sandwiches. Teresa and I ate with Brother Wells who again rivaled us with some famous stories from Vincent, Alabama. I think that toe-to-toe Brother Wells could give the late Jerry Clower a run for his money.

Brother Wells told his that his grandmother would sit out on her front porch and rock in a rocking chair, read her Bible, and dip snuff all at the same time. He assured us that she could do this because she was Baptist! This was greatly amusing to me when he was telling us about it. He told us that one day his grandmother intended to spit a big wad of snuff out in the yard and then toss her Bible on the small little cot next her rocking chair on the porch. The cot was there because the “old country folk” would sometimes take a nap on the porch. Anyway, instead of getting the snuff in the yard, she got a little confused. She spit a big wad of juice on her nice white sheets on the cot and tossed her Bible out into the yard!

He also told us that he had traced his family tree all the way back to the mid 1700’s and the Wells had come out of South Carolina with some very strong Irish and German stock. They were all army officers and such but he said that the tried to trace his wife’s family back (the Reynolds) to 1946. They could not find anything beyond a jail break in Clanton, Alabama! All of this is hugely funny to me. At breakfast he had rivaled me with great stories about how to make sauerkraut. He went into much (too much) detail about how it was done. I always thought that sauerkraut made a bad hotdog worse. But I have now come to find out that sauerkraut is actually very good with ribs that you BBQ with. I doubt I shall try it in the near or distant future but at least I know how to make sauerkraut now, which I did not last week.

The afternoons were full of hanging out and the boys spent a lot of time on the basketball court. I managed to slip off on my bicycle for about a 17.5 mile ride through the Pike Road community and found some valuable decompression time on the bike. Bikes are sort of like those broncs I am reading to the boys about at night in Dorm D, they can jerk the kinks out of your spirit.

Supper was around 5:30 PM and when I got down there, all of our kids were settling down in front of meatball subs. It sort of stirred up that old camp song of something about a meatball being on top of spaghetti all covered with cheese and I lost my poor meatball when somebody sneezed.

Silent Praise was due to make their debut in singspiration but after some technical difficulties with the CD, they were unable to do so. They aren’t interested in doing it tomorrow night because they have the Pizza Party and no one wants to wear black to the party.

One thing I am discovering this year and it appears to get worse yearly is that there are some extremely messed up kids that come to our camps. The devil has done everything he can to wreck our society. Kids have little discipline in their home life and it plays over into all that we see at camp. Suffice it to say that we need an old-fashioned revival in America. Having said that, it makes me clearly more committed to our Dothan bunch and doing all that we can with them!

The service took off with a bang and the choir continued to roll it and Brother Linder ended up not getting to preach tonight. Seven kids got the Holy Ghost for the first time tonight. After an extended altar service, the kids were dismissed and told to return to the auditorium at 9:45 PM for Midnight Goofiness. I again retreated to the kitchen not desiring any excessive nerve jangling and had some leftover chicken. During that time, Brother Wells and I commenced again with our task of rectifying the societal problems at large. I think we are making some headway and if President Bush hears a peep out of our ideas, there is great potential in the both of us being whisked off to the White House.

Tonight in Dorm D, the giddiness of our bunch seems to be giving way to fatigue. Not much objections tonight to settling in. I read about 2 chapters from Mustang Man by that prophet L’Amour and it was again a resounding success.

See you tomorrow. . . .

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Alabama Teen Camp UPCI Youth -- June 17, 2008 -- Front Row!!!

We arrived in Montgomery around 10 AM on Tuesday morning for the most part in pretty good condition. Everybody was in their usual excited state about getting into the dorm they were in last year but the boys group was too large to all get housed in Dorms A, B, and C, so we had to pack up all the stuff and move it to Dorm D. The only problem with this is the A/C. In the other dorms it is usually cold enough to “bust the bark” so to speak. But this year we have to make some adjustments and will have to fair in a little warmer climate to get all the boys in the same place. I am told the registration is somewhere around 165+ and it appears that we have a good crew this year.

We have a few newcomers this year. Christy, Morgan, and Nikki are the new girls. On the boys side we have Clay who has never stayed in the dorms without the close presence of his mother and also the Pucketts. Andrew and Jacob are with us from Atlanta. Jacob is a mile a minute to keep up with but he has spent much of the day with Brother David or myself.

Shortly after dumping all of the things in the dorm it was time for lunch. Some of those hearty soybean burgers from all appearances and taste! Along with chips and chocolate chip cookies we realized that we were in for a high-carb week.

After lunch was over with we all hustled over to the auditorium for a rally that was preached by Ryan Vanderford who is the Alabama District UPCI Youth Secretary. He preached a message about “The Power of a Discovered Identity.” He encouraged the youth to understand that there are two choices. Saul, who never really lived up to the intended identity, ended up flopping entirely at what God really had intended for him. On the other hand, there was Paul, who did live up to his discovered identity of what God really wanted. As young men and women the choice of seeking out the right things of life are incredibly important.

This message was ended with a good time of prayer and a challenge. The challenge was issued to the kids and they were encouraged to sign their name on a banner that will be on the front of the pulpit all week during the camp. I was proud of the Dothan bunch who took up 22 seats on the front row. The guys and gals are stretched across the whole front (as you will see on the Flickr photostream).

The altar service ended with the introduction of the illustrious pastor of Vincent, Alabama, Perry Wells. He immediately called for all knives and pistols to be coughed up and if they were not voluntarily handed over they would be forcefully taken! Furthermore, Brother Wells is about to start a cell phone company and anyone who is caught “texting” during the service is going to contribute their phone to his company and the phones will be leased out to excited customers who are in the Vincent, Alabama area. Both of these comments were received with much mirth. He also was concerned about those who had not been potty trained and asked for a showing of hands of those who did not know how to operate a commode! This too was received with much hilarity.

We were then turned out into the hot, humid Montgomery afternoon to play softball, volleyball, basketball, and football. For those who sought the cool rooms on the inside, there was ping-pong, air hockey, foosball, and just general hanging out. The concession stand is again being manned by the famous Blaylock family from Sulligent, Alabama. With her usual demeanor, Sister Blaylock has proved herself to be one of the most famous and active talkers from the north end of the state. Very few women can hold a candle to Donna Blaylock when it comes to talking, fabricating, sarcasm, and everything in between! She can sell pickles, eat a Subway sandwich, and harass me every single time I even venture into the concession stand area.

A bunch of the Dothan girls showed up for choir practice and my battery died to my camera and so I have no pictures of any of this although I do have some from the night service. They were well into the songs (as you can see, although you will have to pardon the red-eye effect that I could not correct with my digital camera).

After a time of song and worship, Brother Sammy Sherrill, our district Youth President, introduced Brother Harold Linder (from parts unknown to me at this time) who had to quickly fill in from Aaron Soto who could not attend due to some very extenuating circumstances in his church. Brother Linder preached a very short sermon (alas I do not want our kids getting too used to this) about the power of God-given desire in your life. He used examples like Joseph, the Hebrew kids in the fiery furnace, Esther, and a few others to get his point across. The altar service followed and a number of kids spent some time praying.

Following the service was the infamous “Midnight Madness.” I stayed for about 7 minutes and 28 ½ seconds and couldn’t handle it any longer. I left the restless savages in the hands of the Youth committee and staff and went somewhere to keep my nerves from getting more jangling than what they could handle. Very fortuitously or maybe even directed by God, I ran into my good friend and Vincent, Alabama pastor, Perry Wells. We rambled around to the backside of the old campground and snuck in the back door of the kitchen. Lo and beheld we thought God had sent ravens to save us but found out later it was Sister Oma Overton. She put up the leftover chicken fingers, a few buns, sliced tomatoes, and left them lying about for a few hungry prophets, umm, preachers to come and enjoy. We had cold chicken samiches and Coke and spent considerable time fixing all the problems of the world. Be on the lookout, things are going to get better here in a few days from all the changes we will endeavor to make.

When the kids got in from Midnight Madness, I picked up a tradition that I started a few years ago. I read aloud to the boys in the dorm to try and wind things down so that they will go on to sleep. I pulled out my trusty Bantam paperback and struck out on the trail with Nolan Sackett who was the central character in “Mustang Man.” I read about 18 pages in 20 minutes or so but should have read for about another ten because they were still a little wound up when I cut the lights out. Typical boy stuff goings on that has been around camps for years. Stuff like coughing, giggling, whispering, passing gas, fake ailments of every sort, and some were “texting” somebody in the way off cellular world. I think I shall invite my friend from Vincent, Alabama in here tomorrow night to see if he can add some of the phones to his collection!

When I shut the lights down, Justin called me to tell the Celtics had trashed the Lakers and won the finals by a score of 131-92. Brought back some sweet memories of my high school days when Larry Bird, Dennis Johnson, Robert Parish, and Coach K. C. Jones were wearing out the likes of Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and James Worthy of the Lakers.

Nothing like these Youth Camps! See you tomorrow!

A Prayer Pouring Out of Psalm 119

--> I am presently preaching through the stanzas of Psalm 119 and it has been a spiritually enriching exercise.   Toda...