Although a trip like this can be exhausting, it was a really, really good trip. It was pretty bittersweet for Andy and I, because this was the last beach trip we will go one with these kids, and the last time we will spend a lot of time with many of them. Andy still has one more trip with them, but for me, this was goodbye in a way. Since Andy took the job at Westminster 3 years ago, we have spent a lot of time caring for, worrying about, praying for, and loving these kids. We were welcomed in 2007 with a warm prank about every week, including several incidents of rolling our house with toilet paper, waking up to find tampons stuck all over Andy’s car, and a student breaking into our house after he mischeiveously stole and copied one of our keys. The entry wasn’t always easy.
However, we have been impacted in ways that it is hard for me to describe. These kids have been such a huge part of our lives for 3 years now. Because this was Andy’s first job, and we were experiencing so many of our “firsts” together as a married couple, the youth group has helped us learn so many valuable lessons: it has taught us about ministry and God, how to love teenagers, how to better love each other, patience!, what it looks like to serve together in a lot of ways, and created certain desires in us in raising our own family. We are leaving with a sadness and will miss so many of the relationships we have with the kids, their parents, and fellow leaders.
Our theme of the week at the beach was “Once upon a time.” We heard several testimonies of how God had been working and changing different lives. We were challenged ourselves and challenged the kids to truly think about their stories and to reflect on how God had been, was currently, and will in the future, work in them. Now that we are saying our goodbyes and preparing to leave, I am realizing how much this church and youth group truly will be a part of our story. It was an emotional last night, as we reflected on this and said our goodbyes in many ways to these kids (event though we will be around for a few more weeks.) I am looking forward to the move, but also looking back with a sweetness towards this place for what it has taught me.