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STP-2014

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The Servant Team of 2014

There are six teams on Project this summer: Paranirmal Activity (shout out to my team!), Tsongwei Over the Rainbow, First Class, Stormtroopers, Chuck Dynasty, and Order of the Phoenix.

The Order of the Phoenix is also known around Project as the servant team.

The servant team is a designated group of students – one room of men and one room of women – who carry out specific roles and goals throughout the summer.

This year, the two students leading the servant-hearted charge are Daniel Rimmereid and Sara Kallhoff. I talked to each of them about what it’s been like to be servant team leaders this summer.

“Servant team has been a wild ride,” started Daniel. “It’s had its up and downs; everything from being really exciting and loving what’s happening to times of asking myself what in the world I’m doing.”

Because the servant team is made up of different people every summer, the team dynamics play out differently. Daniel has noticed that as well.

“Servant team is one of those things that’s just going to change from summer to summer. It really does depend on who is on the team. It also depends who the leader is. That will help set the tone for the room, and that tone will be different from Project to Project.”

Sara has experiences similar challenges and joys in being the team leader for the servant team.

“It has been a challenging blessing that has taught me more about myself, organization, being intentional, and beauty in differences. But most importantly, being the servant team leader has shown me that God loves me more than I could ever know.”

The main thing we hope students at Project come away with after the summer is a deeper love for their savior. So in the midst of joys, triumphs and challenges, Sara and Daniel are excited about the things God has taught them this summer and the ways he has used servant team to show them more of himself.

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CCP comes to Project

I distinctly remember telling a student on Project about our CCP team and saying, “They’ll actually be coming to Project! But that’s a long way off.”

And now they’re here.

In fact, they’ve been here since last Wednesday. The Project all swarmed the parking lot to greet their friends on the team as the travelers shuffled their way out of the vans, completely jet-lagged but pumped with adrenaline and excitement.

I should pause here.

If you don’t know what the CCP team is, refer to the following blog:

http://www.cominneapolis.org/ccp/blog

Continuing on.

Since then, the team members have been spending most of their time with as many of the 125 students on Project as they possibly can. They are specifically sharing what God has done in their lives throughout their time in Sheffield. I have had the pleasure of talking to several members of the CCP team, and it’s amazing to hear about the different ways God has revealed more of himself to them, oftentimes in ways they never expected.

Tonight, during theme training, Steve Discher will give a talk on missions and the ways God has expanded and will continue to expand is kingdom to reach the lost world. The prayer is that eyes will be opened to the brokenness and urgency of the lost and unreached people, and that God will work in people’s hearts – maybe even to go to the unreached themselves.  

The CCP team will also share some stories from their time in the U.K., which will be expounded upon tomorrow night when the team splits up and visits each room on Project during D Group. The students will be able to ask more specific questions and hear more personal stories of how God used this summer in Sheffield to shape the lives of those on the CCP.

As the next two days unfold and the time with the CCP team wraps up, pray that the conversations students have with the team will help cast a vision to reach the lost world. 

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The Difference at Work

The south has its own culture, and the workplace is no exception.

Every summer, our students work at local retailers, grocery stores and fast food joints to earn money for their time at Project as well as back home. This year, we have been blessed with jobs at Walmart and Chick-fil-a.

While I was sitting in the Walmart break room last week, I asked a few students if there are any noticeable differences between working in the south and their past jobs up north. Most of them immediately said there are. When I asked them what the distinctions are, the students were silent. They kept exchanging glances, waiting for someone to come up with an answer.

One student finally said, “I don’t really know, actually. It’s just…different.”

We started brainstorming to figure out what it could possibly be that makes working at Walmart in the south seem so different than any job we have had before. Many of us had worked retail in large department stores, so we decided it wasn’t Walmart itself that felt so different. As we dialogued, we really didn’t come up with anything profound:

“Well, it’s much, much warmer down here.”
“Maybe it’s the language? Phrases are used in totally different contexts. Like when someone asked for a buggy, it took me forever to figure out they were asking for a shopping cart.”
“Yeah, totally! I get that all the time, too. It’s so confusing. And it’s weird that different regions of the country literally have different terms for things.”
“I get called ‘sweetie’ and ‘babe’ and ‘honey’ a lot. Men, women, young, old – they all use those terms to talk to us. And it’s not creepy at all like it might be back home. It’s sweet. It feels like an old neighbor or aunt or uncle saying it.”
“Every woman gets a ‘miss’ in front of her name, too. I’m 21 and my boss is 65, but we both get a ‘miss’ in front of our first names.”
“People in the south seem to like Walmart more than they do in the north. Up north it’s all about Target. Down here it’s all about Walmart and people don’t seem to shop at Target very often, which is so strange. That makes working at Walmart really busy, too.”

After these comments, there was more silence. Everything we had said felt insignificant; none of these differences captivated the way we feel while we’re working at Walmart.

 

Now, as I sit here and reflect, I think I may be able to fill in the blanks.

 

Before working at my first Summer Training Project, I had never worked at a job with dozens of my friends and peers who were all living together, sharing similar experiences, and striving after the same goal – to know more of Jesus.

Think about it…in what other context could something like that happen?

I had never before felt like I had such a strong community with my coworkers. In previous jobs, I had become ‘work friends’ with people, but it was rare for those friendships to extend to hanging out on weekends or going out for coffee. Not only do we hang out together, but we actually live together.

Another marked difference about my first summer at Project was that I had never before viewed my job as an opportunity to minister to my coworkers and share the gospel with them. I wanted to be friendly and accepted by my old coworkers, but I had never thought about building deeper relationships with them or telling them about my faith.

Along with that, I never saw myself as an ambassador for Christ while I worked various jobs throughout high school and the beginning of college. Like I said, I had never really thought about sharing my faith with my coworkers, so it wasn’t like they would have even known I was a Christian. I didn’t have to ever think about how my actions, speech or work ethic was reflecting Christ. At Project, while students are constantly inundated with gospel truths, it’s impossible to not bring that into the workplace.

And let me tell you, that’s a really good thing.

That’s merely one example of students seeing how the gospel and Christianity is not simply a part of life – it is life. You can’t shake off your Christianity when you get to work. Believers in Jesus have been crucified with Christ and no longer live for themselves, but it is Christ and his love who lives through them (Galatians 2:20). As God grows us, his gospel shapes how we view everything in life, including work.  

Maybe that’s why working in the south feels so different. It isn’t so much because the geographical location has changed;

It’s because we have. 

One of our students at Walmart

One of our students at Walmart

A student and Walmart coworker

A student and Walmart coworker

Two of our Chick-fil-a workers

Two of our Chick-fil-a workers


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Back at the Ocean View

If you haven’t heard, we bought a motel.

I’m not going to delve into details about that. If you want to know more, check out this blog that was posted in March. Or ask someone in Campus Outreach – they can fill you in!

http://www.cominneapolis.org/comblog/2014/5/23/an-unexpected-purchase

Moving on.

So we’re back at the Ocean View Motel (which may or may not be renamed at some point). Located in Murrells Inlet, SC, the Ocean View is about twelve miles south of our dwelling place last summer. Murrells Inlet is a calmer and more residential environment compared to the atmosphere in Myrtle Beach.  

Last year’s location was a changeup. Project had been at the Ocean View for many years. I spent my first summer at the Ocean View and my second at the Aquarius in Myrtle Beach. Even though I had spent equal time at each, the Ocean View always felt more like Project’s true location than the Aquarius had. Coming back to Murrells Inlet this summer felt like coming home.

I asked one of my roommates and fellow team leader, Katie Beth Strand, what she thought. She and I are both on our third Project and have experienced both the Ocean View and the Aquarius.

“The Ocean View is cleaner and safer and a lot closer to work. It has better access to the beach, too. There’s actually a long list as to why it’s better in a lot of respects. Even with the nuances of the Ocean View, I would still pick this place any day of the week. It’s home. This is where I had my first Project. I tend to get attached to places and my first summer was really impactful for my walk with the Lord so this place has a lot of memories and meaning. It’s where a lot of things began.”

For most room leaders, this is their second Project and first summer at the Ocean View Motel. Last year at the Aquarius, they didn’t have a context for Project being anywhere but there. I wondered if their opinions of the Ocean View would be different from Katie Beth’s or my own. I talked to a few room leaders, and it turns out their opinions align with ours. Here are a few of the comments:

“This motel is so much better. It’s actually pleasant to be in my room and on hotel grounds. I didn’t feel that way last year; Project wasn’t the place I wanted to hang out. If a group of us wanted to hang out together, we would plan to go somewhere off Project. This year I’m really content to be in someone’s room or just under the tent or by the pool. And I actually look forward to getting back to my room each day.
Campus Outreach being invested in it is cool, too. It’s not like we’re reporting issues to an apathetic management team; when we have an issue, there is ownership. They care a lot about the motel, so they actually try to do something about it.
The location is a lot better, too. It’s safer-feeling and nicer. The downfall is that there is less to do in walking distance. But overall, I would choose the Ocean View hands down.”

Although we were blessed to have a place to stay last summer, it seems the general consensus is overwhelming thankfulness and excitement about being at the Ocean View. We are praying Project will be able to stay at the Ocean View for many years to come. 

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"Hey! I'm going to be your roommate this summer!"

Arriving at Project is kind of like the first day of college.

Everyone is pretty hyper, music is blaring, chaos ensues, and somewhere out of the abyss comes a total stranger who rushes toward you and emphatically declares, “Hey! I’m going to be your room leader this summer!”

It’s pretty weird.

I mean, how does someone even respond to that?

“…..Great!.....?”

Because the odds are pretty high that this is the first time you’ve ever met this person.

But wait, it gets weirder.

In college, you can spend the entire nine months simply coexisting with your roommate. A lot of people settle for getting along; they don’t actually become very close friends.

Project is different.

It’s two months of extreme intentionality. People want to go very deep very quickly. The cool thing is, as brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ, we are part of a family and has a common thread that binds us. In John 19:25-27, Jesus looks at his mother and John and says, “Woman, behold, your son!” and “Behold your mother!” Biological lines are blurred in the kingdom; we all, as children of God, are part of one family.

That being said, there is legitimacy for bypassing months of groundwork that is normally laid in a friendship. While it may normally take time to find commonalities that bind friends together, we already have that in Christ.

So when roommates talk about deep struggles or broken pasts within the first week of knowing each other, it’s not that strange….

….which is kind of strange.

I talked to Lou Messina and David Cook, both room leaders this summer, about this topic to see if I am the only one who feels this way.

I’m not.

“Yeah, it’s definitely more comfortable right off the bat,” said Lou, “We all come in with the mentality of ‘we WILL get along’ because you know your room is a community and these are people you’re going to be turning to and growing with throughout the summer. That’s just not true for college, necessarily. It’s more freeing and less scary at Project because you have that bond in Christ but there is more pressure to interact well and deal with conflict rather than avoid it. But even that is good.”

David agreed.

“You do so many things together as a room,” he started, “There is a lot more structure at Project, and a lot of that structured time is spent with your roommates. You have intentional time to be together. That’s basically the expectation everyone has coming in, and knowing you’re going to be sharing experiences and growing together changes the vibe of the room right away.”

You see? There is something unique and beautiful about community in Christ. It actually is possible to be different and deep right away because of our bond as children of God. The following quote sums it up well. It’s by Dietrich Bonhoeffer from his book Life Together:

“What determines our brotherhood is what that man is by reason of Christ. Our community with one another consists solely in what Christ has done to both of us. This is true not merely at the beginning, as though in the course of time something else were to be added to our community; it remains so for all the future and to all eternity. I have community with others and I shall continue to have it only through Jesus Christ. The more genuine and the deeper our community becomes, the more will everything else between us recede, the more clearly and purely will Jesus Christ and his work become the one and only thing that is vital between us. We have one another only through Christ, but through Christ we do have one another, wholly, for eternity.” 

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Who even leads training, anyway?

Before we dive in, I need to say something:

We have some awesome team leader guys this summer.

I’m biased, because these men are good friends of mine. But even as I attempt to view these guys from an objective standpoint, I come to the same conclusion:

We have some awesome team leader guys this summer.

Now let’s talk about why that’s relevant for this blog.

A little over a week ago, the Campus Outreach staff left. This has several ramifications, but one glaring question is,

So…who is going to give the talks?

Theme Training?

Bible Study Training?

Leaders Training?

Evangelism Training?

Life Training?

The staff guys have been giving the talks, so now what happens?

(Get ready, because this is where my first point comes in).

The team leader guys are giving the talks from now on.

Cool, right?! I’m excited about it. But I wanted to know how our team leader guys are feeling now that they’re up to bat. I talked to Nate Van Zee (Northwestern, leading team First Class), Nirmal Mekala (U of M, leading team Paranirmal Activity) Daniel Rimmereid (Bethel, leading team Order of the Phoenix), Luke Miller (U of M, leading team Stormtroopers), and Jeremy Tan (Bethel, leading Tsongwei Over the Rainbow). Charlie Schumacher is leading Chuck Dynasty, but he is actually on staff with CO and is used to giving talks. So for this blog, I didn’t include him. But shout out to Chuck Dynasty, anyway!

So here is what the guys said:

Nate
Now that the staff is gone, the reality sinks in of being entrusted with and thinking for 130 people. We feel inadequate. We’re not ready. But that’s cool because it shows how much help we need from Jesus. We sometimes ask ourselves, “What the heck are we doing?” We had finally gotten used to being team leaders with the staff helping us and now that they’re gone we’re adjusting again. But it’s really exciting because this is probably the month that’s going to grow us the most.  

Nirmal
I’m feeling pretty good about the talks. Honestly, it’s nice knowing the talks are heavily based off talks that have been given and revised and re-revised over the past few years. And the staff is a phone call away and there are plenty of resources out there to help us shape and fill out our talks.

Leading the Project feels more daunting. It’s a whole different challenge. We want to help meet the needs of students, but there are so many of them and sometimes we put too much pressure on ourselves. Plus the schedule is going to get more packed since we’re taking on more responsibilities. But God brought us through the first month, and he’s the one who is going to lead everyone through the second.  

Daniel
Giving talks has been really stretching for me. It’s been hard to find the balance between “these talks are not what change people, Jesus is” and “you still do need to take this seriously because you have a great opportunity to stand in front of a bunch of people and preach the gospel.” It’s both easier and harder than I thought it would be. It’s easier because I’m honestly surprised that I can turn truths I know into talks and they are actually helping people know Jesus more. It’s harder, though, because when you prepare talks you have to think a lot about what is going to be helpful for the people you’re addressing. But I have felt really supported in the process of giving talks. I love collaboration, and it’s cool to get influences and opinions from several people when I prepare a talk. It feels more like a group builds each talk. Overall, I’m really excited for the team leader guys to give talks.  

Luke
I’m feeling very excited about the talks. It’s a sweet opportunity to share different things the Lord has been teaching me. Plus it’s a unique platform and I’m privileged to be one of the guys who have the opportunity to do this. There is a lot of responsibility though. We feel some pressure to do well and serve the body of Project through the things we’re sharing. We don’t want to put self-imposed standards and burdens on ourselves, but we do want to try our best and hopefully the talks will be helpful.  

Jeremy
I’m pretty nervous to give talks – I get nervous pretty easily. It usually stems from people-pleasing and insecurities. But that’s kind of cool because my first talk is on insecurities, so as I've been preparing the talk it’s like I've been preaching it to myself! So although I’m nervous, I’m still really excited for the team leader guys to give talks.

 

I interviewed these guys throughout last week before they had given their talks, and since then they have started leading the different trainings.

THEY HAVE DONE SUCH A GREAT JOB!

Each one of these men is unique and brings different gifts to the body of Christ, and those strengths have shined through their talks. They have also let the Project see their weaknesses while they’re up front, like Jeremy talking about his insecurities and Daniel talking about feeling weak.

We, as a Project, are so proud of these guys and we’re excited to see how God uses them and grows them in their leadership position over this next month! 

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#STP14Convinced

I’m a communications major.

Social media is inherently part of my degree.

Social media is also almost always part of my jobs and internships.

So it was no surprise when I was told part of my job as the STP communications intern is to update and manage the Summer Training Project social media accounts.

Pause for a plug.

Here are the links for our social media sites! Check ‘em out! Like or follow!

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/comstp

Twitter

https://twitter.com/comstp

Moving on.

As some of you may know, hashtags (#) are becoming a big deal on every social site. What started as a Twitter feature is now a substantial part of other sites, including Facebook and Instagram. That’s important to know, because those are the main sites our students are posting to this summer.

Although it’s easy to get too caught up in technology and sucked into social media in an unhealthy way, there are good and helpful things about these online tools. One example is the hashtag.  

If you search a hashtag on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, you can see every picture, video and status that has been posted with that particular hashtag. The feed that comes up is a compilation of everyone’s posts. No longer do people need to search high and low for posts related to topics of interest. The hashtag does it for you.  

In an effort to use this convenient feature, we have established a hashtag for our students at Project this summer.

#stp14convinced

This is the hashtag for STP 2014.  Go ahead, look it up! Every few days I search the hashtag and it’s always fun to see what students are posting. I’ve seen everything from encouraging Facebook statuses about things people are learning about Jesus to artistic pictures on Instagram of the many adventures students have during their free days.

A lot of the students here talk about how hard it is to keep up with all their friends and family back home. Social media is obviously not an ideal or adequate replacement for a phone call, but it can help supplement since students are able to quickly post several updates throughout the day.

I hope all the friends and family back home find this source helpful! The students at Project enjoy using the hashtag to find each other’s posts and look back over the weeks to see the fun that has happened in South Carolina, but we also want this to be serving those who aren’t at STP.

Dozens of posts come in every day, so keep checking in!

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STP Theme

The Summer Training Project always has a theme.

The theme is chosen well before Project is underway. The staff and team leaders take time to think and pray about which book of the Bible the Project should study for the summer, and what theme could be drawn from that book.

This summer, the students at the Summer Training Project are studying the book of 1 John, along with a few verses from the book of John.

As the CO staff team poured over 1 John and brainstormed reoccurring themes throughout the book, several potential options came to mind. The lengthy list was whittled away until one remained:

Convinced...

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A Week at the Summer Training Project

We have been at the Summer Training Project for three weeks.

If you know a student on Project, hopefully he or she has been keeping you posted on the goings on of STP. However, I can fully attest to how quickly time slips by while we are down here. If you haven’t heard much from your student, don’t worry – Project is...

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Project Picture Day

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Project Picture Day

The 2014 Summer Training Project Participants

The 2014 Summer Training Project Participants

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