The last week at project looks a little bit different than any other week. Employment is winding to an end, some extra free time is added in, and everyone begins setting their sights on August and the school year. It is odd thinking that one-week from now; I will be back at home. I find myself ready for project to wind to an end, it has been an amazing experience, but it is not something that meant to be done long term. Project is more of a sprint then a marathon. I am looking forward to the opportunity for more sleep, being home with family, and slowing the pace of life. I am excited for what August will bring.
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2012 North Project
Saturday afternoon the staff members returned to project for our final week. It is great to have them back around, and catch them up on all that has happened. This next week the staff will be spending time with students individually, giving the talks, and preparing us to return home. The friend they have brought is Jason Meyer, soon to be the Associate Pastor for Preaching and Vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church, the church that Campus Outreach is based from. He is here with his family on what resembles a vacation, but he also meet with both projects from Campus Outreach Minneapolis to last night to talk about the importance of being involved with a local church.
This week our D-Group was a little bit more low-key. Usually a D-group consists of updates (where we talk about our “hi” and “low” points of the week) and a small group bible study. This week, however, it was more of a social gathering for the D-groups. My D-Group went to Nacho Hippo, the best nacho-serving restaurant I have ever attended. We ate huge platters of nachos, talked about anything that came to mind, and generally enjoyed each other’s presence. It was nice to take a step back from the super formal, “I am here to help you grow” attitude of the average D-Group. It helped me realize that we are also able to hang out informally, and we are really good friends.
The theme for this week is Yahweh Shalom, or “God is Peace”. Through the scripture-reading schedule and Big O’s talks, we have been focusing on Christ brining us peace in three main aspects of life. We are to know peace with God, know peace with your self, and know peace with others. Today’s verse (Ephesians 2:13-14) focused on the peace we gain with others, specifically with other races. Through the blood of Christ those who were far off (Gentiles) have been brought near. Jews and Gentiles, in spite of racial divide, are able to be at peace with our fellow saints regardless of race because the blood of Christ has torn down the dividing wall of hostility.
This past Sunday, 60 people from the project went to the new Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises. The hype leading up to this event was substantial in my room. Over the course of four nights, we watched the other two Batman movies. It took us two nights a movie because we were too tired to make it through the night. It is funny how we view the themes in a project environment. The sacrifice of Batman necessary to save Gotham, the determination of Batman to fight for a city not worth fighting for, and Batman’s general selflessness despite his actual desires. All of those things are a reflection of Christ. I’d suggest seeing the new movie, it is worth a viewing.
Every week there is a project encouragement planned by the team in charge of the week. This week Boom Goes the Dynamite was in charge, and they planned a breakfast on Friday morning. A few brave students woke up bright an early and headed over to Garden City Baptist to prepare a delicious assortment of eggs, fruit salad, cinnamon bake, coffee, and other goodies. Then the rest of project arrived and ate to their heart’s desire. It was a good time to just get together and enjoy the company of friends and the entre of food. I speak only for myself, but I was very encouraged by the free meal.
Last night, we got together with the Leadership Project Greenville, which is the same thing as STP, but instead of being students from the Minneapolis Region, it is students from Greenville and Lynchburg. Leadership Project Greenville is located in Myrtle Beach, so we found some fields at a halfway point, and we met on neutral ground. The Olympic games were comprised of six events: soccer, kickball, softball, tug-of-war, ultimate Frisbee, and dodge ball. Each event was done with surprising intensity, but the competition was all about encouragement. At the end of the six events, the games were tallied. Our project won soccer, dodge ball, and softball. Their project won kickball, tug-of-war, and ultimate. If you are keeping count, that makes a tied Olympics games. Ties are not acceptable.
In order to determine the title of athletic victory, a final relay was set. Comprised of dizzy running (spinning around a bat before running around a cone and back), an old fashion wheelbarrow race, leapfrog, and a final sprint (down and back a football field, this relay was the deciding factor. Our summer training project proved to be athletically superior.
Regardless, the purpose of getting together was not to compete, but to be encouraged by other believers, and to allow us to interact with brothers and sisters beyond our project. After the final games were played, we split into small groups and prayed with each other.
Jay Ripley spoke with us today during life training on time management. I often think of myself as very good at managing my time, but I was convicted by the lesson this morning. Jay talked about how our desires are reflected by how we use our time reflects our desires. When we leave the earth, there will not be a regret for not finishing tasks that are only related to the world. He challenged us to not spend all of our time accomplishing things that ultimately won’t matter. I think that I almost always accomplish tasks that don’t ultimately matter. It is not that I want to stop doing my homework, cleaning my room, and reading literature—those are all wonderful things; however, I think that I should spend some more time in prayer, more time in the bible, and more time evangelizing.
This week’s social was a bowling night with a twist. Every team was assigned to dress up as cowboys, aliens, cavemen, or Egyptians. You should have seen the lot of us showing up to take half the bowling alley’s lanes in costumes which where home designed and bought at a thrift store. It was a strange but fun happening. It is fair to say that we weren’t the best bowlers, but we did have a lot of energy, a lot of strangeness, and most importantly: a lot of fun.
The bible study training this week was about applying biblical truths to our lives. Michael Wikenheizer (Wiki) has been leading bible study training in place of Matt Reagan since the staff left. In order to really talk about applying scripture, Wiki mentioned first focused on the importance of memorizing and meditating on scripture. Application is difficult because we want to focus on internal application, and not just external application. For example, the concern is not so much being able to show patience toward others, rather we want to have an attitude and mindset of patience. The hope is to not be constantly thinking “patience…patience”; instead we want to have an attitude so focused on patience that our outward patience is only a manifestation of an inward reality. We don’t want our patience to be a façade—we want to be truly patient.
Therefore, memorizing and meditating on scripture are important in the application. In order to allow our hearts and inward sinfulness to be changed by the sacrifice of Christ (apply scriptural truths), we have to meditate on scripture. In order to meditate on scripture, truly chew every morsel of truth from the bible’s pages, we have to memorize scripture. These things are all related, and all important.
Mike Owczarek, the project director, affectionately referred to as “Big O”, gave tonight’s talk. It was focused on the theme of Christ being the name of our righteousness (Jeremiah 23:5-6). In essence, Big O preached the gospel tonight. I was impacted by the significance of the finished work on the cross—it has been DONE. We do nothing to gain righteousness; we do nothing to earn salvation; we only believe in Christ. Righteousness is received as a gift, delivered by grace, and done entirely by Christ. Jesus + nothing = everything. God’s righteousness is imputed upon us through Christ’s death upon the cross. I cannot stress the point.
It is this realization that radically changes the minds of us as believers. If there is one thing to know from this summer, this is the talk to remember.
Theology time is an optional gathering where we can all come with questions about the bible. It is a wonderful opportunity to ask difficult questions of someone with more wisdom and experience. It is a time to gain understanding and glean intelligence, and I personally really enjoy it. Tonight we were blessed by a theology time with Okey Landers, the pastor of Pine Drive Gospel. The man is a bible wielding evangelical preacher with a mission. He has biblical knowledge that is truly a blessing to partake in. He answered a waste array of questions from “is Hell a real place” to “what is the purpose of prayer”. I really wish I could go into depth about what he said, but I don’t even know where to start. The most important thing that I realized is that I want to know more about scripture. The unbelievable thing is that I almost think that theology time ended with me only having deeper and more profound questions—not really black and white answers.
This week has been the cross-cultural project week here on STP. The CCP team visits us for ten days before they take off to minister in India for a month. They will be teaching a physical education course at a university in New Delhi, and they will use their down time in order to spread the Gospel to the students. It is a great opportunity for them to experience a new culture and minister to one of the most desperate parts of the world.
Due to their presence, this week has had a large emphasis on missions, and it has really pressed us to think globally—perhaps even about becoming missionaries ourselves. The CCP members have been available for us to talk with, they visited our D-groups and gave us a summary of what they will be doing, and they encouraged us to pray for a heart that breaks for the lost nations.
This morning, we bid them farewell, and they are now returning to Minnesota to finish packing before they head to India on Tuesday. It has been fun to have them around, and they really help us realize the importance of missions. Keep them in your prayers as they go to preach the gospel.
Today’s verse is Acts 4:12 “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” While there is not enough space to describe all of the observations, interpretations, and conclusions of this passage, something in particular has really hit me. “There is salvation in no one else. Now it is not as if I had never heard this, but I have begun to think about it more deeply. If someone does not repent and put their faith in Christ, then they cannot have salvation. Therefore, we need to tell more people about Christ, that they may be saved. It is a cause for evangelism. I believe that this describes why CCP goes to India, because they want everyone to believe in Christ, so that they may be saved. As we prayed for the team before we said our farewells this morning, I started thinking about how little I seem to care about the salvation of others—why don’t I tell more people about Christ? What keeps me from sharing the gospel? Why doesn’t my evangelism reach farther than evangelism training on Wednesdays? The implications of this verse are powerful.
Today project students were given the “rare opportunity” to go to Rioz, a Brazilian steakhouse. Rioz is a very high-end steakhouse of never ending food. Usually the bill would run at about $50.00 a person. We were able to score a deal for half price. Now it may seem that having to pay $25.00 for one meal is excessive, but I would like to make a distinction between a meal and a feast. Eating at subway, chipotle, packing a lunch, going to McDonalds—those are all meals. Rioz is a feast.
The first coarse at Rioz is a salad bar. It is actually a 36-piece salad bar, which means that they have everything a person could possibly want to have. It was excessive. Salad mixes, shrimp, a cheese bar, salmon, rice, beans, and every vegetable I have ever known—all of this buffet style. Eat as much as you dare.
Next comes the real food: meat. There are 15 selections of steak, chicken, sausages, and pork served by waiters with skewers. Let me explain the system.
Each customer has a circular card (photo below). It works like a stoplight. Green=go; red=stop. Waiters walk around with meat on skewers. If your card is flipped green, they offer you some. If your card is red, then they don’t. Steaks are prepared to all levels, so I enjoyed well-done steaks as well as rare steaks. There is no limit to the amount of food that you can eat.
As these waiters are walking around with endless skewers of meat, additional waiters are refilling your drinks, offering sides such as potatoes, corn bread, Brazilian bread, and fried bananas (all included in the cost).
Furthermore, after giving you an adequate amount of time with the meat. Waiters come out with skewers of grilled pineapple covered in cinnamon—this is delicious. I need to find out how to make it.
Finally, after you have eaten your fill, they take away your plate. But wait; there is one thing more! Would you like chocolate cake or cheesecake for desert? I have never been so filled by a meal in my entire life.
As I finished my last slice of cheesecake after countless mouthfuls of delicious food, I cannot help but think that this Rioz feast is very similar to the spiritual food offered to us this summer. Endless platters are brought to us of filling delicious steak—we just have to enjoy the experience of eating it, and burst at the seams as we are filled by it. It really makes me hunger and thirst for righteousness—that I may know what it is like to be full in those terms as well as the physical fullness of Rioz.
Last week was a little bit different. It was relationship week. Monday night Matt and Lisa Reagan co-spoke about their story and what they have learned in their relationship.
Tuesday night Matt spoke more directly into what the bible says about dating, and then the guys and girls split off into breakout sessions. The men’s breakout session was a question/answer time. I don’t know what the girls did.
Wednesday night was the D-groups. My D-group focused on passages about women, and we talked about how we could be good brothers to our sisters in Christ.
Thursday was the synchronized swimming social, followed by girl-planned group dates.
Now we are back onto our usual schedule.
It is interesting to see how guys and girls interact during relationship week. Those in relationships with others on project are seen spending more time in what appear to be serious conversations. Those in relationships with someone not on project are seen talking on their phones more often than usual—I cannot imagine with whom they would be talking. Those that are not in a relationship seem to avoid the opposite gender in general. After all, hearing so much talk about relationships makes everyone nervous to date. One way or another, behavior seems to be effected in some way by relationships week.
Tonight was the synchronized swimming social. This is the social where every guys room performs a 2 minute synchronized swimming routine, and each girls room chooses a guys room, based on their performance, to take on a group date. Ten guys rooms planning a synchronized swim can become quite the spectacle, and last night a small crowd of strangers came to watch the ironic spectacle of guys performing swimming routines—let’s just say there is a reason that men’s synchronized swimming is not a high school sport. Nevertheless, my room did our best. We danced as fairies, took our shirts off and swung them over our heads, created a shark in a formation, and slowly rose for a dramatic belly flop at the end. We performed with success. The girls room that chose us took us on what I believe to be the best group date of the night.
First the girls took us to Home Depot (from a male perspective, this is already fulfilling). Here we split into pairs and each had ten minutes to find random items within the store and place them in a shopping cart. Then we switched carts and were given half an hour to put them back—this is not an easy game. Sadly, my partner and I lost. After half an hour, we still were unable to put all of the items back.
The best part came next. The girls took us out on the beach, where we mysteriously ran into another group date. Conflict broke out between the two of us, and conveniently, there were bags of food nearby. Peanut butter, Hershey’s syrup, whipped cream, honey, and other food items flew through the air as we creamed each other with edible ammunition in a food fight frenzy. After we ran out of food, we did the only natural thing—we ran into the ocean to try to clean off.
So with peanut butter still plastered to my face (it does not clean off in the ocean), I proclaim it a well-planned date, a night well spent, and another successful social.
The location for project could not be any better. We are at the small, but well located Garden City Inn. This is an Inn with directly bordering the ocean, in addition to having a pool and a deck. Here are some pics.
The girls occupy the whole second floor, and the guys are in the third as well as one room on the fourth floor. Each room has a balcony in the back, which views the pool, patio and ocean. The setup of our living quarters explains a fair amount of summer in the summer training project.
It really is a blessing to have the opportunity to be in this setting for the summer. A thanks to all that support us either financially or through prayer.
Friday mornings are bible study days. Both the North and South projects come together at the Garden City Chapel and listen to Matt Reagan’s instructions when it comes to studying the bible. The primary bible study method for the summer training project is the inductive method. This is a bible study method where we only examine a couple of verses at a time. First we make observations and ask questions based on our observations. Then we interpret using the context of the greater passage, the context of the book, and ultimately the context of the entire bible. Finally, we apply our interpretations. A bible study training session basically goes like this: Matt Reagan lectures on an important topic in terms of bible study, and then as a group we practice going through a passage with the inductive method. This past Friday, Matt Reagan walked us though bad reasons to study the bible. He wanted to dispel any misunderstandings as to why we study the bible. Then he gave us reasons we should study the bible. It was a very helpful lesson; I often find my motivations to be improper instead of good. I would encourage everyone to give it a listen; it should be posted online by the end of the week.
Thursday night was the project social, and the event was a boat social. What is a boat social? A boat social is a performance-based competition between the teams on project. Each team is to design a boat from materials given (a sheet of plywood, 2 20 gallon bins, and cardboard), and then perform an 8-minute skit in which the boat has to make it from one side of the pool to the other without sinking and with passengers. The first team to perform was The Outsiders. Their skit was a rendition of the Titanic; it involved an interesting combination of men playing the women roles and women playing the men roles, a basketball game, and a ship that never sank. It was wonderfully narrated by Andrew McNamera; overall was quite entertaining.
The next team up was Boom Goes the Dynamite. This team had a skit of Peter Pan. Their performance was very well done. They covered all the character groups: the lost boys, the mermaids, Tiger Lilly, the Pirates (Tim Anderson actually grew a handlebar mustache in preparation for his role as Captain Hook), and Tinker Bell. Tinker Bell was dramatically brought back to life by the chanting of “I do believe in fairies, I do, I do”, and some pyrotechnics surprised the judges with unexpected excitement.
Then came in the SWAG City team (Servant Workers At Garden City). They based their performance on a family vacation on a cruise line. It was a really great combination of singing, dancing, and down right fun moments. Wes Mouri lead the crew in a song about SWAG City, and Mike Owczarek saved a drowning victim (a reenactment of an actual occurrence this summer).
The last team to perform was We Are Who We Are. This team did an excellent performance based on The Most Dangerous Catch. The crabbing crew ran into numerous complications from shark attacks, to monsters of the ocean, to weather, all as their boat slowly sunk during their performance. They were the only team to fail to make it across the pool and back.
The male project staff members were the judges for the comopetition, and they voted the teams in these places: Titanic was fourth, The Deadliest Catch was third, the family vacation was second, and Peter Pan was first.