My YouthWorks Summer: Week 0

Over the coming weeks I’ll be reviving posts from my YouthWorks summer adventure in Milwaukee. For those that missed these posts, I hope they’ll provide some deeper insight into both my past and present. And for those that have read these recaps before, I’ll be including more pictures this time around and add some postscripts to keep things fresh. Excited to relive this journey once more.

So without further ado, let’s travel back in time to May 2011 as my summer journey was just starting to unfold…

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This summer I’m working as a service coordinator with YouthWorks, a youth missions organization that sets up week-long camps for teenagers all across North America.

I’ve been placed in the community of Milwaukee, Wisconsin — a long stone’s throw from my home outside Los Angeles. Over the summer, several hundred teens will flock here and lock arms with several ministries in the area as we impact this community for Christ.

And they’ll have a little traditional camp fun too.

YouthWorks: Welcome to RAMP sign

This past week I endured a fairly intense “RAMP” training session in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Here I met my Milwaukee team of four, and was almost immediately overwhelmed by God’s grand orchestration. He brought four people together from all over the country and we seemed to hit it off right away with each other. I even got to meet my site director in southern California a couple days before training began. Throw in a girl from Minnesota and another from western Pennsylvania, and we have ourselves a team. It was a truly exhausting training week, but we pulled through the packed schedule and learned a lot about our jobs this summer.

YouthWorks: First Picture of 2011 Milwaukee Team

On the last night of our long training week, all 100 of us gathered together for one last night of worship. To close the evening, our regional YouthWorks director read the famous foot-washing passage involving Peter and Jesus. Throughout the training week we’d learned that we’ll be implementing a foot washing service at the end of each summer week, commissioning adult youth leaders who will then wash the feet of and commission their own church’s youth.

Up until this moment, this whole foot-washing business had been something to be implemented several weeks from now.

Suddenly, I was going to experience it firsthand.

Soon, the regional director was washing the feet of all the area directors under him, who then washed the feet of the site directors under them, who then washed the feet of all the coordinators under them. My site director had actually flown back to California for his college graduation earlier that day, so he wasn’t present to wash the feet of his team; he left us some incredible written words and our area director washed our feet in his stead.

Long before I felt my own feet being washed, an emotional thunderstorm was rocking my soul. All around me, dozens upon dozens of feet were being washed and commissioned for the summer. While incredible worship songs played in the background, people with authority were kneeling down and washing the feet of those underneath them in the employee hierarchy.

I don’t think I’d ever experienced anything quite like it in my life; I’m still touched by it all.

YouthWorks: 2011 Milwaukee Team with Cherry Spoon

Now that training week in Minneapolis is done, it’s prep week in Milwaukee. My team arrived here a couple days ago and we have a lot to do this week in preparation of our first batch of kiddies arriving on Sunday. I can get easily overwhelmed and have experienced such feelings multiple times since arriving in Milwaukee. But little by little we’re getting things done and making progress.

During this prep week, I look forward to connecting deeper with my teammates. They’re a solid group of young adults, and I fall more in love with them daily.

I’m somewhat anxious for the rest of this summer, but I’m convinced this is where God wants me, and that He can far surpass my expectations for this summer (Eph. 3:20).

To be continued…

TMZ PS: I look up at our first staff pictures, back when our relationships with each other were only days old, and I’m immediately overcome with a wide gamut of emotions. We honestly had no idea what we’d signed up for and what we were getting ourselves into. Had no idea we’d average only 2-3 showers per week. No idea how tired we’d get and how fast. No idea how emotionally broken down we’d get at various points in the summer.

Such an innocent time, unaware of all the upcoming misery we’d experience together. But little did we know of all the glorious experiences we’d also share together.

Training was crazy hard, but that was only the beginning; it’d get much harder.