a vestige of thought...
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
Stop #2: Asbury UMC; Maitland, FL
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If you can believe it, our first stop is already over. After staying the night at a hotel in Chattanooga and, after sorting out a mix up regarding our arrival date in Florida, a night at Ashton's sister's house in Macon, GA, we made our way to the Asbury United Methodist Church in Maitland, Florida on Tuesday. We arrived around dinner time, so Bill-- the youth pastor-- and Brenda--the woman that Ashton and I were to stay with, ordered pizza and we all hung out in the youth room for awhile. Brenda and her husband, John, have three kids: Cierra (12), Paul (11) and Joshua (6). The whole family are amazing Christians, and staying with them has been really cool. That evening there was another mix up regarding where the guys were supposed to stay, so all find of us ended up staying in Brenda and John's small house.
Wednesday we spent all day at the beach with the youth group kids for surf camp. It had started the day before, but we jumped right in. Bill coordinated with a Christian surfing organization to bring in an experienced surfer to teach us. This beach, New Smyrna, was about an hour drive from the church. Once we got there, we started out with a devotional and then spent the rest of the day surfing, kayaking, or just hanging out in the water. I went out a couple of times to surf with an instructor, and I stood up on the board and once rode the wave all the way in! I hope that I have another chance to practice again, because it was really fun. That evening we were invited to stay at a beach house near Daytona for the night. The youth group was coming to spend the night there the next day. This house was beautiful, and we had such a great time hanging out there, first by ourselves and then with all the kids.
Thursday morning Ashton and I got up really early to watch the sun rise on the beach. I've always wanted to do that. It was cloudy, so the sunrise wasn't as amazing as it could have been, but I still loved it. When we got back, we discovered that our van had a flat tire. Fortunately, Allen and Andrew are awesome and were able to change it right away. We spent that day at the beach in Daytona. I got pretty badly sunburned the day before, so I didn't swim Thursday. It hurt to even put my swimsuit on. Mostly I split my time between wading at the beach and hanging out at the Hite's beach house. In the evening we watched Noah's Arc, a surfing movie about a group of surfers from the Outer Banks who all became Christians and now have been touring, showing the movie and sharing Christ with other surfers. It was pretty cool, but I was so tired that I nearly fell asleep in the middle of it. I was really excited when the leaders decided that lights out was at 11:00. After team time, I got to bed around midnight and didn't have to get up until 8 or 8:30.
Friday we spent a little more time at the beach before packing up and heading back to Maitland. Once there we were able to check our email at the church and then had a grand ol' time at Walmart before Ashton and I went back to Brenda and John's and the boys headed over to another host home. We didn't start dinner until nearly 8, but after we ate we sat at the table and talked until 1:30 in the morning. One by one each of the kids fell asleep, and their parents would carry them to bed. It was pretty funny.
I was pretty sad the first night the guys went to a separate host home. We've had some fantastic team times this week, and I missed all five of us hanging out together in the evenings. Pretty much, I just have a fantastic team. :) Our first team time of the week was the night we all stayed at John and Brenda's. I was a feeling pretty stressed over my treasurer duties that evening, and in addition to all our other prayers, each person prayed for me and were all incredibly encouraging to me. The first night we stayed in Daytona we all went out to the back porch of the house where we stayed and listened as Allen and Wes got out their guitars and had a jam session. I love listening to those guys play. I especially love journaling while they play. I wish I could play guitar myself, but perhaps writing is just my (quiet) way of joining in. Some pretty cool writings have come out of those journaling times while the guys jam. Our team time the next night was great as well. After the kids had lights out, the five of us crossed the street and took a long walk on the beach. We stood in the waves and prayed for a while... I can't really come up with any other words for that time. Good stuff.
On Saturday, we acquired a bunch of free tickets to the Holy Land Experience in Orlando. This was definitely a highlight of the week. We saw several shows, including "Praise Throughout the Ages" and a reenactment of the crucifixion. By far the coolest part, though, was the tour through The Scriptorium, a building housing dozens of old, Bibles in a number of different languages (including Latin), in addition to several other historical books, such as a first edition of John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress.
Sunday we went to the contemporary service at Asbury UMC and performed a skit to go along with the sermon. Oh man, if all acting were like this, I would take it up professionally. Our skit, intending to demonstrate how the foundation of a family should be Christ, involved a father (Allen) teaching his teenaged daughter (Ashton) to drive with Grandpa (Wes) and a younger brother and sister (Andrew and me) in the back seat. Practicing and performing it was so much fun, and involved Andrew and I beating each other a lot. Hehe.
This week I have learned (or am learning):
~how to identify each member of my team by their body odor
~there are so many Godly people who have so much to share if I am willing to just shut up and listen.
~sunscreen goes bad after a year. If it's been sitting in a closet for 2-3 years, it's not going to prevent much sunburn.
~when you're riding the top of the wave, stand up! Freaking out and clinging onto the board is not surfing, and is not cool.
Andrew and his bunny (at Ashton's sister's house)
For Ashton's birthday (last Tuesday) we wrote "Happy Birthday Ashton" and "Honk if you love Ashton" on the van. We had to take off the letters before we started driving, so we put them in Ashton and Wes instead.
Allen at the beach.
That little dot out there is me on a surf board. No one saw me stand up, sadly, so I'm just sort of hanging on for dear life in this picture.
A nice snapshot of my sunburn.
Snake Wilcox and Sneaky Feet Benningfield
A couple of girls from the youth group being silly. I always laugh at this picture, because right after I took it someone came up and said, 'Hey look, white trash!"
The Temple- part of the HUGE miniature of Jerusalem circa 66 AD at the Holy Land Experience.
Me and my buddy Joshua.