Celebrating the End of the Summer

It has been a great summer. Sure we have a couple of more weeks before school starts, but with our interns being done this week, and with me at football camp (starting today!), summer programming is basically over.

We have enjoyed each week. God has opened up so many opportunities for us to partner with churches, organizations, and individuals, so that we can serve this community.

Besides continuing to volunteer in different activities around town (including the youth development program at New Life House of Love), we also had a couple of special events this past week — a trip to Savannah and a community cookout.

Savannah

In discussions with leaders from Community Bible Church on how we can strengthen our ministry relationship, they invited us down to a fellowship / Bible study event they have for their high school group. So, a dozen of us — 2 adults (Joanna & I), 3 college students (the interns), 4 teenagers (from Allendale), and 3 kids (ours) –  squeezed into two vehicles and caravanned a pleasant 90 minute drive to Savannah. Well, it was pleasant for us, but the car of 5 young men had its air conditioning go out about 15 minutes into the trip.

Our group walked around historic downtown Savannah for a couple of hours, enjoying the variety of stores. Or rather, we enjoyed the stores’ A/C and a smany free samples as we could find. We treated the group to gelato or ice cream. But I could hardly believe some of them went all that way to choose rainbow ice cream over fruity or chocolatey gelato. Oh, well.

Then, we met up with the group from CBC. The cookout and swim party (in a small lake) was hosted by the parents of a teenager who came to Allendale at the end of June. It was nice to meet her parents, and see a half-dozen other students who served in Allendale.

Why was this trip important?

  1. To build and strengthen the relationships between this church and Allendale residents.
  2. To show that these relationships need to be reciprocal, not unidirectional.
  3. To give some Allendale students (including our own kids) a fun experience outside of our area. Sure, we were hot in Savannah, but we would have all been hot in Allendale, but with nothing to do.

Cookout

Teaming up with New Life House of Love and other community residents, we hosted an “End of Summer Celebration” cookout at a local park. Free hot dogs and drinks were provided, and residents could bring chips or desserts to share.

About 125-130 people attended, including close to 100 kids. We played on the playground, plus had games of kickball, football, and basketball. A local pastor remarked how good it is to have these events, where children can see positive things happen. Often, kids go to cookouts that included heavy alcohol consumption, negative words, and other “adult” behavior.

Looking forward to participating in more positive community events like this one.

The End?

It will be an odd week for our summer. I’ll be at camp all week. Joanna will be gone for part of it. So the interns will be on their own to finish up their ministry opportunity.

For my family, these opportunities don’t end. But sadly, they will be ending for the interns. At the least, the relationships they formed with Allendale residents will be taking a break. You’ll hear concluding thoughts from each of them on this blog in August, but I wanted to sum up the impact they got to have with some quotes from children who attended our Elevate Summer Camp (these were written during their daily journal times):

“Today was a fantastic day because I had my first time in camp…. I listen to the adult and paid attention to whatever they had to say.”
“I enjoy summer camp because I learned that summer camp is a place where children learn new games and do fun activities…. I can’t wait to come tomorrow.”
“I like playing outside. I like playing Lego. I like reading.”
“I love when summer camp starts and I get to see all of my favorite leaders.”
“Today a leader helped me calm down before I got in a fight.”
“We all did our best and worked together today.”
“I love being here with you guys. It’s not cool when we leave you.”
“My friends made me laugh. My day was awesome. I’m happy to be at camp with my friends…. I would love to have camp all summer, but can’t. Camp was not always about who won but who did their best.”
“The only thing I don’t like about this camp is when you meet a friend and you start a good friendship, then you find out that they have to go.”

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2 responses to “Celebrating the End of the Summer”

  1. Karen Allen says :

    Great job Joey, and all your interns, volunteers and staff! Together we will all see an improvement in the lives of children in Allendale!!!!!!!!!Have a great day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • joeyespinosa says :

      TThanks, Karen. There are already so many good things going on; it’s a pleasure to be a part of it.

      First day of football camp. On the bus, heading to our first practice. Excited!!

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