THURSDAY, JULY 12
We woke up today with a decision that was influenced by "the moms" but of which took very little arm twisting for me to agree. We decided that we would use this day as our last day to do all the mission work we have been involved in and use Friday to go to Cedar Point. That way, we can enjoy the day without having to be worried about driving 4 hours in the dark. Instead we can have fun at Cedar Point, then go crash at the Nehemiah Mission, clean up the whole mission site, then pack up and leave on Saturday morning, arriving at the church in the afternoon. It did not take much for them to convince me that this was a really, really, really good idea.
So we started out our day knowing that this is the last full day of our work.
The VBS team went back to their work site in the morning. We continued the work of painting a lot of the trim on a Spanish UMC church just a few miles down the road. The kids really cleaned up the look and feel of the building. It looked sharper and well landscaped. In the neighborhood it was in, it definitely stood out as a beautiful property, which is exactly what we wanted to do. We were unable to get all of the painting done since the last part required tall extension ladders. You can only get so much done if you want to do it right by cleaning and scraping before painting and making sure everyone stays safe on the ladders.
I had a chance to quickly go to the other site to pick up some tools in one of our other vans. I got to see the roof that the other team has been working on. It was amazing to see how much they accomplished in just 4 days. They completely ripped off the old roofing. Replaced any damaged plywood. And then re-shingled the whole thing! Roofing is tough work but these teens did it like pros and with a great attitude.
The teens that helped with VBS did a great job. If there was one thing that trumped all the other aspects of VBS it was the relationships that were made. Many of the kids that came were recent immigrants from Liberia. There was some tension at the beginning of the week with this group being bullied by the African-America neighborhood kids. But this has been an on-going problem throughout the Summer and the people at the Nehemiah Mission took a "no tolerance" position with it immediately. Our teens made some really great friendships with these neighborhood kids that came all week long. There were lots of hugs at the end of the day.
That evening we took the kids out for dinner and to the beach. We went to a popular local restaurant called MELTS. It had gigantic sandwiches with big sides. The kids had a lot of fun. Hardly anyone could finish everything on their plate. Including me! We got the fried Twinkie dessert and all sung happy birthday to Devin.
After that we went to Huntington Beach and just enjoyed swimming and wrestling in the lake. It was a beautiful night for a sunset and a group picture!
FRIDAY, JULY 12
We took off for Sandusky, Ohio and spent the day at Cedar Point. At first, some of the boys were upset with me because I did not just let everyone loose on the park like they do at King's Island. Instead, I wanted to keep everyone together so we could all hang out together and experience all there is as a group. After about the second ride the pouting stopped and we all had a blast. I have done the "check-in" thing at Cedar Point with other youth groups and it is not fun for the leaders because inevitably there are kids who show up late or "forget" and there is always at least one kid who got separated from his/her buddies and has been wandering the park by themselves. So it was just best to stay all together. At the end of the day I think all agreed it was a good plan. This really ended up being an amazing day for us to do this. We had perfect weather and extremely low crowds. The wait at most of the lines was less than 15 minutes. We got to ride everything that they wanted. Leigh Herrmann almost lost it on the SkyHawk. The concept of this ride is like a giant swing. Lucky for me she held it together but swore never again once the ride came to a halt. We also had a lot of fun watching each of the kids go on the Dragster: 120 MPH, strait up and straight down, 420 feet high. The G-force impact on everyone at the beginning of the ride was always funny to watch as it catches everyone by surprise.
SATURDAY, JULY 13
We woke up and spent a good amount of the morning cleaning up the entire facility so that it was ready to go for the next week's group of mission trippers. A great mystery was also solved. Around Wednesday, we discovered that the Cargo Van keys were missing. I try to be meticulous about making sure I know who has what, and any keys I have are either in my pocket or have a designated spot by my bed. So the missing keys were either connected with me or Leigh. We thoroughly went through ALL of our stuff multiple times and could not find them. I contacted D&L Leasing and had Stacey Mellett pick up their spare keys and bring them down since she was picking up Rachel on Saturday anyhow. It turns out that the keys were under Jackson's bed! Leigh bought something on the night we went out to Crocker Park. She put her keys and phone in a bag of stuff she purchased. When retrieving them, she only pulled out one set of keys and gave the bag to Jackson who then put it by his bed. It was such a relief to figure out what happened and get the keys back! No luck on my phone though. I had to take care of that one once I got home.
Overall, I think the teens had a great, great experience. I loved the adults who came on the trip. They were a lot of fun and added a lot to the whole week. The Nehemiah Mission is doing a great work in Cleveland. I wish I saw even more interest in the big mission organizations showing interest in establishing Cleveland as a mission site.