Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Youth In Motion: Snow Camp Video


 Are you looking for a little glimpse into what our youth get up to at Snow Camp?

Check out the video of their amazing weekend away!






Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Senior Youth Snow Camp

Guest Post by Brian Austin (youth leader)

More than once, Snow-Camp has been celebrated in half-frozen mud, but this year it fully lived up to its name. We rolled into Riverview Bible Camp near Scone at about 5:30 P.M. on Friday. Minus the bus, every vehicle was packed with bags and bodies, kids wound up and raring to go. The more “mature” types were also pretty keyed up, although many of us had already put in a long day. We’d made an earlier trip with sound equipment, cardboard and carpeting to help keep feet dry. – And food! Do you know how much it takes to feed a bunch of teens for a weekend? Everyone got somewhat settled, then we headed to the gym.

We started with a few announcements followed by a surprise Birthday Party for someone reaching that magic age when the government offers an early pension. I did say “Senior” Youth, didn’t I? But these teens are a wonderful bunch and I’d be a proud Grandpa to any or all of them.

Jasmine Koch and her team led us in worship at each session. For our first session Mike Krotz read scripture passages and the limited background information the Bible gives about Barabbas (the murderer released during Jesus’ trial when Jesus was sent to the Cross). Then Barabbas himself, somehow bridging 2000 years, shared his view of events surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus. Special speakers, Yorge & Melissa Von Hatten Baer shared with openness and vulnerability before we broke into smaller groups for more in-depth discussion.

Saturday and Sunday mornings saw leaders crowding around the coffee pot before an early meeting and prayer time, then youth devouring pancakes, toast and cereal. Basketballs threatened tables of food in the gym, as well as heads and chairs. Rousing games of Dutch Blitz had hands slapping and voices shouting. The wildest game, exhausting in knee-deep snow had two teams defending snow towers. Even our senior Pastor got into the fray. One of our younger youth seemed to find sitting on Pastor Jason warmer than sitting in the snow itself, and took great pride in his achievement. The old guy of the weekend isn’t sure he wants to be remembered for repeatedly attacking his Pastor, dragging him off the tower and throwing him into a snow-bank. He is also pretty sure that some games weren’t meant for Grandpas.

Rebecca Grierson braved nasty road conditions to bring our Saturday night banquet, made even more delicious with the appetites our romp in the snow created. Semi-Formal attire did not dampen enthusiasm for wild and crazy pictures, the portrait studio presided over by Heather Winkels and Kristina Dyck.

Yorge & Melissa shared twice on Saturday and again Sunday morning. We had great fun and a wonderful spirit prevailed with an openness, honesty and vulnerability that enriched youth and leaders alike. It’s not always that fun and spiritual richness happen together, so we are truly thanking God.  Our final session included a quiet reflective time, with six stations youth and leaders could visit as they chose. These included: “Give it to God,” “Cross Training,” “A Word of Encouragement,” “Prayer Requests,” “Items of Praise,” and “Communion.” Tears could be seen in youth and adult eyes a number of times.


Thank You. . .

  • to Mike and Karen Krotz for leadership. It takes a team to make a retreat like this work, but every team needs leadership. Yours is guided by a love for God and a love for every one of these kids.
  • to all volunteers, those who stayed for the full weekend and those who came in to help with one or more meals.
  • to those who prayed for us.
  • to Allan and Marie Edgcumbe for providing and maintaining a wonderful facility where God’s presence is always invited.
  • to each teen. It really is great fun being with you. We learn so much from you any time we let ourselves.
  • Most of all, Thank You to God, for meeting with us, for safety and protection, for touching hearts and minds.  

{stay tuned for photos and a video from the event}

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Ghana 2014

A Missions Update from Neal & Aggie Stretch

Imagine the very thought of 'seeing' 3,500 children in under two weeks; traveling to 8 different villages to set up a clinic; making some sense of the culture and history of a place. 

A mission trip is many things: absorbing unfamiliar sounds, smells, noises, scenes, dialect.  More closely, embracing people's sorrows, joy, stories long past, current dilemmas. On a mission trip one must cooperate with a team of seemingly like-minded individuals.  Prayer, planning and much good will made this mission trip a success.

The team, made up of 7 Canadians and many more Ghanian doctors and nurses delivered care to 3,500 students and staff.  After 10 years of visiting these same villages, many of the students were healthy, requiring only deworming medicine, vitamins and a kind word.

Narious and Joseph, both of whom have recently graduated from Accra Medical School, were part of the team.  They, along with 3 other medical students, had been supported by doctors from the Hanover Area so they could complete their studies. Monies were supplied for their tuition and boarding.  They in turn, offer their expertise to under-serviced areas in Ghana.

Our connection to IN Ghana staff continues to deepen.  Some nurses have been on the field with us 5 times.  Cromwell headed up the team.  We have known him for the 10 years we have been part of their wonderful organization.

We appreciated the glory of finding a pair of eyeglasses in a box of hundreds.   Students breaking into beaming smiles, turning their heads in wonder, then reading the list on the board, 'Lord, peace, desk, school, love'.  We were moved by the young teen who made her way to the clinic with a terrible wound on her foot; the 2 year old with a broken arm that had not been set properly.  There was much chuckling in the dispensary, figuring out language and the best way to entertain those waiting. 

A visit to Cape Coast and the Slave Castle plus a walk in the tree canopy, 100s of meters above the ground, left some of us a little shaken, maybe more thoughtful.


Our last stop was at a fishing village.  It had all the earmarks of paradise.  Aqua surf foaming onto a pristine beach.  Ancient palm trees arched by wind and weather.  Colourful fishing boats in the shade.  Observing and chatting with the villagers I realized the environment did not match their plight.  The encounter pushed me back to our first visit in 2003, where I had my first view into the injustice of poverty and the poverty of injustice. 

We were struck by the fine, sensitive work IN Ghana has participated in for many years, bringing young boys off the fishing boats and into school. 

We were careful to debrief with the team in the field.  We have met since.  Several of us have needed more intense assistance to be properly debriefed.  There is such an accumulation of memories after sundry trips.  (We have offered debriefing services to the local mission team headed for Haiti, plus information to Barrie Mutrie who often goes to Zimbabwe).

There are many to thank for the richness of this experience.  Above all we acknowledge God's persistent  provision and unfailing love for all of us, His precious children.