Sunday, April 17, 2016

My YFJ experiance 2015

(just a heads up. if your name is misspelled, I am sooooo sorry!)

Wow! How much happiness, How many tears. How many glad smiles, and how many forced. How

many blessings, and how many unperceived. How many Joys and how many trials. How many lessons

learned, and knowledge gained. How many friends made and souls reached. I could never come to the

end of what YFJ and this summer has come to mean to me! Yet because of the many questions that

people have asked me about my experience, I will attempt to place it in a nutshell for you to read here.
First off, I'll give a little background to my leaving Arkansas and flying off to Washington. I had

never heard of YFJ. That is, until Leasa Hodges came and gave a little talk about it here at OHA/C in

the spring of 2015. When I heard about it I was interested, but didn't give it much thought as we live on

rice and beans, and certainly didn't have $700 for YFJ. Besides, I already had plans for my summer. I

was earning my way to Young Disciple camp and ASI convention. But God had another plan. It just so

'happened' that my dear Mother was asked to drive Ms. Leasa to the airport. How surprised was I when

I heard my mothers voice on the phone telling me all about YFJ and how I had been offered a

scholarship when Ms. Leasa hadn't even met me. I was immediately excited!
Yet money was still a large issue. Who has $800 dollars floating around for a flight to

Washington? Well, It just so 'happened' that my Daddy dear was able to find a flight for $500! And yes,

it just so 'happened' that I had $500 floating around! Well, not exactly floating around, but in the bank,

which I happen to think is better:)
Ok, great. But I had never flown before. Was I supposed to go by myself? That was kind of scary!

Well, as you can probably guess, the 'happenings' continued. Nathan received a call. A call from Vivian

Seiler, the assistant director of ASI YFJ. She asked if Nathan would consider being the dean of boys at

YFJ. The only problem was that Nathan already had several jobs lined up for the summer. But after a

few calls, he found out that he was not needed after all. So he was free to accept the position of boys

dean. Wowzie, so now I had the bestest big brother in the world to go with me on my first airplane ride

and to a place where I new absolutely no one.
Before I go further I must explain something. When I say “It just so 'happened'” I mean that it just

so happened that God just so happened to plan that it would just so happen to me. In other words it was

planned. :)
Anyway, first day of YFJ, and I was still slightly apprehensive. I had already been there for a few

days and I new two things I didn't want. Number one: Linwood church assignment. Number two: Laura

as my Bible worker. Well, as you have already discovered, God has a wonderful sense of humor. Yes,

you guessed it, I was both placed in the Linwood church and had Laura for my Bible worker. And by

the end of the program I learned that that was the church, and the Bible worker, that where best for me.

And I thoroughly enjoyed it!
My Bible worker was wonderful! On the first day of outreach she gave me and my wonderful

outreach partner, Lacey, Journals. Instructing us that we where to write in them all of our outreach

experiences to look back on when when we where having a down day. All the experiences, where we

saw God lead, where we new He had been there. I distinctly remember writing a list of prayer requests

in the back of mine. It wasn't a very long list, only two items. I wanted to see one of my Bible study

Contacts decide to get baptized, and I wanted to be used to reach out to some one. More about that later.
Living in the dorm at UCA was a totally new experience for me. I had never had a roommate

before and never spent much time away from home. My very first day I received my roommate. And

she was the best roommate I could have asked for. Vashti and I both wanted our sleep and both wanted

a tidy room. So our room was (almost) always spotless. When Miss Julie (our dean) came around to say

lights out was soon, our light where almost always already out and our breathing even and steady. Lets

just say we made life easier for the deans as some of the girls didn't like to go to bed on time:) But she

was also a great roomie in other ways. We got along grandly and had lots of long talks. Also her quiet,

daily devotions and her christlike life inspired me.
One of the students who came was having a tough time, I could tell. He was really struggling

with the Holy Spirit and was so miserable in doing so that he had quite the attitude. Within the first day, for various reasons, he was asked to leave. We thought that was the end of it. But in two days or so he

was back. He went up front and asked our forgiveness, saying that he had had a complete heart change

and that God had finally gotten through to him. But we could tell he was still struggling. It was then

that I really saw the unity, teamwork, and Christlikeness of that group of young people. They banded

together around him, assuring him that they forgave him and where praying for him. Then followed

days of fasting and prayer for him. It was truly beautiful. At the end we got to see him recommit his life

to Christ in baptism.
Their was one slightly crazy girl. Crazy in a good way I mean. She was happy and bouncy. But

not really my type. Then about halfway through the program,

she came back from her church site in tears. Like, really crying. We thought something terrible had

happened and we didn't know what to do. She asked Ms. Julie for a place to pray, and was led to the

front of the chapel, in the fading beams of light. There she poured out her heart to the Lord and gave

her life over to Him. It turned out that she had come for all the wrong reasons. She wanted close friends

and fun. But it turned out that nothing could fill that hole in her heart but God. And she finally realized

it there with Christ. Something had happened, Christ had touched her. We also saw that sweet girl

I could go on and on, but I think I'll share one quick story of my own. We are told, that during the

meetings, we are to act like we don't know each other. We are to go mingle with the people. Talk to

them and make them feel welcome. But during church services we usually do sit together. Which is a

big relief for me as the effort of moving out of my shell and talking to people I've never met before is

slightly out of my comfort zone. On this particular Sabbath I walked in and was on my way to the front

row to sit with my friends. That is, I was on my way until I saw that one lady on the back row, all by

herself, and looking terribly alone and scared. That's when the battle inside me took place.
God: Look at that lady.

Me: Yep, I see her (as I continue in my way)
God: Stop

Me: (stops) Why?

God: Have you seen her here before?

Me: Well..... Nooooo, I think she's a visitor.

God: Exactly.

Me: Exactly what?

God: You know what I mean.

Me: But why should I go sit by her? For once I'm free to sit with my friends and for once I intend to do it!

God: Are you sure?

Me: Yes I'm sure! Well..... pretty sure anyway.

God: You really ought to sit with her.

Me: I know.

God: If you know, then what are you going to do about it?

Me: Well.........

God: You know what I would have you to do!

Me: Yes I know, but......

God: But what?

Me: Yes God, I'm on my way.

God: Thats better, I'm proud of you.

Me: Now if you will just give me the strength...

God: But of Course. I'm always by your side!

After this silent battle of the heart I slipped into the pew beside her and began to make small talk

with her. As I talked with her, it turned out that she was a visitor, and she was pretty uncomfortable and

lonely. In the middle of song service she asked to be excused and left the church for a few minutes.

When she came back it wasn't very long before she burst into tears. She sat there sobbing for a few

minutes while I sat there speechless not sure what to do. I wracked my brain trying to think where in

the church they might keep tissues. I was still trying to come up with a solution to the tissue problem

when she asked for one and I had to go look for one In earnest. I finally was able to find something

suitable and brought it back to her. That poor lady cried through the entire church service. At the end of

the service I talked to her a little bit and this is what she told me. “Thank you Soooo much for sitting by

me! I suffer from depression and anxiety attacks, and here I felt welcomed and loved”. I went home

amazed at how God had worked even though I had been so unwilling!
Wow, I've just sat here telling stories, and half of you don't know what YFJ is, or how it works!

Well, YFJ (Youth For Jesus) is a part of ASI that was started to give young people the tools that they

need to make a difference in their church. To be the future AND the present of the church. To make a

difference in there own lives and in the lives of others. Its a month long program starting July 6 and

going through August 9. Months before the YFJ kids get there (theres about 40 of us every year), the

Bible workers are hard at work in the area. They work with churches, do surveys in the community for

Bible study contacts, and work with those contacts for awhile before we get there. Once we get there a

Bible worker is assigned 2-4 of us and they are the ones that we do Bible work with every afternoon.

There where six churches that we worked in this year. In each of those six churches in the spokane WA

area we had an evangelistic series. Each church had two student speakers with the pastors preaching for

some of the nights. YFJ also helped out at Your Best Pathway To Health this year. We did Bible studies

with our Bible workers and surveys as well.
Heres a quick rundown of our schedule.

6:00 Rise and shine! (this was a lot earlier for some of us!)

7:30 Breakfast (prepared by an early rising crew, which included me for part of the time)

8:45 Worship (have to give the cleanup crew some time to get the kitchen in tip-top shape before


9:00 class. We had speakers come in such as Jack Phillips, Lee Vendon, Sean Nebblett, and many other

wonderful speakers.

12:00 Chores, for those of us who weren't on breakfast duty.

1:00 Lunch.

2:15 everyone gathers for outreach. We gather in our church groups and pray. Then we gather together

in a big circle and sing

2:30 off with our Bible workers to the field.

5:30 Bible workers drop us off for supper at our various churches. This is also our time to decide what

we are doing for special music and practice for it.

6:30 everyone to there post, whether it be greeter, registration, prayer room, or anything else.

7:00 Meetings start. Those of us who are doing main sermons, health talks, special music, or children's

meetings, are starting to get a tad nervous at this point. Although I think health talks where my favorite

part of what I was able to do at my church.

8:00 meetings end. Home now right? Nope! We wait until everyone has left.

9:15-10:15 everyone is finally back at the dorm.

9:15-10:15 basically when everyone has returned we gather for worship. Girls with Ms. Julie, and Boys

with their dean who happens to be my big brother.

When worship is done we all scamper to bed! At least thats how its supposed to work! Some of the

girls (and I assume the guys) didn't like to cooperate all of the time.

Wooooow, busy schedule right? Yep! I got an average of 6 or 7 hours of sleep every night, give or take a little bit. But it was all totally worth it! I just suggest that you began taking vitamin C's and such about a year in advance to get your immune system in tip top shape! Thats another thing. I didn't realize the extent of their wish to keep us well until I started to get sick myself. For a few days I didn't even tell anyone. I kept on working and going on outreach even though I was losing my voice and I didn't feel to good. But when I got a fever I decided I should at least tell some one. So I told them. After I was done with my chores and it was almost time to leave on outreach. I know, bad me! I can hear you scolding me, and I plead guilty! Well, I was asked to stay back, of course, and I got a nice long rest. But I went to the meeting that night anyway. Yes, yes, double bad me! When I got back the medical personal was there in force. Well, the Assistant Dean that is. Christina had me all fixed up in no time. On the way back to my room I was weighted down with charcoal, vit. C, Yuck (yes, thats an actual medicine, and Yuck is its actual name!), and throat coat tea. Wowzie, despite the fact that I lost my voice for a week and a half, at least otherwise I got all better quickly!
Lets see. I can't end without talking about the music at YFJ! If there wasn't music it just wouldn't be YFJ! There where probably 10-15 people who brought there instruments and at least that many who, like myself, played, but didn't bring their instruments. Everybody who didn't play sang, and sang with great gusto! I can't count how many times we sang Onward Christian Soldiers, Soldiers Of Christ Arise, Battle Hymn of the Republic, Never Part Again, and Oh yes, those Christmas songs. There where several kids who loved to sing the christmas songs. I thought it was rather nice to sing christmas songs in July, but not everybody agreed with me. I have no idea why (look of innocence on face).
Oh, the free days! I can't forget the free days! When I first got there, YFJ hadn't even started. But those free days where filled with cleaning and getting to know my roommate. But other then that we had two free days every week. Sunday and Thursday. On our first free day we went swimming at a lake in Idaho. That was a lot of fun! I was pretty tired though, so I only swam for a few minutes before falling fast a sleep on the dock. I didn't wake up until kids started running past me toward a paddle boat that had just been lent us. And, since of course I wouldn't miss it, I woke up quickly and joined them. That was a lot of fun, although at first we mostly went around in circles.
Then we went Ice skating. I really enjoyed that! I had only been ice skating twice before, but I enjoyed doing amateur twirls, and making it around the rink in 38 sec. But that was when I was starting to get sick, so toward the end I mostly just rested.
Then there was inner-tubing. That was quite the experience for me! I had never been inner-tubing before, so when the man handed me the larger inner tube, I thought nothing of it. Now, those of you who know me, know that I am rather short. So when I was in the tube I tried to reach the water but I couldn't. Not that well at least. Because I couldn't reach the water very well, I had to go with the flow, which happened to flow toward the shore all down the river in my case. At least for the first part. Christina kept having to tow me to the middle in her inflatable kayak. At last I caught up with some friends who had slightly longer arms and was able to hold on to there tubes while they kept us moving. But then, in the rapids, I was unable to hold on to their raft. So I was on my own again. By this time I was at about the second to the last rapids when I came up with a brilliant idea. I would sit on the very front edge of my tube and hold on to the handles behind me. That way I could steer with my feet quite well and yet still have stability from leaning backwards. Or so I thought. This worked remarkably well at first. I past person after person as I propelled my self along backwards. It worked well, until I turned around to go down the last rapids. Then as I was just entering the rapids, my feet hit a rock and it flipped me over into the icy water. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Other then the frigid water, and being battered against the rocks, and being a self-taught swimmer, and having everyone thinking I was drowning, It was great fun! I'd do it again. That is, when the water is warmer!
We also had a slip and slide twice. That was a lot of fun, other then burning my feet on the hot cement of the parking lot at the top of the hill while waiting for a chance to slip and slide. I never did make it all the way to the very end though I tried with all my might. But it was so much fun that the other didn't really matter.
Near the end of the meetings in our churches we had the appeal for baptism. Do you remember what I requested near the beginning? I just wanted God to use me to bring one person to him and for them to give their lives to Him in baptism. Well, during the whole YFJ program I, and my Bible worker, and been going to visit one of her contacts. Her name was Kacey. Kacey had had a rough life, but when she prayed to God to guide her, moments later Laura showed up on her doorstep. Kacey is one of the sweetest people you could have asked for. As we did Bible studies with her, it was a joy to see her grow closer and closer to God. Well, on the day of the baptismal appeal Laura went and brought Kacey to the meetings as usual. She listened thoughtfully throughout the meeting, but when the appeal began, down went her head to the classic head-down-in-hands-during-appeal position. Laura and I gave each other understanding looks and began praying with all our might. We prayed and prayed and prayed! I can't tell you how hard we prayed! Slowly Kacey lifted her head and more slowly still rose from the chair and made her way to the front. I felt like shouting for joy! Do you remember my notebook? The one I had written my prayer requests in? Do you remember how I had written that I wanted to be used to touch someone and I wanted a contact of mine to decide to be baptized? Well by this time I had become fast friends with Kacey. I had sat with her at every meeting and together we had grown. She had touched me just as much as I seem to have touched her. And then she decided to be baptized! Oh the joy! I didn't get to see her be baptized, but only because we had to leave before she had finished with her baptismal studies. That gave me such a thrill, I can't even tell you. I went around after she went up for the call telling all my friends. It was so thrilling!!
After the meetings where finished, off we went to Pathways to Health. Pathways was an amazing experience. When we got there we went outside and sang to the many people waiting in line. It was rewarding to hear a woman ask for amazing grace again and again, and to hear her crying and crying. After we went through several stations singing, we went inside to our various stations. I went back to the massage station and helped give massage and talk to various people. Kacey got new glasses and several other people from our church got services that they needed.
Ok, well as some of you know, we got to go to ASI at the end of YFJ. Wow! I would have gone and done just that if it was the only option. It was so amazing! Every year after YFJ all the students go to ASI and participate in the youth program as well as going up front once or twice. We go up front because we are sponsored by ASI and so we do a little talk about what all went on with testimonies and such as well as singing our choir song.
Anyway. The first day of ASI found us running around finding rooms and roommates and getting all settled in. I think they had a sense of humor when they put my brothers room together because He ended up having all three Josephs in his room! It was pretty funny.
The Youth meetings where entertaining and instructional. We had Sean Nebblett In charge of youth meetings and he was more than capable! We learned first aid, fire safety and went out to practice water rescue which was a blast! It was all right up my alley and I had the bestest time. We also learned a scripture passage and we learned our different personalities which gave us the opportunity to see what our areas of ministry might be. I learned so much! (sorry folks, I found that the gift of prophesy does not belong to me, you will have to be content with friendship evangelism)
At the end of ASI we had a goodbye party where we all gathered in one of the hotels for pizza and a slideshow. We where all sad to see everyone leave, but for me it was exciting knowing that now these kids where all leaving equipped to make a difference in their world! If any yfjers read this they are bound to point out missing parts and slight errors in my memory, but for now this is it:) my YFJ experience in full!