Wednesday, July 11, 2012
It is Day 2 of the National Youth Event. Billi and Michael are happily playing on their computers while Anna and Madelyn attend a workshop about music. So far, the trip has been eventful and awesome. All participants are already talking about things they’ve learned, people they’ve seen and how the youth of the UCC are coming together.
We left Mensch Mill on Monday night at 9pm. Imagine 104 people on two tour buses and an unlimited supply of electronics. There were loud media players, a loud movie showing and random laughter throughout the trip.. until about 7am. One of the buses had a mechanical issue and we stopped for over two hours while waiting for a bus mechanic and then for a part to arrive. We rested in a field, with some people playing games, eating breakfast bars and trying not to dehydrate and catching some sleep on their blankets (or Michael on the asphalt). Once we were on the road again, it was only a few short hours until we arrived at Purdue University (West Lafayette, Indiana).
We got Old First checked in along with the other youth we’re chaperoning from St. James UCC in Limerick, PA. Then it was off to our rooms for showers and refreshing ourselves before dinner. The dining hall is fantastic and we met new friends and had a great meal. After dinner was the opening Extravagant Welcome. There were several speakers who were very inspiring as well as a Gospel Choir and a rap duo from Chicago to entertain the masses. The evenings are open to free time and we’re all taking full advantage of that in whatever way interests us most – group games/hanging out, movies and other planned activities.
Two youth who are here without chaperones liked us so much that they asked us to be theirs. So, we’ve adopted them into the fold also. It’s been great watching our youth mix with all of the other youth that are here in our conference and in the wider UCC community.
Day 2 has consisted of a morning worship service. There were several youth speakers on the theme of taking care of the Earth as well as UCC representatives from Justice and Witness Ministries, the Five Officers of the Church, and the Advocacy office in Washington D.C. The presentations were very moving and the youth (and adults!) are very motivated to get back to our communities and work on these environmental issues – mountaintop removal, going green, energy-saving and fracking. We stopped for a few minutes to grab a Pennsylvania Southeast Conference photo and then we were off to our first NYE workshops. Michael spent some time with Geoffrey Black while the girls attended the Literacy Labyrinth and Billi attended a workshop about Human Rights/LBGT Asylum. Billi, Madelyn and Anna met Geoffrey briefly when they ran into Michael during lunch. We all thought it was kind of cool to meet the president of the UCC. After lunch we were off to other workshops until dinner time.
That’s caught you up for now. Look for the rest of our adventure next week in the e-pistle.
A few of the highlights: Billi has run into several groups who’ve been at Old First for Service Camps, Michael is reuniting with many friends that he hasn’t seen in a while, both girls are experiencing a kind of freedom and leadership that is often hard for young women their age.