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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Serving Others - Senior Saints and Teens

On this Gratituesday (click link to see what others are grateful for at Heavenly Homemakers), I am grateful for the opportunity my family has to serve the senior citizens and teenagers of our church family every February.
Every February our Sunday morning Bible Class organizes a Senior Saints' Banquet for the senior citizens.   Because so many of the senior citizens in our congregation are widows or widowers, we don't place too much emphasis on Valentine's Day - although it's typically the weekend closest to the holiday.
This year our class decided to change our regular brisket meal with nternational cuisine consisting of Italian food.  The Senior Saints are always so appreciative of our treating them.  This year one special Christian sister wrote us a "thank you" poem and read it to us on behalf of the rest of the group.  Also, the oldest man in the congregation is 93 and is still very spry - even serves as one of our Deacons!  He said that the Italian food we served yesterday was better than what he ever ate in Italy where he was stationed many, many years ago while serving in the armed forces.  Of course, he probably never had the opportunity to eat authentic Italian food - only food he was served in the mess hall.

Serving the Senior Saints every year is such a blessing for our young adult class and to our children.  It is a time when we can say "Thank You" to each of them for their Christian example and service for so many years.
I get the priviledge of decorating for the yearly event and many times coming up with entertainment, games, or activities to go along with the theme.  It's something I always look forward to doing. 
Thank you, God, for these Senior Saints who spend their lives living for You and letting Christ's example be shown to all of us and to our children. Thank you for letting us serve them in this way.
Also every February, often on the same day of the Senior Saints' Banquet - except in the evening - our family hosts the teen youth group of our church family.  Two of the teens are our own children, so that's neat. Usually this event is totally in our home, but this time we decided to begin in our church's fellowship building.  We've hosted this event for seven years and the menu is always the same (click on link to go to recipe located on our family recipe blog):  Beef Lasagna, Chicken Lasagna, Semi-Homemade Bread Sticks, Green Beans/Salad, Pudding Cake, and Butterfinger Cake.  Since the teen meal was Italian-themed, too, I used the same decorations for them most part.  However, I added twinkle lights, candles, real fabric tablescloths, and other special things to make it seem more "Valentine-y" for them.  At this meal they are served - just like a fancy restaurant....except they can request second servings!  Between the 23 teens and 4 adults, 72 bread sticks and 4 1/2 loaves of bread were eaten!
As the teens arrived at the fellowship building after evening worship services, I heard what was probably the highlight of the evening for me.  Several of the teens we host live at Tipton Home, a children's home I've mentioned before (my husband's work place).  One of the boys that is a 6'2" seventh grader (amazing!) said this when he walked in and sat down, "Wow, it's like I'm in a real fancy, Italian restaurant!".  Knowing a little about his background and the fact that he's only been at Tipton Home since this summer, I'm pretty sure he's never been to a super-fancy restaurant before.  If that meal last night - being "served" a meal amidst twinkle lights, real tablecloths, and candles made him feel extra-special for just those few hours - it warms my heart and makes me smile!  All of the teens are very appreciative of the evening, but for my husband and I - we get joy out of serving them. Serving them.  Showing them God's love.  Showing them Jesus' example.  That's what it's all about.
Following the meal, the teens are divided into four groups.  Four adult men are drivers for the teens and they are sent on a scavenger hunt.  This year the scavenger hunt began at the fellowship building, but ended at our house.  Here are a few of the things the teens had to bring back this year: a roll of pennies, a children's Bible, a signature of one of their school teachers, a signature of the preacher, and lots of other things.  The group also had to go to someone's house and do a good deed for them.  One of the groups took out the trash for someone.  That was a good, "Good Deed".  Another group sprayed Febreeze in someone's house!  Lame "Good Deed"!! 
The groups also had to go to our local convenience store (we only have one in the whole town) and purchase someone's item or items.  They must take a picture of this, as well, as "proof" of their purchase - plus a signed receipt.
Another neat thing the teens have to do is bring back a person.  Acutally this year we had them bring back two people who had not previously been at the event that evening.  It's fun having the visitors into our home because many times it's teens who haven't been in our home before.  And while some of the other teens are a part of other youth groups in town, many are not.  In fact, many of them may not have a church home themselves and for them it may be a new experience and cause them to become interested in God and Jesus.
The scavenger hunt is a lot of fun, not just for the teens, but also for many in our small town.  They look forward to the visit from the teens each February.  One sweet Christian sister tried to cheat yesterday, though.  She asked me what we were going to have on the list so she could start rounding up items in the afternoon.  I teased her and told her she was cheating and that I couldn't tell her.  The teens said when they got to her house she had three rolls of pennies ready and waiting for them!  I'm going to change that item for next year (hee hee!)
After the scavenger hunt this year, the teens were served dessert in our home.  They were ready for dessert after running around for an hour or longer gathering all of those items they needed. 
The final part of the evening is singing a few devotional-type signs and a devotional given by my husband.  Please allow me to brag about my husband.  He does such a great job.  He preaches from time to time as he travels around speaking to congregations that support Tipton Home, but I don't always get the opportunity to hear him speak.  He is able to keep the attention of the teens and relates God's Word to them in a way that will have a spiritual application, but also a character-building application. He encourages them to be the best they can be, but with a higher purpose than just for themselves.  That's something we should all strive to do.
Serving the teens every February is a joy. I pray that the time they spend with us and the rest of our church family will influence their lives in a positive way and help them decide to dedicate their lives to Jesus and serve God for the rest of their lives.
Thank you, God, for this opportunity to serve the teenagers - our own two, plus all of the others around us.  Help us to live our lives in a way where they see your Son, Jesus through our lives.

Having the oppotunity to serve others.  That's what I am grateful for today.  What are you grateful for?

1 comment:

Wa Wa Waughs said...

Love your decorations and what a fun event!

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