Well, my trip to Chiapas Mexico got cut a little short. Sunday night, not too long after we had taken off from Houston Renee went into labor. By the time we landed in Villahermosa Renee had given birth. She arrived at the hospital around eight and the baby was delievered at 9:34 that night. Needless to say, I found out about my son’s birth via a text message.
Andrew Robert Wallace is the name. He was 6 lbs 8 oz and 19 inches long. I have loved the name Andrew since I was 11 and Robert is my middle name and my dad’s first name. He is one healthy baby boy and mom and baby are doing fine.
As for the the rest of my story – I was able to catch the first flight out of Villahermosa yesterday morning and got here around 8pm. I will be quite happy to not see the inside of an airplane for a while but am extremely glad I was fortunate enough to get back here yesterday.
We spent the night here last night and are headed home today! I will post pictures then.
Tomorrow fifteeb students, four leaders, and myself head out for Chiapas in Mexico. We are scheduled to be doing some construction work as well as running a vacation bible school in the area. Our first step os to fly from Cleveland to Houston and make a connection in an hour and fifteen minutes. If we can manage that first hurdle we’ll be off to a good start.
Watch this space for updates throughout the week (depending on how good verizons service is)
From July 9th – 13th I led a trip with our Jr. High Youth Group to the Pittsburgh Project. It’s an organization that I was somewhat familiar with, but knew little or nothing about their summer service camps. But, we chose it because given that our Sr. High trip is headed to Mexico, a local Jr. High trip made planning really easy. It also created a nice balance – it’s not uncommon to hear people criticize international trips by saying that there are needs right here at home – so we did both this year.
The week was quite incredible to be honest. What I think impressed me the most was that the “program” part of the schedule was extremely well done. There was a quiet self-guided devotional time each morning and the evening program was fun, entertaining, and had great content. The work part of the trip was among the better organized and supported trips that I’ve been a part of.
The most exciting part of the week for me came at the end, when I asked the group to answer this question: “What have you learned about life/faith/mission this week?” I ask people to write it down and not put their name on it – so that they could be completely honest. Here were their responses:
- After this week, I learned how much my parents really love me and how much I take for granted each day of my life
- I have learned I need to help those who are too weak or cannot fend for themselves
- The Pittsburgh Project has changed me during this week by being able to appreciate what I have. I am now able to not feel sorry for less fortunate people because that is all the life they know. I can also help others to make them feel better and also myself. It has been a great experience
- I see that most people aren’t as wealthy as I am
- I can make an impact on people and put a smile on their face
- After this week, Mt. Oliver will not just be a place for poor people, but now there is a name and a face
- After this week I’ll have a different outlook on what it’s like to live without expensive appliances and respect my parent’s income
- My perspective on people who need my help has changed a lot
- My outlook on Pittsburgh is a lot different than it used to be
- I will most likely be more faithful and I will listen to what I am told
- No matter who you are, you choose the amount of love that you receive by the amount of love that you give
- I’ve always been told that I’m fortunate by my dad However, I never knew what that really meant until I arrived at my worksite. I realized that my homeowner was grateful for what little she had and it showed me just how lucky I am. Besides prayers at night and youth group I never really set aside time for God. After ten minutes of silence I realized that talking to God was a good thing. Now, I’m going to start setting aside time.
- No matter where you go someone will always need your help
- The Pittsburgh Project has made me better understand God. Now that the week is coming to an end I can clearly focus on those who are less fortunate than us. I will not classify them as “poor people” but as brothers and sisters in Christ. God doesn’t care how rich you are; he cares about our love for one another. This experience has made me realize that many people do need my help and I am going to try and help more.
- I realized how much better my family was when everyone was around, but now that people have gone and left my family has been more chaotic
- All my life, I’ve considered myself a Christian, but I’m not sure that all the time I showed it. I still to this day don’t know why that is. But after hearing the stories and meeting new people, I am more comfortable with showing I’m a Christian all the time
- I have majorly changed. I realize how many things have gotten in the way of my faith. Now I know that you don’t need tons of things for God always comes first.
- I think that I finally found God – I was lost but I’ve found him. So I will be good and grateful for what I have.
- My life has changed because I will not ever go back to the person I was before: arrogant, selfish, and rude
- My outlook on faith has changed this week. With all of our talks I thought that if God wants our world to be as much like him as possible, why doesn’t he help those people who need it the most? Why does he keep those people in pain? After thinking about that I realized he is doing something about it. We are the help that he is sending to those helpless people. Not money or food but the love and support of good people.
July 1st marked by one-year mark on the staff at Hampton Presbyterian Church.
Here’s are some of the notable events that happened in my first year @ Hampton
- First weekend lock-in with Jr and Sr High, followed by preaching at all three services that Sunday
- Sr High Mission Trip to Newport, TN
- Kidnappings for both incoming 6th graders and 9th graders
- First Youth Groups!
- Awesome service project at the Union Project
- Wet and muddy Jr. High retreat
September and October were incredible months… then November began:
- Mid-November: Twyla, our interim associate pastor, accepts a call and has her last Sunday @ HPC
- End of November: I leave for a an extended weekend at the National Youth Workers Convention in Charlotte, NC
- Beginning of December: I come back from that event full of ideas and energized. That Tuesday morning Pastor Doug informs me that he has accepted another call and will be leaving sometime after the first of the year
- That evening I meet with the CPM of Pittsburgh Presbytery to be approved for ordination
- That Thursday I appear before the Presbytery for my final oral trials for ordination
- That Thursday evening Pastor Doug announces to the Session that he is leaving
- That Friday I leave with a group of high school students for our winter retreat @ Camp Crestfield.
- That Saturday evening I find out that Renee is indeed pregnant and I will be becoming a father
That week was possibly the craziest week of my life…
- Shortly after Christmas I preach my sermon, “God’s Horrible Timing” in which I address the many issues facing the church with the departure of Pastor Doug. Perhaps a more significant moment for me because it was the first time that I felt I had to step into the role of being a leader for the whole congregation.
- Mid-January: Clearview Construction Services, the general contractor for the addition at church informs us that they’re pulling out of the project, leaving the church on their own to finish it.
- Beginning of February: Pastor Doug’s last Sunday and my tenure as the lone pastor begins
- Beginning of March: Transitional Pastor Steve Lytch arrives – there is much rejoicing from Brian!
- An awesome 30 Hour Famine complete with the food drive to end all food drives
Most of spring has been spent dealing with transitional and finance issues – but I will say that I’ve learned more in my first year of ministry than I ever expected to – and now have dealt with things I never expected that I would have to do deal with.
All in all, it’s been a year full of blessings (including some unexpected ones) and I feel very blessed to have been called to serve and be a part of Hampton Presbyterian.