Thursday, October 23, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Abreadcrumb & Fish

Today's Throwback Thursday takes me back to the summer of 2002. In July of that year the student ministry of the Wesley Memorial UMC headed out on their first trip to North Myrtle Beach, SC. We had a great group of kids, some outstanding adult leadership (Hal & Joanne Gastler) and lots of genuine excitement. To make things even better, 3 of my favorite FUMC-Kissimmee youth- Adam Hill, Josh Fry and Sarah Crudele- joined us. I was excited to have them along to help show my new youth group "The Carl Way."  The Betsy B was no long available, so I found another Ocean Drive beach house to rent. It was brand new and had many more amenities than the Betsy B, but it was not oceanfront. We had a great trip with lots of great moments. But it was very different because of how nice the house was. Sound odd? Let me try to explain...

North Myrtle Beach is a very special place to me. My family would camp there for a couple of weeks each summer when I was a kid. I travelled there with friends as a high school and college student. My youth group took trips there. When I started as a youth director at New Garden Friends Meeting in 1979, we started taking trips to NMB. For the next 20+ years I often spent at least one week every summer there with youth groups and my family. For all of those years the main attraction was always the beach. Wide, sandy and beautiful with just the right amount of waves, we would be out on the beach or in the Atlantic for hours every day. And we loved it.

Sean Bell & Nina Mock enjoy the pool table.
 In 2002 we stayed at the beautiful new Ocean Surf Club (see picture at top). We had TV and stereo in the house. We had use of golf carts we could use to explore the little village of Ocean Drive. We had a billiards table in the house. And we had to cross Ocean Blvd. to get to the beach. All of those things, plus a bit of rainy weather, turned the group into land-lovers. They just didn't go to the beach. They watched movies, played pool, explored the local shops and hung out. A couple of the guys (Ken & Philip?) got pulled for illegally driving a golf cart on the street (it wasn't their fault; the realtor had told us it was OK). We played mini-golf and went to the Pavilion. We ate great food. They had a great time. But it all seemed so odd to me that I wasn't convinced they were having any fun. Finally toward the end of the week it got warmer and sunny and we spent more time in the ocean. The trip accomplished much of what I wanted it to- relationship building and gaining the trust of the students. I just wasn't sure they thought the trip was great. And I wanted it to be great. I needed it to be a culture changing event for a youth ministry that was in rebuilding mode.

A few weeks later at our regular Sunday evening youth fellowship I was presented with a gift. The students who presented it said it was a "thank you" for taking the group on that trip. It was a t-shirt that read, Abreadcrumb & Fish- He Still Works Miracles. The scripture from Matthew 15:36-38 was also included. Those youth will never know how much that meant to me. No one had had ever given me a gift simply for planning a trip. The fact that they had spent their own money to buy it while we were in NMB made it even better. After being in Tampa for 9 months, I finally felt like I was a part of the family. Acceptance is a wonderful thing. We were on our way to becoming a real family.

Because of Jesus,

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