Report: Sucker River Feb. Break Trip 2017
Last year, during feb. break, Jen and I planned on going up to Sucker River Reserve for a full week. At that time, the Lord provided a team of 4 people. He also provided us with the necessary accommodations and all the funding need for the trip (down to the last 20 dollar bill)! During that week, we started solid friendships with many of the kids. We had about 12 kids at the start of the week that grew to about 19.
Fast forward to Feb. break this year and lots has changed. Jen and I have been out to Sucker River 3 times since last Feb. and have really continued to build those relationships with the children. As we prepared for this year’s week long trip, we had a much greater response of those interested in coming. The Lord gave us a team of 16 people! For both Jen and myself, this was definitely an intimidating number as we realized the immense amount of food and supplies needed for such a large team. However, we continued to remind ourselves of the Lord provision for past trips and that If He was going to provide 16 people for our team, then He would also be able to provide everything needed to enable this team to go up there! Praise the Lord because that is exactly what He did! He provided us with a 15 passenger van with trailer to get the team and our stuff up there! He provided us with over 90% of the food we needed through people going out and purchasing different items, including some who pre-made some of our meals! He provided all the funding needed for the remaining food and supply needs, as well as gas costs! We were incredibly blessed to watch the Lord’s provision through so many of His people! Thank you so much to all who contributed! Every single gift, both big and small, has resulted in the Lord’s perfect and sufficient provision for this trip!
God also brought together a diverse team, that truly came together and functioned amazingly as the body of Christ! On our team we had a family with 3 girls (ages 9-12), a couple with their one year old toddler, a lady from Colorado, 4 College and career aged members, a 10 year old who is originally from Sucker River, as well as Jen and myself. On top of that, we were joined by 2 Christian women from the community that were very much apart of our team! They really added a lot to our team and fit in well! It was so wonderful to see the multi-generational, diverse team work together so well. Even the one-year old did amazingly well and the young girls were eager to make friends and help out when needed! We witnessed God’s grace in giving us such a wonderful team that was in love with the Lord and was unified in our purpose to proclaim Christ to the community, wherever possible! For our first time leading such a large team, we are very grateful for the team we were given!
Day 1: We held our first kids club after lunch. The theme this week for kid’s club was “the fruit of the spirit”. We have previously taught quite a bit on the gospel and felt this was the next step to look at who God is and what His Spirit in us looks like. We had 26 kids show up for the first day which was the biggest number that we have seen on the trips that we have lead. Jen reviewed the gospel to the kids, including that when we believe in Jesus He comes to live in us. She then introduces the concept of the fruit of the spirit (If Jesus lives in us, We will start to live more like Jesus). The kids listened attentively. Only a few on our team had ever been to Sucker River before, so this served to be the beginning of many new relationships!
Day 2: The second day we had 40 kids turn up! It was CRAZY! So loud and chaotic! Even for our large team we had our hands full! Although, we made it through fairly successfully considering we had 40 hyper kids! It would have been nice to have a bit better listening during the teaching portion as we had some kids that were not listening the best. Jen taught on “Love as a fruit of the spirit”.
Every Kid’s club we start off with gym games to burn of their energy and to have some fun! Then we transition into songs, again to burn of some energy but to start slowing them down a bit. Then we will get them to sit down and listen to Jen teach the lesson. After the lesson, we break up into groups with a leader in each group. We take time to continue talking about the lesson and other things relevant to the teaching. We would do this over sheets of paper that we would color individually about what we just learned. Finally, we would finish with a snack and then slowly escort the kids outside. There were some times that a team member would bring out his 6’ unicycle to entertain the kids with, along with mini-unicycles for the kids to try.
Day 3: Jen and I have really started to notice a pattern in the week long trips… Day three always seems to be the most tiring, disheartening, and discouraging day in terms of kids club. We again had between 35-40 kids. This is the portion of the week where you start to feel fatigue and for whatever reason, the kids seem to be giving the most trouble. We had a handful of kids that just would not listen and were being very disruptive throughout the kid’s club. It was difficult to hear Jen’s lesson because of these kids, however, there were a handful of kids that drew near to hear and see the lesson better. However, in light of the difficulties, I felt things could have gone so much worse. They were difficult but I still wouldn’t say we got “destroyed” (a phrase I have used in the past to describe how poorly things have gone). Jen had taught on the fruit of the spirit of kindness.
One other cool thing, was the lady that joined us from Colorado knows sign language. She had previously been in Sucker River and had really connected with a teenage boy who is deaf. She has a special place in her heart for him and has done what she could to interpret for him whenever he is around. She has really wanted to do what she can to help the other kids connect with him as well. She had this idea to take some of the kids aside after kid’s club and give them sign language lessons. She did this also on day 4.
Day 4: As a team we regrouped from the rough day before, came back strong, and leaned on the Lord to help things go much better! Before letting the kids in, we pulled a few of the ones causing the trouble previously and talked to them about how they needed to listen or they risked being kicked out. We also made sure to affirm that we really wanted them at kids club and didn’t want to kick them out. This firm, yet gentle, approach worked amazingly well! Those specific kids listened so well throughout the kid’s club! Praise the Lord! I really sensed that the Lord was helping us manage the kids and helping us beyond our abilities! The listening for Jen’s teaching was far better! She taught on self-control. Again, we had around 40 kids.
Day 5: Our last day of Kid’s club! Everything ran very well again! Jen taught on Joy as a fruit of the spirit and we colored fruit shaped pieces of paper with the fruit of the spirit. Then we took these pieces of paper and taped them up to a tree on the wall. We also had prepared an extra special snack for them. What ended up being one of the most special moments on the trip, was when the lady who was teaching sign language to the kids brought 5 of her little students to the front to teach everyone else the way to sign the song “Jesus Loves You”. We sang it through twice and then at the end we sang it through with just the signs and no singing. It was told to everyone that this is how the boy who was deaf would experience things. You could have heard a pin drop during the signing of that song! Not a single kid (out of 35 that we had that day) made a noise throughout the entire song! It was incredible! Oh, and I almost forgot! Of all the crazy things, we had a kid pull the fire alarm part way through the kids club! Thankfully, the team rounded everyone up and continued games outside till we could figure out how to turn the alarm off and make sure there were no fire trucks on the way! One thing is for sure, that kid’s club on the reserve is always an adventure! Best of all, we had two more little girls ask Jesus to give them clean hearts!
We had planned to have an evening event which would include a youth sports night, a girl’s bible study/hang out, and an adult coffee time. The goal for these events were to break into new age groups that we have not connected with yet. Throughout the week, we did not have any adults show up. However, the sports nights and girl’s bible study/hang out were a success! We had mostly guys in the gym from ages 12-18 and we played basketball and dodgeball. Throughout the week, we would have anywhere from 8-18 youth in the gym. Many new relationships came through the gym activities. The girls hang out included coloring, water painting lessons, games and sharing. There were many new relationships formed through this, as well as existing relationships being strengthened.
After the first night was a success in terms of getting people out and getting to know many of them, one of our team mates suggested that we take a break part way through for snacks and a testimony. That same teammate ended up volunteering to do this for the second night. We would gather together both those already in the gym, as well as the girls from the girls group to hear the testimony. The testimony shared was very simple, visual, and powerful. Everyone listened attentively. We continued this sharing time throughout the week, proclaiming the simple, yet profound, teachings of Christ to the youth. It was such a blessing to have these times of intentional proclamation, even though we had originally set out with the goal to establish relationships. Praise the Lord for leading us through different members of His body! After the sharing time, we would enjoy HUGE games of bump with everyone in! We would then close shortly after that.
On a trip like this, there are often many opportunities that come up more spontaneously. We had chance to host various people for meals at the school with us. There were some good conversations and opportunities to encourage that came through this. We also had chances to hang out with a few children outside and on walks around town. Sometimes we would even let a few kids linger extra-long after kid’s club to have chances to encourage them and to continue to befriend them. I don’t know everything that happened but I do know lots was happening! I would see our teammates praying with individuals at different times, having intentional conversations, and most definitely seeing the result of this fellowship in both our team and those we were interacting with. One person we talked to was struggling with various issues and through the process of talking to some of us and being encouraged and prayed for he committed to walking close with Jesus once again!
Our last night there 4 of us were called to a home that had a situation with one of her sons. It ended up being a spiritual rollercoaster, with both ups and downs. The spiritual battle was very evident! There was some breakthrough at times but as things progressed we realized that nothing more was going to be solved that night. We praise the Lord because throughout this difficult situation, the four of us never once were angry, lacked self-control or gentleness, and the fruit of the spirit was definitely on display! Only God can do this in us! We also are so thankful for the Lord’s protection through this ordeal, as there very easily could have been times that turned against us! Please pray for this individual and the entire family! Even though freedom and victory wasn’t fully accomplished this night, I really believe that this is just the beginning (or maybe more accurately the continuation) of what the Lord desires for this individual.
I cannot express enough thanks for all that the Lord has done to bring this trip about, all that He accomplished this week and how much He has mobilized His people to work together on this! Thank you for your prayers! Continue praying for the seeds sown, especially the hearts that have come to Jesus both on this trip and past trips. God has a plan for Sucker River, I have no doubt about that! We hope to see transformation through Christ here and to see His church built in this place! We are not sure exactly how this will happen but we do know that there are many young, soft hearts being nurtured through our time up there. Pray that the Lord would raise this generation up to love Him and serve Him with all their heart! Jen and I are so encouraged that this is not the end! We hopefully will be going up there many times in the future to continue this work. It is amazing to tell people that we are, Lord willing, coming back soon! God is so good!
Phil. 1:6 “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”