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Ever have one of those experiences that totally changes you?  There are just some people and experiences that God uses to change you from the inside out.

Summer 2009 was one of those experiences for me and this group of people has become near and dear to my heart;

Pearlington 2009 team

This was the team that accompanied the Ayers family for our 6th trip to Pearlington, MS.  A trip that looked impossible and near cancellation in April of 2009!  Then as only God can do, He orchestrated the details for a family from Minnesota to connect with a small church in Iowa to put this team together.  And much to my chagrin – it was a team of mostly youth!  In my mind I was never intending to lead a team of youth anywhere – but thankfully God has other plans and these young men and women impacted my life and changed my heart.

My passion is to see families or parts of families to work side by side in ministry – whether that be scraping paint off of houses post hurricane, leading a Back Yard Bible Club or playing games with babies.  Youth have excitement and enthusiasm, Parents bring wisdom and pace to a group.  So I was a bit overwhelmed at taking 12 youth to Mississippi, but God was in charge and after meeting once prior to loading into a 15 passenger van for a 21 hour trip, we were off!

This was a great group of youth to go on a trip with.  These kids were well grounded, had servant hearts and did the hard jobs with gusto.  They connected with the kids down there and made some good friendships.  But most of all, they helped me to gain a new appreciation for leading a group of youth on trips.

This weekend we were finally able to get together for a Reunion!   This was the weekend of Graduation Open House for one of the young men that was on the trip.  So we decided to go down and surprise him.  It was so much fun to be able to surprise “Six” at his open house and to be around these kids and their families.  We were also able to attend the senor recital and graduation open house from one of the other families and a third family’s son was baptized on Sunday Morning.  We were able to attend all of these events!

Spending time with these kids again made me realize what a step of faith and trust it was for these parents to send their children with people that they had not met, to a place that had been ravaged by a hurricane and yet they were willing to trust God and let their children go with us.  A trust that we took very seriously and have been so blessed by their children.

Spending time with young men and women reminded me of some of the things that I have missed.  Things like;

*Anna’s Hugs – this young women gives the best hugs.

*Dean’s imitation of Inspector Kluseau – He does one of the best!

*Lexi’s Smile – Her smile is very welcoming and lovely!

*Six –  Need I say more!

Six - Gotta Love this young Man!

*Lindsey’s Bubbles – She could blow the most amazing bubbles I have ever seen!

*Josh – Always had the right tool for any job!

*Kaje – her laughter! It was contagious!

*Dave – Always gave me a hard time in the morning for not having coffee!  Never did convince him that tea was THE preferred beverage!

Being at Morning SIde Baptist Church was such a blessing.  We were welcomed like family and one of the fathers of the kids that was on the trip said we were welcome to his home anytime.  God has been so gracious to give our family favor in this small and growing church.  I am humbled and overwhelmed at their kindness toward our family.

This is my favorite photo from this weekend;

Pearlington 2011 team??

This is the 2009 team and all the siblings of those who went!  I think this is the making of another team to Pearlington!