Hey all! This Wednesday October 20, We are Bowling! Bring $6 and at 7-8 pm we will head over there. Bring your friends and also from 6-7 bring your sculpting skills as we will be working with clay and mirrors. It’s a Wednesday you won’t want to miss! High Score gets a free coke on the church!

Sunday, October 24 we will be visiting the shut-ins at Myrtlewood estates from 2-4 pm. visitation will last till 3 and then afterwards we’ll head to get ice cream! Please meet at the church and we will head out from there. May God be with you this week! Travis

PS If you can’t make the Bible study, please come bowl with us from 7-8.

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October 2010
Greetings one and all! October is a special time in our church as it was on the 31st of this month that Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses on the church door in Wittenberg over 4 centuries ago. Also in October, we would like to welcome Michelle Kearby and Dewey Landers to our Youth Board! We thank you for your willingness to serve. As far as events go, beginning this month and extending through January, the youth will be available to do chores for congregation members and friends of congregation members. We will take on any task you can think of. Contact Travis with the job, number of volunteers needed, and date of the task and we will make it happen. Donations are welcome to help offset costs for a spring break trip and summer servant events at Lutheran Valley Retreat in Woodland Park, CO for 2011. Specific details for the events will be made known after the late service on Sunday, October 10, 2010 in the fellowship hall in a parent, youth, and youth board meeting. Please save this date, as you will want to be there to learn the event details, expectations, and cost-saving opportunities for youth to participate in these events.Listed below are the remaining October events.

PULSE Lunch Friday, October 1, 2010 12:00-1:00 PM: We will meet together to fellowship for lunch during your school’s lunch period! This week, Travis will be meeting with youth at Central High School at a restaurant to be determined. Invite your friends to join us! Check the Facebook page to find out where we will meet!
Saturday, October 2, 2010 9 AM Thrivent Golf tournament: We will be helping out with the school’s golf tournament. Specifically, we will prepare tea and make sure drinks are good for the lunch. We need two or three more volunteers. Call Travis for more information if interested.
PULSE Wednesday, October 6, 2010 6:00 PM-8:00 PM: We will begin tonight with Chapter 3 of Crazy Love and have praise and worship. From 7-8 We will have a Halo Reach video game night! Bring your friends!
PULSE Lunch Friday, October 8, 2010 12:00-1:00 PM: We will meet together to fellowship for lunch during your school’s lunch period! This week, Travis will be meeting with youth at Central Freshman Campus with lunch from the place of their choice. Invite your friends to join us! Check the Facebook page to find out what Travis is bringing!
Parent, youth, and youth board meeting, Sunday October 10 after the late service:
Please join us for an information session regarding a spring break trip and a high school and confirmation summer servant event. It is highly encouraged all interested parties attend, because we will discuss our new point system, cost of the event, and the locations of these events. Invite your friends and neighbors to join us! Drinks and snacks will be provided. If you have any questions before this date, please contact Travis on his cell phone (325-650-0099) or by email (travisdoig@wcc.net)
PULSE Wednesday, October 13, 2010 6:00 PM-8:00 PM We will begin tonight in Praise and Worship and have a Pulse check. From 7-8 we are heading to Buffalo Wild Wings! Bring $5-$10 depending on how hungry you are. We will go head to head in Buzztime Trivia and enjoy some wings. A prize will be awarded to the high score for the evening. Parents please pick your youth up from Buffalo Wild Wings.
PULSE Lunch Friday, October 15, 2010 12:00-1:00 PM: We will meet together to fellowship for lunch during your school’s lunch period! This week, Travis will be meeting with youth at Glenn Middle School with lunch. Invite your friends to join us! Check the Facebook page to find out what Travis is bringing!
Confirmation Dinner and Movie Sunday, October 17, 2010 5:30-8:30 PM: All 6th-8th Graders and their friends are invited to join us! Movie will be selected during a Sunday school class before this date. Bible Study will be led by Travis or a high school youth. Menu: TBA. Location: The Harris residence, 3002 Palo Duro Dr.

PULSE Wednesday, October 20, 2010 6:00 PM-8:30 PM: Tonight, we will be heading bowling from 7-8 PM. Meet at the church at 6 PM and Parents please pick your youth up from the Rink at 8 pm. Please check the Youth Webpage and the youth facebook page for specific information on what to bring. Oh, and invite your friends!
PULSE Lunch Friday, October 22, 2010 12:00-1:00 PM: We will meet together to fellowship for lunch during your school’s lunch period! This week, Travis will be meeting with youth at Central High School at a restaurant of your choice. Invite your friends to join us! Check the Facebook page to find out where we will meet!
Youth Shut-In Visits Sunday, October 24, 2010 2:00 PM-4:00 PM: Meet at the church, as this is our main servant event for the month of October. We will be heading to Myrtlewood Estates and Rio Concho Manor to visit our shut-in members. Invite your friends to join us! All youth in 6th-12th grades are welcome. We will split into middle school and high school groupings. Afterwards, the confirmation class will head to their dinner and movie.
PULSE Wednesday, October 27, 2010 6:00 PM-8:00 PM: We will celebrate October birthdays tonight!!! Come join us for cake and ice cream and fun party games. From 7-8 we will attend the Wednesday evening service in the sanctuary. Communion will be held.
Casting Crowns concert– Abilene, TX: Thursday October 28, 2010 5:00 PM-Midnight: Yes, we know it is a school night. However, Abilene is only 90 miles away. Plus, this will be a super fun concert. Deadline to sign up for this concert is Wednesday October 20. See the youth webpage and Facebook page for a link to the tour info. There will be a sign up sheet posted in the Narthex at the information desk. Invite your friends!
Youth Halloween Party, Sunday October 31, 2010 7 PM-10 PM: Come ready to do the Monster Mash! We will be having a Halloween Party tonight for all youth and their families. Look for more information on the youth webpage and the youth Facebook page concerning a costume contest and location. It’s going to be a “fang”-tastic time!

Have a blessed month!
In Christ,

Travis Doig, Youth Facilitator
Cell: 325-650-0099
Email: travisdoig@wcc.net

PULSE

September 2010
Welcome back! We are so excited to bring you these exciting fall activities during the month of September!!! The verse of the month comes from 1 John 4:7-12:

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. God showed ihis love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved god, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

This is fitting as we will be studying Crazy Love by Francis Chan. God’s love is crazy when it comes down to it—at least by the world’s standards. It is crazy that God exists. It is even crazier that he loves us and would send his Son to die and rise again in our place. The craziest thing about God’s love is that now that God has loved us, we should now love others. How do we do this? To find out, come to Pulse each Wednesday night in September and join us for study, fun, and fellowship. Here is the complete list of events for September:

PULSE Wednesday, September 1, 2010 6:00 PM-8:00 PM We will begin tonight with a game facilitated by Coach Dunn from 6-7. From 7-8 We will participate in Praise and Worship and begin Crazy Love, facilitated by Dewey Landers.
PULSE Lunch Friday, September 3, 2010 12:00-1:00 PM: We will meet together to fellowship for lunch during your school’s lunch period! This week, Travis will be meeting with youth at Central High School at a restaurant to be determined. Invite your friends to join us! Check the Facebook page to find out where we will meet!

Youth Family Downtown Movie Night Friday, September 3, 2010 8:30-11:00 PM: Come join us as we watch Twilight Saga: New Moon. All youth 6th-12th grades are invited to attend with their families. Popcorn and drinks are sold there for $1.00 each. Make sure to bring your own lawn chair. Downtown movie night is held across the street from the Cactus Hotel in the parking lot next to Tarpley Music.
PULSE Wednesday, September 8, 2010 6:00 PM-8:00 PM We will begin tonight with a game facilitated by Coach Dunn from 6-7. From 7-8 We will participate in Praise and Worship and begin Crazy Love, facilitated by Dewey Landers.
PULSE Lunch Friday, September 10, 2010 12:00-1:00 PM: We will meet together to fellowship for lunch during your school’s lunch period! This week, Travis will be meeting with youth at Central Freshman Campus with lunch from the place of their choice. Invite your friends to join us! Check the Facebook page to find out what Travis is bringing!
PULSE Wednesday, September 15, 2010 6:00 PM-8:00 PM We will begin tonight in Praise and Worship and continue Crazy Love, facilitated by Dewey Landers. From 7-8 we are heading to Buffalo Wild Wings! Bring $5-$10 depending on how hungry you are. We will go head to head in Buzztime Trivia and enjoy some wings. A prize will be awarded to the high score for the evening. Parents please pick your youth up from Buffalo Wild Wings.
PULSE Lunch Friday, September 17, 2010 12:00-1:00 PM: We will meet together to fellowship for lunch during your school’s lunch period! This week, Travis will be meeting with youth at TLCA with lunch from the place of your choice. Invite your friends to join us! Check the Facebook page to find out what Travis is bringing!
Youth Shut-In Visits Saturday, September 18, 2010 2:00 PM-4:00 PM: Meet at the church as this is our main servant event for the month of September. We will be heading to Myrtlewood Estates and Rio Concho Manor to visit our shut-in members. Invite your friends to join us! All youth in 6th-12th grades are welcome. We will split into middle school and high school groupings.
Confirmation Dinner and Movie Sunday, September 19, 2010 5:30-8:30 PM: All 6th-8th Graders and their friends are invited to join us! Movie will be voted on during a Sunday School class before this date. Bible Study will be led by Travis or a high school youth. Menu & Location: TBA.

PULSE Wednesday, September 22, 2010 6:00 PM-8:30 PM: We will begin tonight in Praise and Worship and continue Crazy Love, facilitated by Dewey Landers. From 7-8 we are heading to Stadium Lanes for some bowling! Bring socks, $9.00, and your friends for two games plus shoe rental. Parents please pick your youth up from Stadium Lanes.
PULSE Lunch Friday, September 24, 2010 12:00-1:00 PM: We will meet together to fellowship for lunch during your school’s lunch period! This week, Travis will be meeting with youth at Central High School at a restaurant of your choice. Invite your friends to join us! Check the Facebook page to find out where we will meet!
PULSE Wednesday, September 29, 2010 6:00 PM-8:0 PM: We will celebrate September birthdays tonight!!! Come join us for cake and ice cream. From 7-8 we will attend the Wednesday evening service in the sanctuary. Communion will be held.

“‘Cause there’s only one body, one spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism and one God.” –Lost and Found “One Body”–

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit–just as you were called to one hope when you were called–one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says: ‘When he ascended on high he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.’ …It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” –Ephesians 4:2-8; 11-16–

Gathering Day 6 was bitter sweet. In the back of my mind I knew that this was the last day that we would be working together in our Bible Study Rooms and next to last day working the Superdome. But I also knew that if there was anything I missed while at the gathering, now was the day to do it. So with that thought lingering in the back of my mind, we set to work ushering in the Bible Study groups. Today was by far the smoothest day of all, because most of the first session got there on time and practically all of the second session made it early to where we didn’t have to keep the side entry doors open. Also during the second Bible Study, I saw my friends from St. Paul Lutheran in Ft. Worth, TX, whom I had not seen since spring break. It was awesome, first because two of the students came up and gave me hugs while they were walking past and I also saw Bobby Walston (the college pastor) and Pastor Danner (the Young Adult pastor) as well as Jeff Saaivarria (the youth leader from The Summit out in Aledo). It brought a huge smile to my face when I saw all the youth that had come with them–maybe 50–and to see the faces that I recognized from my time out there. I also saw a pastor friend of mine from Beyond Imagination ’04, Ross Engel. Then seminarian Ross and I served on the dance to praise team together and I learned one good way to have fun as a seminary student was to attend the National Gathering.

So after Bible Study Jackie, Crystal, James, and I went up to the stage and met with Rev. Matt Hoerner for our final debriefing from Bible Study. That was an awesome experience, because he gave each of us a small gift for our service–a drink on him. That was so thoughtful and kind and we were surprised! So we accepted graciously and took our leave. I had to deliver a chair to the CPH booth and then we all headed to the Ugly Dog Saloon–a barbeque place. That was some good bar-b-q. Most of us from Team Oscar were there—both Matts, Jenna, Lyndsey, Jackie, Crystal, Becky, Phil, Deaton, Joe, James, and myself. Surprisingly, I do believe our entire group made it through a meal without anyone being hit with a “dart” in the game we were playing. However, Matt did say he would give Jenna a dollar to eat an onion. And trying to be funny, I told a corny joke or two.

After lunch, we headed back to the hotel, and then hit the swimming pool. We had managed to stay away from it all week, but couldn’t resist any longer. Matt, Deaton and myself began the endeavor attempting to see who could hold their breath the longest and Matt, due to his amazing physical stamina, won the competition. Slowly, the girls of the group appeared and we all had a fun time swimmin’ and splashin’ around the pool. One time a frisbee came flying to close to Lyndsey and I, after coming up from the water from being hit with a “dart”, was hit smack in the face with a red bouncy ball. That was hilarious. The timing could not have been better, and I sank underwater again to keep from laughing. Finally, it was time to head back up to our rooms to catch some last minute naps or take care of any pressing business before our next to last mass event: The National Gathering Worship Service.

“Wow!” is the simplest way to describe what took place. First of all, I remember worship night was the most orderly of all the nights up to that point as far as participants entering the Superdome. We were able to find seats for everyone with only a few groups that were late as compared with previous nights. The service began with the Invocation and then followed with Confession and Absolution. It is indescribable the feeling I felt listening to 25,000 of my brothers and sisters in Christ confessing their sins with me and then hearing the promise of that confession spoken by the pastor that “Because He died for you here, your sins are forgiven. As a servant of God representing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I forgive you all your sins, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” In between each part of the liturgy, there was a live re-enactment of the passion of Christ from His death to His resurrection. As I said, “Wow!” is the simplest way to describe this spectactle. We then remembered our baptism, and 25,000 Lutherans made the sign of the cross on their heads and on their hearts. 25,000 baptized Christians (and probably some non-baptized) people heard the Easter Gospel.25,000 voices as one saying, “He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!” 25,00 people singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, 25,00 people saying the Nicene Creed, and 25,000 people taking communion together experiencing the real presence of Christ’s body and blood proclaiming the Lord’s death and resurrection until he comes again. But though there 25,000 people did all these things individually, it was One body. One body in One Spirit believing in One Lord believing One hope through One baptism and proclaiming the truth of One God.

This one God is the creator of the universe, the Savior of the world, and the life giving Spirit–three persons, yet one God. “So the Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is god; and yet there are not three gods, but one God…the whole three persons are coeternal with each other and coequal, so that in all things, as has been stated above, the Trinity in Unity and Unity in Trinity is to be worshiped.” (Athanasian Creed). We all as one body have different gifts, talents, and callings assigned us by God. Some of us are pastors and some of us students. Some of us laborers and some lawyers. Some are teachers, some are friends, some are farmers, and some sew and mend. But even though we have separate callings “we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work” That work proclaiming what we believe and why we believe it.

After getting our boomwhackers set up, we left the Superdome on a high. We all split up and went to various activities and night spots. Joe went to the Lost and Found concert; Matt B., Deaton, and Phil headed back to the hotel. The rest of us headed off to Cafe Du Monde for one last round of beignets. Then, Matt B. , Lyndsey, Deaton, Phil, and a couple of other Oscars decided to stay up all night, for really, there was no point in sleeping as it was already 1 o’clock and there were plans for breakfast at IHOP the “next” day. I decided I should try to sleep as I had a 14 hour ride home. So I did just that. I went and slept and woke up late the next morning. I quickly packed my belongings and shoved them in the car and went to the convention center hoping to catch a shuttle. I was in good company, as the rest of the YAV Ushers (minus those that went to IHOP) were already there. We waited and waited some more. Finally we took a cab. It took us seven minutes to get there and that was seven minutes late, but it was all good. We lined up at the doors of the Superdome one last time for the final Mass Event. During the LCMS Youth Commissioning ceremony we took a couple of rows of people to help pass out boom whackers to everyone in the Superdome. This was no small task and we passed them out in two minutes and thirty seconds! The people who planned this expected it to take at least four minutes. God blessed us with the speed to distribute those quickly. After it ended, many of us took photos and pictures for posterity, and said our good byes. TEAM Oscar met for a final lunch at Pi, the best pizza place in New Orleans, and slowly one by one we all left. Matt Boness compared it to the end of each season of MTV’s “The Real World.”

I hope and I pray that each of us would continue on in fellowship with those we met in New Orleans. First, by proclaiming the truth of what we believe to the world. Second, by praying for each other daily. I firmly believe that those who pray for each other stay in touch longer and stay close despite distances. Third, by continuing to attend our own congregations and step up and serve in them encouraging our generation to come back and fill the church. The Word of God is not dead. It’s living and active! It penetrates to the depths of the soul and people need it! (Hebrews 4:12) So let’s show everyone what the living and active Word looks like and continue in what we have learned. Until next time, God’s peace be with you.

“Greater things have yet to come, greater things are still to be done in this city. Greater things have yet to come, greater things are still to be done here.” —Chris Tomlin, God of this City—

“We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us; but life is at work in you. … Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” —2 Corinthians 4:1–12; 5:17—

Day 5 started well. At this point the fatigue of late nights and early mornings really took its toll though. But not before I had the opportunity to listen to Rev. Dan Weber again in Bible Study. God is so good! We delved into John 4, discussing Jesus at the well where he meets a Samaritan woman. We discussed what was beginning to sound like the usual Sunday School lesson that accompanies this story. But then Rev. Weber took us to a deeper level.

It had never occurred to me in 22 years of life that it was an odd thing for the woman at the well to be going there in the middle of the day. I did pick up on the fact that Jews and Samaritans did not mix, but I had always thought she had gone to the well because she didn’t like crowds. But there was a good reason why she didn’t like crowds. She had been married FIVE previous times and living with a man who was not her husband! Clearly she did not want to revisit those experiences with the other villagers of Sychar. Then, much to her chagrin, she meets Jesus—a Jew— sitting right there at her well. On top of that, Jesus asks her for a drink of water! What?! This was unheard of! But Jesus crosses cultural boundaries and He listens. He cut through the noise of the woman’s past and present sins and shared the Gospel with her. He fixed this broken person, and created someone totally new! She then ran and told the rest of the villagers what had transpired and “Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony…” (John 4:39) Wow! Pastor Dan then went on to describe the plight of many churches in Mission Area A of the Texas District (Rev. Weber not knowing this of course).

The churches here are declining. Many are viewed as “out of touch” with the culture and the youth as well as the job trends. People are moving from West Texas to East Texas because there are more jobs available. Young people are leaving the churches here for that reason, or falling prey to the world’s lies and relativistic culture. Others are mad at the church. At any rate the church in West Texas seems broken at times and that perception can be very discouraging. But Pastor Dan grew up in a similar church in Virginia, with six other youth in the program. He said to us, “This church was an old person church and it seemed boring. I did not want to invite my friends to it. But God took what was once a dying church, and now three of us are professional church workers across the country. One is in Chicago, one in DC, and I am in Idaho.” I thanked the Lord for that message then and there. Not only did it encourage me, but I know it probably encouraged some of the youth in our church in San Angelo. See, God is constantly breathing new life into the churches and raising up workers and and souls. He takes us broken sinners and speaks through us to his beloved creatures. It requires patience and waiting on the Lord, for he inclines his ear and hears our cries (See Psalm 40). Our God is faithful and with that faith and steady work, we can serve the Lord and see that God’s Word is exciting and dynamic! It is working even in a seemingly dead area. It is relevant in our daily lives and that Word can take us places we would not even imagine—even back to our home areas! So long as the pure Word is taught in our churches, they will always be alive even if it is a church of small size.

The day continued and we found out that we did indeed get extra orange shirts to wear for the gathering. We thought it was great because now we wouldn’t have to push the envelope of smelling like sweat all week. Team Oscar then met at 4:15 and headed up to the Superdome. Once there, we went inside for our pre-usher meeting and I had the opportunity to share how to keep your ear piece from getting stuck in your ear. Later at the Mass Event, I finally saw the Skit Guys. They did a hilarious presentation of Adam and Eve and the fall of man. It was so good! Afterwards, we stuck around for a quick debriefing, and Lyndsey, Matt Wilson and myself decided to head to Cafe du Monde and some world famous beingets. On the way, Matt stuck his head into a water fountain just because he could I think. It added to the already awesome evening and I am so glad that Matt was there. He gave us another treasure to add to an already treasure filled day. We then ran into more of TEAM Oscar in front of Harrah’s Casino and Matt Boness graciously accepted an invitation to take pictures of me in a handstand in front of Harrah’s. We finally arrived at our destination and sat down to a real treat for beingets are fried pieces of dough covered with powdered sugar and without a doubt the best part of New Orleans. As we received our order, a group from Team Delta arrived and pulled a couple of tables together. We socialized and took pictures. I also learned from Team Delta members attending Concordia Nebraska that one should cram as many people around a table as one can. Clearly, there is nothing awkward about this practice and you get to know each other real fast. But it was fun. Lyndsey’s home church was also at Cafe du Monde and Matt and I met them too. We then headed back to the Springhill Suites to get some sleep and get ready for another day at the LCMS gathering. What an awesome, God-filled day! Until next time, God’s peace be with you.

He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”
Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”
He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?”
Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.”
The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will. Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”
To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out. Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
“Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.”
Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.”
Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.
—John 9:25-38—

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, /and the ears of the deaf unstopped;/ then shall the lame man leap like a deer,/ and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. —Isaiah 35:5-6—

Sunday in New Orleans was a highly interesting experience for me and everyone involved. First, it’s where our day jobs (for those of us who were Mass Events Ushers) kicked off. Second, there were some unfortunate and quirky injuries that night at the Mass Event. Third, there was an unbelievable movement of the Spirit that took place.

Sunday morning, we awoke, Lyndsey and I met again to discuss the day’s events, figure out Bible Study and lunch and then we headed off to our jobs as Bible Study Ushers. Ushering in La Nouvelle was fun because there were limited entry and exit points in which participants could enter through. So once the speaker began speaking, we were able to open up doors in the back to let other people find seats so that they would not cause a severe disruption to those already inside on time. However, “on time” for a 9 AM Bible study session seemed to be 9:15 AM instead. My group from San Angelo made it early, and I got to briefly—and I do mean briefly— chat with them as we ushered in the masses of people. Rev. Daniel Weber from Idaho took to the stage first and then for 10:30, the Rev. Tim Droegemueller from Georgia took our young minds for an adventure in the Word. Both Pastors hit their points spot on. Unfortunately for me, the lack of sleep began to catch up and as ashamed as I am to admit it, I zoned in and out of dream land each and every morning once the participants had all found their seats. This is one of my most persistent sins, and I hope you all will forgive me.

After Bible Study, we all met together downstairs to see what we wanted to do for lunch. The plan had been Subway, but there was a huge line of lime green backpacks and we decided instead to do Bible Study. I brought my guitar and led those of us who had not gotten out of Bible Study early in praise and worship and we prayed during the singing. Then it was off to separate classes, naps, or lunch for us and we met back up to go to the Superdome at 4:15. During that time, I saw God work through my co-captain by reinforcing a Psalm that we had read for morning devotion:

O Lord, you have searched me
and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I
rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways
Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there you hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.

For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s
womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and
wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the
earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of
them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
How precious tome are your thoughts,
O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I would count them, they are more
than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you.

Oh that you would slay the wicked, O god!
O men of blood, depart from me!
They speak against you with malicious
intent;
your enemies take your name in vain!
Do I not hate those who hate you,
O LORD?
And do I not loathe those who rise up
against you?
I hate them with complete hatred;
I count them my enemies.

Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting! — Psalm 139 —

On this day, it was especially true. Where could we go from God’s Spirit? Where could we hide from his truth? It stared at us point blank as we all were presented with the question “Do you believe?” Not only that, but it was comforting to know that God had preordained Lyndsey to be sitting in the session with Bob Lenz who spoke of God’s wonderful creations— us! We are truly intricate and complex, and I marvel at how so many in the world ascribe our very existence to random chance! Thanks be to God that he is an active, down to earth God who is always shaping, forming, and recreating the very depths of our beings every day!

So, after nap time, we all headed to the Superdome. It was time for Mass Events again! I was super pumped, because Brock Gill was appearing that night! I don’t know about you, but I love illusions. I love trying to figure out what makes them work and what makes them tick. Criss Angel amazes me. Does Brock Gill? Well, I don’t know. See, while he was transitioning from one illusion to another the weirdest thing happened.

I was standing in section 146. Most everyone had a seat, but there were still a few groups lagging behind. In order to hear above the crashing of the “thunder” and “waves”, I pressed my hand against my walkie talkie ear piece. My ear began to itch and I wanted to scratch it. So I pulled what I thought was the entire ear piece out of my ea,r but it was only the speaker. Where was the ear piece? I searched for it with my finger and felt nothing. Calmly, I thought to myself Ok. It got pushed farther down than I thought. I’ll head to first aid and they’ll have it out in 5 minutes with the tweezers. Letting my ushers know where I was going, I proceeded to first aid. My ear began to ache a little bit. It wasn’t so much painful as nagging, and I began feeling uncomfortable. Upon entering the first aid station, I described my plight to the EMTs. They looked at me with the most comical looks I have ever seen. One even said, “How did you manage that?!”
“I don’t know. I couldn’t hear over the noise, and I pressed against my ear.”
So the oldest gentleman in the room went upstairs to get some tweezers to see if they could fish it out. I filled out some incident reports and then proceeded to call Linda Stroming, my dome supervisor and “mom” for the week. Finally, she arrived. We told her what went down, and well, she reacted this way: “You are just like the little boy who stuck the Lego up his nose,” she stated with a grin.
“Yup,” I replied in agreement.

The whole situation was much funnier than serious, at least until the paramedics told me I had to go to the ER. So we called YAV manager Brandon Heath, had him to come down Section 133, and figured out how to transport me to Tulane Medical Center. While waiting, I learned of another serious injury. One of the adult leaders at the gathering had decided to hop a catwalk thinking it would be a faster way to get to the floor. Well, it was fast alright, but it was serious. All I can say with certainty is that he went to the ER and was treated for a broken hip and other trauma. At the last we heard, he was stable at a New Orleans hospital, and we were praying for him. I hope no one has to experience anything like that.

Brandon arrived, my backpack arrived, and the security guard took my picture. Then it was six blocks down La Salle to Tulane ER. As we walked, I probed Brandon’s mind to see what ministry was like. We also rehashed how I got the ear piece stuck in my ear and were discussing how I was going to pay for the visit. Once I finished filling out the paperwork, he pulled out his laptop and tuned in to the live stream of the Gathering just in time to see students rush the stage to support the speaker, Kellie Stocker. Our reactions were quite different. Brandon was like “That’s awesome! Look at all the love!” and I said, “The Mass Events team isn’t gonna like this.” Not trying to take away from the love, but I knew how uncomfortable the whole situation was gonna be when my ushers had to tell the youth group from Texas that they had to clear the stage. Fortunately, all was resolved peacefully and all were still joyful.

The wait to bee seen at the ER was an hour. I learned during this time that I had a heart rate of 54 (very good so I’m told) and conversed some more with Brandon. They finally called me back to a room. After 5 minutes or so, the nurse entered, looked in my ear, and explained she was actually excited to pull the ear piece from my ear. OK. Creepy, but I could see why that would be exciting, for her expertise was ear, nose, and throat treatment. She used “alligator forceps” to remove the object from my ear canal. As she pulled, it felt like my ear was being turned inside out! Pain, lots of pain for about 20 seconds coursed down my jawline. It hurt so bad, my eyes watered! But, at 30 seconds, she had pulled it far enough to where the pressure disappeared and a wave—no, tsunami — of relief washed over me. The last 30 seconds were a breeze, and the object easily slid out. The end had turned inside out, which is why it got stuck in my ear. How I managed that, I will never know. Just one special kid I guess.

I waited another hour sitting in the room where they performed the procedure. Apparently, they forgot about my discharge paperwork. I signed it, headed back out to the waiting room with the little plastic troublemaker in tow, and found Brandon conversing with a nice young lady. Now he will tell you a different version, but this is how it really happened. I walked in to the waiting room. He asked if they got it out, I said yes, and I showed them the ear piece with plenty of distance between it and their eyes. I learned walking back that Brandon was single, and supposedly a rumor developed from that point that I killed his game once he started telling the story back at the hotel. I let everyone know I was OK, and walking into the hotel,l there sat a number of ushers in the lobby around the TV. I joined them and began retelling the story over and over again to various people as the came and went. I even drew a picture of the ear piece in my ea, but clearly, I do not have the best art skills, and it looked something completely different and I was advised to burn the picture.

God clearly works the way he does for a reason and I am truly thankful that he unstopped the ears of this deaf man. He opened my eyes to see that in what I could have treated as the end of the world, he enabled me to laugh at myself and help others laugh as well. I am now immortalized in Brandon Heath lore, and have been informed that every Monday night in their college group for Christ Lutheran La Mesa, California my story will be told. I also know that life throws stuff at us that at the time can be daunting, but works for God’s purpose in the end. If we approach it that way, we will be able to help other blind men see the light and we will ask them as the blind man did the Pharisees, “Do you wish to become his disciples too?”

I hope that this was enlightening and entertaining. I pray that God grants you peace in every situation. In conclusion, I would like to quote Paul Harvey, “Now you know the rest of the story.” Until next time, God’s peace be with you.

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.  –Acts 2:42–
“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am among them.”   –Matthew 18:20–
Saturday was the day.  The day where all the participants (minus a few stragglers) converged on the city of New Orleans.   The energy was high among us all.  Smiles graced the faces of everyone in lime green backpacks and orange shirts.  Many “A”s and “O”s were exchanged as forms of greeting fellow Lutherans and the high fives started and continued with much enthusiasm the entire weekend.   None of this excitement and anticipation was more noticeable than amongst Team OSCAR.  After we trained in our last couple of rooms for Bible Study ushering,  we all went to lunch at Subway.   Thinking that there would be no line, however, was a rather naive mistake as many more of our YAVs had the same idea of eating healthy, nutritious food.  After fellowshipping in line we proceeded back to the convention center as a group, entered the food court area, and joined together for lunch.
It was a sight to behold. Fifteen college-age students sitting around one long table, breaking bread together in the name of Christ Jesus.  Laughing, joking, learning to play the dart game and studying the Bible as one.  Surely God was working, since He promises in His word that “where two or three gather together in my name, there am I among them.”  We were actually living Acts 2:42! I’ve said it many times, but I’m going to say it again: God is awesome!
That lunch fanned the flames the rest of the day and into the night, when we had to go back to the Superdome at 5 pm to train the rest of our usher teams.  See, Team OSCAR members were the head Mass Event ushers, and teams Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, and Delta had not had usher training yet.  It was great getting to meet five new people on Usher Team 9.  We rocked it!  I want to especially thank Emelia Abbe, Katie Weander, Peter Reichert, Erika Wolf, Tara Wilkins, and Sarah Nelson for doing such a wonderful job guiding and directing people to first and foremost slow down and to help them find their seats.  It was a privilege to serve with and serve you guys.
At 6 PM, we made our way down to Gate G to get ready for the mass of people lined up to rush into the building and find their seats.  Already there were quite a few groups at the doors and, well, they looked kind of bored.  So we as ushers put our heads together and came up with some entertaining games to do while they waited.  I think at one point we managed to get the entire front row to wave their hands in the air, and one night we did a skit.  And of course, we line danced for them. Ushers know how to put the “Fun” in Fun, Friendly, and Flexible.
Seven o’clock came and whooosh! It was a mad house.  Dogs and cats, living together, mass hysteria!  But our lines held.  We put our hands across and slowed the crowd down.  Each usher group broke off to their assigned sections and to the organized chaos of looking for seats, ensuring there was room for groups coming late, and directing people to the floor followed for the next hour.  That first Mass event was all a blur.   There’s not much I remember except two vitally important things: 1. The Reverend Terry Dittmer opened the gathering with an amazing, outstanding cheer.  He introduced it well, highlighting the fact that even though we can’t believe for someone, we can still and accurately say that “We believe” in the apostle’s teaching as we all confess it together.  We can come together and live in community and shout “We believe!”  Which we did.  “DO YOU BELIEVE?”  And over 25,000 voices echoed back, “WE BELIEVE!” 2.  The Reverend Greg T. Manning from Kansas City stated that even though he was legally blind, he could see.  He had seen Jesus Christ work in him to kill him and create him anew to serve and love and proclaim the Gospel to the world.  I will never forget that.
In conclusion, I would like to pray for each and everyone of us who attended that gathering.  I pray that Jesus would surround us with fellow Christians to spur us on, encourage us in our faith, and who also serve their neighbors.  May these Christians in our home congregations step in where we left off at the gathering and maintain that fellowship. May the young and the old of the congregation come together in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and press on into the darkness bearing light to the world.  I pray that the fire would not die, but be fueled even more and that God would guard and keep us from temptation to fall away and become complacent in our lives.  May we live in authentic koinonia, community, with one another.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Until next time, God’s peace be with you.