Greetings from Minneapolis!
Day four has wrapped up and finished, leaving us with one full day of sessions to go! It’s been a crazy ride so far, so hold on tight as we tell you about today’s events.
Today began with the Morning Session and the youth breaking out into their various sessions. We are still having a slight difficulty in attending sessions, but I know some of the youth enjoyed getting inside a giant plastic ball in the Interactive Area instead (they're crazy). Check out the pictures for a better description.
We took and early lunch because our service project was scheduled from noon to 2:00PM. Susan saved the day by ordering Jimmy John’s sandwiches to be delivered to the Convention Center for us. Personally, this was my first time eating Jimmy John’s and I was thoroughly impressed. They claim to have crazy fast service, and they sure did. By the time Susan placed the order and left to use the restroom Jimmy John's had made our sandwiches and were going to meet us in three to four minutes. Amazing.
With full bellies we headed to our service event: Feed My Starving Children. The youth has been fairly involved in FMSC in the past, so they were experts by the time we all got suited up and placed at our stations. We had a blast, singing songs and cracking jokes and attempting to be as efficient as possible. After packing for roughly over an hour, our group alone managed to pack 39 boxes! Quite impressive, Holy Cross youth. As a whole, our session packed enough boxes to supply over 99,000 meals--something an estimated 271 children will enjoy for the next year. They reported us as the fastest group they'd had at the gathering yet (which I hope was legitimate and not just something they tell all groups!), and they estimate the grand total of meals resulting from the gathering to be around 1.5 million. As one of the youth said, it's amazing how us giving something so little (an hour or two of our time) can make such a large impact.
After the service event, the youth broke out into sessions again. Here are some highlights from their respective sessions:
- "How to Talk About Jesus" - discussed how difficult it may be to talk to others about Jesus as it could affect ones social status (since kids don't normally talk about Jesus). This in combination with the fear of not knowing enough to say the right things or come up with the right answers made for a fairly engaging session, which the youth continually talked about throughout the evening aftwerward.
- "Real Present Promises in Life's Hills and Valleys" - talked about how Holy Communion and Baptism were applicable in our daily lives. The youth seemed to really like this one as well, and it being an intensive session seemed to provide them with much theological knowledge to take home (Elena said she took five pages of notes!).
- "A Discussion About Eating Disorders" - I attended this one so I can speak the most to it. For me (as a Health Science major), it was extremely interesting to hear the story of Beau and his struggle with an eating disorder for three years. He offered a real, God-centered discussion in which we were all encouraged to ask questions and it was overall a very positive and interesting session.
After sessions, we returned to the hotel where we ordered pizza (and a salad!) for dinner instead of fighting the crowds over the food trucks. It went so well we may need to do the same tomorrow.
Lastly, we attended the Mass Event once again in the stadium. Tonight's theme was (surprise) present, which was demonstrated interestingly through various skits, artistic displays, and narratives. While it may not have been as deep of a discussion as last night's real theme had prompted, I still think it was important to remind us all that God is present in our lives always. Additionally, as a practical implication, it's important for us to be present in the lives God's given us--not being absorbed with social media, the latest technology, or worrying about other things. As an adult leader I believe we can benefit from this message just as much as our "twitter-pated" youth.
The Skit Guys made an appearance after our event, and it was awesome to see their creative combination of humor, relevant issues, and Biblical teachings. They announced an upcoming movie of theirs being released so I'm sure that will be an interesting endeavor for them.
We debriefed back at the hotel and all the youth have returned to their rooms to (what I'm sure will be a heavy) sleep. We are all fairly exhausted from all the fun, but that's no excuse to stop. Tomorrow should be full of its own adventures, and it being the final full day of sessions we hope to make the most of it! We pray all are doing well back home and can't wait to see you all to tell stories of the gathering in person.
Holy Cross youth group