As a Texas Longhorn, I am obligated to make fun of the state of Oklahoma. By the way, do you know why Texas doesn’t just float off into the Gulf of Mexico? Because Oklahoma sucks.
Do you know why birds fly upside down over Oklahoma? Because there is nothing worth crapping on.
Do you know what you call an educated person in Oklahoma? A visitor.
Now that that is out of my system, let’s move on to the actual trip.
It’s been a few weeks, actually, since the trip, but I’m just now getting around to writing about it since it’s been pretty hectic moving to Fort Worth. In truth, my jesting about Oklahoma is all in good fun; I don’t have anything against the state, and the people there were a blessing to meet. I think God really used the trip to not only instill his Word into both children and youth kids but also to build relationships in our group as well as with the people there.
For a more day-to-day summary of what happened, go to Zephaniah’s blog here (he is my co-leader in the college ministry and he led this trip). In short, we helped with VBS in the morning from 9-12, had a lunch break, and then held a youth “conference” from 2-5, where we taught on various subjects, had workshops, and had small group discussions. I was not expecting to help out with the VBS much at all, but next thing I knew, I was a crew leader of some hyper-active little kids. As I believe I stated before in my post about Brooklyn, I do not have extensive experience with kids, but it was still a fun one, albeit still tiring. It was cool to see how the kids still learned some things, even though it seems like they’re not listening or just messing around. And corny VBS songs do wonders in capturing their attention ;).
One thing that I was impressed with was how that church, TCCC (Tulsa Chinese Christian Church) took ownership of their VBS program. Zephaniah had taken a college team to that church twice before, and the first time they went our college students ran the entire program. However, since that time, TCCC has put together a well-organized VBS with many volunteers who not only help decorate and take care of the kids but also reach the surrounding neighborhoods. It was a great example of how God can make a small seed grow.
As for the youth, our small “conference” was fairly chill and I probably should have done more than just dump on exposition of 2 Tim. 3:16-17 on them, but they were all bright kids who asked good questions and understood a lot (a rarity for Oklahoma… okay I’ll stop now). We got to hang out with them a few times, which included playing card games, playing party games through phone apps, going to hipster pseudo-Korean coffee shops (seriously, as a Korean, that place confused me), and playing basketball with the guys (whom we let win out of mercy… honest). Because we were the mature group of dudes in our 20’s, we tried to prank some of the youth by writing on their cars. One attempt was successful; the other failed pretty badly and featured Zephaniah driving us around in a giant white van at night in a neighborhood, which I’m sure did not draw any suspicion. The girls repaid us in kind by writing all over our VBS T-shirts and by writing on the van while we were inside at the hotel. Their writings included our given nicknames and their own insistence to call themselves “the squad,” oddly enough. Eh? What sort of squad? One of our students supplied the descriptor: bird-brain squad. We’ll go with that one ;). So, uh, yeah, we were doing God’s work. In all seriousness, it was a good time to build relationships as we tried to teach them, even though some of their mannerisms and speech puzzled me. I am getting old, I guess.
Not only that, I was thankful for the time I got to spend with the team. We sent a small team with no girls because all of the girls dropped out. While that presented difficulties in what we tried to do (couldn’t have gender specific small groups, for example), it was great to spend time with the guys and get to know them better. I was proud of how they served in both the VBS and in youth, and of course we had some fun simply being guys.
On the Sunday after VBS was over, Zephaniah preached at TCCC with his father translating, and it was a great message on enduring and being content from Philippians 4:10-14. It was interesting because I once preached on that passage at my hometown church with my dad also translating. I am a different speaker than Z; he is passionate and charismatic, while I am, uh, fairly sarcastic and dry. However, I remember when I taught that passage and related it to my surgeries, it brought tears to the audience (oddly enough, given my demeanor). Z related his story of a serious car wreck with his family and how he learned contentment in God in that situation, and it struck a big chord with the people at the church. It was a great reminder of the power of God’s Word, and that when it is preached faithfully, it will do work on its own.
Overall, it was a great experience, and despite my Oklahoma jokes, I really came to enjoy that church and the people there. It’s always nice to see how God works in different places, and I have no doubt that God will continue to do great things there. I am thankful to everyone who supported us through prayer and finances, and I am thankful to God for the opportunity to join what he is doing. Still… after two straight trips, I was glad to chill at home and read up on the Longhorns :). Texas fight, indeed.