Summer Immersion Experiences
Posted: August 01, 2017
With vehicles packed, hugs given to parting travelers, and seats carefully picked for the journey ahead, anticipation mounts. Will I have fun this week? Am I going to make any new friends? Is serving others going to be scary?
As the questions swirled in the minds of all those called to participate in a Summer Immersion Experience through Shepherd of the Valley this past summer, participants didn’t even realize that God had already started a good work among us! That good work was and continues to be the transformational impact of the Holy Spirit who faithfully shows up when we are sent from SOTV – or better yet, graciously reminds us that she’s always been there.
This summer, SOTV sent over 300 people of all ages from our congregation to Camp Wapo in Amery, Wisconsin; to the Pine Ridge Reservation in Wanblee, South Dakota; to Panama City, Florida for Beach Camp; to Duluth, Minnesota; and locations all throughout the twin cities metro area for Summer Stretch. Through relationships, reflection, and service, participants discovered the ways in which God is already at work in the world; noticing how God has always and continually transforms hearts, gently pointing us back to the hope of the cross. I had the pleasure and privilege of getting to lead a group of high school students to the Pine Ridge Reservation in Wanblee, South Dakota this summer through the YouthWorks organization. Our week included worship, devotion, fellowship, running a Kid’s Club for area kids to have structured playtime, and working on various home improvement projects, like painting and constructing pergolas. The beauty of the week wasn’t necessarily in seeing the progress made in our respective service projects, but in experiencing firsthand the history and stories of the Pine Ridge people who by the power of God’s love transformed us.
As a leader, it was a humbling experience to see how much bigger and more complicated the world became for the students participating on the Pine Ridge trip. Even more incredible was witnessing how this big and complicated world still holds so much hope! Thank you for your prayers on behalf of all of our Summer Immersion experiences this past summer. And thank you, also, for lending a listening ear to our travelers as they came home to share their experiences. As another summer comes to a close, it is with a deep gratitude that I look back in awe of how great our God is.