Open Arms – Day Five

A long day today resulted in completing every project that we set out to do this week. We’re so glad that a massive amount of painting is completely finished, a roof has been patched, and some fascia and guttering is back in place. The physical side of the week has been pretty demanding, but very rewarding, as the students have learned so much and worked so hard. The relational side of the week, and coming to grips with just how hard it is going to be to say goodbye, has perhaps best captured by the fact that several students have asked multiple times tonight if there’s any way we could stay another week! We spent the evening at a local favorite pizza place called Goose Pond Pizza with the girls and staff from Open Arms and rounded out the night with some Dairy Queen. After we got back to the Miriam home, we had a time of sharing our favorite moments of the week and some very special memories and kind words were exchanged. We laughed and cried and had a great time together wondering how it seems like just yesterday that we arrived. FInally this evening the entire living room became a friendship bracelet making factory as newly forged relationships continued to grow through conversation after conversation. Tomorrow morning, we’ll fight through the tears as we say our goodbyes, and then it’s off to Bloomington to celebrate Elexis’s birthday and do some rock climbing, and then home shortly after. We’ll be sharing all of the pictures and stories at 9:15 AM at The VINE this Sunday in the Chapel at Chapel Rock along with the spring break team that went to Guatemala last week. We look forward to sharing firsthand about all of the many experiences, challenges, growth, and learning moments of the week.



Open Arms – Day Four

So, Zach, a middle school student on our team, has this stuffed squirrel that he brought with him that has no face. Apparently his dog literally ate the face off of his stuffed squirrel. It’s name is Steve (the squirrel, not the dog). Apparently the fact that the squirrel has no face, although slightly bizarre, has no bearing on the fact that Steve is very much appreciated and valued as a stuffed squirrel.

Before the week started many of us on our team had expectations of who we might meet here at Open Arms. We had prepped our team to know a little bit about the work that happens here, and had even heard some testimonies of some of the past students who have lived at Open Arms. We thought we knew what to anticipate, but the people we had envisioned that we would meet, still didn’t have faces. Now they do. Not only do they have faces, but we’ve gotten to know their names, their dreams, their hearts, and their passions… and we love them all the more for having allowed us to be able to enter in to their stories, to know them, to relate to them, to live with them for the week, to learn so much from them, and to love them.

Today we continued our painting efforts, which Steve Campbell, who among many things heads up maintenance around here said that it, “looked like a job done by professionals! ” We had some additional help this afternoon when Kathy, Lauren and Morgan Murphy drove down from Indy to assist us, and they even brought some great afternoon snacks that really hit the spot! We also started and completed one of our outdoor projects that led to students learning new skills with a circular saw and an air nailer. Our crew is simply amazing! Our day was rounded out when Ann Huebel came and led a really great time with the girls complete with the experience of a facial and skin care tips. Afterward we presented each girl with a little goodie bag that was appreciated by all, and tonight we spent a relaxing evening watching a movie and winding down after a long fun filled day.

Tomorrow we have our last big day of work ahead of us. We’ve been getting up a little after 6 AM each day and putting in some long work hours, but everyone is still excited to get going and push through to hopefully meet our painting goal for the week of six major areas of the Miriam house. There’s even talk from a few students of getting up even earlier to get a jump on the day! We can only hope that this enthusiasm carries forward beyond spring break… It just goes to show how much students can accomplish when the bar is set high, they are passionate about the mission, and they can see a direct impact on the lives for which they are serving.

We’ve learned a ton this week. We’ve learned to see a lot of things and people from a different perspective…even a faceless squirrel named Steve. We’ve laughed, and loved, and prayed, and learned, and have been challenged physically, emotionally and spiritually. Above and threw it all we’ve caught glimpses of the face of Jesus in the lives of our team, in the lives of the girls here, and in the amazing staff and all those who give of themselves for the sake of the mission of Christ here at Open Arms.

Open Arms – Day Three

Today one of our students said, “I’ve learned this week that somebody would love to have my situation at home, even though there has been so much I thought was so bad.” It was an honest statement, one that didn’t come easy, and was truly a moment of vulnerability. Another student mentioned how much they often take for granted the simple pleasures and luxuries our lives are filled with, and as they’ve lived as a part of the community here in the group home at Open Arms this week, they’ve gained a great appreciation and respect for the girls here who so bravely face the challenges of each day with a smile and an eagerness to give and receive love, truly with “open arms.” Such have been just a few of the many ways our lives have been touched and will never be the same  because of this week. Most all the students on our team have expressed how much they’ve enjoyed getting to know the girls here at Open Arms, and cherish the relationships that have already been built in just three short days.

Today our theme was image; specifically how we see ourselves, and if we’re willing to really look deeply at our lives and try to see the way that God sees us. We talked about how we are created in God’s image from Genesis 1:27 and how we are God’s workmanship, his handiwork from Ephesians 2:10. We had the opportunity to lead an afternoon bible study for the Turning Point Academy students beginning with the same theme and were able to present the simple Gospel message through, of all things, a Reese’s cup. You’ll have to ask Jennifer Burnette sometime about her great object lesson involving the classic peanut butter candy. We’ve had a lot of time to hang out, play some games, do some crafty projects (thanks to Rhena Crane & Creative Memories), and play a little basketball this evening. It’s been really great to share a bit of life with the students of Open Arms and with the resident staff and Marty and Shiela Corey, and it’s been really awesome to see the love that is shared with the students here and is the foundation of all that Open Arms is about. It’s obvious that God is in this place and among the work that is being done here in the lives of the students. We’ve been honored to be able to come alongside the great things happening here to serve and be encouragers.

Open Arms – Days One & Two

The work has begun and is going fantastic. Who knew that teenagers could be so excited about wall paper removal? Today has been a full day of painting, conquering stubborn wall paper, and lots of time hanging out and bonding with the students here at Open Arms. Our theme has been centered around the phrase, “Be A Part of The Story…” and we’ve certainly seen ways big and small that we are joining our lives into the story that God is writing. We’re also having a great time enjoying the opportunities to share in the stories of one another’s lives. Of the seven students from Chapel Rock on the team, only two go to the same school, so it’s truly been a time of growth in getting to know one another as we serve together. For as diverse a group as God has put together in one place this week, his timing couldn’t have been more perfect… Open Arms just learned that their yearly state inspection of the group home is going to take place next week, so a fresh coat of paint on a good part of the facility along with all the other sprucing up that will happen this week, is going to aid greatly in helping show what great work is done here for students in the name of Christ. We appreciate your continued prayers as God continues to lead and work among us for the sake of His glory.