Last Day

Quickly the week is coming to a close.

Yesterday we were greeted by wind and rain and ended up not spending any time on the actual beach. Instead, we split up and went out to three locations:

  1. Sun Splash/Ocean View – 6 or 7 team members spent the morning on the boardwalk at Sun Splash or visiting with the residents at Ocean View. Drew and Kat took Jon Jon, Nicki, James and Josh to Pizza Hut for lunch while others spent time talking with the brave few who were willing to deal with the wind.
  2. Outdoor Mall – another 6 or 7 went to the outdoor mall to talk with those visitors who chose to do a little shopping with the weather keeping them off the beach. Had some conversations with individuals working in the various stores.
  3. Library – 4 team members went over to the library to talk with some homeless friends – particularly hung with George – as they tried to get out of the weather under the various shelters available.

After mentioning yesterday about improving health – the numbers above should show you that much of the sickness was back and a number of team members spent the morning resting in the room trying to get over this bug.

On the last day, we would ask you to pray for health, for strength and for opportunities. The last day always feels really important as we wrap up conversations and get ready to say goodbye to friends – new and old. Pray that we have the opportunities to say all that God has laid on our heart and that we will be able to express the love of God to the individuals we encounter.

Thanks for your prayers!

 

Halfway Point

We have finished the halfway point of our time in Daytona.

The last two days have had a number of similarities to what we experienced on Monday.

Each day begins with the ‘food crew’ heading off to Sam’s Club (and sometimes Walmart) to pick up the supplies we will need for the upcoming day!

Tuesday began with half the team heading to the library park to connect with many of our friends who are homeless. It continued to be a mixture of joy and sadness as we sat with men and women and heard more stories of the harshness of life on the street. Many continued to struggle with the question of how we could possibly share God’s love with them – how to let them know that they matter to the God of the universe.

The other half of the team went to the beach to get set up for another very warm day of walking on the beach. During our time there were lots of games of volleyball – with high school and college students who are spending their spring break running around Daytona. Small groups of the team spent the day walking the beach and getting in to conversations with individuals, families, college students and snow birds. These conversations range from shallow discussions to ones that are deep and surprisingly open. While we can’t arrange the outcomes of these conversations, we enjoy each one, seeking to be present and available to what God wants to do.

The beach is also the place where we get to hang out with our friends from Ocean View. We love sharing a soda (or many, many sodas) with these friends, catching up on their lives and talking about the things they want to discuss. Many of these conversations are fun and light – while some reveal the great hurt and brokenness that the years have dealt them. Most of the day on Tuesday we were ‘serenaded’ by our friend Louis doing a variety of karaoke songs from the 80’s, 90’s and beyond.

Ended the day on the beach doing some beach worship with a wild collections of friends and strangers – always a highlight of the day.

After dinner (with our local friends we met a few years ago – Les and Kris) a number of team members went out on the town to talk with people on the boardwalk and in the town.

Today followed much of the same pattern – with a few changes. Our time at the park with our homeless friends was an wonderfully encouraging time as we connecting with a local group (Four Seasons Ministry) who does a feeding ministry weekly for homeless in Daytona. These wonderful Christians were SO encouraging to us and provided us with a wonderful opportunity to connect with and see the church caring for the men and women on the streets.

The day at the beach was similar to yesterday with more conversations and more encounters where God gave us opportunities to encourage others and also used others to encourage us.

After dinner we were able to do what is typically the highlight of our week as we went to Ocean View and worshiped with the residents at the home. Always great to see James Lewis tapping away as we sing a variety of songs.

Continue to pray for strength over the next to days. The good news is everyone now appears to be healthy (largely) – no significant sunburn, but certainly some tiredness from spending hours in the hot sun.

We really want to finish well during the next two days – pray that along with strength – our hearts will be open to those that we meet and that God will use us to bring his love to the people of Daytona that we are privileged to encounter.

A Day of Joy and Sadness

Day one started with worship as we sang and watched the sun rise over the Atlantic. After breakfast and a time of singing and testimony we headed out to the beach and ministry.

The day was full of meeting new people from a family of Grandparents and four VERY active kids to four retired guys from St. Louis who were spending time together in Daytona. Each of these new encounters reminded us of the joy of meeting new people and the honor of listening to and participating in their story.

But the day was also a reunion of sorts as we reunited with friends from past years. In these experiences we found both joy and sadness – seeing James, Rob, Sabrina, Vincent, Rodney and so many more was a joyful homecoming of sorts. But in many cases these, and other reunions were also times of sadness as we found many of our friends in circumstances that had changed very little in the previous year. This continues to raise the why questions? Why do they suffer so much? Why does it seem so unfair? Why does God seem so silent in it all?

But as we processed last night, we were reminded that while we desire to see healing – we long for our friends to be delivered, we know that our love for these friends pales in comparison to the love our Father has and that while the world often doesn’t see them and intentionally chooses to ignore them, the Father’s eyes are always on them and his heart breaks for and with them. We are finding that as we listen to them and spend time with them, we experience God in a powerful – and sometime painful – way.

Pray for health, strength (physical, spiritual and emotional) and for the individuals we met yesterday and will met today. Thanks for your continued prayers and continued support!

Arrived in Daytona

We have arrived in a windy, but sunny, Daytona Beach. The drive was largely uneventful – no real traffic, but the pleasure of driving through some pretty constant rain. There were a number of team members that were dealing with various forms of sickness. But as we finish up today, most are feeling better – but pray that we will wake up tomorrow and all be in good health for our first day on the beach.

On Saturday, we had a chance to experience (from a bit of a distance) bike week in Daytona. The streets and parking lots were filled with various types of motorcycles and the air was filled with the excessive roar of engines revving.

But today, as most of the bikes roared out-of-town, we had a great day of relaxing, connecting with each other and preparing ourselves for the week ahead. We are excited about what God is going to do in our lives over the next five days and trust that He is going to give us opportunities to love others as we have been loved by Him.

Spent some time this evening praying and worshiping at Sun Splash Park – it was good to be back in the place that holds so many wonderful memories. Pray for good sleep and that God will continue to give us a vision for those around us. Help us to clearly see the image of God in each person we encounter.

Thanks for your prayers and support!

Meet the Daytona Team!

Daytona

3rd row L-R: Nick Dennig, Delaney Getz, Kelsie Collins, Grason Poling, Jonathan Siegelin

2nd row L-R: *Steve Mortland, Natalie Rupp, Drew Ibach, Nathan Mortensen, Rachel Gollier, Tali Valentine, *Chad Ibach, Josiah Peterson, Peter Linn

1st row L-R: *Erika Mortland, Danielle Straits, Jason Kimball, Gloria Bulaya, Alyssa Henrikson, Sydney Peugh, LeeAnna Davis, Kat Smith, Chester Chan, Dietrich Swinney

*Team Leader

Prayer Requests:

  • Pray that we would be able to speak the truth to people in need with NO fear.
  • Pray that we would have radical boldness!
  • Pray that we can see others as Jesus sees them.
  • Pray that we could dive deeper into what it means to live with a kingdom mindset so that sharing is not a formula, but an overflow from our own lives, and who Jesus is to us personally.
  • Pray we can love each other and those we meet well as a team.

Team Verse: 1 Peter 4:10

“God has given each of you some special abilities; be sure to use them to help each other, passing on to others God’s many kinds of blessings.”