Day #3 brings another tired bunch of youth, but what an AWESOME day we had! Despite some slight issues with our breakfast at the hotel, we went on our merry way this morning ready for what was next.
Today, Thursday, was our Practice Discipleship day. That meant that we spent the day with the rest of the Southwestern PA Synod that was at the Gathering. Nearly 400 youth and adults gathered in one of the hotel ballrooms for worship and small group discussions. We spent the whole morning there learning more about the seven faith practices. They are: Serve, Prayer, Worship, Invite, Study, Give, and Encourage. After that, we split up into three smaller groups for lunch and our “Discipleship Tour.” The group I was with first ventured into the Food Court at the River Walk, but we found lines that went all the way around the food court. Needless to say we didn’t stay, but instead began to walk closer to our hotel and decided to see what we could find on the way there.
Along the way, we happened into a small restaurant that was connected to one of the hotels we passed. We went inside and the place was totally empty! We were able to have a nice sit-down lunch with our group and discuss some of the topics that were in the Discipleship Tour guide. It’s amazing how small things like finding an empty restaurant can be such blessings when you really need it!
After our groups reconvened at the hotel, we headed over to the Superdome in hopes of fulfilling Pastor Bill’s goal of getting onto the floor during the Gathering. Since today was our Discipleship day, we were allowed onto the floor early with our gold wristbands. However, by the time we got in, the group I was in (Pastor Bill included) got shut out of the floor…At least we still have a few more times to make a go at it!
Despite our setbacks with getting onto the floor, that didn’t stop us from hearing some of the amazing artists and speakers that the Gathering had to offer. We first got to see Tony Memmel who was an awesome singer-songwriter with a twist. He was born without his left forearm. He adapted to this unique situation by taking eight years to learn how to play the guitar, piano, and harmonica. He plays the guitar with an interesting duct tape sling of sorts that holds the pick on his left arm. The way Tony was able to overcome these obstacles and the way he works to inspire others to overcome theirs was really an awesome and inspiring thing.
Our next two speakers were Valerie Rivas and Megan Stubbs. They told about there mission work in South Africa and Tanzania respectively. They told about how God had called them to mission and ministry in those countries. In Valerie’s case, it helped her to see her calling to become a physician’s assistant so that she could help people. For Megan, it helped her to see others in a new light. She told of a common saying in Tanzania “Over in the west, people have watches. In Africa, people have time.” Although the people of Tanzania don’t have much to offer, they to have their time that they are always willing to share.
Our final speaker was Shane Caliborne. Like last night, he didn’t fit your typical Christian, or Lutheran image with his appearance. Shane talked about the risks of practicing discipleship. He was an incredibly inspirational speaker who really got everyone fired up. He talked about the fact sometimes we’re waiting on God and in fact, God is waiting on us. We’re just the conduit bringing him to people.
After Gathering in the dome, Community Life events go on. They range from the Fun Club (inflatable jousting, obstacles courses) to Taize Worship. Anything you want to do, you can for the most part find! We had an awesome day and can’t wait for another one tomorrow. Plus, don’t forget to check out our Photo Gallery (**CLICK HERE**) for pictures from today and yesterday. Peace!