Meet Kyle

He tweets, he posts to Facebook, he is mayor of Calvin Church (according to foursquare)… it’s Kyle Adams.

Kyle is SERVE’s resident geek. He handles all the technology, from putting the photos online to the live video streaming from our robotic webcam.

Kyle loves playing with the latest whizbang gadgetry and can be found behind his Mac laptop during the wee hours of the morning discovering new technology tools & ways to use them. His goal during SERVE is to use his knowledge & those tools to create a way for SERVE participants to communicate with friends and family back home. We want to involve them as much as possible so that they can understand what their loved ones are experiencing. Kyle hopes that this understanding not only keeps them closer during the week but will also help start conversations about the SERVE experience once everyone heads back home.

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Meet Erika

If I was an animal, I'd be a...I think this photo explains more about Erika’s personality than I ever could. What kind of job do you put someone like this on? The Barnabus Team, that’s what! Erika heads up the team responsible for “bringing treats out to the worksites in the afternoons along with some encouragement to help [the kids] work hard through the end of the day.” She’s excited to be part of SERVE because she loves “seeing people living in community and showing the world that being a Christian is a blast!”

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Meet Dee

This is Dee Scott’s first year as a worksite co-coordinator; along with Paul Wilson she helps track down folks in Muskegon who need help and then matches them with the SERVE groups. Dee’s favorite part of SERVE is “seeing the way the kids pull together by the end of the week as a unit.”

Dee has an adventurous side, as she’d like to follow in Junior’s… er… Indiana Jones’ footsteps, starring in Raiders of the Lost Ark. While the movie starts out with Jones making his way past booby traps in a Peruvian temple, Dee is more likely to be found a little further north, in Nicaragua. She’s busy learning Spanish as part of the mission work in which she and her husband Ric are involved.

Dee felt God’s presence recently while listening to a loved one pour out their heart: “although my stomach was in knots, I knew God was there giving me the right words to say.”

Meet Pastor John

Pastor John’s SERVE roles are a bit vague: head honcho… overseer… in charge of stuff… and Brian. He kept showing up at the coordinator meetings so we felt obligated to give him some kind of title 🙂

In all seriousness, the closer we get to the week of SERVE the more excited John gets. During last week’s service he told the congregation how much he looked forward to seeing the church so full of young people. When asked about his favorite parts, he answers without hesitation: “kids and meals.” When he isn’t pesteringVern in the kitchen, he’ll be busy throughout the rest of the church, making sure everything is running smoothly. In his words, God “tells me he has great things in store for Calvin Church. Think I’ll hang around to enjoy this.”

John and his wife Ellen arrived at Calvin via Arizona and all that sunshine is still in their blood: John’s usual Sunday sweater doesn’t come off until the temperature is at least a brisk 80 degrees. When not at the church John and Ellen are likely in their garden, walking their big teddy bear of a dog, or doting on their grandkids.

Meet Ellen, Kayla, and Shannon

Shannon and Kayla

These women all refer to themselves as part of a three-headed monster called community life. Ellen is the paper work and organizational head of that monster: you can thank her for any letters you may have received, your name tags, bags, bottles, and supplies. Kayla and Shannon plan and run various fun activities throughout the week. All three women are united in their passion for SERVE; Shannon summed it up saying, “my favorite part of SERVE is meeting all these new people and watching them enjoy helping others throughout the week.” Ellen agreed, saying that she enjoys “meeting people, praying for special needs”.

Shannon is a elementary school teacher with a passion for English. With that said, one of her most memorable God Sightings also involved Spanish:

On a mission trip to Mexico in high school, I was very touched on our last day there. We had a ceremony in which we sang a song in Spanish, and they sang a song in English. Almost everyone there was in tears by the end, and you could tell God helped us connect with one another throughout that week to make that time so special. This is one moment I will never forget.

Even though she’s a teacher, she’s not all books and learning – her favorite movie is Clueless, “because I would have an excuse to act like a complete airhead for a day.” Sounds good Shannon, as long as you don’t start driving like Cher.

Kayla is a currently a college student; her favorite subjects are math and science. Good thing too, since learning to be a world-famous geologist would be much harder if your favorite subject was underwater basket weaving. Much like Vern, Kayla has a soft spot for 80s movies; don’t look for her in aviator shades though, as she’s more of a Sixteen Candles girl. Growing up in this area, Kayla loves heading to the beach. The natural beauty and amazing colors constantly remind her of God’s majesty.

Ellen's mug shot

Ellen was more of a recess and art class person back in her school days. She has a whole lifetime of God Sightings that just start bubbling out when you ask: “when my kids were born, when my granddaughter was born! When my husband graduated from seminary. So many more than I can count!” Ellen’s fingers are crossed, as one of her other favorite things about SERVE is “seeing that things run smoothly and that everyone is OK and getting along.”

That’s our very own three-headed monster, up close and personal.

Meet Vern

Vern is the food coordinator for SERVE. He and his team of kitchen staff are famous for some amazing creations, both at SERVE and other church events. In Vern’s own words:

[My favorite part is] watching people as they gather for coffee time or at a event, sitting around enjoying one another’s company. You can see the smiles and wonderful fellowhip they are having. God is surely at work.

Vern and his wife Joyce are avid University of Michigan fans, so if you want to get on his good side (your tummy will thank you) wear blue and gold and practice up on your “Hail to the Victors.” In addition to the cooking, Vern also feels the need, the need for speed, as he’d love to star in the 80’s classic, Top Gun.

Meet Brian

Brian is Calvin CRC’s youth pastor; he’s also the cat herder for SERVE. His job is to organize or delegate all the different details that make up a SERVE week: food, transportation, lodging, work sites, fun and games… it’s a lot of work but worth it. Brian’s favorite part is “how many different people, young and old… get involved and have such a spiritual awakening that impacts our church, the kids who come, as well as the community.” The Friday night worship for 2009’s SERVE was a God Sighting for Brian, as the service lasted for over four hours and “everyone wanted more!”

Brian and his wife Courtney have two daughters, with a third child on the way. Brian just finished his Master’s degree, which is pretty impressive for a guy who says his best subject in school was gym. Maybe that’s why he’s a youth pastor: there’s always a dodgeball game around the corner. When he’s not in the gym or at home, there’s a good chance he’s on the golf course, pretending to be Happy Gilmore.

Day Away

Today was the day away, in more ways then we’d intended.

Alas, my entire family caught a cold, which I’ve discovered as the father of two kids under three is significantly different from just me catching a cold. One result is that I’ve had much less time to devote to Serve today, which is kinda a bum deal since it is also the “fun day” for everyone.

We’ll still have a slideshow, photos will be posted, etc. but I apologize for the general lack of updates today.

The Mailroom Is Closed

The mailroom is now closed. Our last batch of messages was delivered later than normal today for other reasons, but a nice side effect was more time for last minute messages, but as some groups will be leaving very early tomorrow, there won’t be any more deliveries.

All in all, we had over three hundred and fifty messages sent during the week. The kids were genuinely surprised at how many e-mails they would find each day as well as who was sending them e-mails. I regularly heard comments like “Someone from my church e-mailed me; it isn’t just my mom!” or “I didn’t think my grandparent even knew about the web site!”

Thanks for your words of encouragement, tidbits of wisdom, and news from the homefront.

Upcoming Attractions

Wow, I can’t believe we’re entering the last days of Serve. Today (Thursday) is the last work day.

The participants are in for a treat tonight at dinner, as we pull out all the stops: candlelight, linens, wait staff… fine dining to congratulate them on a week of hard work.

Then Friday is the day off, a chance to relax and have a little fun. Let’s hope the good weather we’ve had (most of) this week sticks around. Right now the forecasts are predicting slightly cooler (temps in upper 60s F/teens C) with a 10-30% chance of rain.