Homecoming Concert THIS Sunday Night! 6:15 pm. Main Sanctuary at FBC Montgomery.
I’m not a big roller coaster fan, but I did ride on a lot of the water rides with our group that consisted of Lindsey W, Madison G, Mallory H, Keely S, Kelly S, and myself. Those were really fun and great for cooling off because man it is hot here. Kelly Snyder, Madison Gillis, and I took a chance to chill and hang out at a cafe for a few hours. Got a few snacks, watched some soccer, and shared some laughs. We had a really great time. It was a fun day and glad we had the chance to do it.
-Mary Kate Houlditch
I love roller coasters! I grew up riding them with my dad ever since I was little. Today at Busch gardens me, my dad. Lindsey Warwick, and Mr.Mike spivey went on the biggest one in the park (that’s what everyone said). After the first drop I told my dad there was another one and he said “are you kidding me there’s another one” and the drop was 90 degree drop. We all screamed at the top of our lungs! It was a great day!
After a wonderful last day of mission work and a long (yet fun) bus ride, we had the opportunity to perform at Emmanuel Baptist Haitian Church. Although many of the members barely spoke English, we could still all worship the same God. Through this worship… Language was not a barrier. When we later performed our Haitian song, the people were clearly overwhelmed with joy! They continually sang along with the lyrics that state “I am so glad Jesus loves me so”. Because of this worship filled concert, many of us were inspired to continue to strengthen our relationships with the Lord. After wonderful food and fellowship, we loaded up the buses and headed to the hotel for a final night in Miami. We enjoyed an outstanding devotion time led by the one and only (bus 2 president) William Shirley and were encouraged to let go of our worries and trust in God.
For the past two days, my family group and another family group worked together to paint a hallway in David Lawrence Junior High. Walking in I didn’t really expect it to make that much of a difference, but today when a few teachers and the principal came in we could really see how much it helped them out that we were doing this. There were funny times and stricter times. Not only did we have people painting, we had people cutting, tapping, and getting staples off the wall, including Claudia getting on Briggs’s shoulders to get staples that were really high up. We had people sitting in paint and getting paint on their shorts, but there were times that Mr. Spivey came down and made sure we were doing everything correctly. It was all fun bonding with people but my favorite part was afterwards when we were sitting in the lobby waiting on the buses to come get us. We got closer through speaking and throwing a ball made out of the tape we used. All in all I would say that this impacted me, and everybody else, because we knew we were helping out a school in need.
On the morning of June 10, group 4 was dropped off outside a local Walmart where several bus stops are located. Our main goal was to give out ice-cold waters to people waiting on the bus along with small cards that had information about Christ Centered Church. We also wanted to talk to these people and share how incredible God is. So many people were receptive of the waters, and they really enjoyed them!
I had the cool opportunity to talk with several people and spread God’s word to them. One guy I talked to was overwhelmed by God’s grace in his life, and he was so encouraged by what we were doing! Many of the people I talked to said they had a church home, but they said they were interested in visiting C2 Church. One sweet lady that I talked to had never heard God’s word and was very thankful that I shared it with her.
While we were out giving waters and talking to the people, a man got very upset with us for taking videos and pictures of our ministry work. We kept on giving out the waters and cards even though he was screaming and yelling curse words at us. After about 20 minutes of him screaming at us and hitting things around him, the surrounding people were getting aggravated at his actions so we deemed it best to go inside Walmart and wait for the bus to come. All we could do was pray for this man and not condemn him for his actions because the devil was in him.
Although this put a damper on our ministry work, we were still very encouraged by all that we had done. Overall, we gave out about 230 waters and cards to people waiting on the bus. This experience was incredible, and it was so awesome to be a blessing to the people and encourage them to come to know God. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to share God’s love and be a blessing to the people of Miami.
Today we went to a beautiful beach at Key Biscayne. We had a cookout complete with hotdogs and hamburgers thanks to our wonderful chefs. After eating we had some fun exploring the rocks & the lighthouse. Of course, lots of Instagram pics were taken. Pastor Jay, AKA Jay Spivey, led us in a challenging devotion. We all enjoyed a great day at Miami Beach.
This afternoon, on our fourth day of choir tour, we were given the opportunity to visit the Miami Rescue Mission to serve and sing. On our arrival, Chip called Reflections off the bus first and led us into the large room where we would later hold our concert. He explained to us that the homeless men who came to the Mission for food came in in shifts and waited in the chapel until it was their time to eat. We were to sing for them while they waited.
I vividly remember his warning that the men are truly homeless, they have no place to live, no roof over their heads, no shower, no clothes, no air conditioning, none of the amenities that I have had my entire life. Thinking about a life like that was daunting and unimaginable. Walking into that room was eye opening. There was a distinct smell that hung over the room, and the men and women inside seemed tired, oppressed by their lot in the world. I was instantly overwhelmed with a gratitude for my ability to live the life that I do, and a sympathy for the group of people sitting in front of us. Singing for them was a privilege. It was amazing the way our music brought them and us together and placed us on a level plain. There was no poor or rich or happy or sad, there was only Christ and our ability to worship him. They didn’t mind that we had more than them and we didn’t mind that they had less than us. But, isn’t that how God has always wanted it to be?
The way we touched these people’s lives was visible and astounding. A woman on the second row began crying towards the end of the first song, a man in the back lifted his hands to the sky every time we opened our mouths, and during “Little Wheel” a “who can conduct the best” competition broke out. Two of the men even brought their argument outside after one of them men had attempted to speak to us during a song and the other had promptly told him to “shut up” because he was listening. The word amen was shouted across the room, and the smiles on their faces made me giddy with happiness. It’s such a simple thing to sing a worship song. It doesn’t require great strength, unshakeable faith, an amazing voice, a particular job, or a certain race. It merely asks that you sing from the heart about the God that you love and have dedicated your life to. And that simple thing can change someone’s life forever. It can bring someone to tears, it can bring someone to their knees, and it can ultimately bring them to Christ. This lesson was evident in or impromptu concert today, and I am humbled that I was able to be a part of such an awe-inspiring experience.
Today, I got the opportunity to serve food and water to those who were homeless and attended the rescue mission. It was really eye opening to see those who were thrilled to have the little amount of food they receive on a daily basis. One personal family I got to spend a large amount of time with was a grandmother who brought her two grandchildren, one age 7 and the other age 4. The little girl (age 4) was so adorable and shy but really opened up once we got to talking. The boy (age 7) was the complete opposite of shy, he told me all about his school, hobbies, and family. The whole family was so blessed to have the food they received. Majority of the people I came in contact with were so thankful for our service to them, it was amazing to see their gratitude towards everyone. The whole serving team in my eyes put themselves last and did not get angry/upset when they came in contact with those who were not as kind. It was an amazing experience to put myself last and serve with an attitude of selflessness.
Monday morning, we handed out doughnuts on street corners to the cars of Miamians. Many students on the trip had great experiences with this project. Emily Haney even said a woman circled back around the block that she was on just to say thank you for the wonderful gift. Even if some did not accept the gift, they were given a information card about Christ Center Church.
Monday afternoon, we served for Miami rescue mission. The reflections performed an amazing hour and a half concert while many girls served homeless people in the cafeteria. The homeless were very grateful, which allowed the girls serving to connect with them.
Monday night, we performed for the residents of the Miami rescue mission. In all honesty, we expected for this to just be another performance. This turned out to be a beautiful worship time with our brothers and sisters in Christ. This crowd was so energetic and alive. One Haitian man in the room stood up to dance and sing while we sang our Haitian Gospel Medley.
After the concert, we were able to connect with the residents. They all said that we were such a blessing to them, but truly we were also the ones being blessed in this experience.
Today was definatly a new experience for me. First, my family group and I handed out doughnuts for C2 church at a red light. This was interesting for me because we saw people that didn’t want a doughnut, but still wanted to help out so they would try to give us money. Another really cool thing that we did was we learned how to say “free doughnut”, “Do you want a doughnut?”, and “Jesus loves you” in Spanish so we could communicate with the people that couldn’t speak English. Later today we went to the Miami Rescue Center. This really spoke to my heart in many ways. First I helped in the kitchen with serving the people food. While doing this, I had time to sit with people and talk to them. I talked to kids like Erica – a 4 year old girl with 2 siblings, and Angel – a 7 year old boy who loves going to school. Not only did I talk to kids, but I sat down with some adults to really hear what they had to say. It opened my eyes because every person I talked to talked about how this was God’s plan and everything happens for a reason. After we served them we sang for them, and by far they were the best audience. Just by watching them as we sang, we could tell that they really loved the Lord and loved that we came to sing to them. After we sang, I went to speak to a man that I had sat with earlier. He was a Honduran man who has moved around in American for 20 years. He was very appreciative for the fact that we wanted to come and not only sing to them but that we wanted to serve them. So far, today has been my favorite, and I’ve heard other people say that too. This opened our eyes to see all of the things that we take for granted and many ways we can serve just in our community.
We left our hotel around 8am for Christ Centered Church in North Miami. Christ Centered Church is Derek Allen’s church located on the Florida International University (FIU) campus. After about a 30 minute bus ride, we arrived to FIU and made our maze-like travels to the ball room that within three hours would be the sanctuary for Christ Centered Church. It was interesting and amazing to see the transformation the people of C2 Church made of the ball room space. What really shocked me was the twelve year old girl who sets up the children’s center every Sunday all by herself. It normally takes her three hours. But with our help, it only took about 30 minutes. Before things started getting to hectic, we gave Mrs. Allen the gift cards we were encouraged to purchase. She was so overwhelmingly grateful that she began to cry. It was neat to watch each student drop a gift card into one of their offering buckets (that looked like a dorm trash can). We may not realize the magnitude of our giving, but she will be forever grateful.
After set up and prayer walking, where many of us found swing-like table sets… so fun, we changed into our performance outfits and prepared ourselves to sing. We could only sing about 20 minutes of the service so our songs were few but powerful.
One of the best moments from these concerts (we sang in both the 11am and the 12:30ish services) was the connection Beth Birchfield made with a Haitian woman. At each concert before our Creole song, “Haitian Medley,” Beth gives her insight on the influence Haiti has had in her life. Pastor Allen had told us the night before that many of the church people had Haitian decent but I wasn’t prepared for the divine intervention we would encounter. As we sang “Haitian Medley,” a Haitian lady began to sing along… She knew every word. She was so joyful. Beth went to talk to her after the service and I can only imagine the encouragement both ladies received from that encounter.
Many of the ladies helped with the children during the services where they played with Pastor Derek’s adorable children and other cute kids that attended the church. Balloons were a huge hit for the two year olds. ’Twas fun, but I was ready for nap time after only an hour with the kids.
Our concerts for Christ-Centered Church went well. I think Pastor Derek was proud of the impact we left on the church people and we were encouraged even by the small crowds.
After the second service (around 2pm), we took a break for a Cuban catered lunch. A little different to the eyes, the food was actually really yummy. I think we were all happy to have this break and to experience the different foods Miami has to offer.
We (girls jumped in this time) broke down the stage and headed back to the hotel for an hour break. I’m not sure about the other rooms but room 223 used every second of that hour for sleep.
After feeling refreshed and rested up, we headed back to the bus for our night-time concert. This concert was at a Spanish speaking Baptist church. The boys set up the stage while each team took its necessary steps for pre and post concert set up. We all changed into our performance outfits and got to our sides for a “7:30” concert. Like most things in Miami, we started the concert late, around 7:55pm. Late and relaxed seems to be a recurring theme in this city down south. The concert lasted two hours. Two. We sang with all our energy and the crowd really responded. Then we ate some Chipotle that was catered for dinner, and headed back to the hotel. On the way back to the hotel, Mr. Chip shared the news of a later (again.. late) wake up time.. now at 9:45am!!!! Wow, that extra sleep was phenomenal. Now we’re rested up and ready to take on Day 4!
Keep up with the blog for more fun stories and experiences!
-Mary Braden Hendon
Back to the bus we went… this morning at 9:30am. After a Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwich or some Frosted Flake cereal, we left our cabins in the Advent Christian Village to hit the open road, headed straight for MIAMI. We stopped around 11am to grab some lunch. Many stopped at good ‘ole Chick-fil-A while others popped next door for Zaxby’s style fried chicken or Panda Express.
After lunch, we loaded into the buses for 4 more hours. Bus 2 held bus elections, enabling William Shirley to be named bus president and Mary Conley Teel as his counterpart. Harrison Burkett was named Vice President of Bus 2. Max Bryant was then named Bus 1 president after losing the Bus 2 election. Bryant denied his presidency in Bus 1 and a free bus ride in Bus 1 due to loyalty to Bus 2…. lame. After the traumatic elections were finalized, both buses cooled down to naps and relaxation for the last leg of the journey.
After four toll gates and hours of napping, we arrived in a rainy Miami. We took a quick stop at our Hampton Inn (a little different setup from our Village cabins) to drop off our bags. After the senior boys were finally primped and ready, both buses pulled out for food court dinner at the Dadeland Mall. The food court had many offerings ranging from Johnny Rockets— a popular destination for the fellas— to Villa pizza to Mandarin Express, along with the classic Chick-fil-A. Many of the ladies took the allotted hour to shop around in places like Free People. After we met back up in the children’s shoe section in Macy’s, we got back to the bus and rode to a local church to meet with Pastor Derek Allen for mission orientation. We sang “Create In Me” and “How Great Is Our God” to give Pastor Allen a taste of tomorrow. Pastor Allen drove home to be spiritually connected with the Lord in our concert. He wanted us to confess our sins before the Lord in order for the Spirit to work through us. Doing these things would enable the Spirit to flow from our actions into the lives of the church people. He emphasized that we will be something totally different for the church people. He and we are both excited for the concert tomorrow.. our first one in MIAMI!
Beth Birchfield brought the Word tonight for the nightly devotion. She focused on Christ-centered and Christ-filled lives. We split into our groups tonight, yet we didn’t discuss the devotion as much as the night before. Tonight, we prayed. We prayed for the days ahead and for Christ to work in us as we encouraged others. We prayed for Christ to lead us this week. We prayed to ask for forgiveness for our sins in order to become spiritually pure before the concert tomorrow. We prayed for the choir and our groups. I could feel our Father tonight in that small baptist church sanctuary. It was calm. It was peaceful. Our choir is ready for tomorrow.. minus a few hours of sleep.
We returned to our hotel to rest up and prepare for our Sunday concerts. We sing in both services at 11am and 12:30pm. Make sure to check the Instagram account tomorrow and the live stream if it’s up and running to watch us!
– Mary Braden Hendon
As one of the Social Media team members, I would like to start by saying hello parents! Speaking for your children who definitely feel the same way.. THANK YOU for sending us on this trip. We already have many memories and experiences to share with you.. haha text your kids for more information. We loaded up in our limos aka Capital Trailways buses around 8:30am en route for FLORIDA!!! The cozy seats, plug-ins on every row, and satellite TVs are only some of the positives about these buses. Not only do we have the best drivers known to the bus driving business, we have some of the best leaders too. I’ve heard the 9th and 10th grade bus has enjoyed getting to know the new Associate Youth Paster, Spencer Jones, as he traveled down the isle in a bucket seat to get to know each student. I even heard he shared the proposal details… so sweet! Bus 1, the upper classmen (older therefore wiser), has had more of a chill approach to choir tour this year. Enjoying long naps and headphones plugged into acoustic tunes, Bus 1 made the first five hours easily. Around 10 am, we made a rest stop. I personally enjoyed this stop for the artsy opportunities a yellow flowered field provided. I’ll share some pictures below! We rallied and nailed the challenge of a 15 to 20 minute rest stop. Jumping back on the bus never felt so good… already feeling the Florida heat. Tallahasee!! Our stop for lunch, Tallahassee, FL, filled our stomachs with all the good things we know and love. Moe’s burritos, Five Guys burgers and fries, Firehouse subs, and Chipotle bowls to name a few. From 1:45pm to 2:40pm, we slowly ate our meals, yet we still had time to explore the surrounding area. Some ladies grabbed a cupcake at the local cupcake shop. Many were intrigued and stepped into Hobby Lobby to see what they could find. A quick CVS run relieved the worry of a bus ride with no Sour Patch Kids. Your child used his/her time wisely, or as wisely in his definition. Back to bus we went.. heading to DOWLING PARK!!!! After 5 hours of joyous bus riding, we made our final stop of the day in Dowling Park, FL at the lovely Advent Christian Village. A place of relaxation and happiness… ah what a place. We arrived around 5ish, grabbed some chicken fingers, corn, and green beans for dinner, and geared up to sing our FIRST concert!!!!! T’was exciting and fulfilling to finish our concert and speak with some of our first time listeners (which I have a feeling we will have a lot of this week…). After our concert, we headed back to the cabins since we were staying in the Village’s Camp Swanee. As one of the many ladies on the trip, I stayed in Pine cabin that was split into four smaller rooms. The rooms were connected by a breezeway outside. The boys split into four rooms in the cabin next door. After changing into relaxing attire, we traveled up the sidewalks to the Pavillon for Devotion. The boys began to display their athletic ability shooting some hoops as the girls found a table a chatted away; both groups letting off some of the post-concert “steam.” After Mr. Chip’s devotion on Romans 11 and Colossians 3, we split into 10 smaller and more intimate groups to discuss what we took away from the day and from the devotion. I enjoyed the time in my group (shoutout to group 6). The groups mix up the friend groups to unite our choir in a unique way. I got to know the newbies and reconnect with friends from the past choir tours. The lights out time was not firmly established, therefore, many of your children chatted into the early hours of the day. Do not be alarmed. After the 8 hours on the bus today to arrive in Miami, we will be rested and ready for the 9 days ahead! Follow the blog for more fun details!!! -Mary Braden Hendon Following week after week of singing, months of anticipation, and days of carefully packing, our large group of excited children and adults finally pulled away from the church, waving goodbye to loving parents from behind the windows of two Capital Trailways busses headed for Miami. The bus ride was short, but the day was long. By now, most of your children have figured out what they forgot to pack. Around four o’clock we arrived at Advent Christian Village to prepare for our evening worship concert. Afterwards we eagerly made our way to our cabins, laid claim on bunks that were close to outlets, and just as soon as we had come we were off to the cafeteria for a delicious dinner. We even met a few of our arachnid acquaintances on the way. Our worship concert went very well, and most of us managed to look good even after napping on the bus. Watching people from all stages of life come together to worship God was a very encouraging beginning to our trip. It is clear the Lord is at work everywhere we go, and we are thankful He has prepared a mission field for us, as we carry out the Great Commission. We appreciate your continued prayers and support as we move forward with the love of Christ. -Mary Glen Montgomery
Breaking News – Presidential elections were held on Bus 2 today. There were some strong 2015 Presidential Candidates. Max Bryant loses his election for President against the incumbent, William Shirley, and his counterpart Mary Conley Teel. Harrison Burkett will also be our new Vice President. We are coming for you bus one. Stay classy bus two. -Bus 2
More Breaking News – We have unanimously elected Max Bryant as our President. A special thank you goes out to Bus 2 for giving him to us. -Bus 1
We leave for tour today. Check back here for updates, pictures, videos and MORE!! Our tour theme: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17