…but the memories we made together will never leave us.
This was a short, yet exciting summer for the Youth Family of First Baptist Greenville. We started hours after Greenville Senior High School graduation by going to Seabrook Island for their senior trip. While this trip was calm and relaxing, it in no way set the stage for the rest of the summer.
A week and a half later, after our first Mission Possible, the high schoolers loaded a charter bus in front of the AYMC at 3am bound for a 10am flight from Atlanta to Belize. Two more hours on a bus took us to Orange Walk, our home for the week. A culture unfamiliar to all of us resulted in a learning curve. “No petting the dogs!” was a rule that was hard to learn—especially for our summer intern. We were taught to accept gifts from people we were helping, to not eat fruit unless it could be peeled, to brush our teeth with the water in our water bottles, and to stay hydrated! The heat and humidity demanded it! It wasn’t just different for our youth, though. The first full day we were there, a little boy asked one of the adults, “Why are there so many white people here?” We played, learned and sang together all week, ignoring all our differences and embracing our shared love for humanity. We served with smiles on our faces, sad to leave the kids and the small village we grew to love. It was incredible watching these kids grow and change in just a short amount of time.
Two weeks of rest was given for the youth before we packed up and left on another trip. During those two weeks we had two more Mission Possibles, Lunch Clubs and Bible studies. We fed the unhoused and underserved at Trinity Lutheran and sorted food for Harvest Hope. The college group also had a couple of gatherings, growing their bonds tighter and giving advice for the rising freshmen.
Finally, July 10 had arrived. At 8am youth were at the AYMC ready for the best week of the summer: Unidiversity. Mary Carol left the day before to get everything ready for the campers, so Sarah Carter and Juliette were transporting 50-something sleepy and excited youthies. We had an incredible week! Our beloved former senior minister, Jim Dant, was the proclaimer for the week. Not only did FBG youth get to hear his sermons again, but all of their friends from different churches did, too!
There was so much to do! During the seminars, electives and Bible studies they learned, “Where Is God?”—not only in the book of Esther but also in their everyday lives. There was always something different in the evenings: inflatables, snow cones, and a “messy night” with shaving cream and freezing cold water! We enjoyed an afternoon at Ijams State Park swimming, relaxing and fun games of Five Crowns! We then enjoyed BBQ all together as one big group. Our last night was the dance. It was a bittersweet night, the youthies (and adult chaperones) danced their hearts out, but following the excitement was our annual tradition of Senior Circle—a time in which the group gets to say goodbye to the graduated seniors, and our seniors in turn say goodbye and give advice to the ones they are leaving behind. We’re reminded during Senior Circle that our time in the Youth Family doesn’t last forever, and summers always have to end—but we can make this time as exciting as we can!
Summers do always have to end, but all those memories we made together will never leave us. Until next summer, Youthies!
—Juliette and Mary Carol