Word Failure: Youth Gathering Almost Explained

Southwest airlines made national news for computer failure.  “We apologize, but there is no information at this time.  Unfortunately this is what happens when you put your lives in the hands of computers,” the breezeway gatekeeper stated announced.  

I am blessed to have 6 healthy kids, three adults, one baby, and amd extra kid (don’t let teenagers drink pop after midnight – they multiply!).  

We took our youth group to Lutheran Church Missouri Synod National Youth Gathering in New Orleans.  It was an amaing, super busy week filled with classes, worship, service projects, experiential learning, and shows.  Oh yeah – and traveling in mass quantities to fill the superdome with 25,000 people.  Alarm clocks were set between 5:30 and 6:30 depending on the day’s events.  We returned to the hotel between midnight and midnight-thirty.  

We had 6 teenagers who generally followed instructions, stuck together, participated, and didn’t complain.  We had one who was somewhat an exception, but everyone worked together to support that one.

We were already disappointed about needing a connecting flight… But imagine the disheartening news when they cancedled our 4:30 flight at 9:00 pm!  Fortunately we were able to find some positives:  we’re safe, we’re healthy.  We picked up an extra kid who was adopted by a church group that made him travel alone to and from the gathering.  We couldn’t leave a kid stranded alone in an airport.  

We somehow found a Super 8 with enough rooms for our group.  We laughed at our less than stellar accommodations: bathroom door handle falling off, sink faucet loose, toilet seat broken, bathroom door doesn’t quite fit and makes horrible screeching noise across the floor.  But for 4 hours with a bed, we are extremely happy to have something better than airport terminal chairs and hard floor.  

At this time, we have a 7:00 am flight home.  We’re waiting with 7 generally content teenagers, and a baby that’s happy as long as he can sit on the floor instead of being held.

Imagine the power behind being a part of 25,000 voices singing (Amazing Grace, We Believe, In Christ Alone, Holy Holy Holy, etc.), completing odd jobs at schools and parks throughout the city, walking down the street singing…

We can share what we did… We can tell about it… You can look in from the outside.  But the point here isn’t to brag… It isn’t to teach you something… I’m not preaching…

I’ve written this as a failed explanation… An effort to say I have had an amazing week that words cannot describe.  It’s one thing to volunteer or go on a mission trip but it is a completely different emotional and spiritual experience to gather with 25,000 people -most of them under 18- and experience worship, service, learning, and community fellowship while exploring a city you have never been to.

Amazingly we do not yet have grumpy teenagers.  Our group is clinging to patience and hope for returning home soon while we sit in the airport hoping Southwest’s computers last long enough to get our flight in the air.

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