On our 8-hour drive from Pensacola to Houston, my mom gave me some great fundraising ideas. I am so lucky to have one of the best strategists in my corner. The first task was to create some Valentine-type raffle prizes to entice people at church on Sunday. That way, anyone could take part in the raffle (and adding to the pot) even if they weren't coming to the banquet. I put together a few wine baskets, picnic sets, and tea baskets, mostly with stuff from around the house that I never used. And one lady at church who sells Mary Kay put in a gift certificate. All in all, a pretty good showing. We raised well over $100 through raffle ticket sales.
We ended up having about 36 people attend the dinner. Once everyone was seated, I led everyone in an icebreaker that involved going around the room and finding your "match." Each lady was given a card with a word on it in another language. That word translated to love in some language. The men were given cards with corresponding languages and everyone had to wander around the room until they found the word for love that corresponded with their language. Matches introduced each other to their spouses and we went around the room sharing names and enlightening each other on the word Love in other languages. The winner of the game was the pair that ended up with "mahal kita" which means "I love you" in Tagalog, the language of the Philippines.
Next up was food! The youth who are going on the trip were our servers for the evening. They had a great time taking and fulfilling orders and delivering requests. Each table had a menu, a trip fact sheet, and a love offering envelope. We decorated each table with heart confetti my friend Kate helped me create. Along with candles, decor included vases of fresh herbs from my garden and flowers from the jungle. That's the great thing about Guam. If you see flowers growing on the side of the road, they're free for the taking. They will grow back in no time!
One of the big hits during the evening was the very simple appetizer I made ahead of time: toasted bread and homemade herb butter. I had several people ask me for the herb butter recipe. It's so simple. Mix a few cloves of garlic together with handfuls of various fresh herbs and blend them into a butter spread. For this batch, I used parsley, sage, rosemary and Thai basil (we don't have thyme or I would use that just to be lyrical). All mixed together, the butter it turns a little green, but the flavors are incredible.
The evening's main meal was capellini with seasoned meatballs, smothered in marinara and garnished with fresh basil sprigs. So, yes, it's a fancy way of spelling out that classic church spaghetti dinner, but the details made it seem just a little fancier.
To get more bang for our buck, we asked parents to contribute goodies for our Chocolate Extravaganza dessert bar. Delish!
"After this week, I have never felt so close to God. I have never known what the word close meant until now. God right now has taken over and he's filling me with these wonderful thoughts of what it's like to be His. His arm is around my shoulder and He's smiling at me because He's accomplished His goal."
It's been ten years since I wrote those words and I still remember that moment and that evening in great detail. I've used my journal before to connect to youth. It's one thing to hear churchy stuff preached by someone twice your age. It's another thing to hear that person's exact words and thoughts from when they were your age. I always get nervous reading from my journal, but I also believe there's a lot of power behind these messages. So I clear my voice, take a deep breath, and go for it.
|Me & Doug, the other youth director & chef|
|Pastor Jeff & I decked out in red|
|Aaaah young love|
I had the opportunity to take part in many service trips when I was growing up. Even in my adult years, it has been those weeks out of my normal, everyday life spent serving others in a faraway land that helped me realize how privileged my life is and how little others have. As we prepare for this trip between now and June, it is my prayer that our youth will come to understand a little more how God works in this world. And I hope that this understanding will be transformed into creativity, compassion, and love. And there we have it: Love around the world :)