Archive for the ‘SOS Trip’ Category

Memphis Day 5

Posted: July 20, 2018 by keystoneyouth in SOS Trip


Friday was a unique day. One of the things we always preach going into a trip like this is, “Be Flexible” because something is always bound to change during the week. Today that was the case. We went into this morning expecting to be on the job sites all day and then finish the day with a picnic at a local park. However, soon after we arrived to our job sites our team leaders informed us that there was a change in plans. The heat index was projected to rise to 115 degrees this afternoon. So to keep people safe and avoid injuries from the heat, the SOS staff decided that we would only work a half day and that the picnic would be cancelled. It was a little disappointing at first, but when we went out this afternoon for sno cones I was very happy that they made that decision. As soon as you stepped in the sun the heat hit you like a ton of bricks. None of us could have imagined being on the roof in the type of heat there was this afternoon.

This evening was bittersweet. It’s always exciting to head home after an exhausting week, but it’s also disappointing to leave a place and a group where you’ve experienced such a good time and made a lot of memories. I always love these trips because of seeing how the group comes together and works toward a common goal. This group demonstrated an incredible amount of joy and excitement even as they worked in very very hot conditions this week. They also displayed the type of togetherness that I pray for in a team. Nobody was left out and students who tend to be more reserved showed a side of their personality that I don’t get to see on Sundays.

I love seeing the group come together and getting to watch as friendships are developed in a week like this. I love to see students feel like they are a part of the group. I love to see students step up as leaders with both their words and actions. I love the side conversations that pop up with students about what they’re passionate about or what they’re facing that’s really difficult. These trips continue to be an incredible gift and I cherish the opportunities, memories, and ways that students grow as a result of these trips. I think we can walk into these trips expecting God to work in some big flashy way (i.e. a homeowner getting saved or everyone breaking down in tears during one of the lessons, or something like that…) But I think more often God is at work in a thousand small ways. Ways that we may or may not see on the trip. And the ways that he does work on these trips often ripples into the future: the relationships that are built, the challenges that are given, the ways students serve and care for one another, the passion to live for God and not just for self, and the willingness to take the next step into a life of missions and service when God calls them to. I’m beyond proud of this group and thankful that God has given me the privilege to lead another trip!

Questions to Ask Students When We Return:

My encouragement and challenge to you is to ask the students questions about their time here in Memphis. I think they will want to talk to you about it and share with you what happened through their eyes. This blog only gives you the week through my eyes. I would love for you to hear from the students on what it was like for them. But in the process, ask more than just, “How was your week?” It’s too easy for students (and for me) to respond to that question with a simple “Good.” Dig deeper to hear some of the stories and details from the week by asking good questions. Here are a few sample questions to ask the team as we return:

  • What was a highlight from your week?
  • What was difficult or frustrating during the week?
  • Who was the homeowner you worked with? What were they like?
  • What was something that stuck out to you from the chapel lessons? What did you think of the chapel speaker?
  • What stuck out to you from the visit to the Civil Rights Museum?
  • Would you ever go back to SOS again? Why or why not?
  • What was one way you saw God at work (in your own life, in someone else’s life, as a group, at SOS)?
  • What will you remember about this trip five years from now?


Memphis Day 4

Posted: July 20, 2018 by keystoneyouth in SOS Trip


Thursday was a full day again. We spend all day on the job sites. There was a huge difference between morning and afternoon. The morning was shaded and a nice breeze kept us cool on the roofs, but as soon as the sun came out we immediately started sweating. Our three groups were able to accomplish quite a bit while also enjoying a long lunch. Meal times are one of my favorite things about these trips. I love the time of just sitting around and talking because there is nowhere else to go. The closeness that develops in our groups in large part happens while we sit around talking and laughing. We returned to the SOS base for showers, dinner, and chapel. And then we finished the day off as usual with another debriefing at Chick-Fil-A:)


  • Group debrief time in the evening. This was probably the best debrief time we had during the whole trip. People shared their highlights and frustrations from the trip along with things they felt like they learned this time around. It was also encouraging because we were processing through what has been taught this week. The students shared some things they didn’t really agree with that the speaker said while also highlighting some of the things that were said that were true and connected with them. It was a proud moment for me to see them exercising discernment by weighing what was being taught from up front with what they know of the Bible. (P.S. A great question to ask them when we return would be, “What did you think of the chapel speaker?”)
  • God protecting us on the job sites. We had a couple minor injuries today that could have been worse (don’t worry, no one fell of the roof!). We saw God protecting us even as things didn’t go how we thought they would.

Memphis Day 2

Posted: July 18, 2018 by keystoneyouth in SOS Trip


Today was a hot one again. Around 2:00 the temperature was at 92 but felt like 105 because of the humidity. Add to that being on a roof with shingles and it made for instant sweat anytime you set foot on the roof. Our groups did a great job working through the heat either putting shingles on or prepping another part of the roof for shingles. Every evening is made up of some free time before dinner and then dinner is followed by chapel. Each week they bring in a different local pastor to speak each evening in chapel. This week are speaker has been a local pastor by the name of Robin. He’s been walking through the first couple chapters of Genesis so far showing us how it answers some of the big questions we have – like who we are, what our purpose is in life, and how we can know God personally. After chapel, we finished off the evening by driving to Chick-Fil-A and debriefing our day as a group over some milkshakes:)


  • Getting ice pops from a local church! There really is nothing better than an ice pop at 2:00 in the afternoon. It’s also really neat to see the partnerships that SOS has built with the local churches and the ways the churches support the ministry of SOS.
  • Sharing testimonies at lunch today. We spent our normal devotion time over lunch sharing our testimonies over lunch. Everyone opened up and shared the story of how they’ve became a Christian along with how they’ve grown and see God be faithful through some very difficult struggles in their lives.
  • Getting barbecueJA group of us went out for a pre-dinner trip to Central Barbecue. Memphis is famous for great Barbecue and the Nachos and Pulled Pork sandwiches did not disappoint!


Memphis Day 1

Posted: July 16, 2018 by keystoneyouth in SOS Trip


We arrived in Memphis at 3:00 yesterday afternoon. After getting settled in and eating dinner, we had an eventful evening. Right in the middle of our evening program a powerful thunderstorm came through and knocked out the electric. We split up into work teams with minimal lights and then took a team run to Sonic. Just as we were getting into bed the electric came back on. The dorms both exploded with shouting because it meant we got to sleep with A/C instead of 80 degree temperatures:)

This morning after breakfast we headed for our worksites. Our team is split up into three different work teams each about a quarter mile apart. We spent the day painting, tearing shingles off the roof, and putting new shingles on. We are the 6th of 7 weeks of summer camp here at SOS so most of the houses are getting pretty close to being done. The morning always tends to go a little better because the heat isn’t so bad, but by 2:00 in the afternoon everyone is feeling the combination of lunch, hot weather (90s and HUMID), and exhaustion from being on the roof all day. We packed up about 3:00 came back to SOS base for showers and a quick nap before dinner. After dinner and the evening program we drove to a local Chick-Fil-A to get some milkshakes and debrief as a team before coming back to head to bed and then do it all over again tomorrow:)



  • Meeting the homeowners we are working with: Ms. Morgan, Robert and Eugena, and Mr. John. My group is working at Ms. Morgan’s house. She is an extremely friendly 65-year old lady who started the day by taking a picture of everyone so that she could get our names memorized. She also made sure that we were well stocked with ice pops throughout the day!
  • Seeing people on our team try new things by getting up on the roof and working. You could tell that most people were pretty nervous in the morning as they stepped up onto the roof, but by the end of the day they were all looking like naturals up there and doing a great job!
  • Getting to worship together as a large group in the evening. We are one of eight groups here this week with probably a total of about 150 people. Each evening we come together to worship as a large group. There’s something special about a large group of students who have just spent all day in the heat and sun praising God at the end of the day by singing together.


SOS Final Post

Posted: July 31, 2016 by keystoneyouth in SOS Trip


Reflection on the Week:

We made it back to Lancaster yesterday at 10:30pm after about 17 hours on the road!  Everyone was really glad to be out of the vans and sleeping in their own beds last night, but it was also a little bittersweet to say goodbye after such a good week. I told the team on Friday night that I was so proud of them and all they had done this week.  I’m truly just thankful that I got to be a part of the group and witness all that God did throughout the week.  Finishing the roofs was great, but it was just as cool to see the team open up with one another, to see them connect so easily with the other groups there, and to worship with them and learn with them throughout the week.  I told the team going into the trip that I had three main goals for us for this trip: That we would serve well, learn something new, and build relationships.  I told them that if these three things happened the trip would be a great success in my eyes.  I saw God do so much more in each of these areas then I could have imagined.  The team served so well by working hard and working together, and they didn’t complain even though they had to wear jeans in 90-100 degree weather each day.  They willingly learned: through the chapel times as our speaker spoke about Who God Is, Who We Are, Who Christ Is, and What It Means to Be a Christian; through hearing the stories of the team leaders serving with SOS and the homeowners we were serving; and through simply learning about Memphis and experiencing what it had to offer.  The team also built lots of relationships: growing closer with each other; bonding with a team from Memphis and a team from South Carolina; connecting with the SOS staff; and getting to know the homeowners.  I love this because it means as we think back on this trip, we won’t just remember shingling a roof, but we will remember people – names, faces, and stories from other people’s lives.  And we will remember how God was and is still at work in Memphis and in the lives of the people we came into contact with.  We will remember that the good news of what Jesus did in coming to live, die, and be raised for us not only compels us to go serve for a week, but it also transforms the lives of people; whether they are from Pennsylvania, Memphis, South Carolina or anywhere else!  Because of all of this, I look at this trip as a massive success.  As I reflect on the trip, I keep just wanting to praise God for all that He did and thank Him that I got to watch Him at work. It was truly a wonderful week!

Student Perspective: From Emily Sensenig

“What an incredible week it’s been. Leading up to this trip, I was not looking forward to coming. But I’m so glad I did. We had the amazing opportunity to finish the homeowner’s roof and build a relationship with him. And not only did we get to bond with people from other groups, we became closer as a youth group. There are so many great memories from this week. Morning bible study, pranks and jokes, Sonic runs, touring day, a time to be vulnerable and share our testimonies, late night worship sessions, and so much more. For me personally, God has really reminded me of his faithfulness. The speaker this week at one point said “sometimes the distance from our head to our heart is a country mile away.” While I have been seeing God work in my life, this statement has rung true for me the past few weeks. I feel that I’ve been having trouble truly grasping the fact that Jesus died on the cross for me, as well as who God is. And it’s been frustrating because no matter what I do, it just doesn’t make its way to my heart. I was feeling like “God where are you? What’s wrong that I’m not grasping this?” And becoming frustrated with Him. Thursday night though, we were singing about Jesus saving us, and something clicked in my heart. I felt it again for the first time in a long time. The next song was “Holy Spirit.” Every missions trip I’ve been on this song is played and God reveals something to me through it. God was just kind of like “why do you question me?” And the song after that said “faithful you have been and faithful you will be….your praise will ever be on my lips.” And again God was just saying “I haven’t left you and I never will.” Coming away from this trip I feel refreshed and so much stronger in my relationship with my Lord and Savior. God has really stretched me out of my comfort zone this week as well as revealing things about myself and about Him.”

THANK YOU for your support!  Thank you for following along and for your prayers for us this week!  I encourage you to ask the students about the week the next time you see them.  Ask them what was one way they saw God at work during the week.  Ask them what was a highlight from their week.  Ask them what was something new that they learned during the week.  And ask them what they will take away from this trip and how they think it will impact them going forward.  Or ask them any other questions that you come up with:)  Just try to get them talking about the week and hopefully you’ll get to hear their perspective from the week and see how it impacted them.


SOS Day 2

Posted: July 27, 2016 by keystoneyouth in SOS Trip

Description of the Day:

The work teams spent most of their day either putting more plywood on the roofs, putting down underlayment, or starting to shingle the roofs. It was very hot down here again… a high of 97 and felt like 110-115.  One of the frustrating things we faced today was feeling like there wasn’t always a good system for all working together on the projects.  It seems like 2-3 people end up doing a couple jobs while several others feel like there isn’t much for them to do.  This seems to be a common thing with work teams serving somewhere.  It’s just hard to keep everyone busy, especially if you don’t have much experience with construction.  Around lunchtime our team seemed to get a good system down and we were able to start getting more accomplished then what we did throughout most of the morning.  This evening we spent some time at a Sonic across the street… that seems to work out as a great place to debrief as a team.  It was a good time to hear from the team about what they are enjoying about the week along with things that have frustrated them this week.  I love this debrief time because it’s a great way for us to refocus and remind ourselves of why we are here – to serve God and love others.  It’s also a great time for us to be pointed back to the gospel and remember service is not always easy or glamorous, but service is a natural response to what Jesus has done for us and how far he’s gone to serve us.

Highlights from the Day:

  • Going to Jerry’s Sno Cones at Lunch.  We were told by the other groups that live here in Memphis that we needed to stop at Jerry’s sometime.  They are a local favorite for their Sno Cones and Sno Cones Supremes (Sno Cones with Ice Cream mixed throughout).  It was a great way to take a break from the heat and the Sno Cones were excellent!
  • Learning more about Memphis as a city.  There is speaker who is speaking each night at chapel who spent some time at our work site today.  We got to ask him what he enjoys most about the city of Memphis.  His response was, “Everyone really cares about the city and their local community here in Memphis.”  They care for the people who are around them and they want to see the city become a better place.  This seems to hold true among the staff that we have meant from Memphis.  They are all passionate about the city and want to stay here and work to improve the city.  It’s also true of the work teams… 4 of the work teams at SOS this week are from Memphis.  I think that’s really cool to see!  It’s not just outside groups coming in, but it’s local groups that want to serve and see their city become a better place.  And as they do this, they do it all for the sake of Jesus in the hopes that more and more people would come to know him. It’s been great to see this about Memphis so far this week.
  • Playing Dutch Blitz!

Pictures of the Day:

SOS Day 1

Posted: July 26, 2016 by keystoneyouth in SOS Trip

Description of the Day:

We arrived in Memphis at 3:00 on Saturday after 14 hours of driving and an overnight stop in Knoxville.  We are one of 8 other youth groups at the Service Over Self Camp this week that total about 130 people.  Last night, we learned what our work teams will be doing and we heard a little bit about the homeowner we’ll be serving.  Our group is split into 3 work teams of 7-8 people each.  Two of our teams are working on houses right next to each other.  The other team is working at a separate house along with a portion of a different youth group.  After wake-up at 6:30 this morning along with breakfast and a morning meeting, we headed out to our work sites at 8:00.  We spent most of our day scraping the shingles off of roofs in preparation for putting new roofs on.  We learned that roofing is the primary thing that SOS work teams do throughout the summer.  After a hot day on the roof, we came back to shower and have a much needed nap:)  We spent our evening in Chapel with the rest of the groups and then split off and went to a Sonic right across the street to spend some time debriefing with just our group.  The team has been very upbeat so far and really enjoy being together.  I told the team that one of the cool things I’ve seen so far is that they do a great job of not only interacting among themselves, but also getting to know people from the other groups who are here along with the homeowners or children living at the homes we’re working on.  They are all quick to introduce themselves and ask questions about the other people around us.  I love watching that happen! You can pray that we would continue to have energy throughout the week because it is going to be VERY HOT all week long.  And we’re going to be on the roof each day. Also, you can pray that we would continue to make connections with the homeowners and be a blessing to them.

Highlights of the Day:

  • Meeting several of the homeowners who we are serving – Albert, Cynthia, and Russell.  Albert is 78 years old and has lived in memphis since he was 19.  Cynthia is in her 50s and has two of her grandchildren spending the summer with her.  Russell is in his 30s and is married with two kids.  They are all very friendly and its been fun to spend some time getting to know them.
  • Seeing the presence that SOS has in the community.  People often honk the horn as they drive by out of recognition for SOS is doing.  Local churches partner with them to bring a frozen treat out each day around 1:00.  And today, several police officers stopped by one of the houses we are working on to offer encouragement and say how much they appreciate all that SOS is doing.
  • Worshiping together in the evenings.  Each evening we have chapel at 7:15 and we spend some time just singing together as a larger group.  It’s been a great experience to join together with other youth groups from all over the country and praise God during these times.

Pictures of the Day: