This week is the National LCMS youth gathering in San Antonio, Texas. The conference takes place every three summers and garners approximately 30,000 high school students.
My dad, a DCE and Family Life Minister, caught an early flight Friday morning to attend his first ever gathering as a volunteer. He’s been to so many youth gatherings as a group leader I think we’ve all lost count as to how many he has actually attended. He’s always wanted to attend without students, purely as a volunteer. Yeah Dad!
Bruiser, the Concordia University (Nebraska) bulldog, left late last week bound for San Antonio. My husband and I are enjoying his you Tube videos that document his road-trip adventures. He plans to man the CU booth, hand out Kiss Me I’m Lutheran buttons, and get students excited about the possibility of becoming a Bulldog after graduation.
With all the gathering excitement mounting, I find myself reflecting on my two experiences.
My first trip was the summer after my freshman year to San Antonio. The trip didn’t start off so well because my bags were the only luggage to not arrive from DIA. The entire youth group started swimming as soon as checked-in at the hotel; fortunately, a close friend had packed an extra suit, so I was able to swim. We visited the Alamo, the Boardwalk, and ate great Mexican food. It was HOT and humid.
My second trip was the summer after my senior year to Atlanta. I still remember rocking out at the Jars of Clay concert, shopping and visiting the Coke Museum. It was HOT and humid.
I actually attended a third gathering in Orlando as an adult leader on a trip with my Dad’s youth group. I remember the sea of orange backpacks up and down the main thoroughfares from the convention center to the majority of the hotels. We visited the beach, Ron Jon’s Surf Shop, and one of the many amusement parks. It was HOT and humid.
Noticing a pattern?
These mega-conferences had such an impact on my spiritual walk at the influential and critical time of adolescence.
My faith was stretched and encouraged through praise and worship, bible study, and communion with 30,000 other teenagers. It turned out, I wasn’t the only one struggling to figure out what it meant to follow Christ and be in this world, and not of this world. I found comfort, forgiveness, and grace in that.
Prayers for all the youth and adult leaders in attendance this year; May their time be as meaningful and life-changing as it was for me.
Why don’t we throw in a few extra prayers for unseasonably less HOT and humid weather too!