I am commenting on my time at the Presbyterian Youth Triennium (PYT). Wednesday morning we were introduced to our "Small Groups". Each of the 4,400 participants were placed in small groups of consisting of 18-22 members. Since we were originally divided up with colors and then numbers, we were Purple group 7020 or Purple 20. We were asked to come up with our own name; I suggested the "Royal 20" since purple was the color of Royalty, but we ended up with "The Royal Twenty-Somethings". The small groups then meet once or twice a day for the remaining week.
The Royal Twenty-Somethings consisted of 17 youth from age 15 to 18, and three adults, the group leader, another Adult from Layfette, and myself. We figured that I probably the eldest in our group, as I was a senior in college when the next eldest person was born. The people were from all over the United States, New Jersey and New York to Florida, to New Mexico and California. There were several from that "other" large state of Texas and myself coming the farthest from Alaska.
By Wednesday afternoon and evening the 85 degree weather and exhaustion had caught up with me, so I basically slept from 5 PM, met with my "Huddle Group", at 11:15; four youth (two from Barrow, one from Anchorage and the other from Wyoming) that I checked in with each evening to see how their day went and to make sure they were there for curfew; then went back to sleep for the rest of the night. Since I had problems with heat stroke and heat exhaustion several times before, my Son was very worried about me. Fortunately, the heat was not too much of an issue throughout the week. It was hot, but not deadly.
The rest of the time at PYT was spent eating, in small groups, worship, free time and lights out by midnight. The theme of this years gathering was: "Hope In Our Midst". Of course with each of the scripture readings and stories we had to find the hope and despair. The bible stories used were: Noah and the Ark, The Good Samaritan, Jesus and the Woman at the Well, and Jesus and Peter walking on the Water.
There was a time for the students to receive information from the different Presbyterian Colleges and Seminaries. Unfortunately, Whitworth University, (they went from College to University starting 1 July 2007) had a table there, but nobody was present. Oh well. Also there was displays from Cokesbury, Serrve, a group for Young Presbyterian Women, Peacemaking, Self Development of People, among other groups.
This was the first conference were a Sabbath time was planned and used. Nothing was scheduled for Friday morning, breakfast was a sack meal handed out the night before. The majority of the people asked said they spent the time sleeping until noon or later. I can say that I actually got up before 10:30 A.M., very good for me. We met in small groups that afternoon to watch movies. We were divided into five groups to watch different movies; Goal, October Sky, Sister Act II, Anna and the Bee (not the right name, but sponsored by Starbucks), and another movie I can not think of at the moment. I saw Goal, about an illegal alien growing up in L.A. and being "discovered" by a former soccer scout to make it as a big star in the English Football League. There was despair and hope throughout the movie.
Our group from Barrow ended up missing the last worship on Sunday morning, as did probably about half of the participants, because of flight schedules home. We reversed our travel home, drove to Chicago, (this time without the wrong turns), flew to Seattle and with a 45 minute layover flew on to Anchorage. There our sister church, Immanuel Presbyterian, had sleeping bags and food waiting for us. We ate and then slept. Eight of us got up and went shopping at the Diamond Mall in South Anchorage, but had to be back within a couple of hours. Then we returned to the Anchorage International Airport, [a/k/a Ted Stevens International Airport, (money and power can still buy you things...)] arriving home in Barrow a little after 5:30 Monday afternoon.
I arrive just in time to told of another death in the community; thoughts of my first ten days went quickly through my mind. As it turns out the woman is going to be buried in another village, our prayers are with the family. Then Tuesday morning I returned to the office with Vacation Bible School already under way, having started the day before.
It is now Friday afternoon, I have survived Vacation Bible School, (not really involved other than being present), the bulletin is ready for Sunday Morning, and I think I have finally caught up with my sleep. Now I get to go home and catch up with the dishes my wife left for me during the week I was gone. (I will explain why later...)
Peace and blessings.