Posts in Outreach Preparation
I am not sure I can get used to the ever present rain and rare hints of sun we have seen since our arrival in Greenock. There have been moments when we have prayed for sunshine and a change of pace from the umbrellas, the wellies and hoods that shield us from its incessant visits. But I am warming up to the bowls of delicious soups and toasties (grilled sandwiches) that make every meal a cozy escape from the elements.
Today was a busy day. Everyone took off in cars to their respective errands, some to set up the info center, which by the way is starting to take shape quite beautifully. The Ikea furniture and sisel rugs have been placed. The large graphics brought out to determine where they are to be hung. The paper lanterns clustered waiting to be lit.
The media office was set up for multiple laptops to do video editing, photo editing and blogging. The videographer and photographer went around the Greenock area to do cutaway shots for use in the videos and photo galleries.
The choir teams met with the outreach logistics coordinator to discuss food and transportation.
The children headed to an indoor playspace to get use up some of their unending energy.
The event director and media coordinator gave an interview to a general market radio station about the conference and outreaches in a tiny food pantry off the New Dawn Bookstore, already a favorite hang out of the Times Square Church teams.
As always, there were a few hiccups but we are trusting the Lord to make a way. The transportation that was secured to shuttle our teams around fell through at the last minute and we had to start from scratch to find an alternative. Hotel rooms thought to be securely booked turned out not to be, causing much scrambling in the afternoon. The videotaping of the conference had to be re-evaluated to use our current media team of videographer and camera people rather than hire locally. We will not be able to test the streaming from the Town Hall until Monday which leaves us little time to correct any issues. Through it all we continue to believe God will resolve all these issues as He is the one that has called us here and He will provide.
The evening ended with dinner at a popular restaurant serving some very tasty regional fare. Who thought mushy peas could be so good? The team scattered to their respective hotels to set their alarm clocks for 5:00am as many will be going to the airport at 6:00am to pick up the 100+ outreach team members arriving tomorrow. Several will be welcoming wives, husbands and children who will be joining them. The Holiday Inn Express began to set the large rooms for breakfast. The sense of great expectation continues to grow as we get closer to Tuesday when the meetings begin.
Today another 15 people, part of the Logistics Team B, arrived at 7:30am in Glasgow. The team included our production and staging director, sound engineer, two choir team leaders, the prison, youth music and info center team leaders, the media team videographer, lead photographer and webmaster, supporting staff and two toddler age staff children, who are part of a team of 10 children participating in outreaches here. Though a bit groggy since few were able to actually sleep on the plane, everyone was in excellent spirits and excited to be here. Half of the team had to return to the airport to pick up rental cars due to a miscommunication regarding pick-up but not one complaint was heard.
Upon their return, Some went immediately to scheduled meetings with their counterparts on the Scotland side. Others headed to breakfast while their rooms were made ready. The addition of these fifteen more team members made our group seem huge in the hotel and as we walked in the empty streets to an Indian restaurant near by to celebrate the birthday of our outreach logistics coordinator. Their arrival made it all seem infinitely more real.
5 more days and counting to the Greenock Town Hall meetings.
If any of you out there are wondering what the hardest aspect of coordinating this conference and outreaches, then the answer is clear. It is choosing what IKEA sofa to buy for the Info Center being set up in the local mall. No kidding. Today our fearless event director took his second trip to IKEA (he missed the roundabout the first time and never got there), and this time he brought along moral and shoppping support. The objective: select some couches, tables and rugs. Brown leather or red canvas? Neutral or color? White tables or wood? Sometimes you just have to trust the Lord! After hauling the various pieces from the massive shelves we discovered we would have to return to finalize the purchase! Hopefully, getting the 40 cell phones and arranging for the music equipment will be easier, not to mention streaming the conference into the overflow church. Digital or analog? Microwave or wireless? Your guess is as good as mine. Thank God for our knowledgeable production and staging coordinator. She arrives tomorrow.
We were having lunch at a local cafe and struck up a conversation with our very friendly and bright waitress who just happened to have lived in Oregon and was planning to return. Turns out she has a masters in film, and we need two camera persons and a director. She cheerfully admitted she could hold a camera but would not know what to do with it, as her masters was more about the synergy of film and advertising. She does, however, know a camera person who has worked in New York that could be available. We love you Lord.
Six days to the Greenock Town Hall and counting.
Our tireless outreach coordinator who is responsible for organizing all the outreaches for the 17 outreach teams coming to Greenock, has not stopped since we landed on Monday morning. The outreach teams will be placed alongside ministries already engaged in very valuable work here in prisons, street evangelism, ministry to drug addicts, nursing homes, hospitals, etc. The teams will come in and essentially support and work alongside them.
The outreach coordinator met with various churches to discuss the placement of the outreach teams at the church services on Sunday where team members will speak, give their testimonies, sing or just fellowship with the congregation. keep in mind, that is 200+ team members in a city where the average church is far smaller than that!
He met with the representative for the Inverclyde Youth for Christ that is working with us to place outreach teams in schools throughout the Greenock and Port Glasgow area, where the teams will do music, sports, drama, and life issues with the kids. The head teacher at one of the schools is a born-again Christian and is thrilled that the teams are coming and has opened the doors wide to minister to the children.
Dusk to Dawn
In the evening, the outreach coordinator attended a coffee house style ministry by a local church which will host one of the teams, to check out what they might be doing. When he returned to the hotel he still faced the arduous task of finalizing the outreach teams schedule which has become a massive document with multiple color bands and times. He did not get to sleep until 4:30am only to start all over again the next day at 8:00am. All in a very long day’s work, with joy unto the Lord!
Tuesday was a busy day as we all spread out in our own directions to accomplish our respective tasks for the day as we prepare for the arrival of the rest of the teams.
Advertising & Promotion
The media coordinator met with her counterpart in Greenock and discussed the ongoing advertising campaign and potential media exposure through Christian radio. The meetings and events are already being advertised in the local newspaper, The Greenock Telegraph. Fliers are being distributed throughout the city. Radio spots will be placed this week. Hopefully, music CDs featuring the Times square Church choir will be aired on the two local Christian radio stations to introduce the choir. Press releases have been sent to major regional press. A very good start.
Info Center Decision
The event director spent the day making decisions regarding the set up of the event Info Center at the local Oak Mall. He looked at the various spaces we have available in the mall to house the Info Center. One is very well situated for maximizing traffic, another is close to a partner church that just opened up in the mall to attract more young people. The third is an extremely large space the Info Center would share with the Healing Rooms, a ministry we will be working with during the time here. Many factors were considered, but in the end joining and supporting the Healing Rooms won out. The space is excellent and would easily accomodate both. Our event director must now figure out how to cross market both, furnish and set up the space to draw in the foot traffic. This “mall” ministry promises to be not only effective but fun. The Info Center will introduce the locals to Times square Church, Pastor Carter and the choir as well as our purpose for coming to Greenock. As we stood waiting at a cafe in the center of the mall two local men asked us if we were here for the conference, to which we happily responded that we were. I guess the word is getting around. Praise God!
Our very resourceful outreach logistics coordinator met with various counterparts here to discuss transportation (faster to walk from the evening meetings back to the hotel, but then again there’s the constant rain, oh well…), food (you will not believe how tricky lunch can be when you have to feed 200+ people in various locations), and checking out the rooms at one of the hotels we are staying at to make sure everyone is placed. No easy task but her countenance never reveals anything but a brilliant smile to every “what about if we did this…” proposed.
Do remember to keep praying for us and our counterparts in Greenock.
The first logistics team for the Times Square Church international outreach in Greenock, Scotland touched ground at 8:15am today at Glasgow International airport.
The plane had a two-hour delay leaving out of Newark due to a presidential visit to the city which held up traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike. The flight is only 5 and 1/2 hours and seems incredibly short compared to prior outreaches to Africa and the Philippines.
Weather & Packing Matters
As we left the airport, in a 15-seater van packed to the gills with our luggage for the 17 days we will be here coordinating the conference and outreaches related to the conference, the weather was a bit chilly and gaining a bit of wind but the sun seemed to want to peek through. The temperature ranges from high 40s to 50s and several locals have termed it “very cold,” though for New York standards it is nowhere near freezing. It has rained off and on throughout the day so it is highly recommended that everyone coming to Greenock pack small umbrellas and wellies as well as a warm jacket. The key is layering. It is also helpful to remember that we New Yorkers are used to tropical heating in winter whereas Europeans prefer a more moderate approach. Bring sweaters and warm socks for your hotel rooms.
The first logistics team consists of the event director, outreach logistics coordinators, outreach team coordinator and media coordinator. This team will make sure everything is in place before the 200+ outreach team members, Pastor Carter Conlon and the pastors team arrive beginning Friday, November 6. The team has already gone to the Oak Tree Mall to checkout potential spaces for the Info Center. The question now is whether to combine the healing room and info center in one space. Later in the evening, the team met with the local steering committee to get a general overview of the things we still need to cover this week.
The anticipation grows
As we gear up to the first meeting and outreaches on November 10 we are already excited and privileged to be here to witness what God plans for this spiritually and historically rich nation of incredibly friendly people. Today I walked with my 4 year old daughter to grab some dinner at a local cafe a few blocks away and remarked how most businesses and restaurants close early and the streets are empty at night. So unlike New York where the throngs persist 24/7! I prayed as I walked and asked the Lord to bless and transform this nation for His glory. That the countenances of the people will shine with hope!
Lentil Soup and Warm Chocolate Cake
P.S. The lentil soup with smoked bacon at Cafe Blanfe was excellent (the Scots have a gift with soup!) and my daughter finished every bit of the warm chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream. So far so good. We’ll keep you posted.
Morning after agony set in after our soccer game. That achy feeling our muscles hold after sudden unknown use. Regardless of argument, running for a soccer ball is not the same as running for the N, R or W trains, no matter how many times you may catch the train! I don’t use those muscles often, but this morning I noticed them.
It is amazing how many muscles I don’t use. Not because I don’t want to. Often I just do not have the chance to use them. They’re not part of the daily routine. It’s funny our daily routine can develop a muscle memory. It wasn’t until playing a different game that I quickly discovered how focused my muscle groups are. Each sport, each position requires a specific set of muscles, a specific strength. And, they’re not always interchangeable. Perhaps that is why good athletes cross train. (And God has given each of us specific strengths, and he has called us to be in shape in season and out.)
Kicking a ball around in Central Park was exhaustingly fun. Perhaps God has to use this morning after aching in my bones to wake me up. To tell me that I will be using muscle groups over in Scotland, even now, that are under developed. Someone who plays soccer regularly wouldn’t feel the way I do today. No, they’re trained. So, I need to build my muscle memory. My spiritual muscle memory. Can I listen when someone speaks and not wander off into a million directions? Can I listen instead of speak? Can I be humble? Can I lay hands on the sick and pray they’ll recover, stand by myself when the team breaks up? Can I encourage with sincerity, be genuine, and be approachable? Can I love and listen? Can I share about myself with my team, and can I learn to let my own feeble legs be strengthened?
Soccer was fun. Who knew pint size Poland Spring bottles would make such great goal posts.
The workshop began with Ben and Jess Cleaver leading in worship, followed by Treg McCoy with some announcements. “Miracle provisions have been coming in,” said Treg, who is thankful that God is supplying. Faye R., an outreach team member, currently unemployed, shared her testimony about how God came through for her financially. All she did was pray, believe and watch God move miraculously. God gave her Proverbs 24:10-12: “If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small. If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? And shall not he render to every man according to his works?”
Tim went up next and told us to close and open our eyes. He then said, “welcome to Scotland!” He gave us an overview on Scotland and introduced a 10 minutes recap video from the first-timers training with Earl Stocker, John Weaver, Steve Grace and Ron Ross. The video spoke about dos and don’ts, accountability, humility, expectations and more. It was equally helpful for non first-timers. In the video we learned was a bit of history about the Scottish people. In World War II, many Scots were killed, and many blamed God for the deaths. Today, young people don’t see God in it and the Scottish people have been feeling very defeated. We are called to Scotland to encourage the churches and their leaders, to reach out to the community with the love of Christ, to show them that their hope is in God.
Jessi Carrasco then shared with us on practical tips about how to share a testimony. Sharing a testimony is about telling your story just as it is. Every good story has a beginning, middle and end. We were advised to stay focus and stick to one story and not speak “Christianese,” but to just be real and be ourselves.
Info Center Team
We broke into different groups at 11am. In the Info Center team, Wendy Thomas shared about how the idea of the “doodads” was born, and how making doodads has enhanced her prayer time. Doodads are soft toys made out of sweaters. Wendy was touched by the reports of the team that returned from a missions trip to Haiti in May. Her heart was broken for the children and she wanted them to have soft toys. That was how doodads were born. Her son, Joshua has his own line call “noodles”, and her daughter Rachel has her line call “snoots.” Noodles and snoots are made out of the sleeves of the sweaters. The soft toys benefit ChildCry, a Times Square Church Ministry that feeds hungry children around the world. Each team member wrote a name idea for the Info centere. The name of the Info Center will be announced later.
In the daycare team, the kids range from 1 to 5 years old. All of them were having McDonalds and enjoying their French fries. When we asked the kids, “What do Scottish people look like?” Emma answered, “Scottish.” The youngest member said “Hallelujah” out of nowhere. Way too cute!
In the Hospital team, members were sharing about what they heard during the morning and went to Ezekiel 37:1–11. They are believing that God is sending us to give a word of life to the people in Scotland. As they were sharing, the 5 Stones ministry walked in with some donuts and coffee.
Healing Room Team
Next was the healing room team; a team of 14 praying women. This team is scheduled to go out to the streets on Wednesday, October 7. Fayette Stocker, the team leader was sharing logistics with the rest of the team. They spoke about how to be a considerate roommate, to be kind, meek and to speak in truth and love. First-timers closed the meeting in prayer.