Friday, June 19, 2009


Last night was another amazing night. It was an amazing last day too-we spent it out at the Lost Antler Ranch (the kids went swimming, kayaking, canoeing, bike riding, hung out and played various card games-including Apples to Apples).
I don't plan to have too long of a blog today, but I can tell you need to talk to the youth about their experience-not just about the work that they did this week, but about the spiritual transformations and heart-tugging they felt this week.
Breakfast is at 7am and we plan to head out by 8am. Right now it's 6:45am and it's been a physically taxing week, but it's a week I wouldn't trade for the world! By our estimates we should be in town around 6pm-your time. Check our Facebook and twitter if things change as we're unable to update on our blogs-no internet on the bus. We can update on our mobile phones...
Pray for safe travels and we'll see you soon.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Today was another beautiful day-we were blessed with sunshine and smiles! The youth had to projects today: MORNING WORK-trash clean up in downtown Estes and AFTERNOON WORK-fire mitigation at the YMCA.
This was their last day of work and we have successfully ended our work on a good note-minor scratches and sunburns. The youth have done an amazing job at all the work sites this week. They all deserve a pat on the back. So when they return please give them thanks and ask of their experiences (the physical labor and the spiritual labor).
Tonight's campfire looks to be another 'rock-your-face-off' night. Chris and I are excited about congratulating these youth on a job well done and plan to encourage them to take this beyond Estes. Stop me if you've heard this before...what happens in Estes, stays in Estes.
Considering what they've shared I pray that they will return to Lincoln on fire for God and continue to share their stories with one another...continue to grow and learn to appreciate God's blessings in their lives.
Last night, in closing campfire I gave them these parting words: life's a journey, life's a test, and may God bless you annoyingly. Basically-try not to complicate your life when God has a plan for you (Jeremiah 29:11-13).
Tomorrow is going to be a relaxing day of fun at the ranch camp we worked at earlier this week. Pray that they might play hard and have fun-they deserve it!


Today was another jam-packed one: the youth worked at Lost Antler Ranch-a place where ministry happens. The owner of the ranch is also the same man who started Blockbuster and Boston Market (just to name the most popular)...and he's a Christian who uses his money for God's Kingdom. However, the recent economy has been devastating...he now charges groups to rent his facilities.
The youth pulled weeds, carried, and hauled portions of trees that had be infected with the Pine Beetle-(like last year) it takes one year before the tree start dying, it doesn't even know it's dying. After about three years the tree is gray and is 'dead' to everyone's eyes, but after a year, it's still green and unless you take a closer look you wouldn't know a beatle had buried there/infested the tree.
Now, unto the campfire:
We had more youth come to share-there wasn't any rain-so we had an un-interrupted campfire session. Chris and I talked about the 'so what' implications of life. We had them chew on the 'what if you do' and 'what if you don't' concerning God's call upon your life. We gave them scenarios such as: What if Moses, who protested God's request/call and never helped out...and what about Jesus, what would've happened had he not gone to the cross for us and decided that he needed to prepare the disciples more because they weren't ready???
We went over scenarios about our lives too (about Chris and I)-how had they made different choices in life, we wouldn't be here today. This trip to Estes Park may never have been possible and how we wouldn't have ever met as colleagues and how we wouldn't have gotten a chance to work with such a wonderful group of volunteers and young people.
It was a good night to say the least. Thank you all for the continued prayers concerning weather, safety, and transformations. Good night, I'm off to bed...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


While I realize that it's not an original title, it does seem fitting considering the last few nights of testimonies, stories, and sharing that the youth have done. As mentioned before, they are sharing out of their brokenness-they are finding out that they're not all that different and that they're all dealing with the same garbage and are more the same than different.
This gradual revelation has stirred in the hearts of many of our youth-you can see the Spirit working within them-convicting them to do share. Some aren't there yet, but you know it's coming and I pray that throughout the week they might find freedom in their release-whether it be through a peer, youth leaders, or in front of everyone.
Pastor Jeff was here, he's the Pastor at Good Shepherd and he said that from what he witness-'I wouldn't have said anything like that when I was their age'. Amazing huh?
Well, it's off to breakfast and then to our main work site-we'll be there all day (until 3pm).
Keeping praying for the youth as they work, witness, and grow in this wonderful environment...

Monday, June 15, 2009


This morning the youth helped the YMCA with trash clean up. Afterward, we met in the meeting room to make our lunch and hang out for a bit. Once the bus arrived we headed to the Victim's Advocacy Center. We had helped out there before and some of the jobs were the same, but they planned ahead, knew we were coming and were prepared for our larger group. The youth did a lot of things:
stained the fence, painted the rails and trim, did some weedy-wacking, did spring cleaning inside the center-sanitized rooms, toys, threw away toys, boxed up toys for storage, organized rooms, vacuumed, cleaned windows, fixed signage, did some landscaping, and did it all within 2 1/2 hours!
In fact they ran out of stain and were only able to complete the outside of the fence...and interestingly enough, I chose 'stained' as my blog title because of it's application to us as Christians. As mentioned earlier, the youth have been given a chance at campfire to share...and many have shared out of their brokenness. Many have shared the 'stains', guilt, and sin that they've been dealing with or ignoring. This has been a very powerful and uplifting experience for many of the youth-some are uncomfortable, but in a good way...they feel convicted and conflicted about whether or not they should share. For example...some of the youth leaders said that some of the youth have said this: 'I know I should say something/I need to say something, but I can't'. (or something to that affect). The bottom line is these youth are sharing their stains (Romans 3:23) and are learning about the freedom of community and the stains of Christ's blood shed for us all (Matthew 20:28)
Again, keep these young people in your prayers as they dig deeper into His Word, His Will and His Plan for their lives...


Yesterday was a day of rest for the youth and the youth leaders. We had some hiccups concerning the campfire area we had booked for the week-last night we didn't have a campfire-we just met in our meeting room.
With that said, last night was still a good night. We read Exodus 3:1-5 and talked about holy ground. We talked about how we are on 'holy' ground all the time since God created the heavens and the earth. We also emphasized that we needed to take more than just our 'sandals' off-we need to peal away the various masks we wear-come clean to God in our brokenness.
After a brief introduction/some spiritual food to chew on...Chris and I opened it up to the youth-we had another six come up and share out of their brokenness.
Continue to pray for the youth as they experience each others pain and begin to open up to each other and God. They are taking steps here in Estes...we pray it will continue and never end!

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Breakfast (7-9am)
Worship (10-11:15am) We worshiped at the chapel here at the YMCA Camp and we were regaled by the Estes Park Bell Choir.
Lunch (11:40-12:30pm)
Small Groups, Bible Studies (one in meeting room and one on the side of the mountain-youth led), basically-FREE TIME.
Keep you posted later...


We read Exodus 3:1-4 and talked about how Moses answered God's call. Last night we spoke a bit about how we're all like Moses-there are things in our lives that get our attention like the burning bush. We also talked about how there's a difference between accepting God's call and society's invitation...we become consumed by the fire of sin in our lives. When we buy into our culture's line of 'the grass is greener on the other side' we find ourselves compromising who we are. Sometimes we sacrifice character and integrity and gain very little.
Tonight, the youth had a very transforming experience. It all started with one youth who was brave enough to get up and share from his inner most self-he was spilling the beans about something he had been carrying (a huge burden that was actually many).
Let me just say this...the Spirit moved the hearts of all those gathered around the camp fire tonight. Even strangers who heard us singing came to see what we were about.
The long and short...thank you for the prayers-not only was their no rain today, we had clear skies! The stars were out for all to see and it was truly beautiful and amazing. Keep praying everyone...your prayers have been heard and will continue to be answered too!
Sunday is a day of rest. We have granted the youth and the youth leaders an opportunity to take time to get closer to God. To sleep in if they need, but really, the goal is for them to grow closer to Him and to learn more-whether that be talking to a youth leader, digging into scripture, or going for a walk with God.
Again, thanks for prayers. This has been amazing and it's only day 2!

Saturday, June 13, 2009


We just got done working at two locations for two different groups: Habitat for Humanity and Christian Church of Estes Park.

Habitat had an awesome opportunity for the youth who had an eye-opening experience as they helped lower-income families. Estes is often thought of as a vacation 'hot spot' and no one thinks of this area as a place in need of help.
Interesting tid-bit: When I spoke to Spider, the Mission Coordinator in Estes she said that while it's official city records say only 15-19% of families are registered for Federal Aide (the school lunch programs and or food stamps), it's closer to 60-63% due. Many don't register because of embarrassment and ethnicity. Estes does have something similar to our 'Back-Pack' program in Lincoln.
The place in which the youth worked at was definitely in need-they picked up garbage in area and in their yards. They saw fighting among the youth in the neighborhood (with rocks and baseball bats). While there was mostly verbal arguing happening, there was one who did get hit by a bat (some of the youth leaders went to their aide).
-Later the youth leaders and the youth had a discussion about the various differences in social and family dynamics. Parents were in their homes, playing loud music and ignoring what's happening in their own backyards...some were smoking, but did nothing.

The other group went to Christian Church of Estes Park to help with the recent vandalism they've experienced. Again, the youth were up to the task and did a wonderful job!
Some of the work included helping them repair their paintball course: cutting down trees and branches in the way, loading them up on a 16 ft. trailer, hauling it out to the dump. They also painted over portions of their forts that had been vandalized.
They also helped the church with other tasks: cleaning, vacuuming, and sanitizing rooms.
The group that finished up the work for Habitat later joined the other group at the church to help. We got done a little early (which is a testament to the youth and the youth leaders commitment to this trip).
Well, that's all I have concerning work projects today. Consider yourselves fortunate though-I actually had time to be more specific. As the week wears on, that will change.
Keep praying for these wonderful group of youth and youth leaders. They had displayed Christ in their words and deeds today.
*Also, pray for good weather. Prior to leaving it was supposed to rain everyday-all day! That didn't happen today :)


Well, we made it! That's not to say that we didn't have any 'hick-ups' today. However, in spite of it all attitudes-for the most part, are good. I think the bus ride was 'longer' for some or at least longer than they had hoped for. *It was no doubt a long day for everyone.
While, I won't go into details concerning the 'hick-ups', I will share something amazing. Shortly after camp fire many of the youth approached youth leaders for some time to chat. During that time a transformation began to take place in the hearts and minds of those on the trip. I know God has blessed this return to Estes...
If you'd like to follow along:
Exodus 3:1-3
Tagline: Go and see
Chris and I basically laid it out there-all of them (youth leaders included) were on this trip for a reason. Some have come to grow, some came to know they weren't alone, some came to make new friends and to help others, but they all came because they made a choice.
That's something we're going to dig deeper into-choices that we make. As the youth will learn, Moses had excuses, but they didn't hold water and God provided...and Moses did amazing things for God and His people.
Again, pray for the youth and the youth leaders on this trip. May this be an opportunity for growth and learning.
-Also, you can follow on Facebook (just add Jeff Vance and Chris Hansen) and Chris' blog too!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Holly and I just got done packing! We're about 98% done really, I mean, there are somethings that we plan to use tomorrow and Friday before we leave...but we're pretty much packed.
I went to Facebook and wrote a little something and I thought I would share it:
I am excited for this upcoming experience with the young minds of the future...may God touch their hearts and they be changed for the better...because God cares too much to leave them as they are. JEREMIAH 18:1-6
I realized after I wrote it that I forgot something very important (I later changed in on Facebook too)...that it wasn't just the youth going on this Mission Trip that God wants to change-it's all of us. He cares too much to leave US where WE are in our lives. Some of us are content and have 'lost the fire' and motivation that we once had-in our relationship with God, our hobbies, our families, and our friends.
I think it's time that we all re-read Jeremiah 18:1-6 (heck, read the whole chapter!).
Please pray for us all going on this Mission Trip-pray that some might have that 'mountain top' experience and be changed, wanting to go deeper in their journey.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Do you like Youtube? Well I have a video I'd like to share. I won't elaborate on it or anything-just watch it! As always, comments are always appreciated.
*If you're a youth worker, paid or unpaid, or even a volunteer, then you'll understand.