Top 10 Memories from Emmanuel
With my calling to serve as Director of Student Ministries at Chapel of the Cross, comes the need to say farewell to Emmanuel (our present church). Cait and I have attended Emmanuel since 2011, and have many wonderful memories. I could highlight Cait being baptized, the emotional support through our trial with infertility, receiving very generous gifts to support our adoption effort, or the wave of excitement that followed after we announced that Cait was pregnant…twice!
But for this list, I will remember just the “funny” memories. Here is a top ten list…
10. Riding a Kubota though the Backwoods of Elmhurst Farm.
This memory was one of my first as a youth volunteer. Ben just graduated and his party was at his home Elmhurst Farm. He offered to give me and my friends Andrew and Jesse a ride through the back woods on the farm’s Kubota. (Pictured above. It’s a mix of a 4-wheel drive truck and a golf cart.) We had no idea what we were in for.
Ben knew the trail through the acreage of the farm like the back of his hand. Andrew and I stood on the back as Ben flew through mud and over tree limbs. It might have been because of the excitement over the injuries we would receive if we fell off the Kubota, but I’ve had less fun on some roller-coasters. I remember saying halfway through the ride, “This will be one of my all time favorite memories!” Indeed it was.
Thanks Trisha for the photos!
9. Mini-Octopus Eating
Our dear friends Brad and Trinh got married and had authentic Vietnamese cuisine at their reception. One of the courses had mini-octopuses. I am not brave enough to eat any sea food… never mind octopus, but Emily and Pastor Pete sure were! Their reaction confirmed my fear of seafood…
Thanks again Trisha for the photos!
8. A Month(s) Old Sandwich
Our most recent Vacation Bible School (VBS) was sports themed, but this memory is not about VBS. (VBS memories will come later.) This memory is about a very bad smell…
In the months leading up to VBS we setup one of the classrooms as a VBS Headquarters to store materials. These included cardboard boxes, sign up lists, backdrops, astro-turf, tape, flags, and used sports gear. Several weeks after VBS HQ was setup, we noticed a distinct smell. Originally we thought it was the used sports gear, but after it was removed the smell remained. In fact it grew worse!
After a VBS Team leader meeting, we decided to get to the bottom of that smell. We started going though every item in VBS HQ. We soon discovered a very old sandwich wrapped in tin foil in one of the boxes that was donated from the local school cafeteria.
I have smelled lots of bad smells in my day.
We have to young daughters, and it is my duty to empty the diaper bin. At Young Life camp, I volunteered to clean the open air leaching field attached to an active septic system. Before I worked at the church, I was a paramedic. I have smelled many different levels of putrid. This old sandwich, I can say without exaggeration, was the worst smell I have smelled. (It tops a very smelly patient I had on the ambulance!) All I could do was laugh. The smell was unlike anything I had experienced before.
Thank you to Andressa who was brave enough to physically pick up the offending lunch left-over and throw it away. Also thank you to Carol who sprayed air-freshener for a few weeks after the incident.
7. Norfolk Police Pulling Over a Suspect at Gunpoint in the Church Driveway
One day in 2015, there were reports of a Millis police officer being shot at. The suspect fled in a maroon quad-cab truck (a truck with four doors). There was a flurry of activity in Norfolk and the surrounding towns. Many police cars speeding by the church, reverse 911 calls to the church telling people to stay inside and to report any suspicious activity. Looking up from my desk I saw that the Norfolk Police pulled over a red truck with four doors right in the church parking lot! Memory tells me that five or six other police cars soon arrived.
Calling everyone in the office to look out the front doors with me, we witnessed the police at gunpoint patting down both the driver of the car and the passenger. For those of you not used to interacting with police on a regular basis, any time an officer draws their weapon, it is very serious. Unlike the movies, it is not just for show. Working as a 911 paramedic, the only other time I have seen weapons drawn, it did not turn out well for the perpetrator.
Luckily, we had the Norfolk Police chaplain on staff at EBC and he soon was out to take care of the situation. Turns out the entire shooting was a hoax… I can’t imagine being the person who got pulled over.
6. Young at Heart Luncheons
I loved attending and helping with the “Young at Heart” Luncheons, where those 60 and older would gather, share stories, eat together, and worship together. Coming from a youth ministry background, it took me a little to get used to, but I now value multi-generational communities and events. This past “YAH” Luncheon was particularly memorable. Karen, a missionary from Uganda shared her heart, story and ministry to those in Africa. It was very powerful and encouraging to me as I am starting a new ministry. It was also great to talk with those at my table and hear their stories. Ask the current Emmanuel Deacon Board chair about how his neighbor would staples his kids to the roof of the house. Yikes!
5. Media Loft All-Nighter with Nate
A huge part of my time at Emmanuel was spent up in the media loft working on the church-wide sound system and network. Thank you to all who volunteered with me. Especially to Nate. One time we spent literally all night repairing a part of the sound system to get it working for Sunday morning. Click here or the image above to see Nate’s video from that night. Thank you also to our wives who had a lot less time with us because we were tinkering with some part of the system.
4. Finding Underwear in My Car
If I can make a fun time even more fun, I will. One trip with the youth, we found ourselves cleaning a clothing closet at a homeless shelter. I decided it would be more fun to continuously throw underwear at a fellow youth leader. This underwear was lets say… very large and very interesting looking women’s underwear. Kevin, being a good sport decided to take said underwear and hide it in my car. A few days later, I discovered it.
Kevin also let my wife know that it was a prank, and that I was not up to any shenanigans.
3. Crew 85 aka The Poo Crew
This one is a story! I will do my best to summarize. In 2013, I lead the youth summer missions trip to Spencer, NY. We were anticipating helping some families in need by simply painting rooms and and doing small house repairs. Behind the scenes, we heard some call it “painting camp” . When we arrived, we soon discovered the need was much greater…
Youth groups from all over New England arrived at the Spencer, NY high school and got settled the first night. Around 300 people in total. The next day, everyone was divided into “crews”. My crew was number 43, and we were sent out to work next to Crew 42. After we arrived at the job site, we noticed that Crew 42’s site had the stench of raw sewage. Something was wrong with the the home’s septic system, and that site was closed down. Crew 42 was combined with my crew, number 43, thus creating Crew 85.
A few days into working as a combined group on our family’s home, I was under the trailer and noticed that when the toilet was flushed, it drained right into the open ground. Our job site also had sewage problems. From that point on, Crew 85 was known as “The Poo Crew”. This site was closed like the first and we were sent to a third site, where we finally got to paint a women’s porch.
It was eye-opening to get to know the people who lived in these homes. It was also eye-opening to know that there are families in America who have to cope with conditions like these. To put it bluntly, I thought only third-world countries had struggles like the ones we encountered in rural New York.
Fast forward to the end of the trip, we were able to help in the repair of all the home’s plumbing, as well as providing for several other needs. When we returned to say good-bye and see the progress made by a real plumber hired by our group, the landlord physically tried to force us off the property. Despite the resistance, we knew that we were in the right.
2. Vacation Bible School
Every year Vacation Bible School was a highlight for me. I loved being a part of the VBS team, especially one that so clearly shared the good news about God to those around us. I also loved being a part of the team that helped create the stage decorations and the up-front program.
The images above from when we cut a giant tree out of 4 ft x 8 ft sheets of Styrofoam using a heat knife. I am so thankful for everyone who volunteered those few days. Originally, I thought it would take only two of us an afternoon to cut out the tree. Turns out I needed a team of around 12 and several days to complete the project. The tree itself was fun, but by far my favorite part was spending hours as a team cutting out intricate tree limbs. The smell of burning Styrofoam is forever seared into my memory.
This past year, along with the bad smelling sandwich, was memorable because my friend Andrew and I dove in and gave our all creating a great up front program. Andrew did most of the heavy lifting, and he crafted a great sports story for the kids to follow as the gospel story was unpacked throughout the week. The video below is from the last day, where the star soccer player gives up his spot on the team, so central character Lei Lei Lee can be a part of it.
There are so many memories. Too many for a top ten list. Here are some honorable mentions. That time Pastor John was late to Staff meeting, so we pranked him; the time I played three rounds of frozen Paintball at Deep Freeze; the guest missionary speaker at youth group, three separate times when there was a a fire, a flood and a tornado; going to Jaron’s art show; pranking the Senior High Sunday School Class with dozen’s of posters; dressing up as an old person with Cait; using Link from Zelda for sermon graphics, all the never-ending Minecraft adventures; play testing my new card game; playing Pickle Ball; and the “left-overs” dodge ball team going undefeated .
<Insert Excuse Not to Have #1 Memory>
I know it’s a very churchy move not to have a number one memory, but I really could not pick one. When I tried to think of just one, I kept thinking about all the people at Emmanuel. This is leading me to write a separate blog post on my favorite part of Emmanuel, the members of Emmanuel. Read the post by clicking here.
Do you have any other questions or feedback? We would love to hear from you!