First of all I would like to thank the congregation for their support, not only financially but spiritually. I would also like to thank the parents of the Kids that went on this trip. You have wonderful, caring, loving children who have become a bright light in my life and I have no doubt will be a bright light in the lives of others going forward.
It was a whirlwind week full of travelling, touring, and Gathering. Great speakers, Really Great Music, and fun.
For me personally the thing that stuck out to me the most from the speakers was about Justice. We need to stand up for each other more and be willing to protect and defend those less vulnerable than ourselves. We are never more like Jesus than when we are serving others. No matter how small we think the act is, it can make a major difference in the life of another. I saw this in action so many time this week. I spoke with an older woman on the trolley one day who was visiting from Washington DC. The Trolley was full of Gathering kids and we got to talking. She stated how impressed she was with all the youth she encountered. As we were talking one teen helped her put her money in the payment box. I explained to her what we were all doing there and that we were representatives of the ELCA and Jesus. She thought that was wonderful! As we departed I again saw 2 youths helping her off the Trolley and getting pointed in the right direction safely. What a wonderful example of discipleship and justice that was for her and me!
In our own group I experienced the caring, loving, discipleship that our youth and adults have. In the willingness to sit with a "mature" woman with some mobility issues instead of with the group in the evening gathering, or slowing down so she could catch up, or waiting and riding back to the hotel to keep her company. I was certainly really had to come to grips with my limitations last week but was never made to feel inadequate or unneeded or unwelcome by anyone! I can't begin to tell you what that meant to me to be so supported and loved!
I have no doubts now that the future of this generation is in good hands. There were many little lights glowing throughout the gathering. Many of the speakers referred to how many little lights can grow into bigger lights. At night in the dome we were asked to show our cell phone lights. Looking around at the illumination of all those lights put together really brought that home. There was such a light shining !!! Imagine how much brighter the world would be if we all took "this little light of mine" out from under the bushel basket and let it shine!!!!
- Ruth Arnold