Thursday, December 28, 2006

2007 Is Almost Here!!

Hi friends!
Just a reminder that 2007 is coming quickly. It's not too late to serve at the 2006 rate, though!

Here's what you need to do in order to make sure your group is ready to serve in the city next year:

  • Call the Home Office (949-248-8200) to find out if the dates you want are available.

  • Make sure your deposit and registration form are postmarked by December 31,2006.

If you have any questions please email or call us (949-248-8200)!

Happy New Year from CSM!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Ultimate Gift at Christmas

Who knew that saying Merry Christmas would make you a rebel? I say it every chance I get to remind others what the meaning of the season is. As I Christmas shop, purchase gifts and travel from store to store I see all different types of people doing the same thing…looking for that “perfect” gift. One day while traveling from one mall to the next I heard a radio commercial talking about purchasing gifts for others and the anticipation we have to see the surprise and joy in the person’s face when they open their gift.
I have to admit, to me that’s the best part, watching someone I love open a gift I have sought out for them, purchased, wrapped and freely given out of love. As I pondered the reactions I would see on Christmas day, I thought about God and His ultimate gift of Jesus. I imagined how our Father anticipated us opening up the gif of His Son. How much love and care He has for us to give us that extraordinary gift. Then I thought about how I have squandered that gift, so to speak. How I don’t live my daily life in a way that shows appreciation for the sacrifice my Father freely and lovingly gave to me; just like gifts I have given in the past and they are now at Goodwill, or in the trash, or buried in the back of a closet.
The gift of Jesus to our broken world is a gift that cannot be set aside, changed or altered. It is a gift to be cherished, appreciated and most importantly shared with others. On Christmas day as you watch your loved ones open the gifts you purchased for them, consider the joy your Father has watching you open His Gift every day…
-Tawnya, CSM Nashville City Director
Learn more about serving in Nashville with CSM!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Loving Those Around Us

One of my favorite parts of the “off season” (the fall season in which we don’t have groups coming regularly) is volunteering on my own at ministry sites of my choice. Although I have several favorites, I find myself at Yellowstone Academy most often – this private school is located in an area of Houston’s Third Ward known as the Bottoms. The kids, who are coming from extreme poverty situations, are given an education in the context of a loving Christian environment. I’ve been volunteering at the school for nearly three years, but I’ve recently been absolutely amazed at what I’ve seen. Let me tell you the story.
Mr. and Mrs. Torres, a couple from Venezuela, are the custodial staff for the school. This being their first year in the position, they immediately took an interest in the school far beyond sweeping and mopping. Each child is an important part of their day as they have learned faces and names. One young lady, in particular, has become a friend of Mr. and Mrs. Torres. This special first grader looks forward to their arrival each day and even recently asked me, “Have you met my friend, Mrs. Torres?” Not only do they relate well to children while on the job, though, Mrs. Torres has even begun to arrive at the school early so that she may have time to volunteer with her special first grade friends before beginning her custodial work. As she teaches the students words and phrases in Spanish, they help by teaching her new English words. The partnership is precious.
I love the picture of the Torres’ and the Yellowstone students. Folks who wouldn’t normally have connected in life are able to be friends. Language barriers, differences in culture and background, and even their positions at the school (as custodial staff, as students) don’t seem to matter too much when the focus moves off of those things and onto an attitude of kindness, appreciation and love. I recently asked Mrs. Torres if she and Mr. Torres had any children. She smiled, and with a twinkle in her eye said, “Yes – 198 of them!” She then ran off to play tag on the playground. I hope that this can be a challenge to me this Christmas – to love people. To look beyond what I see, or what I automatically assume based on appearances or positions. After all, we probably would have never imagined that a tiny baby born in a stable would actually be the promised savior of the world. The King of Kings. The Prince of Peace.
-Megan Breed, CSM Houston Associate City Director

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Monday, December 04, 2006

Toronto Trip Reflection

"I wasn't really prepared for the experience. Sure I had been praying about it and everything but I wasn't ready for my pride to be shot down so much. Honestly, I used to think that homeless people were on the streets because they were lazy. Wow, not true! I learned that every single person out there has a personal story and a background. They are just like me they just don't a have roof over their heads. All the stereotypes that I had with me when I went were totally broken down. God was really speaking to my heart from the moment I stepped out of the van. At a soup kitchen that my team was working at, I met this one woman, who was about 25 who actually used to live right near where I live right now. She went to a high school where I knew some of the teachers that she knew as well. It was cool because I was almost too shy to approach her, but she ended up being the sweetest girl. You really have to learn to take a leap of faith sometimes. Trusting God to speak through you can be a scary experience, but also very exciting. God taught me a lot about relationships and my attitude, and I am so thankful that I had the chance to go on this trip. I definitely want to go again sometime, I am not sure where or when but I am trusting God to help me with that decision. God bless you all!"
-Student on CSM Toronto Mission Trip