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Albany 2017 – Final Update

Well, our trip to Albany came to an end Friday afternoon. Below are some of my closing thoughts on our time in Georgia; but first, here is the update from what we did the last two days!

On Thursday we woke up before the sun and returned to the Salvation Army to serve breakfast. After eating we had our most solemn and surreal experience of the trip. In January, two separate tornadoes touched down in separate parts of Albany within three weeks of each other. The damage was devastating. Officially, six people died. However, the official count never includes when illegal immigrants or refugees are killed. Local nurses suspect close to 60 people died during the storms. Here is a news story that will give you some idea of the devastation of one of the storms: http://www.11alive.com/weather/massive-tornado-hits-albany/389924297

When the storms hit, Mission Change’s mission changed for a few months. They spent a great deal of their time doing clean up and helping the displaced families find housing and jobs. We learned that many of the people we had been serving breakfast to at the Salvation Army were there because they had lost everything in the storms. So on Thursday morning, we went to one of the neighborhoods that had been hit the hardest to see the damage for ourselves. Here is a picture that will give you some idea of the damage.


After walking around one of these neighborhoods, we spent the majority of the day at a community center that Mission Change owns in the same neighborhood we had our water day in. The center is used for a number of activities in the community, but the most common is for an after school program that takes place during the year. Mission Change brings in volunteers from the community to mentor the students who show up. We spent a few hours with students doing VBS-style crafts. We did everything from paint to make homemade ice cream. That night we were invited to a house to swim and have our final debrief and devo with the Mission Change team. We also ate pizza, which no one was sad about. It was a great way to end our trip. The next morning we woke up, served breakfast one more time at the Salvation Army, and hit the road.


Final Thoughts:

While I am still processing much of the trip and trying to catch up on sleep, I know that I loved our time in Albany. One of the craziest parts of the trip is that I never opened a Bible with students or mentioned the name Jesus to those we were serving. While this may be puzzling, I thought it was beautiful in its own way. We were able to provide an escape for the students we served, even if it was only for a few hours. We gave them the opportunity to experience joy and laughter no matter what kind of environment they were coming from. We gave them the opportunity to create and express themselves through art. We helped take away a sense of embarrassment to two different women by painting their houses so that they were not the worst looking homes in the neighborhood anymore. If that is not the picture of the Gospel that Jesus gives us then I do not know what is. That is what it means to spread the Kingdom of God now.

I could not have asked for a better group of students and adult leaders to go on this trip with. I can’t begin to try to recall the number of times someone at Mission Change complimented our students for their cohesion as a group, work ethic, or simply their sense of joy they took with them all over Albany. It was fun to watch them grow closer to each other and realize how many different ways they could serve in Albany and in Nashville.

If you want to know more about our trip, I would encourage you to start by having a conversation with one of the students who went. Ask them which service project they enjoyed the most. Ask what it was like to sit across from a stranger and enjoy a meal. Ask how they saw God in the people they served. And if you want to see more pictures from our trip, check the Woodmont Hills Student Ministry page on Facebook. It is a closed group so you will have to request to join, but we will add you! The pictures will be up by the end of the week.

And finally, thank you again for your prayers, donations, and willingness to send your children on this trip. I cannot begin to express the gratitude I have for each of you, no matter what role you played in making this trip possible. If you would like to hear more about the trip from me, please feel free to call me at 719-776-0868 or email me at cwhiting@woodmont.org!



Albany 2017 – Update #2

Hello again from Georgia! Day 4 has been our best day yet! We woke up at 5:55am and served breakfast at the Salvation Army. The Salvation Army is run by a man named Chris who wakes up at 3:30am every day to drive an hour to Albany so he can serve the homeless and hungry. It has been inspiring for our whole group to spend time with him every morning. Isabella Ingram, rising 8th grader, said, “Chris is the hardest working and most dedicated person I have ever met. He inspires all of us.”

After breakfast, we partnered Fairhope United Methodist from Fairhope, Alabama and served at a local food bank for a few hours. Some of our students were bummed that we did not break the food bank’s record for most boxes packed. However, Grant Mathis, intern, calculated that we packed enough boxes to feed one family for 12.6 years which gave us all a different perspective on our day.

Then the fun really began. We spent about three hours in a park that Mission Change has a strong presence in. The park is in a rough area of town and it was obvious that not many of our students had spent time in an area of town like this. At first there was some discomfort, but right when we busted out the slip’n slide, everything felt normal again. Shortly after our students started laughing and giggling, around 35 kids from the local neighborhood started showing up. We had a great time soaking each other with water, water balloons, and most importantly shaving cream. Take a look at the photos below to see just how much fun we had!

On the surface, there are so many reasons why our students’ paths would never cross with the kids we played with today. But I loved watching our students forget about that and just live in the moment. They showed love through their smiles and their laughter. It was a privilege to witness walls being torn down and smiles starting to grow on the faces of the kids we were with. While the Bible does not talk about shaving cream or water balloons being a part of the Kingdom, it does talk about joy. That same joy is what we experienced today.

Thank you all for your continued support and prayers for our group!


Albany 2017 – Update #1

Hello all! Our middle school crew of 8 students, 2 interns, and 1 youth minister made it to Albany, GA Sunday evening and have been busy ever since! We are partnering with an organization called Mission Change and their fantastic team as we serve the local community here in Albany. Every morning we have woken up at 5:55am and headed to the Salvation Army to serve breakfast to people who sometimes do not know if they will eat more than one meal a day. While the mornings are early, there is something special about using a warm cup of coffee and a warm plate of food as an avenue for conversation and relationship.

We have already painted two houses! Mission Change heard about our painting skills and put us to work. Our students were laughing about it feeling like Nashville Workcamp all over again.

Every Sunday night, First United Methodist Church here in Albany offers a free meal to the homeless community. We were invited to join them for the meal and to mingle with the church’s guests for the evening. One of my favorite moments of the trip has been watching our students sit down across from a stranger that they seem to have very little in common with and strike up a conversation. Inevitably they realize that they may have more in common with the person sitting across from them than they initially thought.

Our devos have focused on Matthew 25 where Jesus talks about serving the “least of these”. One of my favorite images from the devos came from Eli Weber and Evan Burch, both rising 9th graders. They were retelling a story of a woman at the Salvation Army being so excited to see them and inviting them to join her in line as she went to eat her breakfast. This woman was very persistent and kept inviting our students to join her in line. As Eli and Evan were retelling this story they realized that this is what our Father in Heaven does for us. He invites us to join the line that leads to his table. He keeps inviting and inviting, but ultimately, we have to decide to join him in line. What a beautiful picture of a God who pursues us relentlessly.

While our bodies are adjusting to the heat, lack of sleep, and gnats, we are having a wonderful time. I will send another update tomorrow, but in the meantime, here are some photos of the trip so far. (The last one is a picture of the house we worked at today before we painted it.)

Albany 1Albany 2Albany 4Albany 3

Nicaragua 2017 – Update #5

(Tuesday morning) Good morning! Today you have a very special recap from Halle and Parker. Watch the video below to see all about our day yesterday. Our final push is today. Keep praying and we can’t wait to share all about what God has been doing here in Nicaragua!

For the team and the Kingdom,


Nicaragua 2017 – Update #4

(Sunday night) Good evening folks! Sorry for the delay, we’ve been without internet for some time here. We celebrated two new births into Christ this morning (pics below). Below is a recap from two students, Jonathan Pendergrast and David Walker. We’ll let their words be it for today. They say it so well.

“Today started out with an early breakfast before heading out to Valentin’s church in el viejo. We were immediately greeted by members of the church. They were very welcoming and were very pleased to have us. We experienced church in a new way which was really cool (they really enjoyed holding hands). It was very interesting to experience worship in a different language. They sang with such passion. We had the pleasure of singing a couple songs for them too. Later in the day we played with the kids. We set aside time to pour directly into the kids and be able to grow our relationships. A lot of soccer was enjoyed as well as kickball and frisbee. It’s such an amazing thing to build meaningful relationships with children who don’t even speak the same language as you. We returned to the hotel and had a time of worship and discussion and then headed to our rooms to hang out and get some sleep to prepare for the full day of work we have tomorrow.

Alright, so I [David] like to share a deep thought with the group every night, so I figured I would share one that I found especially powerful with you. God calls us to be like the moon. If you look into the night sky you will most likely be able to see the massive object of light that is the moon, but the moon produces no light of its own. All of the light you see is a reflection of the brilliance that is the sun’s light. Without the moon everything would be dark. As Christians, we are called to be a reflection of God’s abundant grace, mercy, and love to the world around us. God calls us to be like the moon and to reflect his light in order to light the dark world around us.
I also have a song recommendation. If you haven’t heard it you should check out ‘So Will I’ off of Hillsong’s new album ‘Wonder.'”


Nicaragua 2017 – Update #3

(Saturday night) Good evening after another long and full day! Jenna Galloway has your recap:

“Today we went to a bunch of different churches to distribute food bags. It was cool to be able to see different parts of the country and see how differently the people lived. One thing that stuck out to me while passing out the bags was that the people of the church waited their turn to get their bags and didn’t try to get them all at once. This is different from what I personally do because I only ever think about myself and normally forget to think about others first (whoops). Also, once we got to Valentin’s church it was super humbling to see Gloria (the woman we are building the house for) and Jonathan (a little boy there) super eager to help us. It is amazing to see just how helpful everyone there is and how much love they have for one another. I can’t wait until tomorrow! Woohoo!!”

We drove a lot and saw some amazing people and places. God was so present in each person we met, and the excitement just to have us in the room was humbling. We gave out 110ish bags each of rice, beans, sugar, oil, and some other things. The students and adults are busting it to get the work done so they can spend more time with the people. It’s been an incredible experience and we’re not done yet. Tomorrow we’ll worship with the church in El Viejo, and I cannot wait to see our two cultures come together in the presence of the Lord! Keep praying for us!

For the group and the Kingdom,



Nicaragua 2017 – Update #2

(Friday night) Good evening again! As I write this, some VERY tired students (and adults!) are slipping into some good sleep. We busted it today and got a ton of work done! Tonight you’ll hear from Anderson Liddle about his experience from today:

“Today in Nicaragua, we had both an eventful and fun-filled day. We managed to finish flattening the floor of our house, and we even got all of the concrete onto it. Due to a lack of a certain cement mixing machine, we channeled our inner mixers and became one with the concrete. Along with making concrete, we continued cementing our relationships with the local kids. They are all just so sweet, and it is such a joy playing even the most simple games with them. At the end of the day, we got to have an excellent discussion on how we are affecting people’s lives. It’s amazing to see how we can have an effect on someone’s life in everything we do, whether it be mixing concrete or giving giggling kids piggy back rides (montar a caballo in Spanish). I think both I and my teammates all are enjoying ourselves here, and I can’t wait to continue helping throughout this week.”

He’s not kidding. We mixed 20 wheel barrels of sand, 16 of gravel, and 10 bags of concrete to finish out the floor of the house…BY HAND. I have also guesstimated that no less than 9,452 piggy back rides were given. We are wiped and ready for rest but also for tomorrow! I’ve included some pictures so you can see the progress over the last two days. Keep praying for God’s glory to shine through us all!

For the team and the Kingdom,



Nicaragua 2017 – Update #1

IMG_5700(Thursday evening) Hi everyone! Wanted to pass along a small update on our first day here in Nicaragua. After a LONG travel day yesterday, everyone was eager to get to work, and what a blessing it was to serve this sweet lady named Gloria in helping to build her a new home.

Each day you’ll hear from a different student and their perspective on what happened. Tonight it’s Jennifer Stone! Here’s what she had to say:

“Hey everyone! We had an amazing first day in Nicaragua! We arrived at the work site and started claiming jobs to do for the day. However, because there are a lot of us there were more people than available jobs for some of the day. But that didn’t matter, we played kick ball, other games, and introduced fidget spinners to the kids. They continued to jump and climb on us as we gave piggy back rides. We had such a fun-filled day creating relationships with the people in the surrounding neighborhood and even more excited to get to know them better for the rest of the week, making ourselves even more confused with the little amount of Spanish known within the group. However, the most important lesson we learned today was that if we can be Howard then always be Howard!”

We’re working on finishing the house with James and Eddie, looks like we’ll be putting up the roof and finishing the floor. The neighborhood we’re working in is very welcoming and the weather was very good to us today. Please continue to pray for the work God is doing through us and that the weather allows us to finish strong. Thanks for your support and prayers!

On behalf of the team, and for the Kingdom,


IMPACT tomorrow night!


NO TEEN CLASSES AT WOODMONT TOMORROW NIGHT (Wed. 6/21)! Instead, we will all be joining these cool cats and all the fun happening at Impact! Entertainment is from 6:30-7:45, worship from 8:15-9:45; come for part or all! We will be meeting in front of the fountain in the square at Lipscomb at 6:15. Text Ginger (615-559-7404) with any questions!

No class tomorrow night!


Listen up teens – no class at Woodmont tomorrow night! All 6th-12th graders are invited to Acuff Chapel at Lipscomb Academy at 7pm for the nightly Workcamp service. Join your friends who have been busting their butts serving Nashville this week and come join us for some worship and fun!

Camp Telos Deadline THIS SUNDAY!

These are the faces that represent those of you wanting to go to camp who haven’t signed up yet – because the deadline is THIS SUNDAY, MAY 28! Be sure to get your envelope and payment turned in this week or we’ll be making faces a lot sadder than these.

Text or email me ASAP if you want to sign up and won’t be at church on Sunday. Happy Memorial Day weekend!

April 30th Deadlines


Hey you! Yeah, the procrastinate-y looking teenager over there – listen up! The following events have a sign-up deadline of THIS SUNDAY, April 30th:
Impact – high school only, June 19-24, envelope sign up
Nicaragua – high school only, July 13-19, application sign up
Albany – middle school only, July 23-28, application sign up
Envelopes and applications can be found next to either of our two black Student Ministry mailboxes, where everything gets turned in. Don’t miss out on these awesome opportunities!

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