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Thankful…

Thankfulness is pouring out of me today – it’s overflowing and cascading over every inch of my body. I’m drenched in gratitude.

This thankfulness has been born out of a heart set on celebrating – a heart that is reminiscing on the blessing this life really is. Today I’m reminded that I have more than enough reason to celebrate and I want to welcome you into that, to explore what it looks like and feels like to rejoice in what this coming weekend holds.

This weekend I’m celebrating the life of the King.

Often my celebration is thwarted by mourning; deep sorrow overwhelms my ability to rejoice. When I stop and think about what those days leading up to his death truly looked like I get caught up in a million unanswered questions.

Sometimes I try to think about how He would have felt – What it would have looked like to see the world through Jesus’ eyes. Who would he have seen? What looks or expressions would they be wearing? Would they cast disapproving glances in His direction? Would they look on in disgust? Would there be some people who would show compassion in their eyes but remain silent – fear keeping them amongst the crowd?

In the midst of all that I wonder what Jesus was thinking. How amongst all of the hurt, accusations, and disapproval Jesus still saw them as His children. He was unwavering, unchanging and constant; He was unfailing in his love for them. And while he was being mocked, ridiculed and beaten, He knew the entire time His sacrifice was for them. And without fear or reservation he trudged onwards. He humbly surrendered to death, death on a cross, knowing that this was the only way to truly rescue us.

What if that was the end of the story? A brave soul, a wise teacher, a peaceful man – nailed to a cross, mocked and shamed and left to die? But this story doesn’t end in death and disappointment. We aren’t left with bitterness and frustration. No, this story resumes three days later with the most extravagant and triumphant of conclusions.

Three days later there is an empty tomb. Three days later there is no body to be found. The book of Matthew tells us that the women outside of the tomb were “filled with joy” when they heard the goods news; that upon seeing Jesus “[the women] ran to him, grasped his feet, and worshipped him.

As I read that I have to ask myself “Is that my posture of celebration on Easter weekend?” Do I actually grasp the magnitude of what this weekend is all about? Do I stop and take more than a mere moment to consider the price Jesus paid for my life? And if by chance I answer yes to all those questions one larger question remains – As I reflect this weekend on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, am I filled with Joy, and does that joy cause me to fall at his feet and worship him?

So here’s my challenge to you and to myself this Easter Weekend. Let’s CELEBRATE – Let’s be filled with joy! Let’s shout and dance and scream at the top of our lungs because we are loved infinitely by the King. My prayer is that we might start to live a little differently as a result of recognizing that truth – that we are loved by a King who conquered death and loved by a King who LIVES!

-Kaitlyn

It’s getting closer!

GDSLV – theUNDERGROUND Fall Retreat is getting close! its only 27 days until we are together for a weekend and we don’t want you to miss out! Our early bird pricing of $125 ends next Sunday- Nov 8th! So don’t miss out on this great deal! Head on over to gdslv.com now to register and for all the most up to date information for the retreat! Don’t forget to invite your friends and send them over to our retreat website to check things out as well.

While you’re there check out our GDSLV blog. Over the next 27 days we will be posting thoughts, videos, art and ideas to help us prepare ourselves for our time together at the retreat. Make sure you check back in every few days to get the latest content.

GDSLV

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We are SO excited for theUNDERGROUND Fall 2015 Jr. + Sr. High Youth Retreat- GDSLV! We can’t wait to head up to Muskoka Woods November 27-29, 2015! Here at theUNDERGROUND we love that every year we get two opportunities to join together with the youth from across all of our sites to spend a weekend in Muskoka, hanging out, making new friends, engaging in worship, playing epic games, going deeper into God’s word and spending time as a community together. GDSLV is our 27th retreat and it’s going to be one of the best yet!

For REGISTRATION & RETREAT INFO head on over to www.GDSLV.com and check back regularly for the latest updates!

Early bird pricing ends November 8th, so don’t forget to register soon and send your friends on over so they can register and join us on the Fall Retreat too!

Follow along with #GDSLV on Instagram & Twitter with @theUGyouth!

A week well spent!

City camp team 1

It’s been almost one week since our City Camp Summer Leadership trip ended and in the week that has followed we’ve taken some time to reflect on some of the incredible moments we got to share in as a team. We spent our week serving alongside the Muskoka Woods staff, sharing in leadership development sessions and having fun in community together. As we reflect on the week we can look back and see three key lessons we can take with us.

 

Through working alongside the Muskoka Woods City Camp Staff we came to understand the value of encouragement. Working at a day camp for one full week gave us all a chance to experience the high demand the counsellors are in. They run activities, plan games, create skits and videos and lead kids through a full and exciting day of camp. We learned first hand that at the end of the day you’re exhausted and one of the greatest ways to regain energy is to know that there is a team of people supporting and encouraging you in your role. Our students spent hours writing beautiful encouragement notes to the entire Muskoka Woods City Camp Staff team. It was a joy to watch how much life it gave our students to encourage those they had been serving alongside and amazing to see how those words of affirmation fuelled the counsellors in their work.

 

Through our Leadership Development Sessions we learned how to prioritize our own spiritual growth. Over the course of the week we made our way through a few concepts and ideas that held incredible weight in each and every one of our spiritual lives. We learned about our personalities and the way we’re wired, and we learned about how to approach our spiritual gifts with a heart of thankfulness. We talked  about following God’s guidance and the importance of looking retrospectively at the times when we could see God at work in our lives, and we talked about the immense power of our story and seeing God use our lives as living testimonies. Through all those sessions one fundamental truth was clear – We were created to love and be loved.  We put that into practice as we served the Muskoka Woods Staff, our campers and each other, while we wrestled through what God has called us into- a lifelong journey with him.

 

Through our time together in community we began to understand the importance of investing time into relationships. Our team started out as 21 strangers (a group of students who barely knew one another’s names) to a team at the end of the week who ran to hug one another goodbye, who laughed over shared experiences and who stayed up till the early hours of the morning writing one another notes of encouragement. There was time serving together, time eating together, time leading together, time having fun together – all that invested time allowed us to reap the ultimate profit – friendship. Our team was open, honest, vulnerable and quick to support and encourage when the moment called for it. We came to understand that when you invest in a friendship, when you take time to pour into someone you gain a deeper appreciation for who they are, who they were created to be and who they are in the midst of becoming.

 

Our week was one of laughter, memories and incredible opportunities to experience growth together in community. We are so thankful for the chance to have made new friends, shared our stories and to see how evidently God is at work in the lives of our students at theUNDERGROUND.

 

– Kaitlyn Kirkwood

We’re half way there!!!

We are over half way through our Muskoka Woods City Camp Leadership Trip and have been having a blast!! The 20 students from different sites have been paired with one of four cabin groups and have been facilitating the camp activities for the kids at City Camp. The Muskoka Woods City Camp staff are loving having our students working with them and the City Camp kids are having a great time!

Our students arrived on Sunday and jumped straight into work! We spent the afternoon setting up equipment with the Muskoka Woods staff and many hands made for lighter work for all. Our evening was filled with some great time getting to know each other and setting some personal and community goals together.

We have been spending some really intentional time in the evenings in leadership development with our students. So far we have talked through Being real as we hang out and serve together, our different personalities, how to approach our spiritual gifts, our stories and how they can impact others, and listening to Gods guidance in our lives. Its been a real privilege to see our students engaging in these times and getting a deeper grasp on the ways that God has made of each of us intentionally unique, and uses us all in different ways.

Our group has really come together over such a short period of time and we are excited for the rest of the week. We’ve had some great times of fun relaxing at the park, chilling out in front of a movie, enjoying a pool party together, and can’t wait for Aerosports Trampoline Park this evening! The junior leaders have been doing a phenomenal job leading our small groups and demonstrating vulnerability in their discussions. Its been amazing to see them taking the leader and growing so much this week!

Please continue to pray for the students as they continue to interact with the kids at camp and with each other as we finish off our week together!

City Camp is almost here!!!

We are only a few days away from welcoming students from across our sites to the Muskoka Woods City Camp Leadership Trip! We have 20 students that will be joining us this Sunday to serve in Oakville for the week. This is a great opportunity for them to have fun serving kids in the Oakville community, while learning who God has made them to be and exploring their own life story.

During the day, our students will be assisting the Muskoka Woods staff and campers in a variety of camp activities such as; trampoline, laser tag, inflatable slides, and even bubble soccer! Yes! BUBBLE SOCCER!!! Our evenings will be spent together doing some of our own activities and team building exercises, as well as helping students discover various leadership qualities. We have some great things planned for this group! We have even created a special leadership track for some of our older students. Our grade 10s and 11s will have some in depth leadership development that they will practically apply each day by leading small groups of students in grades 7-9. This allows them not only to discover and learn, but apply and share the tools we are helping them develop.

Our goal is that all of our students will step into leadership roles for the upcoming year in theUNDERGROUND, no matter what site they attend! We would appreciate your prayers as we bring these kids together for an incredible opportunity!

CityCamp Leadership Trip – July 2015

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APPLICATIONS ARE NOW AVAILABLE!!!
This summer we have the exciting opportunity to partner with Muskoka Woods again to host City Camp at our Oakville location. This will be an incredible chance for students to grow in their faith as they learn to serve and lead with other Jr and Sr High students from across all of our Meeting House locations.

We have two main goals for this trip:

Hands-On Serving Opportunities – We have the chance to connect with hundreds of elementary students from the Oakville/Mississauga region and invite them into a relationship with Christ. We will be supporting the Muskoka Woods staff to run a day camp for children who come from a variety of backgrounds, many of whom would have little to no church experience.

Learning to Lead -During this trip we will be facilitating intentional leadership development training through a variety of avenues. They may include: workshops, guest speakers, service projects, team building challenges, and more!

Why Camp in the City?
At the heart of this initiative is a desire to reach into the community with the message and love of Jesus. Muskoka Woods wants to partner with churches as a “living exhibition of life with God” in their neighbourhood.

Who Will Be a Part of the Team?
This trip is a cross-regional experience; which means that we have opened the application process up to all of The Meeting House sites. Students in grade 7 – 12 may apply. This team will be composed of up to 25 students and 6 leaders. If more than 25 students apply, preference will be given to Jr High students as this is their only trip opportunity with The Meeting House.

What Will The Team Do?
During the days, theUNDERGROUND Leadership Team will spend our time working with children from the surrounding cities to facilitate City Camp. We will be serving alongside trained Muskoka Woods staff at the Day Camp, out of the Oakville Site.

The evenings will be spent in various learning opportunities. These projects vary considerably and may include the following: team building, educational materials, serving the marginalized, hands on projects, learning from experienced leaders, etc. We will also participate in musical worship, evening devotional times, and a training from Muskoka Woods staff to increase our overall awareness and leadership skills.

We are offering a leadership development trip for our Jr & Sr High students! This is a cross-regional trip and we’d love to have students from across all of our sites on the team!! The team will be helping with Muskoka Woods “CityCamp” that’s happening at the Oakville location. It’s a daycamp that targets kids who may not have any church background and we’ll be doing some really intentional leadership development with students on the trip. Kids currently in Gr 7 – 12 can apply and we’ll email you all the info as it’s finalized in the next few days!! Let me know if you’d be interested in being part of that trip July 5-10!

Apply today at www.themeetinghouse.com/summerleadershiptrip

theUG Spring Retreat | Anchored in Hope

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Jr & Sr High Spring Retreat!

The retreat was amazing with over 430 students & leaders coming out for a great time of fun, learning, worship, community and being reminded that when we are rooted in Christ, we are anchored in hope! Cluster spirit was strong for our game of Shipwrecked and there was plenty of dancing! but the most amazing thing is to see lives changed from our time away together. A student told one of our youth pastors… “I get it. I actually get it. I don’t have to do anything to be enough. I am more than enough because of Jesus and the expression of God’s love for us. I have been made that way. This has changed my life.”
Thanks for entrusting your kids to us for the weekend! We cant wait till we are all together again for our next retreat Nov 27-29!

Cory- our Sr High youth pastor from Oakville, spent some time over the retreat recording a vlog so you can see the ins and outs of what a retreat really looks like!  Watch the retreat vlog here — https://youtu.be/o2LPT83Vc_U.

Heading Home – Wilmington 2015

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Ephesians 3:14-21 (NIV)

On our second night here in Wilmington, we had the awesome opportunity to have dinner at the home of UrbanPromise Wilmington’s Executive Director, Mr. Rob. He then led us in a devotional surrounding Ephesians 3:14-21… It’s hard to believe that we’re going home tomorrow, but as we reflect back, there are so many examples of the ways those words have been true for this team throughout the week – and that is a beautiful thing.

God has done and is doing immeasurably more this week than any one of us could have ever imagined, and we know that He will continue to do incredible, amazing, Kingdom-building things long after we leave tomorrow. We have definitely been rooted in Christ’s love this week, and our days have been full in every sense of the word. And thinking on the beginning of the verse where it talks about family, it has been such a blessing to be a part of a community that, as one of our team members so eloquently put it , is not just a community, but a family – because of Jesus.

Last night, we had a blast at UrbanPromise’s 4th-12th Grade African/Latin American Speech Contest. Dozens of 4th-12th grade students who are connected to UrbanPromise delivered an original, self-written speech about an influential and inspiring African or Latin American. Many of us on the compassion team have had the privilege of working one-on-one with many of the 4th and 5th graders on their speeches this week, and were honoured and delighted to be invited up to go up on stage with our students for moral support. We were blown away and inspired by their courage, and very impressed with how much they accomplished – from their memorization to their ability to nail last-minute changes that had to be made to their speeches.

Goodbyes have been and will be very hard over the next few hours. Many of us have really connected with the kids at our after-school programs, whether we just met them this week or are reconnecting after past trips. Many of us who have hung out at our after-school programs before have been blown away by the night-and-day growth that we see in the character and leadership of so many of the kids. Others of us have been blown away by how fast we have created connections with the kids we just met and have so quickly been able to deeply love them with Christ’s love and want God’s absolute best for them.

 

AIDS Care & Wilmington!

So…. theUNDERGROUND had a goal of collecting 1,500 single bars of laundry soap for AIDS Care. Over the past few weeks we saw tons of amazingly creative ways that students and leaders rallied across all of our sites – small group competitions, dying of hair, painting of people, etc! Across all of our sites we ended up collecting 2,965 bars!!! These are some of the ways we see students learning to live simply so they can give generously – all part of what it means to follow Jesus!

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Lots of exciting things are on the horizon! For example, THIS Sunday, March 15 theUNDERGROUND Sr High Compassion Team is leaving for Wilmington, Delaware. The team is made up of 23 students and 8 leaders from across our sites, and we’re heading down to serve alongside the Urban Promise staff – helping at a food bank, painting/spring cleaning, and helping with their kids after school camps!

Please be praying for the team – that this is a faith-shaping experience for each student and leader on the trip and that we’re able to bless the kids and people we’re serving while there!!

Stay tuned for updates on our trip throughout the week!

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