All Night Party!!

OK...I'm new at this blogging thing...but bet that this is longer than usual...it's just such a crazy and long story...it has to be told...

Man - what an unforgettable evening it was...103 students - ready to go - loud, fun, crazy, nutsy, excited, thrilled, amazing, patient, tested, challenged, and more... These students and the 15 leaders along for the ride are a fascinating group I am honored to be a part of...

Our All Night Party is an annual middle school event - world-famous (ok, maybe not world famous, but super exciting throughout the area...). The "plan" was to start at our youth center, then head to Portland to the Lloyd Center Ice Rink for skating & broomball, then back to Salem to the YMCA for basketball, racquetball, swimming, and more...then off to the bonfire in West Salem...then to Northgate Bowl for some "early morning" bowling (about 4:30 am).

Notice, I said this was the "plan." You've heard the quote, the best laid plans of mice and men...well, that was one of the quotes of the evening. Back up a couple of hours to 2:00 in the afternoon on Friday when those of us sitting in "middle earth" (the area where the student/children's ministry offices are located) went pitch black. I mean it was DARK!! With a laptop in hand as a flashlight, I was able to find other staffers, and find that the power was out in the entire building, and then, shortly thereafter found the power was out for blocks...fast forward to 5 pm when there is still no power, the alarm problem siren is going off in the youth center, and we realize the need for plan B...so...we change to heading over to Grant Park a few blocks away. Fast forward to when we get to the park, to find a soccer game in progress on the fields. OK, so we don't get to use the fields, but we get to hang out, goof, blow bubbles, throw frisbees, play soccer, climb on playground equipment, make bubbles with spit (ok, just Zeke did that) and much more!! After about an hour we headed back over to church to board the bus and vans for PORTLAND!! (The big city...)

About 1/2 way to Portland - BAM - and here comes a blown tire flying past the vans...the tire came from the rear of the BUS...OUR BUS!! YIKES! We all pull off to the side of the road. After reaching our facilities team, we're given to ok to move forward (in the mean time the students are stopping to pray that God will protect us, that He'll provide the means to get where we need to go - students are stepping up in leading these spontaneous times of prayer, they are impressed by the depth of some of their friends that they haven't seen or heard before...God has an amazing way of orchestrating moments you wouldn't "plan").

So we head off to Portland, arrive about 30 minutes later than "planned" but that ends up to be a blessing as we got to see the Portland Rose Festival fireworks over the river as we drive on the bridge. This was pretty cool I must admit - the fireworks were literally going off right next to us...and this girl couldn't take pictures...UGH! Very fun. We get to the ice rink and it is a blast! Mostly minor scrapes and cuts...ok, except for Chaz who was attacked by the ice, and ended up with a "mere flesh wound" - instant swelling of the eye, 1 inch gash in his eyebrow - 30 minutes later he was back on the ice playing broomball. Unbelievable!! One of the fun things of middle school ministry is offering students opportunities to do things for the first time (overnight trips, owning their relationship with Jesus as their own, activities, experiences...)- and this night it included people skating for the first time...so cool to see! Friends helping friends around the ice - learning how to lace skates - doing the hokey pokey & chicken dance - polishing off 30 pizzas. And at 11:30, we're out the door to head back to Salem...when...

BAM - there goes the other left rear tire on the bus. Sigh. I have to say the students were patient, kind, thoughtful, and considerate while we figured out plan Q to get everyone back to Salem...the leaders were fantastic with entertaining, keeping the peace, providing diversion. I am so grateful for them...the unfortunate thing was about 1/2 of our group ended up at the Y, and the other 1/2 was on the side of the interstate waiting for the "plan" to unfold. The vans dropped off the students at the Y, and then headed back to pick us up (oh, did I mention that there was construction in progress on this part of the interstate, so the 3 lanes next to us were closed to traffic...another blessing.) Plus, Steve D. woke up from a sound sleep to drive the church shuttle bus out to our roadside stop to also help bring students/leaders back to Salem. So...we were punting so to speak to give the students the best night we could, given the transportation situation (the bus had to be left on the side of the road w/ 2 blown tires...). And the decision was made to take the students who had been sitting on the highway to the bonfire. The students who had the chance to be at the Y were taken to the Youth Center to goof, run, play hide-n-seek, and watch Pirates of the Carribean.

Joyfully, we all came together @ 4:30 to go bowling...some played games, some make bracelets, most bowled at least 2 games and had a blast enjoying these last few hours of the All Night Party... We saw great bowlers, adorable cats, crazy bowling styles...and more.

We returned to the Youth Center at about 6 am...the sun is already rising...and a couple of parents were also at the YC with a light breakfast ready for us as we return. Muffins, fruit...yum!! And then the traffic picks up as parents begin to arrive to pick up the students...by 7:30-7:45 am I was on my way home...and walk in to find my family awake and ready for the day!! WHEW!

I slept for about 3 1/2 hours...and it took a couple of days for me to start to feel better...and were their "glitches" that were unexpected...ABSOLUTELY!! But...it was still a great and memorable night for more than one reason. So what plans will we make for next year...?



©2009 Until... | by TNB