Kicking off Iowa

Trip Start Jan 06, 2011
Trip End May 24, 2011

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Flag of United States  , Iowa
Saturday, January 22, 2011

Hello from the plains states!  Just giving a bit of an update, as I know it's been a while since we've shared any stories!

We've been here in the little town of Eldora, Iowa, where we met John and Pat Sellers, our work contacts and wonderful hosts for the ten days we're here.

When we first drove into town, we pulled right up to a training school for girls where we were scheduled to do a show Saturday night. John met us there, and arranged for us to get some help setting up. We were provided a group of boys who also attend school there. They weren't so much there for discipline or correctional issues, they're affectionately nicknamed "CHINA boys" -- CHildren In Need of Assistance. They come to live and learn on campus because their parents don't want to take care of them, can't take care of them, or aren't around to take care of them. So, they're here because there is nowhere else for them to be. They are, as John put it, "the most love-starved boys in the state."

They were great help--six boys, all about middle-school age. We made short order of the set-up. one kid, Ryan, had a great attention for detail, and was meticulous about making sure that everything was going to be okay for the show. "You might want to make sure that latch doesn't come undone. It looked like it was a little loose." "I'm gonna go double-check the cords to make sure everything's connected okay." (he checked those speaker cords four times) "I think we should test it again." "You should have a third clamp to clamp the bottom so there's no gap." ...
I think we might have another future Camfel tech on our hands! Seeing as how he was so careful with everything, I let him run with any ideas he had. Couldn't hurt :)

After the set-up and before the show, the boys were being made to sit down on the bleachers. "Hey Mike! Come sit next to me!" "Alright!" And I did.

While sitting there, I chatted with another one of my helpers, Zach. He was actually quite encouraging.

"You have a unibrow," he started the conversation. Great.
"Yep I do. Keeps me warm, I guess."
"I like it."
"Really? I think you're the first person to ever say that."
Ryan, on the other side of me, chimed in. "If you ever want to shave it, though, don't do it!"
"Yeah I heard it grows in thicker!"
"Have you ever plucked it?"
"Hah, a couple times, yeah."
"Does it hurt?"
"After a while."

Heheh, silly conversations, but it was a neat time hanging out with all the boys. It was interesting to watch them flock toward me so quickly and easily. Sure, some of them were kinda flirty with Kelsey because she's pretty, but ultimately these boys want a role model. And if one older guy takes an interest in them, they're quick to soak him up and want to be friends.

We saw the roles reversed after the show, when a group of girls was provided to help tear down the set. Sure, they worked with me mostly to do the job, but I'd look over and see a number of them interacting with Kelsey during the process.

Kids need role models. If parents don't provide that model, then the kids will find someone else--positive or negative.

P S - ironically, the show malfunctioned. There were some serious disc skips, and we had to pause the show quite a bit in order to fix it. But I can tell you one thing---it was certainly not Ryan's fault! (In fact, when the show skipped he said to me, "Oh, I hate it when these things happen.  You just want it all to go well, you know?"  Yes, Ryan, we do know...)
Despite the rocky run, we got a lot of great response. The kids filled out cards from which we learned that 17 of them wanted a Bible of their own, and seven wanted to talk with someone more about a personal relationship with God. Awesome!
We know that God can work even when our show doesn't run well... but... I still hope we don't have to exercise that very often!
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