I pronounce it "Flah-duh"

3 01 2008

This ain’t Kansas, Toto, or South Carolina for that matter. My youth group, The CORE, from Smith Chapel Wesleyan Church in Liberty just got back from SetApart07. The International Wesleyan Youth Convention took place in Orlando, Florida, from December 28-30. A trip to Universal Studios then followed on the 31st. The bus ride home included New Years.

The busses sat in the parking lot of United Wesleyan Church near Easley. All suitcases, teens and sponsors were loaded by a few minutes after midnight. The trek south began in the deep of night. It wasn’t long before most of the passengers were sleeping except for me. I can’t sleep in a moving vehicle. It was a long night and Golden Corral greeted us in Orlando.

Registration was much easier than I expected and we set off for the mall to watch a movie. The 1.5 mile trip took over half an hour, plus the half an hour wait time to get on the bus. We watched National Treasure: Book of Secrets, which I recommend. The movie let out at 5:30 and it took us an hour and a half to get back. Add those together and you get…that’s right, 7 pm, which just happens to be right when the night session was set to begin.

Our seats were about two thirds of the way back and there was no use trying to see the stage. The two large screens set halfway back gave everyone a great view. Sevenglory performed, then Steve Fee led worship, followed by the opening message (“Set Apart for God”) by Efrem Smith of Kingdom Building Ministries. It’s always a little difficult to get into the first service, so it wasn’t a ground-breaking message for most of the people there.

The next morning Building 429 opened the service. Our seats were about 10 rows from the back, so we didn’t really see much. After worship, Marilyn Laszlo spoke about her experiences in Papau New Guinea, called “Set Apart for the World”, and left us with the challenge to use whatever you have in your hand for God. She was a great speaker and many of her stories were moving.

Saturday night boasted a performance by Kutless, which was the first thing that my teens really liked. This is the first time some of them and I went up front for the concert and worship. Shaun and Theresa Blakeney spoke about being “Set Apart for Purity” including sexuality.

Kevin Myers, garbed in black leather jacket, spoke Sunday morning and brought his motorcycle on stage to talk about an intimidation tactic he used to protect his daughter from some bullies. He cranked it up and let it roar inside the building (a $200 fine according to the fire marshall). It was a great message on being “Set Apart for Life”. Everyday Sunday’s mini-concert started things off before the service.

Fireflight rocked the start of the service and Efrem gave the last message of the convention on Sunday night. Family Force 5 ripped the place apart with their concert after the last service. I had forgotten how much fun their concerts were. My face melted off several times and had to be surgically replaced.

Monday’s adventure included Universal Studios Orlando. Some of the attractions we got to experience were Shrek 4-D, Twister special effects, Disaster green screen effects, Jaws, E.T., The Mummy twice, and many more. It was loads of fun.

At 8:30 we packed back into the busses and headed back toward SC. A few hours into the trip, midnight rolled around and as the clock tripped over to 2008, we passed Jacksonville. A river dissects the city. We parked on the I-95 bridge and watched fireworks being shot off of a barge in the river between skyscrapers. It was awesome! With several stops in between J-ville and SC, including almost running out of gas, we made it back in 11 hours. The parking lot of United greeted us once again and we groggily (as I had not slept on the bus) moved our bags to our personal vehicles. Bed was a welcome sight.

Many thanks to the Wesleyan Church for a great youth convention. Can’t wait for the next one, Somewhere??? ’09.




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