August Update

Hi everyone 🙂

It’s been kinda crazy getting back into school (both for the youth and for me as I’m in my last semester of seminary).

We (for the most part) had a good time hanging out at the sleepover and are excited for the incoming youth 6th graders to join us.

We also had a great NAOMI House Sharing. Proud of everyone who attended the trip!

You can watch the sharing here (skip to 38:00)

The past month we’ve been going over sin. We’re trying to engage our head, heart, and hands, and so we had a lesson (head), small groups (heart), and an exercise (hands).

One of our sister churches asked me to record the message so I have it available for the 1 person who’s interested haha.

Here’s The Small Group Discussion Handout and Questions we used if you’d like to reference that.

Upcoming:

Sunday School – we’ve begun resuming Sunday School. That will take place every Sunday morning. For the next 4 weeks it’ll be from 9:30 – 10:30. The youth will join adult Sunday school but if the youth hate it, we won’t have to stick around.

Board Game Night – 9/11 from 6-8pm in the social hall! Bring a friend 🙂 details in the email.

Sports Day – 8/9. Another outreach event 🙂 details coming soon but with a primary focus for those who enjoy physical games, etc.

Harvest Party – 8/30 [tentative] it might be fun to host another outreach but this has yet to be determined

Prayer Requests:

  • That all the new students would be integrated and cared for well
  • That the Lord would provide more volunteers for the youth ministry
  • For school for the leaders and the students that we would finish strong
  • For Eric and Kana as they prepare for their wedding

Thanks so much! Love you all,

Stephen

Heading home

We had a wonderful time and are on our way home!
There were some tears shed on our team and with the NAOMI House kids as we said goodbye which is how you know we made meaningful relationships. 🥲

the kids stayed up late on the last night hanging out so they’re pretty tired, but our hearts are full.

It rained every other day. As we’re in flagstaff now, it’s raining pretty hard and both our cars require maintenance (the rental van got a flat and the mini van still has a tire balance issue despite getting serviced twice on the way). If you could keep us in prayer, we would appreciate 🙏 it could be up to a 2.5 hour delay 😬

Update: we made it back close to 11pm. Thank you for your prayers! Although the cars had some issues, God protected us and brought us home safely. We can’t wait to share all the stories of what God has done with you all 🙂

Naomi House day 5 (Wednesday)

Hello West Covina Church Family! It’s great to be reunite with my fellow youth and Walnut Creek family. It’s my 3rd time being at NAOMI house and everyday makes the trip more memorable and fun. We’ve had 2 days of VBS and youth and have also gone to the gym and pool. Tonight our youth played a game of kickball against the Naomi House kids. It’s great seeing everyone happy to play and seeing double rainbows and lightning. Please continue to pray for us to have a fun trip and safe rides home. Thanks Jade Martinez 🙂

Blogpost day 4 (cont):

the following is a creative writing piece by Eric and Colson 🙂 skip to act 2 for the actual blogpost

Act 1

Lucas: Stephen, our Jojo Siwa cereal rations are running low. We must make a resupply journey to Walmart lest the people starve.

Stephen: I mean, dinner’s in like 2 hours Lucas. If you really need a snack I can-

Lucas: But sire, haven’t you heard the shouting in the streets? The people are on the verge of revolution!

Distant shouting can be heard

All: WALMART WALMART WALMART…

Stephen: Lucas, we have more than enough food in the kitchen. Just tell the rest of the gang to… wait, what are they doing??

Robert rises from the crowd

Robert: Everyone! We can take the train to Walmart!

A mob of Fountain members can be seen surging towards the train tracks

Stephen: Wait, stop!! Lucas, we need to get them; they might get hurt!! (muttering) Andrew Todd, West Covina Christian Church administrator, is gonna kill me…

Lucas: I’m sorry sir, but I must go. My people need me. It’s been an honor.

Lucas joins the mob and hops onto the train

Stephen: Lucas, no!! (gathering his resolve) I have to go after them; they might get hurt without me.

Stephen steps towards the train

Stephen: (to himself) Okay Stevie Wonder, you can do this.

Stephen gathers his courage and leaps towards the train, just barely catching the last car as it rushes by

Stephen: I… wait, I’m alive!! Ha! I did it!! Attaboy Stevie Wonder, you really outdid yourself this ti-

Hobo 2: …AND THERE WERE BEANS… ON THE BILLBOARD-

Stephen looks up to find himself face to face with three ragged men, all staring right at him

Stephen: (laughing awkwardly) Uh, hi guys…

Act 2

Stephen and the hobos sit in a circle on the train bed

Hobo 1: So, “Stevie Wonder” was it?

Stephen: (cringes a little) Um it’s actually just Stephen.

Hobo 3: (whispers to Hobo 2) That’s kinda embarrassing…

Hobo 1: Anyway, Stephen, how’d you get here? What’s your story?

Stephen: Oh, my story? Well…

[If you’re wondering, this is where the actual blog post begins]

It’s odd to think that we’re over halfway through our missions trip, and yet here we are! It really has been a blessing to be able to serve the kids here through work and play. Today, Eric, Colson, and Jose continued with their work projects, painting Robert’s bathroom, part of the ministry center’s hallway, and the bunkhouse railings. In the afternoon, we went swimming at a local public pool in the town of Holbrook, playing sharks and minnows, soaking in the hot tub, and just generally hanging out. Finally, after a bit of downtime, we returned to Holbrook to eat Navajo tacos and watch a traditional Navajo dance. Overall, it’s been a really a great experience, and it’s been wonderful to see our team bonding with the kids at NAOMI House. They’ve given us nicknames (at least a third of our team has been nicknamed Hairless Man) and are more than eager to chase us around or play cards with us. It’s also been an incredibly hopeful experience to see our team grow in cohesion and maturity, and I hope that God continues to work though us and grow us during the home stretch of our trip!

[This is where the blog post ends]

Act 3

Hobo 2: Well Stephen, that was… interesting…

Hobo 3: Yeahhh, uh, sounds fun…

Hobo 1: Have you ever tried journaling, or writing a blog or something like that? Cus it sounds like you have a lot to say.

Stephen: Yeah! Maybe I should try that.

Awkward silence ensues

Stephen: (seeing the Walmart) Oh, uh I think this my stop. Thanks for the chat y’all! See ya around! 

Stephen rolls off the train 

Next to the tracks, Robert and the youth load a stopped train with five shopping carts worth of Jojo Siwa cereal

Lucas: We did it! We have enough cereal to last us for months! We’re saved!

The crowd chants

All: Robert! Robert!! ROBERT!!

Robert: (Looking towards an oncoming train) What the train doin

Stephen tumbles off the passing train

Stephen: OoF uGH oUCh ZOinKs yOWza

Stephen comes to a stop

Stephen: Agh, my neck, my back… wait, the youth, where are they??

The train rushes past to reveal Robert and the rest of the Fountain

Stephen: (noticing the crowd, smiling and looking at the camera) Oh Robert, you scamp!

Laugh track cues, outro music plays, fade to black

 ~The End~ 

Naomi House day 4 (Tuesday)

Sorry for the lack of posts and weird schedule. It’s been so fun but also pretty full. Will post again soon. – Stephen

Lucas Yasumura – today was our second day of the youth ministry and we played a lot of games with paper airplanes. It was fun because it was pretty competitive and I got to speak to some of the youth there when I was playing with them. Stephen and Aiden both told their testimonies and got to learn a little bit more about their walk with God. After that we went to the pool and play in the water and hang out with the kids some more. Following that we went to go see a traditional dance and eat Navajo tacos. There a little girl named Ferrah was putting me in pretend jail and pulled me around and gave everybody nicknames. My nickname was sparkles. I felt like I got to connect with many of the kids individually and deepened my relationship with many of my teammates. 

NAOMI House Day 3 (Monday)

Today we began our VBS and Youth group program. It was a great start because everyone was able to contribute and get along with the kids. I was part of the VBS program and I personally enjoyed playing and giving the kids another person that they could connect with and have fun with. After VBS, I enjoyed playing outside with the kids. Although it was a hot day, it was personally my favorite aspect of the day. I hope that the team will continue to bond with each other and have a great time. – Kai Ng

after enjoying my first experience at naomi house i’m really excited to be able to come again. today was the first day of VBS and it was exciting to meet new kids and also reconnect with kids i’ve met before. i’ve also been able to connect with many people from our team and walnut creek through card games, meals, and going to the movies. im excited to see how God will work through me during the rest of the week to serve the staff and kids at naomi. – Hinata 

Today was our first “full” day at NAOMI House meaning that we were able to hold our VBS and youth programs and had organized large group activities. While exhausting, it was all so fruitful and it seemed like everyone had a great time. I enjoyed getting to see our youth interacting and bonding with the NAOMI House kids. 

Specifically from a leader’s perspective, the van issues ended up providing a nice blessing in disguise. Not only have we been able to solve the issues (hopefully) but while the car was getting fixed, Stephen and I realized there was a Christian coffee shop within walking distance and we had a nice little reprieve where we debriefed with each other and got recharged with a nice cup of coffee. Please continue to keep everyone’s health and energy levels in prayer as we come closer to our hump day. – Kylie

Naomi House Day 2 (Sunday)

Here’s an update from some of our youth regarding our second day at NAOMI House:

Today we went to church with the kids from Naomi house. After that we came home and ate lunch then we hung out and played some games and chilled. Lots of card games. It was fun playing catch with a few of the kids. The food is great and the kids are awesome and God is working 🙂 – Jacob Romero

This morning, we went to church! The speaker was very entertaining and energetic. We also went to the trading post nearby! In the evening, some of us played tag with the kids! It was nice to get to know them through activities like tag and card games! – Avery Kishimoto

Like everyone had said, we went to church this morning, and the sermon was very fun! The pastor and the smell of the room was really interesting! I also did some volley ball with the kids! It was fun(even though California was down bad 20-3) This really helped me to pray about everything, as I am exposed to many different things here.  -Kevan “Keban365” Tomoya Chi

Thanks for all your prayers! As you can tell we’re really happy and having a good time. please keep our first day of Youth/VBS programs in prayer and all the logistics that go with it, as well as fixing our transportation issue. 👍 thanks!

love,

the NAOMI House Team

NAOMI HOUSE – Day 1 (Saturday)

Hi friends and family!

We made it to Naomi house, although not without a little bit of concerns.

i didn’t realize that my drivers license needed to be updated and thankfully, I got up to date yesterday in about an hour at the DMV with no appointment.

we also ran into some car trouble 😅🚗 still getting that resolved but we made it and that’s a huge blessing 🙏🙌

were also blessed because we had a wonderful commission and we’re blessed with some personalized snacks made by Anne and Susan Washington. It’s actually really cool right now since it’s rainy. And the team seems to be getting along well. We have lots to be thankful for!

Please continue to keep us in prayer for:

  • Rest
  • fun
  • that we see the Holy Spirit move powerfully this week
  • for the van to work/be fixed with as little hassle as possible
  • that everyone this week is blessed.

stay tuned for the upcoming days in which we’ll get other team members to post 🙂

thanks for all your prayers and support!

– Stephen

Preparing for NAOMI House 2021

Even as I type this, there’s a lot to do.

My driver’s license is expired and I have to try to get that renewed before we leave. I need to go to the van rental place to try to add myself as an approved driver. We still have some things to buy and plan and pack.

But even as I type this I’m reminded that I don’t have to go at it alone. Susan Washington of the missions committee generously offered to pick up snacks and drinks for the car ride. Pastor Darren has been working tirelessly to get the logistics sorted. I’m thankful for all the parents and team members working with me. I have faith it will go well and that God will do a great thing.

If you’re here it likely means I’m thankful for you too. Thank you for your prayers. Some prayers are available here.

you’ve probably already seen this, but it helps to see it more than once, right?

Check back here later! You can follow along our journey here in the coming days. Can’t wait to see what God does.

Love in Christ,

Stephen

March Recap, April Planning + NAOMI House applications!

Hi Everyone!

Upcoming

April has arrived which means your child might be going back to school in-person?! Crazy. I guess for some that alone is worth celebrating haha.

We also have much to celebrate upcoming. For starters, we have Easter, which is the single greatest celebration for us as Christians! Looking forward to rejoicing with you all this weekend.

NAOMI House App

We also are excited because a NAOMI House missions trip was approved for the dates of July 24th-30th! Please be in prayer to discern if you, your youth, or your entire family would like to go! If you feel led to attend, you can download the application here. If you’re having trouble, please email me. There is a soft deadline to apply in May, so please don’t wait too long 🙂

Schedule

  • Saturday, April 3rd, 6pm – Youth Group
  • Friday April 9th, 3:30 pm – JEMS Youth Rally
  • Saturday, April 10th – 6pm – Game Night
  • Saturday, April 17th – Youth Group
  • Saturday April 24th – Youth Event: Potentially another Game Night or Youth Bachelor/Bachelorette parties for me and Kylie, haha. 😅

Recap

We had a great time with our wintervision post-rally and our movie night 📽️ Thank you all for participating.

  • You can view our Winter Vision Post Rally Video by clicking this link, and our Miro board here (password: wintervision)
  • If anyone has any pictures of the movie night event, please send them my way as I totally forgot to take them. 📸 
Just wanted to include a picture of our post rally so it didn’t look to bland with all text haha

Prayer Requests

  • Please continue pray for the families, youth, and youth leaders who continual to deal with lost loved ones during this time
  • Pray that the Easter weekend goes great ✝️
  • Pray for Kylie and I as we continue with wedding planning. If you haven’t received a virtual invitation yet, please reach out to us and we’re sorry we either forgot or that it got lost in the shuffle.
  • For smooth transitions back into more in-person activities.

Thanks so much!

God bless,

Stephen