Splish Splash, I was taking a bath….

Well, no…we didn’t take baths.  But we did have a ton of fun and got really wet in the process!!  Last year, Louis and I partnered with Hope Church to hold a back yard VBS called Camp Splash! We are prepping for this year’s Camp Splash.

Camp Splash 2013

July 22nd – 26th

early evening 

Stay tuned for more details and ways you can help! To get email updates, be sure to follow on the right!  ————>

In the meantime, please join us in praying for the safety of the kids this summer, for the Camp Splash volunteers, for open hearts during Camp Splash 2013.  Thanks!

If you want to learn more, check out these posts from last year and check out this video I put together from last year’s pictures.

Camp Splash Comes to SBH 
Backyard Camp Makes A Splash
60000 Words
Clouds Rain Sunshine
Gods Kingdom Come in SBH
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God’s Kingdom Come…in SBH

God continues to amaze me! He works in such awesome ways!  When I moved into Southern Barton Heights, just a ½ mile from Gilpin Court seven years ago, I had no idea what He had in store.  He continues to WOW me, and Hope Church is now a part of my ongoing story.

Seven years ago, I had no idea what I was doing….just trying to learn how to love my neighbors, who were  different from me in many ways.  Seven years ago, I felt all alone in this work.  Since my move, there have been some difficult times, and some really exciting, wonderful times. The lonely days are more few and far between than they were back then.  And, today, Louis and I feel even less alone than we did 4 months ago.

Why?  It was over 4 months ago when I learned about Camp Splash, hosted by Hope Church.  Hope Church made the conscious decision to take VBS to the streets.  Instead of taking a ‘come and see’ approach, inviting the community to the church building, Hope took a ‘go and tell’ approach.  Camp Splash is a backyard weeklong Bible Camp with water games (the kids’ favorite part!!!), crafts, Bible lesson, and a snack (a light dinner in our case).

So…how did we get hooked up with Hope Church?  My mom received an online newsletter from Hope Church when Camp Splash was first announced…asking the congregation to consider hosting Camp Splash in their backyard.  We prayed about it, considering an email asking if Hope would be willing to partner with us – someone pretty unknown to them.  Well, we weren’t completely unknown….Louis had taken some classes with Hope’s Senior Pastor, David. Then, I thought to myself, “Why not?  What’s the worst that could happen?  That they would say ‘No.”?  I sent the email.  Less than a week later, I received an email from Anne stating that they had been praying for an opportunity to serve the inner-city.  This was an answer to our prayer…and Hope’s.

Over the next four months, Anne and I got together to talk and pray about what that might look like, who in the church would be interested, when we would host it, etc.  I received a copy of the program, plus the host/family package.  I got to check out a camp held on a very hot day in the West End, just to get a feel for the rhythm.  And just 2 weeks before the camp, Maddie, a few of the Hope Church youth, and I got together to get to know one another and brainstorm how we would roll.  On another visit, the girls helped to flyer the community.  Then, we prayed.  I had NO idea how many local youth would come….whether it was 5 or 15.

Over the 5 days of Camp Splash, the love of Jesus – through Word and deed – was shared with over 30 Northside children.  The week was amazing!  Sometimes kids can be challenging, but they were terrific this week.  One leader, Gregory, had 2 occasions to help mediate in what could have been a physical fight instead of lots of hurtful words being exchanged.  Just this morning, Louis and I chatted with one girl who quoted great advice and thoughts that Gregory had shared during one of those times just last night.  Praise God for providing Louis, Gregory and Robert wisdom to handle the difficult situations with grace, love and firmness.

And what giving friends we have!  Since we hosted Camp Splash from 5:30-7:30pm, we also served the kids a simple, light dinner provided by some GENEROUS friends!  They were such a huge hit and greatly appreciated!  Thank you!!!!

Friday night at the closing community cookout, we welcomed many parents and neighbors, as well.   The parents of our youth and college age students were also excited to join in the work by attending the Friday night community cookout.  And…can I just say WOW!  Spencer Simmons totally rocked!  Spencer is an up-and-coming artist who happened to be in Richmond last night.  (check her out at www.spencersimmonsmusic.com) Despite the rain that challenged us, she eventually got to plug in when the clouds rolled away and the sun came out.  Not only did she honor us with her God-given talent, but she also shared the mic with our neighbors for an impromptu Open Mic Night.  We had at least 6 churches who worked together to help us set up and tear down!

This cookout felt a little like God’s kingdom..here on earth, as we joined together in our differences – race, church, worship style, socio-economic status, geography, denomination, education, cultures, etc. to worship our God by loving our neighbor and proclaiming His name and His name alone.

I pray that God takes the love shared through words and deeds and multiplies them 10-fold.  May this be a week that changed Southern Barton Heights and its children.  May the hearts of those from Hope Church and everyone involved continue to be moved to love and serve their neighbors in the inner-city of RVA.  God…bring your kingdom here in Richmond…in Southern Barton Heights as it is in heaven. Make it so, Lord.  Make it so.

Take a peek into the last day of Camp Splash and the Community Cookout….


60,000 Words

They say that a picture is worth a 1000 words.  Well, here are 60,000 words to describe Day 3 of Camp Splash!  So far, a total of 26 youth have experienced the love of Jesus through the Hope Church leaders, friends (old and new) who made dinners, friends who came to help, and also through those of you who we know are praying!!  Thanks!  Now…we are praying about the future of this group of young people who need ongoing discipleship…not to mention fun!

To see Day 1 – Check out this link > Backyard Camp Makes a Splash

To see Day 2 – Check out this link > Rain, Rain Go Away


Rain, Rain Go Away

Day 2 of Camp Splash presented some challenges Tuesday.  It’s called thunderstorms!  So, we improvised and just brought it all inside…minus the water games!  Man, those Hope Church leaders totally rocked it!!!  So spontaneous!  So flexible!  SOOOO patient!  So awesome!  So blessed by friends packing dinners….sandwiches, chips, pizza roll-ups, cookies, fruit, water bottles!

Learning about S I N after a few games and dinner!


GREAT TIP:  Get the big 24oz water bottles and use a sharpie to mark each bottle with a name.  Then, refill it as needed throughout the days/week ahead.  Worked out perfect!

Thankful that sunshine is on the way!!!  I’m a day behind in posting…but super pictures from Wednesday are on their way tomorrow!


Backyard Camp Makes a SPLASH!

Day 1 of Camp Splash and the Hope Church Leadership Team!  They totally rock!  Most churches hold VBS at the church.  Hope Church takes VBS to the neighborhoods.  I’m grateful that they were willing to partner with us this year to bring Camp Splash to SBH.  Who knows?  Next year…we could have them peppered throughout the Northside and the West End!  🙂

Yesterday, Gregory and Mac ran around the ‘hood with Brian to snag kids to attend..bringing back some new friends for a grand total to 16 neighborhood kids.  Although a quick storm prevented us from wrapping up the night with water games, everyone promised to come back again today! Much thanks to Hope Church and other friends who are prepping light dinners for the kids!  What a blessing to work together!  And…here comes the thunder and the wind for today’s storm!  Glad it’s coming early.  I still have faith that we will proceed!  (Rain, Rain, Go Away….)

I am so blessed to be part of this fun!  I’m the luckiest girl!  Thanks God!


Mom….I’m bored!!!!

Mom....I'm bored!!!!

I was talking to a couple of parents and grandparents about activities their kids could get involved with this summer.  So, now…we are making a list of activities to keep kids from getting “bored” this summer!   Let me know if you are aware of other activities.  Be sure to provide the details.  A detailed list will be provided…Dates, Time, Location with address and phone number, and other comments (like snacks, transportation, etc.)  If you want a copy of the list, just subscribe to the blog…and you will get a copy when it’s posted!

These free or very affordable activities need to in a healthy and safe environment that fosters inclusion, encouragement, with high morals/values.

Here’s a sampling of the list for Northside kids.  It’s still a work in progress.

  • 6.27-7.1                 9a-12n            VBS Triumphant Baptist on Lamb  (provide snack)
  • 7.5 – 7.29              8:30a-1p        Mega Sports Program Triumphant Baptist on Lamb  (provide breakfast and lunch)  (need to get in early…it’s fills up quickly!)
  • 7.11-15                  3p-6p              VBS STEP @ Eternity Church on Chamberlayne ( provide snack and I am working on transportation if kids will go)
  • 7.18-22                 9a-12n            VBS Commonwealth Chapel (my church)  (provide snack) (last year we had transportation.  i am verifying for this year.)
  • Monday                TBD                Weekly Missional Community (bible study, crafts and service component)
Thanks everyone!!!
Peace, Miss Marti

VBS Arts Camp @ ComChap

Larry Reads About Creation in the Bible

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The 2010 VBS Arts Camp “You’ve Got Talent!” at Commonwealth Chapel is taking place this week.  We are so excited that a group of 8 from SBH is attending!  Michelle and Keri are selflessly taking their time to drive them in the church van!!

The kids are coming home with a new interest in reading the Bible and hearing about the Lord.  This morning, Larry took the initiative to run home and grab not just 1 Bible…but 2 Bibles to take with him today.  He also wanted to read to me about the Creation.  Many questions are being asked about different Bible stories.  I could not be more thrilled.

So..now…what’s next?  We are praying about ways that we can continue to spiritually feed the kids and teach them more about the love of Jesus.

On Tuesday night, we had a special time of prayer at our regular Tuesday Night Prayer service.  During this time, the kids helped to lead worship, Brian worked sound and ComChap’s own Savannah gave us a moving devotion!  In addition, the kids took time to pray for the needs of the adults on an individual basis.  I was proud that some of Miss Marti’s Kids volunteered to pray!!  Then, we as the adults took time to pray for the children!  What a blessed night!

On a daily basis, the kids are singing and dancing, participating in dramas and puppet shows.  In addition, they are drawing, painting and having time with other arts. Please join me in praying that the words the kids sing, read, act and hear will get deep into their hearts and be life changing!

You can see the great time they are having in the pictures below….