As the senior’s on bus one gathered around a single phone to write this blog post, none of us knew just exactly what to even write about. How has FLY impacted us? How Tonya has become a huge mentor both faith wise and life wise to each and every single one of us? Where to go from here? There was so much to say and not enough sleep to come up with the words on how to express our gratitude for this group to the complete extent. We decided to just shortly explain some of our favorite parts about this amazing family because to fully express how meaningful this trip has been would just be too much. There was so much that happened on this trip starting from our long bus ride to the amazing gathering then again on our final bus ride as a part of the FLY family. The gathering still feels like a dream, we couldn’t fathom what 30,000 people in one space, all there to worship, could be like until we walked into the nrg stadium. All 62 of us charging through crowds and crowds of people was something we will never forget. At the Gathering, they had so many impactful speakers. The messages were so powerful they even brought some of us to tears. Hearing their stories and times that they questioned God was so impactful and even relatable for a lot of us. When you’re singing and swaying to the music with that many people, you can’t help but feel God in the room. The energy of it all was so overwhelming with the feeling of love. Many times the speakers would say that you are in a room with 30,000 of your closest friends and that’s truly how it feels. The people around you will talk to you like they’ve known you for years. It’s amazing to be apart of that, and to know that you’re there for a reason. Reasons we may not know now but later on shall be revealed. All in all, although this trip was just a small part of our journey with FLY, it was such an amazing feeling to be part of something bigger, and to know that we’re paving the pathway for an amazing future. Being part of the FLY family has been such a blessing in all of our lives, and we can’t wait to see how this amazing faith foundation will continue as we move forward in our lives. We can’t thank Tonya enough for absolutely everything she has done for us, and we feel so incredibly blessed to have had all these years with the FLY family participating in so many various activities throughout the church. No matter where we go or what we do, we’ll carry with us the amazing things we have learned from being a part of this inspiring group of people, and hope to one day come back and be a part of this group in a whole new way. Our love for this group and our faith may have inflated to fit the size of Texas- but we know that it will come back just as big and we will continue to pray for FLY.
-the best group FLYing out with a BIG bang. :)
Monday, July 2, 2018
I can’t believe it was the last day of the gathering. Yes, we are tired both physically and emotionally.... but we are filled. We are filled with love and learning; new friendships both out of and in FLY. We will walk away knowing that “This Changed Everything”. Bishop Eaton preached on the stories of Jairus’ daughter and the hemorraging woman. They are people desperately in need of the healing that Jesus can bring. Bishop Eaton talked of the times back then and when people could be in the temple or reasons why they couldn’t. So people were clean or unclean. Even today, we spend so much time separating our world into clean and unclean. But we all have things in our life that we probably don’t want to share with others... We are all unclean. And we try to get healed on our own but it’s not possible to be completely made whole without Jesus Christ. And no one is beyond hope. Jesus does more than heal... he changes everything. When Jesus told the woman that her faith had made her well, actually Jesus meant your TRUST has made you well. Faith is not that you won’t stumble and fall, it’s that with all of that you still trust. What Jesus is trying to convey is that your trust in Him is enough. So.... then we were asked by our other speaker “What is giving you joy and life this week?” What gives you joy in your life in general? Listen to the calling and bring it home. If our joy is only for this place this week than it’s not God’s Joy. God’s joy is for everyone. Bring it home because it changed you. Seeking joy, seeking life, can be hard in a world that is so messed up. Seeking joy does not mean we ignore the world’s deepest pain. There is hard work to do.... so ask the hard questions. And with it, trust that the God that changed everything through love, grace, hope, and Jesus CHANGED YOU and is with you. Are you ready!? Closing worship with over 30,000...how do you even begin to wrap your head around it? ...awesome, moving, grace filled, humbling....using our last bit of energy we have in us. And then to share communion with that many people?! You feel that in the deepest part of your heart, trust me! They said, “It is ready. Come to the table where Jesus Changes Everything.” 9 days together. It changed everything! As always, love ya FLY! Tonya
Posted by Tonya at 7:19 AM
Saturday, June 30, 2018
Today was a challenging day. God is great and hope abounds! The day was started off by a wonderful meal at Golden Corral and we all ate interesting “breakfast” food as we ate a very early brunch. Kids and adults alike enjoyed everything from omelets and pancakes to spinach salads and icecream for dessert! After eating we went to our synod day and worshipped with the approximately 1000 other SW Minnesota synod members. The activities and introductions between different congregations was great and we met a lot of other Lutherans from our area. We then left and drove to the NRG center for more interactive learning. The building has the equivalent of 12 football fields so as you can imagine there is a lot of activities. Ask a FLY member what the most exciting or interesting was for him/her. Worship was great. The speakers brought forth interesting and thoughtful issues. We did not all agree with the viewpoints, but got the message that GOD IS A LOVING GOD! He asks us to accept all people as he accepts us- flaws and sins included. I cannot judge or tell someone who isn’t like me and still expect God to accept me as I am. I too am flawed! We found out that one of our busses broke down and will be unable to be repaired in time to get us home! The good news is that we should all be able to fit in the other bus and SW Coaches will have another bus for us at our stop tomorrow (actually as I write this tonight!!). Lord grant us patience and perseverance and good sleep! Steve’s group
Tenth Avenue North Concert!
Posted by Tonya at 11:47 PM
So yesterday was “the day”.... the day I heard so many share about their God sightings...their God moments. There was time to learn “hands on” at the interactive center; to have small group choice time and to dig into God’s Grace. The people of Houston are so nice and so willing to visit and share...(and help with directions. 😉) But with the whole day, the mass Gathering brought it all together for the day. I call it my “feels night”. The music was better than amazing. The DJ even drew attention to our FLY white shirts... “now there’s a group that has fun” 👍🏻 We even made the big screen. Later Cole R started (actually created)a dance and before we knew it, there was a group on the floor who caught on. The night of music went from emotional highs to deep emotional absorbing. I can’t even write enough to explain the speakers. Tough teen topics...topics that you know God had a hand in talking about. The message that came through.... “there’s grace for that.” God’s Grace and Love covers everything. And then when Nadia Bolz-Weber spoke, the Holy Spirit was talking. Nadia talked that we all try to be something or someone that we think we should be or is worthy enough. No one has ever become their ideal self. It’s a moving target. Your ideal self is a lie. “Your ideal self doesn't exist. The self that God loves is your actual self." The self God loves is your actual self, not your ideal self. And there’s a word for this: grace. And....We’re too busy trying to earn a free gift that’s already been given to us. You are magnificently imperfect. Nadia’s favorite part of the baptismal liturgy is when we are asked, “Do you renounce the devil and all his empty promises?” So...We stood up and we renounced lies: Beloved of God, do you renounce the accuser and all his lies and empty promises? Do you renounce the lies of white supremacy and its history in our country and at our borders? Do you renounce the lies that your body isn’t already perfect and made in God’s image? Do you renounce the lies that only able-bodied people are worthy of taking up space on this planet? Do you renounce the lie that queerness is anything other than beauty? Do you renounce the lies that tell you grace isn’t real, that there’s anything grace can’t redeem? Well, us too. Amen. Tonight’s worship was all about the heart of being a Lutheran. Grace. God loves us just as we are: broken and confused. We are loved. To see our group come together and have arms around each other as we let the music move us was humbling. I’m so proud of our youth. They get it. They participate. They listen. They are letting this Gathering change them. (And parents.... they are noticing how many youth and adults are missing out because of their phones. Seriously!)
Posted by Tonya at 11:54 AM
Friday, June 29, 2018
Friday, June 29, 2018 Wow! Thank God For Another Day (TGFAD) What an aweasome and God filled day! We got to sleep in (a little bit). We met at the lobby of the hotel, loaded the buses and made our way to the activity center. Today was the “interactive learning“ day. It was a day filled with amazing activities and experiences. There was way to much to describe, but I will share a couple that I was drawn into. The PRAYER LABYRINTH and LOVE STRUCK were two incredible Experiences that really made you think about acceptance of all and how I can be the CHANGE in this world. Then this afternoon all the boys and adult male leaders took the light rail to downtown Houston. We were able to have lunch together and then have the opportunity to visit Astros Stadium. Then again this evening we gathered with 30,000 Lutheran youth in NRG Stadium. What a Friday night they had in store for us. The speakers were awesome, maybe the best we have heard so far and they focused on GRACE!! As I spoke with my kids late this evening during bible study, I asked each of them to provide me one nugget that they took from the mass gathering and the following is what my group of youth provided me...We are all broken, None of us are perfect, Grace is a gift.... WOW! But what we learned tonight is that No matter what your problem, care or burden.......THERE’S GRACE FOR THAT. Thank God for Grace (TGFG) Hans, Orion, Peyton, Brevin, Austin and Dawson
Can the ELCA pack the house or what?!?
Posted by Tonya at 11:05 PM
Thursday, June 28, 2018
Today’s theme at the ELCA 2018 youth gathering was love. I couldn’t think of a better word to describe this incredible, impactful day! Not only the lives of people that we helped by our service project, but the love that I saw among our FLY youth group. Our service project was to help Helm Elementary School in Houston with things such as painting, heavy gardening, and cleaning. Some even created a new path for students to walk on. The pure love and appreciation from the PTA mothers, and even the principal, was a sign of their love. Getting a group of fellow friends together to paint a bench rainbow colors will hopefully bring kids some joy! 30,000 Lutherans in one city all over the place making an impact even in small ways can make a huge difference in a grand scheme of things! The amount of love poured through in the speakers that we listened to tonight was tremendous. The music was moving, and made us realize what it really means to tell God’s never ending love. No end. No stop. A full continuous circle! God bless, and see you soon! -Liz Stucker, Kelli Remme, Allie Kock, Sydney Meister, Bella Hunsley, and Stacy Frost
Posted by Tonya at 10:13 PM
Wednesday, June 27, 2018
Today was full of spiking emotions, from headaches, to stomach aches, to anxiety and missing our families to amazing music, crazy energy, powerful speakers and a strong feeling of connection to our Lord. Last night on the beach let us bond and feel more comfortable with our large group. Then today....We also got to meet many new people and collect hundred of high fives. We got to interact with people from all walks of life who were all “Called” to the same place. It was easy to interact with them because of our shared love of Jesus Christ. The environment was safe and we all were there wanting to serve the Lord. The theme tonight was “Calling”. Our callings are not always easy or wanted, but God had a way of making it known what he wants for us and making it happen. The worship time was phenomenal. We all got our jam on and really felt it. It is hard to explain being in a space with that many people worshipping the Lord (35,000). It makes you believe and have hope for our future. We are grateful for those who helped get us here and who are praying for us on this journey. Peace out! Gabby Reese, Olivia Peterson, Aubrey Bjella, Avery Anderson, Sara Larson
Posted by Tonya at 11:14 PM
Sorry I’m slacking it’s the next day! 😳 so here we go.... The day at NASA gave us a small taste of what it is going to be like being surrounded by Lutherans and matching t-shirts! There was so much information to take in as we learned about space exploration, walking on the moon, and everything in between. With it all, Krista noticed that in multiple descriptions, the astronauts talked about having faith. Having faith in their team, the engineers, and most importantly they had faith in God to be sure they were safe on their journey to completely unknown places. This is a little bit like this journey we are on to the gathering. We have faith in our bus drivers, faith in each other and faith in our God to keep us safe. As we left NASA and made our way to the beach in Galveston I watched in awe as kids and adults who haven’t been to the ocean or weren’t comfortable with the ocean walked in faith. They held hands and walked in faith into unknown waters and it transformed them. God was with us and we heard the whispers. We came together in prayer as a whole group. With the moon shining down we came together and prayed. We shared our thanks to God for what we have experienced and asked for continued safety on our journey. We shared thankfulness for our senior FLY youth and gave them time to share their journey through FLY. With the moon shining down and the waves crashing in the background, we all grew in our faith together. God has blessed us on this journey and we can’t wait to see what he has in store for us!
Posted by Tonya at 9:39 AM
Monday, June 25, 2018
To those who wonder if it’s all fun?.... Today changed us. Today our faith walked with us as we learned a part of history and the world we are living in. We are not the same after today. April 19, 1995.... The day that started like any other. And at 9:03am, it would never be the same again. And looking around most of these youth had no idea it even happened... not to mention the fact that they weren’t even born yet. And how many times can you take 62 people to a museum and all ages are so into the information around them? The museum walks you through the experience. You see the history of the site. You hear the only recording of the blast two minutes into a Water Resources Board Meeting. You see videos of chaos and confusion and the many many people who came together to help. You learn of the 168 people who died and the 19 children who were playing at the daycare at the time because their parents had just dropped them off. You see and hear so much somber and unreal things. And in that day, the country was glued to the tv....The youth were so respectful as they learned and absorbed all they could. But it was also such a wonder to watch them learn about how so many people came together to help. When you step outside and walk through the Outdoor Memorial with the Gates of Time, the Reflecting Pool, the Fence, the Survivor Wall, the Survivor Tree...something changes. And I can’t even begin the find the words to explain when we walked through the Field of Empty Chairs. 168 to represent all who died. 19 smaller ones for the children. The field matched the footprints of the building and how many died on each floor. The chairs were made of granite, glass, and bronze to show the uniqueness of each person...none being the same. The intentionality of every piece of the Memorial showed the determination to turn the violence into vigilance. You stayed sober yet found a sense of peace. The mission statement was: “We come here to remember those who were killed, those who survived, and those changed forever. May all who leave here know the impact of violence. May this memorial offer comfort, strength, peace, hope and serenity. ..... and this we did. ❤️
Posted by Tonya at 8:49 PM
Sunday, June 24, 2018
The small groups met for devotions... they talked about the nerves on a roller coaster and how we seem to conquer this as it so easily turns to excitement. What about the ups and downs in life? Philippians 4:6 says to not worry about anything. Not always easy to do. They shared excitements and even worries they may have going into a trip with 2 buses and 62 people! And then talk about what 30,000 is going to look like. (I’m so excited to see their faces when it all starts!)
In just two more days the real trip starts.....the gathering. We will come together and celebrate how God changes everything....Grace changes everything.....Hope and Love change everything. It’s all about Jesus. The Holy Spirit will be doing amazing things with our youth and adults and I’m always so humbled to watch it happen.
Our heads are excited to hit our pillows. So until tomorrow.....
Posted by Tonya at 8:44 PM
Thursday, June 21, 2018
Please keep the following 62 youth and adults in your prayers as we journey to Houston for the 2018 ELCA Youth Gathering.....
Avery Anderson, Mason Anderson, Sophie Anderson, Addison Arndt, Aubrey Bjella, Malia Bloemker, Jack Bly, Maia Brooks, Eli Cole, Michael DeVaan, Zach DeVaan, Brennan DeVos,
Chase Douglas, Rebecca Downing, Spencer Ehlers, Makenzie Enderson, Tanner Fales, Trevor Fales, Landon Frost, Skylar Gilbertson, Taylor Gilbertson, Izach Harris, Eli Houseman, Izabella Hunsley, Allie Kock, Megan Kock , Bensen Kuecker, Regan Luther, Sydney Meister, Orion Morrow, Jenna Mortier, Courtni Nielsen, Samantha Nielsen, Jack Pedersen, Olivia Peterson, Gabby Reese, Dawson Reese, Natasha Reinsma, Cole Remme, Kelli Remme, Brevin Runia, Madi Schumacher, Austin Sommervold, Liz Stucker, Kaia Sueker, Brooklyn Sukalski, Rachel Thomsen, Trey Weber, Peyton Whitesitt, Simon Zahrbock, Stacy Frost, Krista Bjella, Sara Larson, Karen Peterson, Karen Meister, Kathy Bloemker, Steve Meister, Eric Luther, Ryne Myhrberg, Bill Weber, Hans Zahrbock, and Tonya Tomasek.
Posted by Tonya at 1:34 PM
GRACE is a foundational and distinctive
piece of the Lutheran faith.
This gift, undeserved and freely given changes
piece of the Lutheran faith.
This gift, undeserved and freely given changes
lives and perspectives as people realize they are
enough because of what Christ has done and nothing that
they have done themselves.
enough because of what Christ has done and nothing that
they have done themselves.
Because of this, they are called into the world to serve their
neighbor and share the Good News.
Ephesians 2:8, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing;
it is the gift of God.”
it is the gift of God.”
Posted by Tonya at 11:28 AM
Houston is a great host city! It is one of the most multicultural cities in the US and has a rich history we can learn from by being there. 4th largest city in US; most diverse US metropolitan region in the US; More than 90 languages are spoken throughout the metro region. Houston grew out instead of up like many cities. At 655 square miles, Houston could fit the cities of New York Washington DC, Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, Minneapolis, and Miami all within its borders.
Nearly a quarter of Houstonians are between 5-19 years old, making it one of the youngest cities in the US.
Posted by Tonya at 11:22 AM