Dean Willis's Archive

Incredible Lectureship Week!

19 Commentsby   |  06.26.11  |  Pago Pago, American Samoa

Wow! What a week! Last week was the week-long lectureship that included a teen camp called Camp Alofa (love), the VBS, and the main speaker. It all went so well! We woke up Monday morning ready to go and headed off to Camp Alofa. It all started out with an hour of great devotional time of singing, a devotional talk, and the daily memory verse. I led the singing each morning and it was such a wonderful blessing to be in front of those kids doing what I love to do and watching them really getting into the songs. The Samoans love to sing and sing their hearts out on every song. It’s really a great encouragement. We played Ultimate Frisbee, had a speaker each day who gave a great lesson and activities each day, and learned some new songs at the end of the day. On Friday, we hiked 3 miles up to the top of the Mount Alava. It was a beautiful hike and not very easy, but every single person made it and we all had a great time during the week. Kristen and I acted as counselors/leaders and did what we were asked to do and helped where we could help. It was a successful first year of Camp Alofa and we look forward to seeing it grow and see what it will become in future years. It looks to have great potential. This year was only a day camp from 10-4 each day, but it is sure to become a week of camp where the campers come to stay for the week!

VBS was Kristen’s and my thing. We were completely in charge and had a great time. Each day we taught a different aspect of God’s love. To go into detail would take pages and pages, so a brief overview should suffice. We had about 50 kids each night. I think our lowest number was 42 and our highest was 57. Usually it stayed right around 47-48. We began with a few songs and had a memory verse for the week that the kids had memorized by the end of the week with no problem. We would then split them up into 4 color groups. Each of the groups would go to different stations: craft, activity, and story time. Two groups would go to the craft so they had 20 minutes there while the other 2 groups had 10 minutes at each station, then switched. The first day was ‘God Loves Me.’ Our big thing for the first day was the craft. Each of the kids had paint put on their hands and they positioned their hands so that the thumb and pointer finger on each hand joined to make a heart. Then we wrote God Loves Me in English and Samoan off the other fingers and took a picture of them for us to put their picture in the middle of the heart. We gave those back to them at the end of the week after we had time to put those together for them. They really liked those. Day 2 was God’s Love is Giving. We did thank you cards to God for that. Day 3 was God’s Love is Unfailing. I did the activity for that day. It was my favorite activity. We started with everyone in a circle just touching fingers. I told them that their fingers represented God’s love and that I was the Devil. I just walked in and out of their fingers and asked them if that was a good example of God’s love if I was able to just walk through it like it was nothing. Then they all held hands and, while it was harder to get through, with a little fighting I was able to break their hands apart and make the same point. Then they linked arms together and no matter how hard I tried, I could not get through their arms. They really liked that example and really understood it. God’s Love is Unfailing. Day 4 was God’s Love is Never-ending/Forever. They made bracelets with Kristen and they played follow the leader with me until we were in a circle that represented God’s love going around and around forever. Day 5 was God’s Love is Shining. It was a big day and it was a lot of fun. They made magnets for their friends and we played a game to show how quickly God’s love can grow if you just tell a few friends and they tell their friends. At the end of our time there we gave each of them a glow-in-the-dark cross that they wore. Kristen had a glow-in-the-dark heart wand and I had a night light in the shape of a heart. We all got in a big circle and turned out all the lights (the one light we had under the tarp we had VBS in) and it was just so cool. We sang This Little Light of Mine and some other songs and just had a blast.

All in all, the week went extremely well. Kristen and I are so blessed to have had such a successful time here and are looking forward to getting back to the states and presenting what we did to all those who supported us. We leave out of American Samoa on Monday. We could not have asked for a better summer…and it’s not over yet!

Great Weekend!

61 Commentsby   |  06.05.11  |  Pago Pago, American Samoa

During the week we went to the beach and did some planning. I’ve been playing a lot of Gears of War with Dylan. It’s been a pretty relaxing week! This weekend was great though. It was not relaxing at all, but it was great.

On Friday, we went to Nu’uuli Church of Christ and worked with the teens again. This week, we did a game where the kids had to put a panty hose on their head and the panty hose had a baseball on the other end of it, then they had to swing it back and forth and hit down a row of cups that we had set up. It was a lot of fun!

Yesterday, Saturday, was our big day with the tweens. We talked about the sword of the spirit and the shield of faith. We started the day with an obstacle course where the person having to get through the course was blindfolded. We had everyone yelling directions to him and he was getting so confused. Then we switched people and nobody except me gave directions. Then we talked about how much easier it was to only listen to one person than a lot of people to try to get the point across that listening to only God is better and will get you to the right place than listening to a lot of different gods and worldly desires. Then we gathered around and sang some songs that they really enjoyed followed by doing some worksheets about the sword and shield and then, of course, making a sword and shield for each of them. They really seemed to enjoy having a sword and shield and a capri sun to take home with them.

This morning was Bible class time where we talked about the plagues of Egypt. The tweens that I worked with had no idea what some of these plagues were and then had no idea how many of each of the plagues there were. They were amazed that Pharoah didn’t let the Israelites go much sooner!

We have been so blessed by the kids we are working with here. This week is going to be very busy with planning for the week long VBS beginning next week.

Keep us in your prayers!
In Him.

Another Long Week!

10 Commentsby   |  05.30.11  |  Pago Pago, American Samoa

I’ve been using blogspot to blog instead of this. This blog is from yesterday, my most recent blog.

It’s been another long and great week! We have been very busy, especially these last few days. We went out snorkelling a few times, we went golfing a few times, and then got ready for the weekend. On Friday night, we went to Nu’uuli Church of Christ and worked with the teens a little bit. Kristen and I began the night by leading the teens in a game of Magic Carpet Ride. We brought two kitchen mats, turned them upside down, and had a relay of the teens scooting on the carpet back and forth across the floor. They loved it and it was a lot of fun! Afterwards, I led some songs and dad gave a lesson. A great night and I’m sure we will have even more next Friday. We will have to have another game ready for them.

Saturday was a long day with the tweens. We brought them over and started out with a game where we put marshmallows on the ends of a string and had each pair of tween try to swing the marshmallow into the mouth of their partner! It was really funny and a great way to start the afternoon off. We circled up and sang a few songs. The Lord’s Army is our theme song for each Saturday and we found some new versions we are excited to share with them. They love the Texan and Gangster versions! It’s so funny to see the little ones leaning their heads back, putting their arms out, and saying, “wazzup!” After we sang we looked back at Ephesians for the Armor of God and talked about the breatplate of righteousness and the shoes (slippers) of peace. Then each of them made their own breastplates and slippers, we all had hot dogs, and then went home happy.

This morning we taught the Sunday morning classes. I taught the tweens and Kristen taught the younger kids. Today we continued talking about Moses. Today we covered the burning bush and got all the way to Moses on his way to talk to Pharaoh. Next week, we will get through as many plagues as we can. I think I’ll have to find as many of the plagues as I can and throw them at the kids so they know how it felt. Does anyone know where I can find a few pounds of locust? I can get the toads all around the house.

Then tonight we went to the Leone Church of Christ for a great night of singing. I lead some songs and a few other people lead some songs. Kristen, of course, ended up on the floor with a few kids at the beginning. By the end of the service of singing, she had at least 25 kids all around her! She was just a magnet for those kids and they all kept quiet for her. After the singing we went up the hill to the house of some of the members and continued singing and eating some incredible pastries and other bread items that the members of the church made. They own a bakery and it was obvious why their business has been successful! Just incredible. All the people were so wonderful and fun to be with. It was a blessed night and a blessed week. We are definitely looking forward to this next week. Tomorrow we are going to a different beach that we haven’t been to yet. We are looking forward to some good pictures. We will share with you as soon as we can catch a break. This week, anytime we’ve had a break it’s been time for a nap or just going to sleep for the night. Speaking of, it’s about that time.

Goodnight all.
Manuia le po.

So Much Going On!

13 Commentsby   |  05.30.11  |  Pago Pago, American Samoa

I’ve been using blogspot to blog instead of this, so this is just a copy of what I have written on there. This one is from a week ago.

Kristen and I have just been so busy. She has managed to find time to blog and put up some pictures so be sure to check her blog out!

I have done a lot of sleeping anytime I got the chance. On Thursday and Friday, we spent our time in my mom’s Kindergarten classroom. It was a long day and I don’t know how she does it everyday, but it was a lot of fun and we had a great time. Those kids were all great and we enjoyed playing with them and helping with them. That was just a side thing we did because Mom’s aid was off island for those two days.

Friday night was our first encounter with some of the kids we were actually going to begin to work with. We went to the Nu’uuli Church of Christ and met with the teenagers of Tafuna and Nu’uuli. It was my job to lead them in some songs. Samoans love to sing! They sing so loud and sing so great! We sang in mostly all English and sang for about 20 minutes. I think they’re favorite song was Highways and Byways. They really got into that. After we finished singing, one of the youth got up and gave a few words of encouragement all in Samoan and the leader of the youth at Nu’uuli helped and translated. Then dad gave a lesson about Jesus being a king when he rode into Jerusalem. So everyone made crowns and decorated them and were very sure that Kristen and I had one as well!

Today was our first big day with the pre-teens. We call them tweens here. We had eleven tweens come over to the house today for us to do some activities with. We had tye-dyed a bag previously and we gave them that bag for them to decorate and make their own. We then put prizes in that bag so that they are special to them and they get prizes from the bag that they made. The first game we played was a game where you had to put a string of raw spaghetti through the tab of an empty soda can and, with a partner holding the other side of the spaghetti, transport it to another table and stack three of them like a pyramid. We split them up into two teams and they competed against each other and the team that won got to pick out prizes. They really enjoyed that game!

We are teaching them about the armor of God. Today we worked on the belt of truth. For that, we wrote truths about God on strips of construction paper and then made a belt of those by making them rings and putting all those together. They all looked great in their new belts of truth!

We have now prepared for Sunday morning class and will do that in the morning. It is most definitely time for bed now though. Kristen will put up some pictures, so check out her blog for that.

First Day Here!

6 Commentsby   |  05.30.11  |  Pago Pago, American Samoa

I’ve been using blogspot to blog instead, so this is just copying and pasting all the blogs I have written so far for y’all. Thanks!

After a long last few days of preparing and 25 hours of travelling, we have finally arrived in American Samoa! We flew in about 11:00 last night local time and went straight to bed because we were absolutely exhausted. We woke up this morning to a beautiful sunrise. We went outside and took some pictures, found some snails, and said good morning to a few golfers who were already on the golf course this morning. Oh yeah, we are on a house right beside the golf course.
The humidity is incredibly high and the mosquitoes love it. I think Kristen already has 5 or 6 bites! Speaking of Kristen, it’s her 21st birthday today! Happy Birthday, Kristen!
There isn’t much planned for today. We are going to take a tour around the island in about an hour, then we will eat lunch with some of the men of the church, and we will go out for a birthday dinner tonight. It looks like it’s going to be a great day and Kristen and I are both so excited to see how God works through us during our time here. We will do our best to keep you all updated and hope you enjoy reading our blogs.
If you have any questions at all, just comment on this blog and I would love to answer. Thank you all so much for all the support you have given us. We wouldn’t be here without you!
Kristen’s blog:   (she will probably be more interesting than me)
And for her birthday, and because I feel it is a good verse for the first day of a mission trip, I would like to end with Kristen’s favorite Bible verse.
Jeremiah 29:11 ‘“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”’