Houston, we have the end of our Gathering!

Hey Zumbro,

We have had a fun filled yet exhausting week in Houston. When we first arrived at our hotel, the rumors of Texas being hot were overly confirmed!

After the very long 2 day bus ride we arrived at our hotel, and went swimming in a beautiful pool.

On Wednesday, we had an AWESOME time at NASA Space Center! We saw cool displays, clips and shows and found authentic NASA souvenirs (as any typical tourist would). What I found interesting was that they had a Star Trek shuttle craft prop “Galileo”. NASA was a very cool day!

On Thursday, we had interactive learning day. We basically walk around in a huge building with fun stuff to do. For the morning a group of us went to the blood drive where I watched my brave friends donate their blood, with some turn downs, that was really sad. Then we walked around some more until mass gathering that night. Where we were in the mass cast; our job was to attempt “graceful” wave motions, with fabric. It was fun, and we also got to experience sitting on the floor of the stadium, I had a great seat!

On Friday, we had synod day. Our group of Minnesotan’s of the South East area gathered for a fun worship. This is where all 13 of us helped bless people and serve communion. Which was really cool to do! That night we had mass gathering and, one of The speakers really stuck with me, he inspired and helped me to understand things about myself and my friends that I didn’t before, it was one of my favorite nights!

On Saturday, we had service learning day, where we spread red sand in cracks to raise awareness about Human Trafficking with a group called United Against Human Trafficking. Then that night at mass gatherings the NRG Stadium was the most fun night for me of the week. A friend sitting next to me gave me the confidence to get up and dance throughout the whole gathering service, which I hadn’t ever done before.

Today is Sunday and we had a final Sunday worship service at 9:30. Where we were served communion and listened to our awesome and funny Bishop Elizabeth Eaton. She really tried to connect with the modern teenage fads, which I thought was very cool of her.

Now we are on our way home, soon to be stopping in Muskogee, Oklahoma for the night. We’ve had a long bus ride today with lots of movies.

Lastly, I have to acknowledge our amazing bus driver, Daryl. He has been a safe and humorous. He makes jokes and sometimes sings country songs to the bus. He was been great.

We’ve had a great week Zumbro.

Remember This Changes Everything!

Good night Zumbro!!

-Rena Hilleshiem

P.S

Quick funny story, I left my pillow in a locked hotel as we left for the last time. And the nice front desk gave us a last minute key, and we went up packed elevators and back down with the retrieved pillow all in 5 minutes! We got back down just as the bus arrived! Kris was awed and very shocked at our incredible speed. It was a hilarious tale to tell!

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What a day!

This morning was the earliest yet, alarms were set for 5:30am the group left the hotel at 6:30am. We braved the morning humidity for the hour long Metrorail tram ride that took us to NRG park for our service learning day.

Our final day of the gathering was the service learning day, where we go out into the community and do service projects. Zumbro’s service was less physical and more mental. On the University of Houston campus, we learned about the human trafficking problem in Houston and around the world and after we poured red sand in cracks and wrote with chalk to raise awareness about the subject.

We ate dinner at a very cool restaurant that was called “Bird Dog Saint.” Ever since I saw that restaurant on the first day we rode the tram, it had my vote. I had chicken wings and a cheese board that featured a food called a Quince, a jelly like food that had 15 different berries in it.

The last gathering tonight was the best! We finally found the perfect seats and the DJ was on point. My favorite song “Bohemian Rhapsody” was played. The speakers all had messages talking about God’s hope, with topics ranging from transgenderness, to 9-11, to ending hunger. Plus the rock band ‘Tenth Avenue North’ played. They got the crowd excited and praising God with both hands in the air and feet shuffling.

In the morning, we will be attending church with 30,000 other Lutherans and then making our way back home after. Well it is currently 12:21am and I have not packed or showered. That’s fine though because I’m not tired and I’ve got some lukewarm wings waiting for me. Goodnight Zumbro!

–Zachary Stortz