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  • Writer's pictureJules Arata

troop 323

Updated: Nov 12, 2023

Universal City, TX

i had heard about this event. how amazing the church was, the host team was, && how smoothly this event usually runs. i had heard about how evidently the Lord's provision shines through this event.

&& man do i feel blessed to have witnessed it.

imagine this: every session started out with a call to missions. showing people of all ages that a simple two hour packing session is the work of a missionary, working to provide a physical/spiritual aid for someone in need of it.

now imagine this: 240 middle & high schoolers getting excited to be missionaries.

every single day of the event, one of our hosts, David, would lead us in a devotional and prayer. while they all were so applicable and richly gospel-centered, one in particular stood out to me. it was one about Psalm 16.

Psalm 16

1 Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.

2 I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord;

I have no good apart from you.”

3 As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,

in whom is all my delight.

4 The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply;

their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out

or take their names on my lips.

5 The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup;

you hold my lot.

6 The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;

indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.

7 I bless the LORD who gives me counsel;

in the night also my heart instructs me.

8 I have set the LORD always before me;

because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;

my flesh also dwells secure.

10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,

or let your holy one see corruption.

11 You make known to me the path of life;

in your presence there is fullness of joy;

at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

David told us to think of this passage like a military formation. that there is always a leader and a right guide. that at first when you read v. 8 it can be confusing, how can the Lord be in front of you and beside you? but when put into the context of military formation, the leader sets the example and shows the way, while the right hand guide provides protection.

to help you understand why this was such a good analogy for this event, is that First Baptist Church Universal City (the church that we were at) is quite literally next door to Randolph Air Force Base. so most of the host team and volunteers we were working with were either current or retired airmen, or contractors for/civilians on the base.

it was so amazing to serve alongside people who have fought for our country, && have such discipline and initiative. people who understand traveling for your job, and who don't get sick of the many many questions you ask them about all things Air Force related. it was also crazy timing, as one of my best friends who is in the Air Force was having drop night at his base during this event (which means he got his aircraft assignment for the rest of his career) && the host team helped me walk through what it all meant and what the next steps for him were going to be.

David also gave us what i think might be the best compliment i have received in this job. he said that our team carried out unapologetic ministry every day. he was in awe of how proudly we proclaim the name of Jesus at every event we walk into, && readily walk into gospel conversations with not only the host team, but with volunteers. during our last session, he encouraged us to be available to share the gospel if someone had never heard it before, && then when doing the last orientation talk, he invited any volunteer who didn't know Jesus, but would like to know more, to find any host team or staff member to help them. it may have been the coolest 2.5 hours of my life.

this event was rooms fill of coworkers, of scout troops, of middle schoolers yelling out the words to a song at the top of their lungs, that was so SO worth it.

after the event wrapped up, i got to spend a whirlwind 15 hours in College Station for my friend's 21st birthday, && it was all things silly, goofy, && just what my heart needed!

what i learned

  1. to ask: "have we invited Christ to spread the gospel at this event?"

  2. God is the CEO: Caller, Equipper, & Ordainer

  3. follow through with the last minute trip, it's worth it

how i grew

learning how to better communicate with my team, knowing they don't all do it the same way && figuring out how to give feedback in a way that is productive

favorite parts

air force fan girl

scout troops

outfit 323

cardboard races

kitchen ministry

truck unload w dennis and ed


thankful for who you are && how you serve. you have put on this event for over twelve years && all while never losing that passion or fire for fighting malnutrition. you truly blew me away, thank you for how you welcome people into the fold, how you invite all into servanthood, && your willingness to do anything & everything needed to help run smoothly. here's to 8.5 million meals packed and counting!

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