Writings and thoughts of Heath D. Sizick

Welcome to Heath's Blog

Thank you for checking out my blog. The intent of me starting a blog was to centralize my writings - devotionals, articles, poetry, thoughts, etc. I pray something I say will be an encouragement to you and your faith. I'm not that interesting but if you do twitter you can follow me at @Zidik21. - Rytier Krala'
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Country Roads We Are Coming Home – Scotland Day 11 & 12

Here we are…the end of an incredible journey. Tomorrow we head to the airport at 9 a.m. Scotland time and arrive in Pittsburgh at 6:41 p.m. By time we get our luggage and take the long 3 hour drive home I suspect we will arrive in Elkins about 10:30 p.m. That is Day 12!

Our last full day was today. We woke up and again had a hearty breakfast compliments of Agnes, our hostess. She fattened me up! We then met up with our team in the city and dispersed to do whatever we wanted – museums, monuments, cemeteries, shopping, tours, etc. Janell, Kary Kramer, and I hung out and primarily finished shopping for our families while taking in this historic city one last time. We ate a late lunch at a restaurant called the World’s End where we had fish and chips (French fries). It was delicious! The restaurant existed when Edinburgh was a walled city and was located at the main gate! thus, when people left the city they entered the “other world” – hence the World’s End! I think it was from the 1800′s.

After fish and chips we took the bus back to The Hub for our barbecue, which was really a cookout. It was for all us plus the Scottish leaders and kids. It was fun mingling and hanging out one last time with new friends and kids we ministered to. After one final meeting and prayer we said our goodbyes and off we went!

I hoped I captured our experience here via this blog. But like many other things, one must experience things to really grasp them. I would encourage everyone to come to Edinburgh, Scotland. We fell in love with this country and their people. We only pray we can return again. We are grateful for the opportunity to not only see some if this big world, but to do so in Christ’s name and with the primary task of making Him known! What a blessing to be used for the advancement of the Gospel, especially because God doesn’t need me, but chooses to use me! We hope our children can experience trips like this in the near future. We hope to show them how important it is to live for Christ and to make sacrifices, even if it means leaving them for nearly two weeks!

We love you all and are thankful for sharing in our ministry and our lives!

His,

Heath and Janell

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Arthur’s Seat & The Highlands – Scotland Days 9 & 10

I thought I’d combine the last two days since they were mostly touristy. We did attend a church service at the Church of Scotland at an absolutely beautiful church (see pic). Afterward we had lunch together and then headed into the city to climb a mountain called Arthur’s Seat. It was spectacular as you will see in the pics. It overlooks the sea, the city, and the country side. Edinburgh is such a beautiful city – so much stone! We love it. That night we joined the rest of our team along with a bunch of teenagers to watch the World Cup game. It was a super day.

Today was another magnificent day. It didn’t start out great as the Young Life minibus broke down on the way to the Highlands. However, in God’s sovereignty, it broke down near a Krispy Kreme. So we walked there and formed a plan. We end up getting three vehicles to join the other vehicle we had, but here was the catch – I had to drive…in Scotland…on the “wrong” side of the road…sitting on the “wrong” side of the car…and driving a stick shift which I haven’t driven in years! Did I mention we had to drive 2.5 hours to the Highlands?!?! It was intense, weird, scary, and exciting all at the same time. On the way back led-foot Lynn (Scottish leader) was difficult to keep up with. I managed to get my carload home safely and was quite thankful to hand the keys over to their rightful owner!

In route to the Highlands, we stopped at the William Wallace Memorial in Sterling. I loved this. Most Americans, including myself, wouldn’t even know who William Wallace had there not been Braveheart. Nonetheless, Mel Gibson brought us William Wallace and I’m a big fan. It was so fascinating!

The Highlands are really indescribable. They are high steep mountains covered in green – no trees. Despite the rainy weather, it was the most beautiful place I have ever seen. Only the Grand Canyon would top the Highlands in “awe”someness but in pure beauty the Highlands take the cake. I’ll let the pictures tell the rest of the story!

Please pray for Kary Kramer, she just got word tonight that her grandma passed on. Chopper’s grandfather passed on while we were here as well. Thankfully John, who was bed-ridden for two days, is feeling better and joined us on the journey!

Last full day tomorrow. We will finish shopping in the city and then we have a barbecue at 4 pm with all the Scottish leaders and kids – a farewell of sorts. Scotland is stunning…thank you for giving us this opportunity by your support and prayers!

HDS

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Camp Concludes – Scotland Day 7 & 8

As promised, yesterday was a late night. We didn’t return back to our host home until about midnight (hence no blog). It was a long day but a super day as the anticipation of the Cross talk has a way of motivating people to work hard, pray often, and serve well.

My character, Rick Floss & his team – the McMerican twins (see pic) concluded our bit with an epic Clan War! Kids and leaders did a variety of relays, contact games, and messy games. It was a jolly good time, as my Scottish friends would say. Running program is not my strong suit, but coming up with games while dressing up as a silly character that allows leaders to be set up as the heroes and lead their kids is quite the privilege. John and Kayla were great to work with and were very teachable. We had a blast doing it.

Most importantly was the proclamation of the gospel this week. I thought Ross delivered his best talk with the Cross. He read much of the story verbatim from Mark’s gospel…just let God’s Word do the work! After his talk he sent the kids outside for 10 minutes of silence to process how Jesus not only remedied the sin problem but by dying on the cross reconciled us to God so we could have life to full today, tomorrow, and forever. From there the kids went to their small groups for cabin time where they processed the Cross out with their leaders.

From there, leaders and kids walked a few blocks away to a conference room where we (Americans) were awaiting them to celebrate the week. We had a pizza party, showed the camp video, and Ross gave kids a chance to “say so” – say they made decision to follow Christ this week by remaining standing after a prayer. 18 kids made decisions this week and many more seeds were planted! And that is why we came here – to be the workers to give kids a great week so they could hear and respond to the Gospel! I am reminded by the prayer of Andy, the head YL staff guy here, as he prayed last night – “Protect the seeds that were planted Lord God!” What a beautiful and fitting prayer!

It is hard to follow up with the last paragraph and what we did today had little eternal significance compared to the last 5 days. We now turn into tourists. We all slept in and met for lunch. Afterwards, we went into the city where we walked the Royal Mile. On one end is the Edinburgh Castle and the other end is the Queen’s Palace. We shopped, sampled fudge, ate, and took lots of pics. We then had dinner at a restaurant on the shore of the Firth of Forth (it’s a bay that leads out to the North Sea). It was a relaxing and fun day. Tomorrow after church we will hike the big mountain at the end of the Royal Mile called Arthur’s Seat. Later that night we will catch up with kids again and watch the World Cup Finals! Until I write again…

Praise God for His movement in the lives of kids in Edinburgh via Young Life leaders who loves them with their lives!

HDS

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Beautiful Day, Tough Message – Scotland Day 6

Even the Scots are surprised by the beautiful weather we are having. Today was the best thus far – sunny, blue sky, and hot all day (Maybe 70′s). Many of the kids were truly effected by the heat. It just doesn’t get very hot here.

Everything again ran quite smoothly today. I helped out with American football today which was fun, but again rather different in approach. The stories continued as Savannah, Brad (young Scottish leader), and Olivia (Californian who just graduated from high school) shared how they came into a relationship with Jesus. All three did a fantastic job – it is really a privilege to work them and help them articulate their stories to the kids.

Back at The Hub, more interaction with kids followed by an enthusiastic club! Ross had to deliver the hardest talk for any Young Life leader – sin. And yet, there is something incredibly freeing and profound with this talk. First we are telling kids truth. Granted it is a difficult truth to hear – we all have a terminal disease that we can do nothing to fix on our own. And the result of this disease is death…a spiritual death which separates us from the One who loves us the most.

Secondly, we are diagnosing a problem kids see and experience everyday – sin! For many kids (and adults for that matter), they see poverty, crime, disease, etc. around them and also experience personally brokenness, dysfunction, and abandonment. They ask “Why” questions and we get to tell them they why – sin! We also know that one cannot fully grasp, appreciate, and respond to the Cross unless they understand sin. Tonight kids heard that all fall short and the wages of sin is death! Tomorrow, O yes tomorrow they will learn how Jesus remedied the sin problem on Calvary’s cross. Tomorrow Ross will share the greatest love story ever told!

We all warned to see Scotland but the Gospel is why we are here. It changed us and now we get to serve kids and the Scottish leaders so these campers can hear and have the opportunity to respond to the love of God. Please continue to pray for the kids. Pray for the leaders and they process out the Cross after the talk in their small groups. Pray for us (our team of 9) – we grabbed time tonight and all of us are very tired.

Again, thank you. Thank for writing a check, affirming our call, and praying.

May God be glorified!

HDS

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Black Pudding – Scotland Day 5

Day 5 began with another hearty breakfast but this time we ate something we weren’t sure what it was made from. It is called black pudding and host, Agnes, would not disclose its ingredients. We put it on potato bread (another newbie food item) and it tasted fine. We found later it was made from sheep blood! Ok, I still get a little nauseous thinking about it black pudding!

We had another super day with kids and the Scottish team. It was a sunny and gorgeous out the entire day! American football was an option for one of the sessions and for Chopper and I, who both played and coached football, it was barely tolerable. We bit our tongues and served Tom, the well-intended “football coach.” Tom is a great guy so it is easy to follow his lead even if we disagreed with his approach on teaching kids our beloved football.

Before the second session started the three young people I am working with continued to tell their faith story thus far. Today they focused on their first impressions of Jesus and how that changed as they hit high school and the tension they felt. They did a great job. Tomorrow they’ll share how they came to follow Jesus. Savannah Ambrose from Tucker County is one of the three and is doing a knockout job.

I then sent leaders out with their kids around the high school property to do a variety of activities that we helped run. We called this the Super-Challenge. The activities included making a pyramid, futbol juggling, ride a bike blindfold with the help of your friends, make a half-court basketball shot, drink a can of soda and belch, etc. A favorite activity was bobbing for apples!

Back at The Hub we hung out with kids and had a great club. Ross continued the story of Jesus and talked of purpose. He used John10:10 and did a great job explaining how life is found in Jesus. The Scottish leaders are so encouraging. It is very humbling how they allow us Americans to share in their ministry and kids. I know I can be very territorial and protective of my Young Life kids. It’s very sweet to see and truly blesses my heart.

There is much I love about Young Life, but most is our love for Jesus and the lengths we go to share him with kids! Contact work is our primary means to reach and love on kids. These Scottish leaders do fantastic contact work. When we debrief at the end of the night, these leaders talk of kids they have done contact work for 2-3 years and how this week they are seeing not only major breakthrough, but having kids show up for first time. That means these kids are hearing the gospel, many for the very first time. Nothing like watching these young leaders overwhelmed with answered prayer and fruit from their labors! Praise God!!!

Well, that is enough…we are exhausted. We covet your prayers! Tomorrow is the sin talk so it will be heavier and Satan will be on the prowl. Pray for these kids, pray for the leaders!

Thanks!

HDS

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Stage ‘N Slam – Scotland Day 4

The day started out with rain, but by the afternoon it was blue sky and beautiful. The weather here is in the mid-60′s. Did you know it’s still light out at 10:30 pm? It’s a bit bizarre.

Today, camp-wise, wasn’t much different then yesterday. Kids had a blast and we loved on them well. I did help with the basketball session and let me just say basketball is not a strength of the Scots. This 40 year old man was the best basketball player there and that isn’t saying much since the last time I played on a team was 9th grade. One boy told me I could make the Scottish national team. O the things kids say! I told him American football is my best sport. We do that tomorrow so that should be fun.

Our speaker, Ross, is a great guy. About 26 yrs old with dread locks and a sweet spirit about him. Tonight he talked about Jesus calming the storm and shared a lot of truths about Jesus beyond biblical truths. He focuses in on how after 2000 years Jesus (his followers) have made an incredible imprint on the world from how we set our calendars to starting universities. Remember, probably 90%+ of these kids are truly unchurched and ignorant about Jesus – hearing about him for the first time.

The group of Scottish Young Life leaders, us from West Virginia, and the Young Life girls from California are getting along great and working well together – really neat to see the focus on Christ and serving each other and kids!

Tonight we watched the World Cup until half since it was a blowout. Two Scottish leaders took Janell and I to the oldest restaurant/pub in Scotland – this was exciting for us mainly because it was a place the contestants of our favorite show, The Amazing Race, had to go and play a bowling game called Skittles. Yes, Janell and I played a bit!

Another great day. Another day we are grateful to be here. Thanks again!

HDS

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The Kids Arrive – Scotland Day 3

After two long days, finally the kids arrived. Stage ‘N Slam 2014 kicked off at 1:45 pm at the local high school. About 100 kids showed up, making it the most kids to attend on the first day since the Stage ‘N Slam began 4 years ago.

Within minutes of the kids gathering in the “club room” music was cued and John Prentice and Kayla Gainer came out as William and Agnes McMerican. The fraternal twins job is to run the mixer; however, they cannot agree on the game because thespian William and athletic Agnes have vastly different ideas of activities for the campers. That is when Rick Floss comes in to the save the day with a fun mixer. Rick Floss is as cool as they come. Stopping a few times as he struts slowly to the front of the room to floss his teeth. I play Rick Floss – a character I first did at Lake Champion years ago but hadn’t done since. It is such a joy to do program with JP (John) and Kayla since they both come out of Elkins Young Life.

After the mixer, the kids went to Session One which included a variety of activities they signed up for at registration. There was a flash mob, drumming, rugby, henna, handball and maybe one more. After that kids came back to the club room where I led a game of Name that Tune with leaders and kids (see pic). Then I talked for just a couple minutes to the kids about story – how each has a story and how God invites us all into a greater story…the best story! I had two Americans (Olivia from California & Savannah Ambrose from Tucker Co.) and Brad from Edinburgh tell the first part of their story. Each day they will share more and more of their story. The kids then went to a second session. When that was over we walked back to The Hub where the kids were fed hot dogs, salad, & brownies along with koolaid – they called this a snack. I called it my first of two dinners! After snack we had a traditional Young Life club.

It was a great day as we interacted with kids, worked hard behind the scenes, and prayed much. At the end of the day we celebrated. It such a privilege to be here. These kids respond well to us and really seem to love Americans. I talked a while to two boys – Brad (not story Brad) and Logan. They asked a lot of questions about America – my favorite: Which state has the prettiest girls? During one point at club the boys came and sat next to me. What a blessing!

Tomorrow will be much of the same tomorrow. Enjoy the pics and keep us lifted up in prayer!

Thanks!

HDS

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Tea and Toast: Scotland Days 1-2

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I tried getting a brief blog out yesterday but failed. Let me attempt to get you up to speed. We left Elkins at 9:30 am on the 4th and arrived in Edinburgh at 6:45 am on the 5th (there is a 5 hr. time difference). Outside of trying (most unsuccessful) to sleep on the plane, we almost all were up beyond 24 hours before finally going to sleep last night.

Despite our exhaustion yesterday, by late morning we took the bus (double decker) into the city of Edinburgh. It was historical & beautiful. We saw a church that is older than America and were the great reformer John Knox preached. We also saw the restaurant where the writer of Harry Potter (not a Potter person so I can’t recall the name) gained inspiration to write the books. Describing the beauty of Edinburgh will only be unsatisfactory. You really need to see it with your own eyes. I mean, in the city itself, sitting on a hill is the Edinburgh Castle – I can’t adequately describe it…so I took some pics! Eventually we made it back to The Hub (this is our central meeting location & where Club will be each night) where we had a cookout for the locals. Finally our host families picked us up.

Today was essentially a prep day for camp tomorrow. Two things stand out: First, the support of the local church here. We had a dinner & worship celebration tonight. It was such a blessing seeing how the community and the local churches come together to reach kids by supporting Young Life. Secondly, the kids! We learned that less than 3% of Scottish kids know anything about Jesus. The Scots are truly an unchurched people. Which is crazy when you think about John Knox and see so many beautiful stone churches with their steeples rising above the city and seen from Miles away. There are college & high school kids here that have met Jesus and surrendered their lives to Him at one of the Stage ‘N Slam camps the last four years. I feel incredibly blessed to be here to serve and love on these Scots!

Please pray for the camp tomorrow, the leaders, the kids, and us helpers!

O yes, in case you were wondering our host, the saintly Agnes, did give me tea the first night before bed.

Thanks for making this trip happen!

Rockbridge Day 6

Last day and a beauty at that. Not only weather-wise but also in the lives of so many kids at this camp that have found hope, joy, peace, and purpose for the first time in their lives. These beautiful things are found in Jesus, who said himself, “I have come to give them life, life to the full” (John 10:10).

Todd used many fabulous illustrations this week, but the one that kids seem to talk about is from the gospel story of Peter getting out of the boat and walking toward Jesus – who was already walking on water. The question at hand, “Where are you with your relationship with Jesus? Both feet in? One foot in, one out? Or, both feet out?” I believe kids understand this and we as leaders help with one on one’s with filling in the gaps. I also believe in Young Life we do well at letting kids know that God loves them as do we wherever they are with that question. No pressure to respond – just a lot of leader-love, patience, grace, and kindness.

Last night, after a dress-up banquet dinner (we all looked great),Todd continued the Gospel story by talking about the resurrection. Afterward, all the lights of camp were turned out and the kids got gift that they thoroughly loved and rarely if ever have – 20 minutes of silence. Scattered across the main lawn were kids processing life and God under a calm star-lit sky! One boy in my cabin said it was the first time in his life (age 16) he ever prayed to God. This young man also jumped in with both feet and in a half-hour at the New Christian Meeting he will receive a bible. He doesn’t own one!

That is why I’m here in West Virginia. That is why I’m at camp and our leaders have taken vacation days, and left their families (2 of our leaders are married mothers) to spend a week with teenagers! It’s so kids can hear they are loved and created for a purpose and that following Jesus is the best way to live life.

Well it’s been a great week and the kids will confirm that it truly was the best week of their lives! I’m grateful for the call on my life. Thanks for reading all week! And if you prayed for me and for kids thank you from the bottom of my heart!

HDS

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Rockbridge Day 5

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Last night kids heard the remedy to the sin the problem…the greatest love story ever told…the most significant event in the history of the world – the story of Jesus’ arrest, trial, and death by crucifixion. Four boys from my cabin never heard the story! I repeat, four boys from my cabin never heard. I’m reminded of Romans 10:9-15, but specifically verse 14:

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?

So this morning I’m incredibly thankful these boys heard.

Last night we had our “opera.” The opera is when all the silly characters of camp come together and resolve the story they have been telling all week. There is much humor and much singing as they change popular songs lyrics to fit their story. It was one of the best I’ve seen in 14 years of Young Life camping.

After the opera we had club and the cross talk. Following club they had tiki torches set up in the big field where kids could process with their friends and leaders. It was a great night.

You all would be amazed by the stories of the kids. I am reminded how hard adolescents is – even for the kids that seem to have it all together. Life is hard and I rejoice that kids get to enter a grander story of life…the story of life – the story of God and His beloved.

Well off to lunch. We are going horseback riding as a whole area today. Pretty pumped about it since this is the first summer Rockbridge has horses.

One more blog tomorrow. A final verse I leave you:

I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. – John 5:24

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