Our Family Service Trip Journal: Day 1 – SEVENS Ministry

After eight days on the road, we are now home. Bags are unpacked (mostly). Pictures are uploaded. Now I can finally find the time to tell you all the details of our family service trip to Colorado!

First I wanted to tell you a little bit about how this trip came to be. With the idea in mind that we, as a family of six, would take a mission trip somewhere, sometime – we began to pray together about a year and a half ago about where and when God would send us. While we waited for answers and direction, each time Matt had the opportunity to do an extra job for someone (painting, repairing, building, etc.) he and the boys would head out to work on the project together. The money they earned from each of these jobs went into a special account, reserved especially for our Family Mission Fund.  (Avon and Margaret, you’ll be happy to know that your projects were among those that helped make this trip possible. Thank you!!)

About six months ago, Matt and I sat down to look at the calendar and to narrow down some options based on where we felt God was leading us. Because of holidays, family events, summer camps, basketball season, and two soccer seasons (spring and fall), we had exactly one open week during the entire year of 2013. That very week, we had a wedding to attend in the Denver area. What if, we decided, our family service trip took us to Denver?

Long story short, God just took it from there. He orchestrated every single detail, put in place service opportunities on just the right days we needed them, and absolutely knocked our socks off with His goodness and plans for us. In addition, He helped prepare our hearts and gave us guidance as we prepared our kids to take a trip like this. Learning to be selfless? Remembering that what we were heading out to do was meant to be an encouragement to others – and that blessing others would be a blessing for us as well? This is what we talked often to our boys about in the weeks leading up to the trip.

For the next few posts, I’ll detail each day of our trip (with some other posts sprinkled in). Everytime I share the details about our trip with a friend, I find myself spilling out excited words faster than my mouth can say them. To say that this trip was amazing is an understatement. God made this experience incredible for our family, and we pray that those we were in contact with were blessed by our family even more.

We arrived in the Denver area last Wednesday. (We were able to stay with friends every night but one, which was wonderful.)  Thursday, we got up and headed to Boulder to meet our college friends Benny and Niki. (Like how I didn’t say, “Old college friends?”  C’mon. We are all totally young.)

Benny and Niki operate the SEVENS ministry – sharing God’s love with street people in Boulder. They feed them, talk to them, listen to them, and pray with them. They give them new socks, bottles of water, and daily do whatever they feel God leading them to do for these people. 

We began our day with them by taking everything out of one of their SEVENS storage closests so that it could be reorganized. 


Items in boxes were sorted and put away for easier access: hand warmers, socks, backpacks, food items, sleeping bags, and much more. 


Because he was the lightest among us, Malachi was given the job of climbing on top of the fridge to place a bag of socks for storage on a high shelf. Now that’s not something a kid gets to do everyday. :)


Our kids, along with two of Benny and Niki’s kids, filled backpacks with socks so that they can take them downtown to hand out at a later date.


Once the closet was finished, we made an assembly line to fill gallon-sized zipper bags with items like water, socks, granola bars, applesauce, and other snacks. They will keep these on hand for later needs.


All jobs finished and cleaned up, we all headed out for a late lunch on the Pearl Street Mall. This is the area where Benny spends most of his street ministry time. After lunch, we were able to meet some of the street people who have become friends with the Nowells, listen to street performers, and walk the area to learn more about the ministry. 


It was a tremendous blessing to our family to spend the day working with and learning from the Nowells. I didn’t see how any of our other service days could be as rich as this one. As it turns out, God had much more in store for us…


  1. says

    So many people’s lives have been stolen from them. Even in the little towns and one city (just passed 5,000 population so officially a city) there are food banks to serve the homeless. Sadly many are veterans.


    Mary Brandon Reply:

    Thank you all for helping.


  2. Kristin says

    I am one of the newest and biggest fans of your blog. I found it last weekend when we were out of town and stayed up way way too late checking out recipes. I am thrilled you include soaking grains in most of your grain recipes, include the places you find several of your foods, ect. But my favorite thing is that your present your blog in a humble way. So many blogs I read leave me feeling overwhelmed and discouraged in my whole foods journey because I am not to the 100% they seem to be at. So thank you, thank you for your humor and transparency and grace in writing your blog. You have blessed me! Glad your family had a great serving trip to Boulder. We spent 3 weeks ago there a few years ago. It’s quite a unique town. ~Kristin in Arkansas


  3. says


    We are so grateful for all of the ways your family blessed ours, and of course we enjoyed spending time with you! Lunch was wonderful, and it was great to watch your family serve together.

    As always, I was impressed with the way you and Matt relate to each other and set the example for your boys. You all make a difference just by being yourselves. I’m thrilled your circle of influence has expanded as it has. The world needs more people living out their faith in practical ways as your family obviously does. I can’t wait to read about the rest of your trip.

    I’ve been honored to call you friend for the last 20+ years, and yes, we are all still totally young.;)


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