I got to spend a good portion of the day with the Emmaus Youth, and some of the other parents, working a car wash fundraiser. I was amazed to realize that I haven't washed a car like that for a very long time. When I was a young boy, I used to wash my Mom and Dad's car fairly often. But I'm pretty sure the last time I washed a car by hand was in the summer of 1989, working a fundraiser for a different youth group altogether. Okay, so that was a long time ago!
The fundraiser back then was for the National Youth Conference in Denver, Colorado. I went along to that event as a chaperone for the youth from our church at that time, although I wasn't all that much older than they were. Of course I had a good time at the conference, but I sure don't recall that it was particularly edifying. The one thing that everyone remembers about that conference is the horrendous thunderstorm that hit Red Rocks while we were all there at the outdoor amphitheater. That was terribly exciting. Picture thousands and thousands of youth, one minute swaying back and forth to the strains of some nondescript "contemporary Christian" rock band, little pen lights held high, the next minute running for any semblance of cover, getting soaked to the bone, shivering from the cold, and riding a wave of panic-driven adrenalin. You just can't buy that kind of excitement.
I've not gone to any more National Youth Conferences since then, but not because of the weather. I have enjoyed a couple of the Higher Things Lutheran Youth Conferences in recent years, and hope to be part of more of those in the future. Our Emmaus Youth had a car wash for last summer's Higher Things conference, The Feast, but I wasn't able to work with them on that fundraiser. It was a lucrative effort, however, and the group was inclined to do it again. Hence, today's event.
The car wash this time around was not for any sort of conference, but for the historic stained-glass windows of our church. They are a beautiful part of our building, depicting various scenes from the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These hand-crafted windows are also a big part of the reason that Emmaus is designated an "historic landmark" here in South Bend. Unfortunately, years and years of weather have deteriorated them, and they are in need of restoration. They were given a protective covering some years ago, which has helped to prevent them from being damaged by rocks and balls and such, but has also helped to trap moisture inside their frames and moorings (not good). Estimated cost to have all of the windows repaired and restored is in the ballpark of $150,000 (half again as much as the congregation's annual budget).
The Emmaus Youth were doing their part to help raise money toward the cost of restoring the windows. The net result of today's car wash, including matching funds, should be somewhere between $600 and $800. Not bad for half a day's work. In any event, I'm proud of the young people of our congregation, and I enjoyed the chance to work with them on the car wash. They are a good bunch. They worked hard, despite the heat, and managed to have a good time at it. Thanks to all of them, and thanks to those who supported the effort.