All good things must come to a close.

The 2016 Rio Olympic Games are now officially over and what an amazing ride this journey has been.  I have lived in the Olympic Village for 36 days now and I have met so many wonderful people, witnessed some of the greatest athletes do their thing and grown personally in many ways.  While I am so grateful for this once-in-a-lifetime experience, I am so ready to get home to my family, church and youth ministry.  The most difficult thing about this journey has been being away from the ones that I love and the ones that love me. Similar to your situation, my church family is far from perfect.  We fuss, we disagree over the little things and we often miss the point, but I have discovered that very few things compare to the love, affirmation and support that I get from my church family…not even the most prestigious sporting event in the world in a beautiful setting like Rio.  The Olympics have been my dream since I was a little boy, but they pale in comparison to watching a student achieve their goals and be so thankful that I was there to watch and cheer.  The athletes I befriended are some of the most famous in the world, but I would pick my mentors and accountability partners over them every time.  You see, what we get to do as youth pastors, the friendships, the family, the ministry are amazing gifts.  I understand that it is tiring, thankless and frustrating and many of us are just coming off an exhausting summer to try to put on a good face for the fall. But some of the best things in life come from hard work, dedication and perseverance.  As I return back to the states tomorrow and get back to my family and church family, I know I will treasure these 37 days spent at the Olympic Games, but I will have a much better appreciation for every moment I get to do what God called me to do in ministering to and with teenagers. We make an impact and we are impacted.  What an awesome gift that is.
Here is my Facebook post to my church family from last Sunday…
Today is Sunday and today I miss my family and church family more than ever. I have been in Rio for about 25 days and while I acknowledge (and am so grateful for) the amazing experience i am having, I also recognize my need for a faith community where I can grow, listen, learn, lead, and love others and receive love. One of the lessons I have learned at this Olympic games is that even the greatest experiences pale in comparison to relationship. I am a better me when I am actively growing in my faith in a community of believers. I love the Church. I love my local church. And though the pews are full of the broken, there is a blessed assurance in knowing you are not alone and that you are loved by God and have a place. So if you haven’t been to church in a while (or ever) let me encourage you to give it a try today. I bet you won’t regret it.
Thanks for letting me share this journey with you.  Can’t wait to see and meet some of you at DYM100 in just 1 month
David Thompson