Riggins 2017 Blog




POSTED August 9, 2017.

Take a gander at my sermon… in the dark.



We’re going home today.

No exclamation point.

Our last full day in Riggins was dominated by rafting and tears (both from painful sunburns and painful goodbyes).

The rafting trip was from 10 am to 6pm, and we got to go through some great rapids. The Riggins teens got to join us, and Mark and Sarah Christensen, some of the youth volunteers at the church who own a rafting company, took us down the river for free. It was an amazing blessing.

After that, we had dinner at Salmon River Inn with some of the best Pizza ever, and celebrated Judy’s birthday. (She said she was 37 and holding.) Dinner was painful, because that was when we said goodbye to most of the Riggins teens. There were many hugs, and repeated hugs, and uncertainty about the future.

On a brighter note, I beat Nathan in a game of pool while we were there, and won with a jump shot into the eight ball.

After our goodbyes we did final showers and family time where we did a debrief and analysis of the trip as a whole. We talked about what was good, what was bad, and if we did it again next year, what we would change.

I ended it with a question of “How certain are you that you would come again if we make a trip happen next year.” 10 of our 14 said they were 90% sure or more, and the other 4 said if their life situation allows it, they’d definitely want to.

I’m in the airport now trying to reflect before we get on our plane. All I can say is this:

This trip definitely changes lives. We all got individual hand-written letters by three different teens in town. We had kids running up to us all over town because they recognized us from VBS. We got behind on lunch schedules because we were so busy talking to the congregation on Sunday after church. There are eternal relationships here, and that is what makes this trip so captivating. I’ll probably post one more time with photos and stories once I get back and have a little time to decompress and sort through everything. Until then, thank you for reading!

POSTED JULY 30, 2017.

VBS Slide Show!

POSTED JULY 30, 2017. (About July 27-30)
Before you say anything, I know, I know, I’ve been falling down on the job. We’ve just been SO busy I haven’t had time to update the blog. Anyway, here’s an overview of what’s happened since the last post.

Thursday at VBS everything went well. A few students went on some service projects moving a whole storage unit from one end of town to another. Thursday night at the field we played a little Frisbee and the game of signs, and I gave a brief message on Revelation 19 and the fearful return of Christ for those who oppose him. After that, Sarah Bovey shared her testimony to everyone at the field.

Friday at VBS we had a shortened schedule because we held a parent program after VBS on Friday to show them some pictures and the songs their children had learned that week. I should be uploading the slideshow tonight.

Friday night was Hot Summer Nights, a sort of town-wide festival that happens once a year and includes a talent show on Friday and a car show on Saturday. A few of us from the team participated in the talent show and we won 3rd place! We did a dramatic performance of Marty Robbins’s Big Iron. I sang, Josh played guitar, and Jared, Nathan, Jonathan, and a Local named Emily Spicklemire, acted it out. It was my fourth time participating in Hot Summer nights, and we FINALLY won something!

On Saturday, we were supremely busy as a team. A group of us hiked up the mountain behind the church called School Marm. It’s about a 3 hour hike round trip, and one I have done many times before. I’m putting pictures of the group who went on this post and some of the scenery from the top of the mountain. (Nathan didn’t make it to the top with us which is why he’s not in the group pictures, but he did make it ¾ of the way!) After we got back, we all went to Heaven’s Gate, which is an outpost on top of a much taller mountain down the road, and from which you can see 4 states at once. While up at Heaven’s gate we went to a secluded glacial lake that is filled with freshly melted snow. A few of us went swimming (the water was very cold) and everyone else participated in the picnic at the lake. We got back in time for dinner and for some to go to the car show at hot summer nights.

This morning we ran the church service and I preached a sermon on Habakkuk, during which the power went out. I got to test out my lungs preaching the old-school way: in the dark sans-microphone. It came back on today around 3 o’clock.

This afternoon we are finally getting a chance to just relax around the church and do a little bit of cleaning. Tomorrow we plan to raft down the river, and then our return flight will be Tuesday!

I plan on getting anecdotes and stories from VBS tonight at family time, so hopefully I’ll have a second post up tonight with some of those stories and the various videos and photos I owe you. I just wanted to get this post up so you knew all was well!


POSTED JULY 27, 2017. (About July 26th)
My first late post. That’s how you know the trip is half over. Energy is slowly draining. What happened yesterday?
VBS and had one of the funniest skits I’ve ever been a part of. The video for both day two and day three’s skits are below. I’m writing this on my break in the middle of VBS, so I’m a bit scattered at the moment. Please forgive.
After VBS we had a beach day at Shorts Bar (that’s what you call a beach on a river, we didn’t give anyone alcohol) and then back to the church to prep for VBS and the field night. At the field night Caleb Salmon shared his testimony and I gave a short message from Philippians 4.
At family-time we sang some praises and spent some time in prayer, and gave people the chance for an early bed time.

A few quick anecdotes, some of the guys insisted on making a Frisbee throw through someone’s legs that was caught on the other side, so there is a video of their successful attempt at that below. Also, you should know that Senior pony was found in a most spectacular way (watch the skit in the next post to understand that).

Other than that, I promised I’d give an update on the spiritual state of the town and what people here need prayer for. One of the things I hear from Riggins kids often is, “I just get tired and depressed and feel like I need an escape.” Growing up in a small town, along with a lot of great things, produces a greater desire for escape from what you don’t like. I had a few good long conversations with a few teens, and they all echoed similar sentiments, but a few also pointed out something and expressed a certain resolve: they want to be helpful and useful. They want to help the younger kids in the youth group grow up and not make some of the same mistakes they did. Some of these kids have been through a lot and have besetting, or recurring, sins that are different than you might expect in Texas. Most of all they just need someone to love them. Hearing both the struggles with sin and the renewed vigor to help and to fight and to BE the church gave me a sense of peace. It was a clear picture of both the reality of sin, that is a worldwide epidemic, and the reality of the church that is the worldwide solution. I look forward to hearing from some of these teens, and from their leaders, Mark, Sarah, and Cheryl, about how these sins and these resolves play themselves out in the coming months.

That was a bit longer than I expected. Anyway, here are a few pictures, and some scenery shots are included as requested.



POSTED JULY 25, 2017:

Today has been long, but good. In VBS we talked about the story of Hezekiah warding off the Assyrians and praying to God for help. From what I hear, it was another pretty seamless day on the VBS front. The field night, I thought, was good. I talked about the story of the whole Bible and the basics of reading the story. Character setting and conflict in Genesis 1-3, rising actions through the rest of the text, and resolution in Revelation.

The rest of today’s post will be a little more scattered. There will be two sections: Funny anecdotes, and an interview with Cameron Mitchell.

– Leah Tees wanted to let you all know that she threw a very good football throw. Tight spiral, good arc and it hit her target (and her target caught it). She was very pleased. There was much feasting and rejoicing.
– Cameron Mitchell wanted you all to know that he got a golf chair for free in a give-away box that he is convinced is primarily a cane. He was very pleased. There was much feasting and rejoicing.
– Sam Runyon saw a recent picture of two siblings who came to VBS three years ago when they were in fourth and fifth grade, Ty and Kylie. They were a lively pair back in the day, and seeing three-year-later teenage pictures, and learning that Kylie has a driver’s license affected Sam deeply. There wasn’t much feasting or rejoicing, but a nearly audible scared silence at the dawning reality that Sam is aging at a rate of 60 seconds per hour, 24 hours a day, and there’s nothing he can do about it. There might have been weeping and gnashing of teeth.
– Nathan broke a flipflop while kicking a ball at the field today, and so his “always break something in Riggins” streak, that had been suspended two years ago, is back in full force. There definitely was weeping and gnashing of teeth by Nathan, and feasting and rejoicing by the rest of us who like seeing the revival of a beloved tradition like “Nathan always breaks something.”

This is my second favorite selfie face…. just an FYI.
Interview with Cameron Mitchell:

Q: How are you liking Riggins the town so far?

A: The town is a really neat place to be in because you can really feel the love of everybody, and the entire town, and especially the church, because… well, everybody knows everybody. Like when pastor Jim did popcorn prayer requests at church on Sunday, they would just shout them out because everybody knew who they were and what they were talking about.

Q: How are you liking Riggins the trip so far?

A: Well, I feel like it’s helped me. This and the beach trip has been the first time I’ve ever really felt a longing to want… to want more of the Bible… just this group of people has… it really started with the beach trip. That’s what I love about spending time with everybody. We all know everybody really well. There’s a really family feel with our group. I already knew everybody pretty well, but getting to know everybody in our group so much better has been great.

Q: What has been your favorite moment of VBS so far?

A: There’s one kid who was being kind of pouty. I just talked to her and said, “Hey can you at least try it?” She didn’t want to do the motions in music, and getting her into it… and today she was doing it without even talking to her. That has been my favorite part so far, is just, having an impact and getting them excited.

Q: What has been your favorite part of field night so far?

A: I really like connecting with people. Playing games with them, and being with them and seeing who they are as a person, just being with them. I haven’t really paid attention to how they react to the devotions that you give at night, but mostly just hanging out with them.

Q: How can people at home be praying for you?

A: Mostly just for energy, and I do really want to make a change in these kids’ lives.

POSTED JULY 24, 2017:


Today we dove head first into VBS and there were no shallow rocks waiting for us. Instead, we cut smoothly through the waters, and gracefully emerged like free Willy at the end of the movie where the kid stands under the whale as it jumps over him with his hand up and a huge hallmark smile on his face.

What I mean is, it went well.

I was leading the charge in music, and from what I hear, everyone had a great time with their respective sections. The Bible story today was the battle of Jericho. Nathan and Joshua did a good job of teaching the story and getting the point across that GOD knocked down the walls, not men. It was HIS victory.

At VBS we did a skit with two Knights: Sir Prance A Lot and the Dark Knight (Batman). Josh and Jared did a great job with the skit, and Caleb video recorded it, so you can watch it below. You might need to boost your volume since it’s hard to hear in places.

After VBS, we did a little bit of prep for tomorrow then had some down time before dinner and our first field night. We played kickball and threw the Frisbees and football around, and Caleb Smith shared his testimony.

Everyone is wary of energy levels, so please pray for that, and for a few Riggins teens in particular, some of whom are expressing interest in learning more about Christianity, other who have felt very hurt in the past by Christians and so they are wary of talking to us at all about our faith. Above all, pray for God’s will to be done in Riggins this week!

Emily Spikelmire, one of our Riggins teens, watching over a little one at rec.

Ben playing with Raydin and Colton at rec.

Cameron is very focused on his craft.


POSTED JULY 23, 2017:

Today we had church. Historically our team has taken over the church service the first Sunday we are here in Riggins. This year, we decided to switch things around, so I will preach and Josh and the team will lead music next Sunday instead. Pastor Jim preached a message on the beatitude “Blessed are those who mourn.”

Before the service, I and a few others took a load of tables and grills out to get ready for the church picnic. We got to ride in the trailer (which I think I enjoyed more than anyone else) and have a few feats of strength as we each tried to lift heavier and heavier tables by ourselves. (Don’t worry parents, we only had one pulled muscle, two broken bones, a busted lip, and lost one limb.:-P)

After church was the church picnic. Again, historically we would go to the fish hatchery for the church picnic, but it is under construction, so this year we went to the field outside the middle school. A lot of the kids who will be at VBS were there at the picnic and we had a feast that would put some Southern Baptist churches to shame! Juicy burgers, three types of potato salad and four types of baked beans, pasta salads, home-made pickles, black olives and deviled eggs. Desserts on desserts on desserts, and, great friends with whom to spend the time. We threw the frisbees around and played with the kids on the playground equipment.

This evening we got to sit in on the Salmon River Community Church youth group meeting. I feel like I need to repeat that or pinch myself or something. The fact that a steadily functioning youth group exists here is an answered prayer from many years of coming to Riggins. It was great to have dinner with the teens and talk a little bit about Daniel and his friends being taken into captivity.

We are all excited to go work tomorrow at VBS. Please pray for energy levels all around and that God would give us the grace to forget ourselves and get out of the way that his Spirit might be pleased to turn children toward the Father through the son.

Tomorrow I may be dead, since I’m doing the music for VBS (which I haven’t done in four years) so if I don’t post something tomorrow night, that’s why!

This is a video the guys asked me to upload. It’s how we spent some of our in between time today. Josh is standing behind the air mattress. Jared runs at the air mattress. Josh flies and lands on a second air mattress. We make good choices.

This is the sign outside River Rock cafe. Jared and I found that it contained an incontrovertible truth.

This is the selfie I took while we were riding in the trailer. Like I said, I enjoyed it more than anyone else.

(Left to Right) Hadassah, Denise, Emma, Scotia. This will be Emma’s first year at VBS and Scotia’s first year as a helper at VBS instead of an attendee! It was great seeing them at church and the picnic.

POSTED JULY 22, 2017:
Today was mainly devoted to VBS. After waking up Judy and Michelle, (Judy’s granddaughter) made us a wonderful pancake breakfast. after that, we promptly got to work. We wanted to make sure the Riggins team was able to plug in and really take a leading role in VBS this year. I do want you to know how cool this is. Kids who were in VBS 8 years ago when our first team came to VBS, are now leaders in VBS!

When we finished all of our prep, we did a mock run-through of VBS which went very well.

After VBS we had a little bit of down time before supping at Anita’s house. Anita is a pillar in the Riggins community. Along time ago in a galaxy far away when I interned here in Riggins (Summer 2011) I lived in Anita’s motor home for two months. It’s become tradition for the team to have an inaugural dinner at Anita’s house. She lives right on the river and has a beautiful patio set-up, perfect for entertaining.

After dinner, it was back to the church for showers and then family time! We had a lively discussion about the way that we do evangelism in the church, and whether or not we preach the full gospel. Can you really preach the gospel without mentioning that a person is dead in sin and destined for hell? The book we are reading and using as a springboard for discussion is “Fearing God” by David Mears.

Please pray for energy levels for the team for confidence and honesty between the Texas Team and the Riggins team. Also, please pray for Clint’s foot as it was hurting when he woke up this morning and it has been swollen and painful all day. Finally, pray that we would be effective and helpful witness and accurately preach the true and full gospel: that we, deserving condemnation, are saved from the wrath of God in hell, by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone.

Clint, Nathan, and Caleb Salmon (left to right) get ready for the day.

Michelle Thibodeaux cooks up some pancakes!

Leah and Kristina assist in the decorating duties.

Joe Joyce (Blue) Cordell Bovey (blonde), Josh and Caleb Salmon, Sierra Bovey (holding mural), and Theresa Ledgerwood (far right) all help get the murals hung in the sanctuary.

Some of the team catching up with with Sarah Laritz, one of the teens from past years who is all grown up!

Michelle hanging out in the sanctuary with Kristina.

POSTED JULY 21, 2017:

We have arrived! It was one of the most seamless Riggins arrivals we’ve ever had. Our plane landed and we got our rental cars without a hitch, lunched at Boise Fry Company, shopped at Walmart, lamented the fact that our cars were slightly too small to hold all of our supplies comfortably, then drove to Riggins!

On the way, in New Meadows, we ran into Hannah Cornforth (a young woman who was a fourth-grader the very first year we ever came to Riggins but who we now run into as she drives to McCall and tells us of her first semester in college!) and when we pulled into the church parking lot, Jim and Judy gave hugs all around.

Dinner, provided by Judy’s hard-working hands, was fantastic, and I got to hold baby Jean Louise while her momma, Sarah Christensen, ate dinner. (Which I didn’t mind at all. Though Jean seemed less than pleased. I told her not to worry; one glance followed by furiously avoiding eye contact and trying desperately to create distance is how I’m usually treated by women, so why should 2-month-old baby Jean be different?)

We also saw some old friends like Meagan Long (or as some would insist, “Meegan”) and the Bovey family, along with Cheryl Shoemaker and Michelle Thibodeaux, Jim and Judy’s granddaughter. After dinner, we dispersed for showers and saw some friendly and familiar faces. We’re all pretty beat and bedding down for the night, ready for a full day of VBS prep tomorrow! Stay tuned for pictures, stories of the town of Riggins.



POSTED JULY 20, 2017:

We leave for the trip in two days and have been dealing with all sorts of things in the prep time. To give an update on our status as a team: We finished studying the book of Galatians so all of the videos, audio recordings, powerpoints and notes have their own page here. Our team is officially 14 people. Please pray for these team members individually by name.

In no particular order:

Clint Tees
Denise Tees
Leah Tees
Kristina Rowan
Jared Smith
Caleb Smith
Stephen Curto
Benjamin Salmon
Joshua Salmon
Caleb Salmon
Jonathan Mitchell
Cameron Mitchell
Nathan Rawlins
Sam Runyon

We’ve been working hard to get VBS ready, and some who have put in some hard work on VBS will not be able to see the fruits of their good works. Please pray for us all as we try to do the very best VBS we possibly can and disciple teens in Riggins to be better men and women of God. Check back soon to see what’s new!


We started our pre-trip Bible study and almost have our team fully assembled. We might have as many as 20 (!!) people total going with us on this year’s trip to Riggins. I was shocked to have so many interested, but pleased at the same time.

If you’d like to follow along with the group as we learn the book of Galatians, feel free to check out the “Home Group” tab above, or click here to go to the Home Group page. Each week I post a video of the lesson, an audio recording of the lesson, the powerpoints, and the handouts all to download for free. Feel free to check in and learn the book of Galatians with us, or use these resources to teach it in your own church.

The Beach weekend is coming up on May 26-28, so check back then for pictures of the retreat!