Well it’s been awhile…
I took a hiatus from the blog because my schedule got crazy busy once school started, but I now feel that I have the time to give an update on what has been going on in my ministry, as well as lay down some opinions about things.
In January I had the opportunity to take a couple of my high schoolers to the TCU CYF day. It was a day where we got to tour the campus, have worship with other CYFers, and then go to a basketball game. I think the day was a success not only because the two high schoolers who went with me became interested in going to TCU, but also because of the time that I was able to spend with them. I am a firm believer in the ministry of presence and I felt like God was definitely there that day working in our relationships.
That was the 19th, on the 25th I got to go to Disciples Crossing with our JYF kids for their Mid-Winter retreat. Not only was this my first opportunity to go to a Mid-Winter retreat, but it was my first time to counsel the JYFers. It was an encouraging experience for sure. I got to see another side of these rambunctious children that gave me faith in their capacities to be aware of the divine and their ability to feel empathy towards others. Good stuff.
Next week it was Chi-Rho Mid-Winter. This one was a little more difficult just because the kids are starting to come into their own as people and it is reflected in their relationships with those around them. The theme of the weekend was “Who is Your Neighbor” and I felt like the Middle Schoolers from my church got it, even at least on a deeper level. There was even one night were I felt the Spirit working through mine and the two boys that came down relationship. We were able to have good discussion in the last fifteen minutes before bed. It gave me hope and made the entire weekend worth it.
I got a “break” the next weekend. Instead of a retreat, I had a lock-in and Youth Sunday. We had been planning and practicing for the worship service on Wednesday nights for the previous weeks and I used the lock-in as a way to get in a final practice. It was one of the easier lock-ins because we played our more strenuous games in the beginning (sardines, hide-and-go-seek, etc.) and thus the kids were tuckered out and fell asleep when I put on movies. In the morning we did a devotional on “The Avengers” (where was THAT when I was in youth group!) and the last practice before Youth Sunday. Then we had worship and it got rave reviews. I was incredibly proud of the youth and how they did. I even got the comment that it was the best Youth Sunday that ACC has had, and I give that as a testament to how well the Youth did. They really were great.
The next weekend I got the privilege of having my mother come to town. This was a semi-break, I say semi because everyone knows what it is like to have relatives in town…it is work. But I was grateful that my mom would come visit. I miss my family. We had fun times and she even got to listen to me preach. We did get to work with some of the Youth doing some yard work to raise money for the mission trips this summer. It was a great weekend.
I’ve been focusing on the weekends for this entire post, but I need to remind you that I do go to school still. So all of this is peppered with me being a full-time student (just a helpful reminder).
The next weekend, if you’re keeping count the 22-24th of February, was CYF Mid-Winter retreat. I was not planning on going to this retreat because by now I was running on fumes. I had not gotten a day to myself in awhile and being an introvert…I need those days. But a friend (Derek Tompkins) convinced/guilted me to go. And to him I give a large thank you. I was able to see another side of the lone CYFer who went. This girl was like a different person there and I never would have been able to witness it if I didn’t go. These retreats are great, and CYF was no exception. It was a chance to make new friends, talk about the hard questions of faith and our scripture, and connect with youth from around the area. I hope that I had some good effect on the high schoolers in attendance, knowing that they were pretty mature (definitely farther along than me at their age) in their faith.
I then had a break that was filled with catching up on school work and preparing for my first sermon in class. I think it went well, and I was encouraged by my classmates and the Teacher’s Assistant. I got good feedback about what my strengths are and what I need to work on. Much appreciated.
And now we are here. You’ve been caught up. My eyes have certainly been opened up to how important camp can be for developing, enriching, and maintaining a person/youth’s faith and I’m ready to drink the kool-aid. I will leave you with a quote from a book that I read while on my way down to Disciples Crossing for CYF. If it seems prophetic about my weekend, I don’t consider it a coincidence at all, “Most teenagers find it easier to make out the Christian community’s distinctiveness in the wilderness, at a conference, or in some other demarcate zone where young people themselves help construct idealized versions of the world they think God intends.” Fall and Mid-Winter retreats on a smaller scale and summer camps on a larger scale do this. They allow youth to try to construct the world they think that God wants. I for one, would give anything to be a part of and help them create it, hopefully you would too.