Friday, July 7, 2017

Colombia #7. The Youth

You may recall before I left for my trip that I shared one of things about which I was nervous was the youth night. So, let me share with you about that.

 That night became one of my favorite moments of the week. It is true that much time and preparation went into that lesson, but really, it was Juan who helped it come together in an amazing way. The first night of youth was really a beautiful time I will forever recall. 

 The night began with games. Ashley helped lead them with Juan, and the kids were so animated and watching them and playing along with them gave us all laughs. Then we had the lesson.

The lesson was about who is greater? And it came from the passage of two men asking Jesus which one of them was better than the other. And the end result was Jesus explaining that it's not about who is better or greatest, but that the one who gives himself in service is the greater person. Life is not about self promotion or being the greatest, but we become the greatest when we become the least and serve. 
 So, we talked about this. As I shared, Juan translated, and again, I paid attention to how he elaborated on my words or adjusted them a little in order to reach the teens in a more profound way. They responded, with some prompting from Juan, and listening and watching them respond was really neat.

 But what was really cool was what happened next. With every activity we put on, we add a "craft" type thing for the group, something they can have or do to take home and keep and remember the lesson. It has been my experience in watching this now through two trips that the kids and the teens alike enjoy this experience. But, for this particular lesson, we chose something a little different. Something I wasn't sure how it would be received. 

 Each person was given a piece of paper, we had markers, and they drew their name in a creative way on the paper, and then they began passing their papers around for everyone to write encouraging things about them on their paper. In the end, then, they would take it home and remember and see what the others liked about them. The point was to not think of eachother as competition or "greater" but to encourage all of them to encourage others, to see the best in others and encourage each person to grow in who they are.

 I wasn't sure how that would be received, but as I watched, I had tears. They loved it. And they just kept going with it. And then they brought their papers for us to sign, too. Our time for the event was really far past when it was supposed to be over, but as I mentioned it , no one wanted to say it was time to stop. The teens were enjoying it too much. They needed that time of soaking in the encouragement as well as giving it to others. I took in the scene and could not help but be humbled. 

The teens who were there last year, a lot of them have graduated, so the teens there this year were a new group for me to get to know, and I grew to love them so much. I never saw working with teens as my gift (still don't) but since I have teenagers at home, I found new ways to relate to these kids.  And by the end of the week, the photos with them were some of my favorites. They are hungry for the love and activity just as much as the children are. I felt like I adopted this group of kids in a way. 
 The girls served us our water as we worked on the worksite. The boys became hard workers along side us through the week, and as the week went on, I watched them open up. 

 Our second youth night went well, too. And deserves just as much explanation. But it did not touch me as deeply as this one. Here are some photos of the teens and our youth night(s). 
 Meanwhile, Barb, Chris, Cindy, Gin, and Ed helped keep the kids occupied on the outside of the cabana with games and chalk. 











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