Sunday, November 21, 2010
When I told the boys what was going on they all groaned. “I don’t want to talk about Girls!” they wailed. One even said “I picked the wrong night to come back to youth group.” But you know what? Within about a minute they were all talking so animatedly and passionately I couldn’t shut them up. “Why do girls take everything so personally???” one boy yelled. “Yeah!” everyone agreed. I wanted so badly to share what little I’ve learned about the fairer sex but I didn’t. I have my doubts about how much they listen to me anyway.
All the boys agreed that women’s roles have changed in the last 100 years. “They have so much power now. And so many rights. We have to do everything they say!” The boys seemed a little oppressed.
We had each side think up of a question for the other side and then we exchanged questions half-way and discussed our answers.
I was very impressed with the question that the boys posed to the girls. “Why does everything have to be so full of drama and gossip?”
We rendezvoused later to share our answers. Initially, the girls blamed the drama on the boys’ refusal to treat them properly, but the boys called them out on this non-answer and then the girls got real. “We’re so full of drama because its coming from our insecurity about ourselves.” said one of the girls as she looked across the room at her boyfriend. The room got quiet. What a moment! Another girl said “and we gossip because it makes us feel better about ourselves.”
The question we received from the girls was impressive too. “Why do you boys have to put on a ‘show’ when you’re around your friends, but then you’re all sweet when its just the boy and the girl?”
What a great question! “We HAVE to act tough around the other guys because otherwise we’d get eaten alive!” said one of the boys. “And THAT comes from OUR insecurity.”
The discussions had started out so turbulently and so angry at “the other.” Neither Dawn nor I had anticipated such a significant and dramatic climax of agreement and confession. Dawn pointed out the moment to the kids in case they missed it.
Before we knew it, it was time to go home. As we all walked out together I thought about how alien each side seemed to the other, but yet, in the lives of these young people, their relationship with the opposite sex was going to be taking center stage for the next decade. And at some critical point in their lives, their relationship with their significant other may be the only thing they have in this world to cling to.
Friday, November 12, 2010
First, I want to say that the mission trip was an amazing week, in so many ways, and I want all of you who helped make it possible to know how grateful I am for that opportunity. Thank you.
I’ve been thinking for a week about what I would say to you today, trying to find an “aha moment” or something to describe that would wrap up everything I felt that week into a nice little speech that wouldn’t put you to sleep and might even make you laugh once or twice. I couldn’t find that moment. I never had a voice announce in my head, “Congratulations! Your life has been changed!” or anything like that. I didn’t get any great advice that changed the way I looked at life. But despite the lack of one defining moment, the week definitely did change me. I couldn’t find one defining moment that summed it all up, because the week was the moment. It was everything added together that made the full effect.
There was the time that Tabby and I mustered up our courage and encouraged each other to take our swim tests in the cold lake so we could go kayaking together. Once we got out onto the middle of the lake, we just pulled our paddles out of the water and sat for a while, trying to take in all the beauty around us.
There were the times at the work sites, when we worked together to get our projects done and did our best to improve the lives of the people we’d been assigned to help. There was always a lot of work to do, and it was sometimes overwhelming, but everyone put in their energy and enthusiasm and we accomplished some impressive things.
There were the times the whole camp played Ultimate Frisbee. It started with the most athletic guys doing the whole thing, leaving the rest of us out, but with some encouragement from the counselors, they learned that all of us could contribute, and wanted to. We all started to pour out our energy trying to get that Frisbee into the goal, congratulating each other on great passes and encouraging each other to keep trying after making a mistake. That was a great feeling.
On the last full day of camp, Tabby, Elizabeth and I had some extra time and decided to explore a trail we hadn’t been on. We talked and laughed on our way up, and at the end, we found an outdoor chapel with a perfect view of the lake. We sat there for a while, silently. I don’t know what the other two were thinking about, but I was thinking about how this week had brought me together with them, and with the rest of the group from my church, and with youth and adults from all across the state. I looked out at the lake and realized how much I’d miss jumping off the dock in a line with all these people I now call friends. I have a feeling we were all occupied with similar thoughts about the significance of the week. Eventually, the silence passed, and we all got up and went back to camp, laughing and talking about seeing each other at school and maybe returning to Twinlow next summer. We didn’t say a prayer, but to me, that whole hike was a prayer, of thanksgiving, of wonder, and of hope.
There were so many moments, too many to tell in one speech or twenty. I really, really, really, really want to go back next year. If I could go back next week, see everyone again, and keep working to serve the community, I would. One week wasn’t enough to get to know all of those amazing people, and the need for our enthusiastic help in the community will never be met if we don’t step up.
Monday, August 9, 2010
David and the boys were together with an additional three boys from the Methow Valley. We were then divided into mission groups to out serve the people in the community. Mostly elderly, those living in poverty and with disabilities. We worked with this team all week and also prepared several worship times with them. We were all separated for the most part from one another until we came back to camp each afternoon.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
One phrase that kept coming up for each person when we were doing the planning for the Mission Trip was “to get out of our comfort zone.” For me, the idea of spending a whole week with other people’s teenagers, leading a crew of kids I didn’t know on jobs I didn’t know how to do at places I’d never been was definitely getting out of my comfort zone.
To be honest, I was definitely skeptical about the labor. I mean, I’m taking a week off to do other people’s yard work? How is that sensible? As we drove in the van, approaching our destination of Camp Twinlow, I decided that I would critically appraise the “worth” of the mission work to see if it was indeed crucial to the experience. Because if it wasn’t, then hey next year we just sign up for camp and play tag and sing songs.
|From 2010 PNCC Mission Trip|
But on the first day they threw us right into the fire at a 5-acre “ranch” that we’ll call the Triple Tree. It looks like ... as if insanity had a physical form. Refuse and debris everywhere. An exploded trailer (partially demolished). Vehicles, propane tanks, bags of trash, refrigerators (full of food). Andrew Young and I had to go inside the owner’s trailer to stack wood in a dilapidated room. The stench was unbearable. We were 30 minutes into it and I was thinking “I can’t believe how hard-core this is. I don’t think I can do this another MINUTE much less a whole week!”
|From 2010 PNCC Mission Trip|
I talked with Pastor Steve, who had been doing this for 15 years. He said that they’d been coming to this same ranch every year and each year it was like STARTING OVER. I was very disturbed to hear that. He also told me that in those 15 years, the owner of the ranch, a older, wheel-chair-bound man, had never once said thank you. I was even MORE disturbed to hear that too.
|The old porch|
Back at camp that night, I wrestled to put some meaning into what we were doing. I felt like we were doing extremely hard work for no thanks and with no lasting meaning. While the kids played Ultimate Frisbee I wandered around trying to get my head around the situation and make sense of it. This is what I came up with.
I likened the work to a hypothetical situation: Suppose your child was in a coma and you had to clean their body every day. Would you do it? Yes, you would (of course). Your kid wouldn’t be thanking you (they wouldn’t even know). If you cleaned him one day you’d still have to clean him the next day. Maybe service to the impoverished is like that.
|The new porch|
The GRACE of God comes through the act of service, itself. If you get gratitude that’s gravy. If you get a sense of making a difference, that’s gravy too. But if you don’t get those things you still get the GRACE and you still get the PEACE.
The second day, armed with this revelation, I drove my team back to the Ranch and we set about work again. I worked with a sense of freedom AND purpose. I told the kids “Yeah, this is hard work, but THAT’S HOW WE METHODISTS ROLL. BRING IT!”
On the third day, they told us that we were going somewhere else. The way I figured it, after the Triple Tree Ranch, ANYWHERE was going to be a vacation. We showed up that morning at a woman’s house with our clipboard and we announced that we were there to fix her shed. She said “Who are you????” So we told her. She didn’t know we were coming. In fact, she didn’t even know that she was on a list! She said we were an answer to her prayers. Her tin shed had caved in due to a heavy snow storm a few years ago and she was an invalid now due to a bad car wreck. Her husband was on crutches.
|From 2010 PNCC Mission Trip|
Over the next two days we fixed the roof of her shed and installed some support beams using carpentry techniques suggested to us by the camp. It was easy, rewarding work and when we were done the couple were positively dripping with gratitude. After the hard work at the Triple Tree, this was a HOME RUN. We drove back to the camp that afternoon, hot and dusty. I asked the kids if they wanted to stop for a soda (I hadn’t had one in almost a week) and they yelled “YEAH!!!!” I knew it was going to be best soda ever. At that moment, I was so happy I wished that I could do this EVERY DAY. I wished my job was driving around in an old van, helping people. And from that I can say that the I’ve answered the original question that I had posed to myself:
|From 2010 PNCC Mission Trip|
Is the work a crucial part of the experience? YES!!!!!!!!!!!! The work provided meaning and context to everything else that happened. It made our teams meaningful in that we weren’t bound together just for fun but for purpose.
|From 2010 PNCC Mission Trip|
On the last day of work we were back at the Triple Tree, finishing up. Kaleb asked me why all the adults were grumpy. I told him that as adults we had to look a day into the future and we were all thinking about getting the kids packed and the tools separated and the vehicles cleaned and it was forcing us to realize that this was all about to come to an end. And that it was making us sad and that’s why we were barking at them.
Pastor Steve, as was his custom, was the last person to see the owner of the Triple Tree ranch that final day. He said “I want to thank you sir, for letting us help you.” And you know what the owner said? He said “Thank you, for helping me.” It took him 15 years to say it but he said it!
If you've heard me talk at Church before I've probably spouted off about wanting to be a Ninja for Jesus. THIS is exactly what I'm talking about. Using your skills to do his will: which is to help the people around you. Man, it makes so much sense I don't know why I haven't lived this way my whole life.
|From 2010 PNCC Mission Trip|
Our homecoming was bittersweet. We were of course delighted to see our families but it was hard to let each other go. I know some of the kids will talk about that and I’ll see if I can get their speeches and post them here.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
|FCUMC workers and their foodstuffs|
|Right Before the Fun Starts|
|Good work makes good company|
|Denise and Terra setting settings|
Pastor Lee Carney Hartman stopped by (on her day off!) to lead us in another starting-gun prayer at 11:55am and then the race was on! The line was opened and family after family poured and began their march down the line of tables, selecting their cans and bags. When they reached the end, Pastor Phil, Lynn Ritthaler or myself, as table hosts, invited them to sit and have lunch with us. Most did. The ones who did not were the quiet ones who wore nice clothes and had a look of tension on their faces. I guessed that they were people who had only recently fallen on hard times and were still coming to grips with their situation.
If you look at the visitors as a whole its about 90% women and children. The children are a delight and I'm finding that you can often get a family to come and eat if you appeal to the kids: "come and have lunch!" I'd say. "You can sit with me and we'll eat my neighbor Sam's cookies, which are the BEST I've ever had." (oops, sorry Amy!). Also, the kids are more likely to speak English and translate for you.
We are SO LUCKY to have the opportunity to do this. Seriously. Feeding disadvantaged women and children? How awesome is that? Slam dunk if you ask me. Also, I know of at least two groups of our church members, one from the early service and one from the second service, who got to know each while working together this time. That is another excellent side-effect of this program and a reason that we should encourage new people to help in this. There's no better way to get to know people than by working with your hands together.
|The Amazing Laurie Edwards moves so fast a normal camera can't keep up!|
Later, after the food bank closed and the volunteers sat down to eat, Laurie announced that we'd fed 62 people that day. One of the Fall City members said that was an all-time record for lunches served in the history of their program. They thanked us for helping them, and we thanked them for giving us the opportunity and being so open about sharing their ministry with us.
We have ONE MORE lunch in front of us August. We still need SERVERS, CHEFS and COOKIE-BAKERS. Please contact me if you're interested in signing up for August! After that we get to decide how we are going to go forward with this program!
I want to thank everyone who contributed this July!
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
|The Kids, with David|
For the second year in a row, we ended the Youth Group year with a BBQ at the church. Many of these faces we saw every week for around 40 weeks. We feel like these are OUR kids sometimes; and in some sense, they are!
|The Kids, with Kate|
We started the year with four youth leaders but ended with two and half. Attendence was steady all through the year at around 18-25 kids each night, sometimes up to 30 on the pizza nights. We had a very busy year, check out the table below for a list of our activities.
Destination Unknown: House of Hope, Museum, My House, Marcia’s House
Trick R Treat
Youth service rehearsal
Ash Wednesday Service
On behalf of myself, Kate Farrell and Gordon Kyle, we would like to THANK the Snoqualmie United Methodist congregation!!! Not just for trusting us with the most precious of all resources, the YOUTH, but also for supporting us during the following events:
- Shrove Tuesday Pancake Fundraiser
- Superbowl Sunday Subs
- The January Youth Service
Gordon & Kelly Kyle,
Mary Brown & Sue O'Donnell,
Autumn Eadon & Sam McNabb,
Jonathan &; Yuka Souza,
Tom &; Linda Boord,
Ernie & Norma Jenner,
Peggy & Angela Richter, Rachel Coombs,
Noelle Rollins, Cheryl Eiger,
Ed & Barb Kelley,
Alex Hulet & Laurie Edwards!
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
That one was basically what I was looking for. Something comforting, sort of inspiration. Loving. The last three words don't seem to fit but whatever, it'll do.
I liked that one more. Its a reminder of never being alone. Also very short and digestible.
This one I put in the pile of "maybes" because while it might be appropriate to yourself I thought it sounded just a tad aggressive to someone else. There's that "Never Give Up" thing again.
Wow, that's poignant! Again, just a tad too aggressive and possibly slightly condescending. I also put this one in the pile of maybe's just because its conceivable that it could be taken the wrong way. Note the common refrain of "Never Give Up." Somehow all the kids had that phrase on their minds. I think there's something interesting there worthy of some study.
Lastly, here is the one that got "first prize" by me. I think we can hand this one out. In fact, I'd like to make 30 copies of it and put it in each sack. Note that common refrain in this one too.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Every time we do this, each one of the kids will pull me aside and whisper, "David, where are we going?!?!" because they all think that they have a special relationship with me that I'll tell them. In fact, they ALL have a special relationship with me as far as I'm concerned but I still don't tell them.
In the past we have taken the kids to:
- Snoqualmie Falls - God's Power
- The Police Station - Sin is like a Jail
- The Snoqualmie River - God's Power within you
- The Museum - with a Native American speaker
- Women's Shelter - an Immigrantion story
Well on this particular evening, there was a Destination Unknown that the council had planned and they'd put it on the calendar and hadn't told me where it was. That's never happened before I didn't think too much of it. So on April 28th, I arrived at the church, and once all the kids had gathered, we got in the van, and they put a T-shirt around my head so I couldn't see anything.
Then Gordon, one of the other youth leaders, drove around until I was sufficiently disoriented and then we arrived at our destination. They unveiled me just I arrived AT MY OWN HOUSE! My wife, Amy, had set this all up, months in advance! This was HER plan to have a giant birthday party and she got all the kids in youth group to collude. About 30 people knew (maybe more!), including twenty kids under 15, and SOMEHOW they kept it a secret this while time!
Amy had made sliders and potato salad and cookies and two cakes. I've never had a surprise birthday party before, it was awesome.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
The first time my youth group did this, I arranged to meet them under the freeway (since I work in Seattle). When Denny's bus pulled up, all the homeless people came out of the woodwork. My youths jumped out and they'd clearly had some instruction on the way down. Three phone teams went among the homeless, helping them call home. If the family member on the other end agreed to take them in (and sometimes this took 3 or 4 calls over a month) they'd also have to agree to put up half of the money for a bus ticket ($50 or so), to show their investment in this process. It works out that about one person a week gets sent home that way. That doesn't sound like much but over the years, Denny's organization has bought 700 bus tickets!
As an adult, I don't work the phones -- we leave that to the kids (homeless don't get to see fresh-faced optimistic youth every day, it is a treat for them). So I usually stay with the rest of the kids who are handing out the sack lunches. Last time, we ran out of sack lunches and the kids ran back to the bus and got their OWN sack lunches and gave those away too.
On most trips, some poor soul will shuffle up. You can tell they want to say something; their face is full of emotion. Often all that comes out of them is "Thank you. God Bless you." And they cry. And they accept the sack lunch.
When we get on the bus to go back to Snoqualmie, the kids always say the same thing. "David! We should do this ALL THE TIME." I say "I know." And they say "No, really! We're serious, we should do this EVERY WEEK! This is what we're supposed to be doing as Christians!" They are so moved by what they've done and by what they've witnessed. I am glad that they understand at such a young age what it has taken me 25 more years to figure out.
If you are thinking about doing this with your youth group, I highly encourage you to sign up. What you should know:
- If you have little, little ones (like under 12), don't bring them along on this one.
- Bring something to distribute, like sack lunches, or in the winter, warm men's coats or socks or gloves
- Prepare to leave at 5:30ish and be back around 8:30ish.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Sunday, March 14, 2010
On March 14, the youth of our church put on both services. They performed all the functions from Greeters, to Ushers, to reading scripture, performing the sermon and even children's time!
To be honest, on a few occasions prior to the service I had some fleeting thoughts about things that could go wrong. I thought about kids not waking up on time, or getting cold feet. But you know what? They all came. On time. And then they performed flawlessly. I have not been more proud of any kids, ever.
When we first decided to do a youth service, I had no idea how meaningful it would be. I'm so glad we did it. Proper credit must go to our education director, the fabulous Laurie Edwards, who did most of the work and local rock star Toddie Downs who infused the service with her music.
The baby played a very prominent part in our service, as is the case with many meaningful moments when you think about it. :)
Sunday, February 28, 2010
Some of the kids and I went on a hike to Cedar Butte today. The hike is rather short -- perhaps 3.5 miles round trip with about 800 feet elevation gain. Total hike time 2.5 hours.
In this picture above from left to right are Kent, Kylan (KIE-lyn), Hope and Kaleb. Except for Hope, they are all siblings. Hope is one of my favorite people in the world, I don't mind saying so. And the other are such great kids, too.
Afterwards we stopped at Chew Chew for milkshakes. And when I got home I fell asleep. What a great day.