Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Phone Home Program

Another one of our kids' favoritest youth group events is this thing called the "Phone Home Program" in Seattle.  There's a man named Denny Hancock who runs a couple of charitable ministries in North Bend.  For one of them, he has a tour bus he uses where he rounds up a youth group and whatever sandwiches, hygiene kits or warm coats they've collected and he brings them downtown to hand out to the homeless.  While the kids are doing that, he stands there with a guitar around his neck cultivating personal relationships with each of the homeless.

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.
Here is the link for the phone home program, along with the sign-up sheet.  Good luck.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

SUMYT 2010 Camp Indianola

This is Andrew. He is one of our most active youth and a leader among the kids. He is on my A-team, in that he will volunteer for anything and he's good at everything.

Andrew is active in the regional conference leadership team, whose initials are (S)eattle (U)nited (M)ethodist (Y)outh (T)eam. He somehow gets himself to all the weekend retreats and I'm proud that he's our representative.

On March 19th, he and I left Seattle on a ferry across the sound to Bainbridge. Then we drove up to Camp Indianola and checked in around 7:30. Andrew and I, complete manly men that we are, were assigned 6 other male youth to watch over in the evening.

For three days, we basically partied with kids from other United Methodist churches around Seattle. Fairwood had HUGE representation and provided a great band to sing songs to. The food, like it was at Lazy F, was phenomenal.

I got to share my faith journey. I tried to be quick and I hoped I didn't bore the kids, me being the eldest speaker and all. I'm so old!

For those three days, I didn't see much of Andrew personally -- he was always with the rest of the other leaders (perhaps 10 of them, maybe less). That team of kids organized three days of rallies, small groups, and activities. Incredible. We are lucky to have such great kids in our churches!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Youth Service

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. :)