Last night at church the youth group hosted a celebration for all of the mothers in the congregation. (Their Mother's Day is coming up on Wednesday.) The kids gave the lesson and led some worship songs; performed a cool skit and sang some songs praising mothers; and served food that they had prepared themselves. They also took care of the younger kids for the first half of the program. Earlier in the day, they did some pretty serious decorating, and they even swapped out all of the pews for tables and chairs because they wanted everything to be really nice for the mothers. For me, having watched them through the whole process from the planning stages to the implementation, I was very impressed and proud of "my" kids. They came up with the idea on their own and maintained their fervor for it until the end.
I have been "helping" with the youth group for a while now and have sometimes been confused about exactly how I fit in there, but last night with everything going on I really got the sense of "this is where I need to be." When they were still planning everything for this event, I agreed to "help," even though I really didn't know exactly what that would mean. It turned out that I was able to aid in communication with some of the other North Americans at the mission about things the kids needed; to assist with the decorating (though, really I didn't do that much); and to sing with them the songs they performed. The most significant thing to me about all of these things was that I was able to do some major relationship building. I am already friends with some of the older* people in the group because they work with me at the mission. In addition to strengthening those friendships, I felt like I connected with some of the teens that had previously possibly been a little unsure about me. I think that maybe before, they didn't know what I thought about them, but because I have stuck around and because of my help with their Mother's Day program they can see that I love them.
Please don't think that I'm trying to brag on myself here; I am just so thankful that God has connected me with these people. Too often humans find themselves in situations where they are pouring out all of their love but get nothing in return. My heart was bubbling over last night to feel that there was reciprocation. Also, these kids are just cool, and it is neat that they actually like me. I am looking forward to spending a lot more time with them in the next few years.
*Someone recently asked me about the age range of these "kids." My response (after a good chuckle) was that they are maybe as young as 9 to as old as 29. Last night I asked one of the older guys how old he is, and he said that he is, actually, 29. As for myself, I only just turned 28, so, other than the fact that I am married, I kind of fit into this group myself, not even necessarily as a "volunteer." I can honestly say that, at least with the older ones, I really feel that they are my friends, not just children I am supposed to supervise or something.