A Year in Review

YL collage

A year ago I quit my stressful, full-time job and was looking to become involved in ministry work.  A few weeks later, a friend of mine, Myrna Bittar, told me she was starting up  YoungLives in Huntington Beach.  I was so excited and thought, “God you are already opening up  doors for me.”  I had a heart for this ministry right away as I was adopted at birth, and was also an unwed mother at the age of 21.  At the first Meet and Greet BBQ with the girls, they were hard to read and understandably very shy. While Myrna was speaking to the girls about YoungLives, I was watching their faces and thought they didn’t seem interested at all (I have always considered myself to be pretty good at reading people’s emotions). However, moments later when Myrna announced that anyone interested in participating should fill out an interest card, much to my surprise, I saw all of the girls at my table filling out their form.  I thought to myself, “Well God, you sure showed me that I was wrong about that.”  It was a great reminder to always have faith and that our God can most certainly stir up hearts.”

A month later, I was paired up with my mentee Aylin.  She had a beautiful one month old daughter named Sophia.  At first, I didn’t know how to interact with a teenager as my daughter is 26 years old and I have never been a mentor.   After a short while, Aylin and I were spending time together and having so much fun. I thought to myself, “She actually likes hanging out with me.”  I couldn’t believe it.

Now, almost a year later I have seen the wonderful things God is doing in her life.  She is on track to graduate, has applied to get her green card so she can begin working after graduation, and is applying for college grants and loans.  She has become a leader and a role model to the other mentees by taking the initiative to coordinate rides for the girls, inviting other girls from her school to attend our monthly club meetings, and consistently participating in all of our fundraisers.  She has been attending RockHarbor Huntington Beach (RHHB) on a regular basis.  I am super excited to share that she was recently baptized in the ocean at RHHB’s beach service and I had the privilege of laying hands on her as she was submerged into God’s beautiful ocean.

Being a part of this ministry has brought me so much joy and I truly feel blessed to be a part of each of the girls’ lives.  I believe that supporting teen moms is an important way for us to help bring awareness to pregnant girls that there are support systems available and that this knowledge just may help them choose the precious gift of life for their babies.

Tamara Cianciolo
YoungLives Volunteer Mentor and Committee Member

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