Seasons of Change

My husband and I started off volunteering with YoungLives in 2013 as mentors.  Fast forward a few years and now I’m part of the welcoming team, while Chris, my husband hangs out with the toddlers, so that the mamas and papas can get some much needed time in the word, fellowshipping with friends, participating in games and skits and getting creative during craft.  And speaking of which, this last Club, we got to play a pretty wild game of “Dragon tag.’  I know, sounds crazy, and it really was!  The team I was on lost in the first round (sorry girls), because we lost our “tail” to another so called dragon.  Haha—it was awesome!  But it’s always so fun seeing everyone’s faces light up, engage in a silly game and really encourage each other.  Just love it.

 

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Samantha at her mentee’s graduation ceremony

 

Now, there’s something else I really enjoy, and that’s hearing other people’s testimonies.  And I especially love hearing them when they’re shared by three people, done in a sort of three part story.  You’re sort of left hanging by the edge of your seat, waiting in anticipation to hear what the next person is going to say; all while holding back tears (unless like you’re like me—you just cry like a baby, because you don’t care).  It’s like watching your favorite TV show and a commercial comes on.  Except, this is WAY better, because it’s about Jesus!  I love hearing about how God has touched and changed other’s lives.  There is always someone in the room who can relate.  ALWAYS!  After testimonies, was crafts for the ladies and “guy time” for…the uh…guys.  But this week was very different.  Instead of rushing over to split up and get crafty, almost all of the guys and girls stayed in the meeting area and met with someone to talk about life.  Shared how they felt about the testimonies and which person they could relate to the most.  People were prayed over, encouraged, cried a little more, hugs were exchanged.  Man, it was just so sweet!  Finally, when there was only about ten minutes left, we rushed over to make some pretty amazing fabric headbands, a few girls won beautiful flower arrangements and others won ice cream cone making kits.

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Samantha’s twins with the YoungLives kiddos

As some of you may already know, Chris and I are taking our four young children to Ecuador for a two year mission trip.  We are really going to miss these fun Club nights!  Even our children have gotten a chance to make new friends and just let loose while running around and playing. YoungLives has played such a huge part in our lives and we’re glad that God has allowed us to be a part of it.

In closing, I’d like to leave you all with a verse.  It’s one of our favorites in our house and was shared last week, by Manny, who gave his testimony.  “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

-Samantha Visscher

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Hanging out with Teen Parents

Each month our staff and volunteers have various opportunities to spend time with teen parents. Our mentors commit to joining club and training as well as walking with a teen parents for one year! This often looks like going to the park together, having dinner at their house, doing a Target run and just hanging out! In addition, we get to meet new moms and dads and spend time with them on their High School campuses!
 
It has been 4 years since we first started weekly tutoring at a local High School and it has been amazing to see moms and dads graduate each year and pursue their dreams. We are currently on campus regularly at one school in the Huntington Beach Union High School District and in in the Santa Ana Unified School District. Our time at each school looks totally different but there is one thing in common- we always have a great time!
 
This week we got to spend an hour with the teen parents at one high school talking about the challenges of parenting, the goals we have and what motivates us to keep going. The cool thing was that we left feeling more motivated because of them! It is so amazing to see how these mamas and daddies give up so much to care for their little ones and still choose to stay in school and pursue their educational goals. YoungLives staff and volunteers get to wrap around these young families and walk with them as they do life- challenges and all. It is an honor to be a part of this generation’s lives as they raise up the next generation.
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A big hello from Chino Valley YoungLives!

 It is a privilege to not only walk with teen moms because of YoungLives, but also to work alongside other incredible areas that are reaching teen moms in their own communities. Over the years we have gotten to see YoungLives grow in Southern California and it is so exciting to know that young families are being loved on and growing in their walks with God because staff, mentors, and volunteers are pouring into them in their own communities. We have loved getting to invite some of the newer areas into our training times, share ideas, and hear their stories. Shannon Fuller the Coordinator from Chino Valley YoungLives writes about her experience below.
“One of the things I love most about YoungLives is that it is not just a group, it’s a family.  Just two years ago, I knew I was being led to start this beautiful ministry in the Chino area, but I had no idea what it would actually look like.  Myself, along with a few other women, headed out to a Huntington Beach YoungLives club night, a place where it was clear that it was a celebration and a hangout of people who had become friends and walked life together outside of club.  We were welcomed like family and overwhelmed by the love that existed in that room.  Now, two years later, the YoungLives family has grown even more to include our expanding club out here in Chino.  My life is changed daily by the friendships formed in YoungLives—  friendships with young moms, with other leaders, with other YoungLives areas, and with donors and those who support through giving of their time and skills.  It’s a community and together we do life— the good, the bad, and all of the in between.”
-Shannon Fuller
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Cody’s Story

My name is Cody and my wife and I have been volunteering with YoungLives since September with our church life group. We began volunteering at the Huntington Beach YL group and began driving a young teen and her son to the group. Not having been involved in YL before, we weren’t exactly sure what to expect but were excited and willing to give it a try. We immediately connected with the young mom and her son. We had a great time talking with them, playing games and listening to stories throughout the evening. For the next few weeks we continued our time at the Huntington Beach group.

As a life group that was designed to turn into a church plant in Santa Ana, we felt called to help launch the Santa Ana YL group. In January, we started the first Santa Ana group and began helping out in a different capacity. We weren’t in a position to be able to drive any young mom’s and their babies but instead began developing relationships once at the group. I was able to help lead the games/skits portion of the evening and it has been a lot of fun to encourage everyone to participate and get them to laugh. In addition, I have been able to connect with young men during ‘guys time’ and playing sports with them afterward. _DSC1187-3

Over the past 3 months of the Santa Ana group, I have been encouraged to see these young men and women show up, participate, laugh, eat meals together and engage in spiritual conversations. I look forward to continuing to grow in friendships, especially with these young men and to be an encouragement to them. I believe that everyone is seeking community, and that looks different for each person. I know that YL is a place where these teens can come and feel a sense of community, truly be themselves and feel loved. It’s amazing how such a short period of time can change your heart. I look forward to future gatherings with the teens, volunteers and mentors as we continue in community together.

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– Cody Schilling