Just A Volunteer

Before coming on staff with North OC YoungLives in August 2017, I was, in my own words, “just a YoungLives volunteer”. That’s how I thought of it. I loved it, I was committed, I talked (a lot!) about it. I was excited to be part of Club nights, pancake breakfasts, golf tournaments, etc… But, I never thought I was doing anything extraordinary or special. THEN…I came on staff. I find it absolutely mind blowing on just how extraordinary volunteers are!  I’m seeing them with a whole new lens. I see how self-sacrificing it is on their parts to make Club nights (as well as many other events!) happen for the teen parents and their little ones. Many of them leave families at home to come serve. Students that set aside homework, whole families interrupting their mid-week schedules to be there. When I was “just a volunteer”, I didn’t realize just how much YoungLives depends on those that serve with their hearts, their talents, their minds, their hands, their hugs, their words, their humbleness.

Last week’s Club night in Huntington Beach perfectly exemplifies what I’m talking about. The Gerum guys showed up more than an hour before club to pull out and set up all the tables & chairs and then disappeared making it look like we walk into a room ready to go. Laurie and Cristen available to answer questions about the details of the night and filling in wherever needed. Both of them greeting and hugging the other volunteers as they show up – I love watching them. Tracy came in with a smile and her calm spirit, a roll of table wrap, a basket full of flowers, and bags of conversation hearts – and transformed the room into a sweet, sweet setting for the teen families. Emily Ray, filling in as Childcare Coordinator for the evening, arrived early to set up the nursery & childcare rooms and beautifully welcomed in and prayed for all the childcare helpers. Mentors and other volunteers arrived with the families. Kimberly and the food team brought in a delicious chili dinner – making it look like it’s no big deal to feed a crowd!  The little ones headed back to the open arms of childcare help. Eddie & Kelsey showed up with a box of Krispy Kreme donuts, strung them out four feet above ground, and convinced four participants to competitively eat them. And when those donuts landed on the floor…well, it was only a moment’s hesitation before the true competitors willingly raced to the finish by eating them off the floor! fullsizeoutput_eea
As everyone quieted, Amber opened in prayer and so articulately began to share her heart. She shared some very personal fears and anxiety that she had to face in her own life that caused her to see how much she needed Jesus. Beautifully she shared a list of seven reasons why we ALL need Jesus. Seeds of hope and truth were planted. Craft and chat took place with mentors asking questions about the club talk, sharing their own experiences and listening. Guys circled together in the other room and did their thing. Others began quietly cleaning up the evening as the night came to an end.

I know that it is Christ in these volunteers that stirs their actions. Christ in them, that has shown them that these young families are worth every sacrifice. This all blows my mind. This is extraordinary.

Colleen ~ Area Office Admin

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In Faith, We Wait & Watch

“Fervent prayer produces phenomenal results.”  Woodrow Kroll

As the Prayer Coordinator for our North OC Younglives, I can attest to this truth that “fervent prayer produces phenomenal results”! I was asked to assemble a prayer team of people who are committed to pray for our ministry and I send out the prayer requests once a week or sometimes more if urgent needs arise. This is my volunteer job and I love it.  I feel like myself and the prayer team get a front row seat in watching God move through this ministry. Each Monday, I receive prayer requests from Myrna and sometimes from the volunteers and the teen parents who often reach out and ask for prayer. I send these precious requests out to the team knowing that each team member is taking these requests right to the Throne room of God Himself.

And in faith, we each wait to watch and see how God will move,

what He will advise, what doors He opens and what doors He shuts,

who He taps on the shoulder

to come and serve in this ministry, donate to this ministry,

what school He wants us to work with and so much more. 

Sometimes we get our answers that very week, often other times we wait months for the answers, patiently waiting on God who we believe still moves, heals and guides His people. This past year especially, I felt like I couldn’t even keep up with what God was doing. I would joke with Myrna and tell her, you need to call or text me more often so I can keep up with what is going on because if I missed a few days, I was missing out on movements and miracles of God. It really is a joy to be a part of this process. Does every prayer we send up get answered? Of course not. God’s ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts. We know and understand this and when discouragement or doubt starts to set in we pray and ask for more fervency and faith from God.  And we wait. Waiting is so important. We are so used to getting everything we want so quickly – want a book, download it in a minute, want food, click on that new app and they will bring it to you, want to get a hold of someone, text them.

Last week I wrote an old-fashioned letter to someone. Some of you may remember; you set aside time to sit down and write out your thoughts, place the card or stationary in an envelope, get a stamp and put in the mailbox and then wait. Wait, hoping they answer back. I felt so connected with these people across the country whom I was writing to.  Prayer is an opportunity to feel so connected to God when we set aside time, sit down and submit our requests to Him, put a “stamp” on them with our “Amen” and wait.  Waiting isn’t really so bad.

Maybe this next year, we can appreciate the wait time, trusting that our Heavenly Father who loves and cares for us, whose thoughts are not our thoughts and ways are not our ways, will answer us. Sometimes it’s not what we want and other times it blows our socks off – like being invited to share at Fish Fest, or having someone partner with us to put on the most amazing fundraising banquet, seeing 100 teen moms and dads show up at Christmas club, receiving emails from new schools asking for YoungLives to do parenting classes and make connections with the moms and dads – I could go on, and on.  (If you missed any of those stories and want to read more, explore our website). And so, in 2018 we will continue to sit before the Lord, ask Him what He wants for this ministry, submit the requests of everyone involved and wait for His answers, wisdom, healings and movement.

If you would like to be a part of our prayer team, please email northocyounglives@gmail.com and we will get you connected but I’m warning you, be prepared to watch some amazing moves of God!

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Chick Bryan ~ Prayer Coordinator, baby cuddler, mentor, committee member, and so much more!                      

Ears & Mouth – Listen & Encourage!

Be the hands and feet of Christ.  This has been my hearts desire for quite some time now.  Figuring out how to actually do that has been more tricky than one would imagine; especially when you’re naturally wired to be a projects person rather than a people person, like me.  I have been hanging out with YoungLives since September of 2017. Getting ready for January’s club was fun for me.  I got to assemble sparkly Happy New Year centerpieces and included my 14 and 13 year olds in that process.  I also got to run through Targets’s after-Christmas markdown section and snag some fun makeup and nail polish sets that I thought the young moms would like to win in the raffle.  Some detailed texting back and forth with Maria about logistics and I felt good to go.  Set up went smoothly and before we knew it, the young moms and dads were arriving.  Like I said, projects are my thing.

TriciaP.jpgSo I guess being the hands and feet of Christ isn’t my challenge because you could say that that involves DOING.  Being the ears and mouth of Christ – – – – that’s a little tougher for me; it’s more in the BEING realm.  And I’m discovering that that’s what matters A LOT.

During January’s club, I got to sit with a teen dad and get to know him more.  I usually handle the craft and if I hang with people, I gravitate toward hanging with the moms, but this month God had a different idea for me.  I got to listen to his story – his school, his job, his family.  I really worked at listening and in working at it I felt the Holy Spirit telling me “when you listen and ask questions, you show him that he is seen, that he matters, and that you want to know him”.  There’s always a little awkwardness when conversation doesn’t flow freely or naturally, but God keeps giving me more and more OKness with that.  He tells me that it’s OK for there to be long pauses.  It’s OK to get one word answers and delicately ask more.  When I was the “Ears of Christ” then I really HEARD this dad’s story.  I heard his sense of accomplishment about getting a job.  I heard his pride in the possibility of graduating early.  And in hearing I felt equipped to be an encourager.  I loved the point in the evening when he and I exchanged high fives – real heartfelt high fives.

So as I move into 2018, I want to spend more time being the ears and mouth of Christ.  I want to listen well to these young people’s stories, and in listening, I want to encourage them in the challenges that they face.  I guess you could say that January’s Club was a success and that the young parents had a great evening.  You could also say that January’s Club also gave birth to one of my personal goals for 2018 – Ears & Mouth – Listen & Encourage!

This week’s blogger, Tricia Poissonnier shares in the leading of crafts, is a mentor, and stepped in to doing table decor for Santa Ana Club this month. Five months in to helping with YoungLives and you can see that Tricia isn’t afraid to follow the Lord’s leading!

 

Chunks of Joy

Every now and then we are approached by an individual in the community that wants to bless one teen family personally. Since we have the privilege and honor of knowing so many of these beautiful teen families, it’s always hard to choose just one. We just like to go with our gut, the first little family that God brings to mind.

In this particular instance we were asked for one family’s wish list. Three days later, Christmas landed on a porch to a very grateful momma, dad and their baby.

In the words of this beautiful mom when asked what it meant for them to be chosen this time she said, “It was a blessing. We felt excited and very honored. I had so much going on. It felt like somone actually cared about us. It was like reaching a high peak to a mountain. It made us all smile at the thought of receiving a little chunk of joy from these wonderful people.”

As we head into 2018, let’s all keep sharing little chunks of joy where and when we can. Happy New Year friends!

samar and crystal