Let’s Get them to Camp!

Kids jumping, pancakes flipping, sausage sizzling, coffee pouring and crafters displaying their unique talent of handmade gifts was the agenda for the morning. With over 20 volunteers (and most of them have been volunteering for several years) this fund-raising event has to be one of the highlights of the year for me. To see the community come together to raise thousands of dollars so that every teen mom can attend, is a testament to how great our God is.

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Faithful volunteers

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Kiddos jumping in the bounce house

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Handmade cards made by a teen mom

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Crafters of all ages!

I feel that the greatest transformation of the heart happens when you get to experience God. Young Life’s Lost Canyon Camp is a place of refuge and retreat. A place for the teen moms to be a teen and be waited on and spoiled by young Christian adults their age while their children are being cared for on a one-on-one loving environment. Hundreds of volunteers are there to pour into and love onto them every minute of all 6 days. The speaker intentionally builds up the message with their daily club talks and ends with a spiritual crescendo on the last night of camp. It is so beautiful to witness these moms sitting alone under the stars with graceful voices singing songs that echo throughout the canyon. It is a time for reflection and silent prayer where they seek Jesus and ask Him to come into their lives and guide them. Lives are transformed.

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Mamas and babies arriving at Lost Canyon Camp

I recently learned that the week before the YoungLives moms attend Lost Canyon; the Young Life teens from our area attend that camp. My hope would be that years from now, when the babies have grown into young adults that they are attending a Young Life camp that precedes the one their moms attended years ago. That is my full circle prayer!

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-Kimberly Walsh-Sorensen
Committee Member

 

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I Did It For My Son

THIRTY FIVE graduating teen parents in YoungLives walked at five of the schools’ graduation ceremonies over the last few weeks in Huntington Beach, Fountain Valley, Garden Grove, and Santa Ana.

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I had the opportunity to attend Lorin Griset and Valley Vista’s graduation ceremonies, and there’s something just so special about continuation schools’ graduations. You know it was hard for these kids, to first care about a high school diploma, then to care about the week-to-week assignments, to take attendance seriously, to try and stay out of trouble; the students didn’t ever imagine they would transfer to a continuation school, and here they were graduating from one, completely changed. The student speakers were full of gratitude for the teachers and staff who actually cared about them enough to keep pushing them.

To just say that the 35 teen moms and dads “made it” is an understatement. They fought for it, they earned it, and I do believe they changed generations because of it. They changed the way that they will lead their family, the way their children will see education as an opportunity, and how they will achieve goals in the future. They had a million other responsibilities pulling them in different directions and had to focus in on a goal, and they finished that goal!!

Watching them walk across the stage with confidence was such a proud moment for me, sending chills running through my body and my eyes welling up with tears, I then imagined how much greater their families were feeling for their sons or daughters. I looked around and saw whole families cheering and crying, siblings holding up signs, grandparents nodding their heads with affirmation, and through the crowd I was able to spot some of their babies and toddlers.

After walking across the stage and receiving their diploma, I asked the moms “How did it feel?” A common answer was that it feels surreal and they couldn’t have done it without the support of many, and that they did it for their son or daughter. And I found myself all emotional again because OF COURSE THEY DID! They finished high school for the benefit of their child’s future. They don’t want to be just another statistic. They constantly tell me they want to give their children an even better life than they had growing up, and the determination, strength, perseverance, and COURAGE that comes with that, is unstoppable.

We are beyond proud of all our graduates this year who we have gotten the opportunity to know through YoungLives, would you join us in praying for them as the next chapter in their lives unfold, and new obstacles come their way? To Graduation and Beyond!

Sarah Spillman, Costa Mesa YoungLives Coordinator

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Grateful Gatherings

Each year in May as we are winding down the YoungLives school year activities, we try to express our thankfulness to our volunteers. It’s hard. These are friends that have given so much. Have done sooooo much. There really is no way for us to repay them, nor do they ever expect anything in return. But – we reeeeeealllly want to serve them for once. To tell them how much they mean to us, to the ministry, to the Lord. And…so we try! This year, Maria & Laurie – our Santa Ana and Huntington Beach Club Coordinators and couple other team leaders put together beautiful, intimate gatherings. 

Laurie – Every month during the school year we get the fun privilege of putting on Club for YoungLives. Club is a party-like atmosphere for teens with a gospel message, music, games, crafts and a delicious meal. Each Club event needs around 30 volunteers to make it all happen. From organizing crafts and games to singing and playing music, cooking and serving meals, mentoring & hanging out with teenagers, and taking care of their beautiful babies. None of it could happen without our volunteers. 

On a Saturday morning we had the awesome opportunity to appreciate our volunteers through a beautiful brunch! Our Childcare Coordinator, Amanda offered her backyard for the event. Place settings and chairs were set up in one long family style table providing a cozy atmosphere. The Good Flower Co. provided beautiful flowers for the dining tables and a lovely arrangement for the food table. 

 

We served coffee, juice, bagels with all the toppings, a chia seed pudding bar and delicious homemade quiches from a friend. 

It was so nice to get to sit and share a meal with the people that we serve alongside at YoungLives each month. So many great conversations were had and it was just so good to spend unhurried time together. 

img_0780.jpgEach person was also given a cool Young Life Thred Journal as a gift. We could never do enough to show how much we appreciate our volunteers but I pray that the brunch gave them an idea of how loved and valued they are!

Maria – Gather at Our Table!

We gathered at our table to celebrate this past school year’s accomplishments and God’s blessings. My family and I opened up our home and invited the precious volunteers that serve at the Santa Ana Club.

 

What’s better than a home cooked meal?! My hubby’s specialty is smoking meat, so we served BBQ smoked pulled pork and brisket. We also served  delicious antipasto salad and sides. As an added treat we spoiled our guests with a delicious tiramisu, brownies and cream puffs. These volunteers have diligently served and given their time away from home this past school year, and we wanted to make sure they knew how much we appreciate their dedication to this ministry.

IMG_2582As we gathered in our back yard, I felt a sense of fulfillment. The yard was filled with not only my family but also my YoungLives family. Our table not only had a delicious meal but the conversations that filled the tables were full of laughter, great conversations and  praise reports. It was a sweet time while we shared some of our favorite stories of serving in the YoungLives Ministry.

img_2583.jpegIMG_1295Towards the end of the event we gave each of our volunteers a Thred  Journal as a gift. Myrna shared how the Thred Journal would be a great addition to our daily prayer and devotion time.

In the past we’ve opened our home to host young teen moms and their families. My heart is filled by God allowing my family to host this year’s Volunteer Appreciation lunch. It is evident that the volunteers have made a positive impact in the teen family’s lives. We have seen lives transformed and this gathering was a celebration of all that God has done. I will say that the fondest  memories are made when you are gathered around the table.

 

 

Prom…Another Milestone

There are a multitude of milestones in our lives and society tells us that they are supposed to come in a particular order… but life does not always work out in the order that we envision, especially if you find yourself in the position of a YoungLives parent. The teens that come through the doors of the YoungLives clubs have found many of their milestones all out of order; but, we know they are still worthy of the high school experiences such as prom.

The prom of their dreams is exactly what many of our participants got, when teen parents from Santa Ana, Huntington Beach, and Costa Mesa areas came dressed to impress and danced the night away. On Friday, June 1 of 2018, teen parents got to safely drop their children off with childcare volunteers (without whom none of our clubs would be possible) and were chauffeured by golf cart to the Halecrest Clubhouse in Costa Mesa. As they entered, they chose a key on a gold chain with a word which spoke to them… HOPE, LOVE, PEACE, STRONG, ENOUGH, FREEDOM, COURAGE.

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The room was decorated beautifully and was brought to life in different shades of gold, for the theme, “All That Glitters is Gold”. Big gold 2 – 0 – 1 – 8 balloons commemorated the event and vases with roses and jewels adorned the center of every table. Once everyone got settled, the dinner buffet opened and guests were treated to an assortment of pastas and salads from Corner Bakery. The dinner was topped off with a variety of homemade desserts, which are still making my mouth water! The festivities were rounded out with professional pictures and of course a live DJ who for sure got the party started.

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The highlight of the evening came directly in the middle as Myrna Bittar, our fearless leader, encouraged the teens and mentors with a moving talk. She reminded the parents of all that they had accomplished over the last year and congratulated them on overcoming obstacles. Graduates were crowned prom queens and king with sashes and tiaras and given their proper applause. She encouraged all of the parents to continue to chase their dreams and to never lose sight of the gifts which they have been given. She gave specific examples of how God blesses us and how Jesus explained those blessings through the Beatitudes. She drew the entire evening back to the words on their keys and reminded everyone that these words are not only blessings, but also are promises: because of God we have HOPE, because of God we have PEACE, because of God we have FREEDOM, because of God we have COURAGE, because of God we are STRONG, because of God we are ENOUGH, and because of God we are LOVED.

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There was so much to be grateful for that night and the love was seriously flowing.  Because of the childcare volunteers the parents got to enjoy the evening as teenagers and because of the mentors many of them got rides and hugs and got to feel God’s love. Because of our dinner helpers all of the bellies were full and because of the decorations our senses were on overload. Because of the DJ our feet hurt and because of the photographer memories were captured forever. But most importantly, because the young women and men who participate with YoungLives accepted the challenge of becoming parents and weren’t afraid to ask for help, YoungLives gets to do what they do and share God’s love through amazing events such as Prom.

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Please be praying for the Grads who will be tackling all new challenges this coming year. Please be praying for the moms and babies who will be going to camp in July.  Please be praying for the mentors who are waiting to be called by God to attend camp with the record breaking number of girls. Please be praying for our summer activities which are being offered each month. Please be praying on how you can become part of this amazing ministry and joint us next Fall when we start it all over again.

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Theresa Stack, Mentor & This Week’s Guest Blog Writer