Thankfulness

This week was a first for me in YoungLives. Due to a schedule change we had made for Club Nights, there was going to be one month, November, that would land TWO Clubs into one week. This was that week.

Honestly, heading into it I was a bit apprehensive about keeping things straight from an administrative point of view. Is food, craft, decor, program, message, childcare, rides lined up for Santa Ana? What about for Huntington Beach? Wait. Do we have a musician for Huntington? We don’t have live music in Santa Ana (still a prayer that hasn’t quite been filled yet!), so I don’t need to worry about it there but almost forgot to inquire for HB. Oh yes, and a change in childcare room availability in Santa Ana…okay, no worries, we got this. BUT…will the sweet high schoolers show up to help us in Santa Ana childcare? What if they don’t? Yikes! (I’m reminded how we are so blessed to have the Lord watching over this ministry and providing just what we need but I sure wish He would bring us a few more volunteers in this area – lol!) For the record…the high schoolers showed up and were AMAZING as always. Stevie showed up in Huntington Beach to provide music like he always does.

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The Thanksgiving meals were prepared with serious love…I’m talking about volunteers that go above and beyond…turkey, fresh veggies, homemade rolls, parmesan chicken, lemon bars, brownies, cookies, cupcakes…unbelievable goodness. The rooms in both locations were so festively decorated, reminding us that it’s Thanksgiving time and there is much to be grateful for.

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Strong messages were given in both clubs by Evie in Santa Ana and by Lisa in HB. As we head into the Christmas season, I thought that Lisa posed a really great question to the teens – “Do you think there are benefits to getting to know Jesus?”  She shared how we sometimes decide we don’t like someone because they appear different than us. We don’t really get to know them, we just decide we don’t like them. She told us that was how she first felt about Jesus, until she got to actually know Him. She challenged the teens to follow Christ through one of the gospels, to at least get to know Him before hanging onto the thought that they don’t like Him. Travel where He travels, see what He has to say, check out who He is hanging out with, watch out for His reactions, see how He treats people that are different from Himself. She told them, they may just find out that they like Him and want to get to know Him even more.

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With it now being Friday, two Club Nights behind us, I can honestly say – ALL my apprehensions were left unwarranted, the week was AMAZING. Teen families were loved on, reminded how grateful we are for them and for the courage they have to show up. Volunteers gave their energy, their smiles, their hugs, and their time. It was a great week and I’m thankful to have YoungLives as part of my everyday.

Happy Thanksgiving!

❤️Colleen, Area Office Admin

 

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Full Circle, Giving Back

The first time I was introduced to YoungLives was through my older sister Alyn. She was a teen mom at the age of 18 with my blessing of a nephew, Jr. A friend of Alyn’s invited her to attend this wonderful group of teen moms and a community who help them in November of 2014. I was living with Alyn at the time and I will never forget the nights she would come home from these events, not only with her hands full of baby stuff for my nephew but her eyes and attitude filled with joy and happiness. It filled my own heart with joy to see how these people, who we barely knew, could have such a great impact on her small family. Their ability to give what might seem like so little created something much greater for teen moms; from clothes to a well spent evening with dinner, and a great message from their own experience through their own parenting journeys and how our Lord has touched their hearts and lives, and to top it off, a wonderful craft to go home with.

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I would only hear all these things from my sister, who would tell me everything they provided for her and how excited she would be each month about attending the next YoungLives. This touched the deepest part of my heart! After a couple years, God blessed me with a home here in HB in not only a home that is a blessing but with a wonderful lady named Kimberly who had mentored my sister during her time in YoungLives. Kimberly had also hosted my sister Alyn and her family at a previous time.

After reflecting on what these events have done for my family and our lives, and now being closer to this community, more than ever, I felt in my heart, to give and help out in anyway that I could. So, I signed up to volunteer for childcare at YoungLives because I love spending time with such wonderful people, who make all this happen for the teen moms and getting the chance to be part of this amazing community!

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Then I heard of the opportunity to make/bring a meal for the October’s 2018 club night – I didn’t hesitate to do so because what they have given to my life is nothing compared to providing a meal made possible with the help of Kimberly and God. Just being able to serve them during that night and getting feedback on how they enjoyed the meal brought me back to those days my sister would come back home with happiness and joy in her eyes and heart.

I’m so proud to say I’m happy to be part of the YoungLives community and be able to see how much they do for these young families. Recently I even invited one of my close friends to attend so that she could experience this great journey with me! Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to be part of this!!!

Proverbs 3:3-4 :: Let love and faithfulness never leave you: bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.

Keila Orihuela, Childcare Volunteer and Amazing Cook!

 

 

 

Transformations

One of the things I love about club nights is the transformation that takes place. It starts with a few volunteers (aka friends!) walking into a ‘blank slate’ if you will, a big empty space. IMG_0032Then tables and chairs start getting pulled out of closets and set up, kraft wrap is unrolled to become table coverings, and for this particular night – a Halloween theme begins to unfold. Candle sticks, little kleenex ghosts, pumpkins filled with greenery, big balloon letters spelling out BOO, and festive desserts and drinks are set up. Bins of baby clothing, accessories, formula, diapers, etc…are unloaded and set out for the soon to arrive teen parents to take as needed. Childcare rooms are stocked with necessities. A craft room gets set up with all the materials to make a pom-pom garland. And an amazing Mexican feast including FOUR different types of enchiladas, rice, beans, and salad AND churros – prepared by the nineteen year old younger sister of one of our teen mom alumni (isn’t that awesome?!!!) is set up and ready to be served. Wa-la! The room is transformed into a warm and inviting place – the perfect space for October Club to happen!

We lift the night up in prayer asking the Lord to get the teen families to club safely, for the mentors to have good conversations in the car, that the night’s message would be heard by hearts that need it and they would be moved, that childcare helpers would be ready to love on the little ones, that small groups would be a time of building trust and friendship, and that by the night’s end everyone would have had a good time.

As the teen families and volunteers begin to arrive and check in, it begins to get noisy in all the best ways. Laughter, lots of hugs, ‘how have you beens?’, ‘please, may I hold your baby?’, and again I notice…transformation – a quiet space has been filled with the sounds of friendship and love. It’s so cool to watch this happen!

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After dinner, the room empties of little ones as they head off to childcare to play and be loved on. The teens are then treated to a crazy little game put together by a Shark Duo (Myrna & Yousef – lol!), music by Stevie, and then the message for the night. Amber, in humbleness and vulnerability shared her very personal testimony by way of spoken word. She titled it Proven Wrong. It was so powerful. Not only in the way it was delivered to us, but in the content: “I will rely on no one”, “I thought I had to do it all on my own”, “I had it all, nothing made me happy”, “God has proven me wrong! Straight up, Jesus is rad!”, “There is no way to go through life without storms but with Jesus, we will be safe”, “He wants us to call out to Him.”

DSC_0860A BIG transformation story was shared by a beautiful girl, saved by grace and by God’s grace, continued transformation will continue to happen for those that heard the message.

Colleen Drew ~ Area Office Admin