FIFTY ONE!

WE ARE GOING TO CAMP!
Myrna shared the excitement of the upcoming camps in her most current newsletter and we are bringing it directly to you here:

 

F I F T Y    O N E!

51!

Stephanie, Lupe, Amanda, Yaelin, Bernadette, Isaac, Junior, Mason, Sarah, Yvette, Andrew, Steven, Delilah, Liliana……. these are just a few of their names

With your help this Thursday and Friday North OC YoungLives is taking 51 individuals to summer camps!!

To join dozens of other teen moms at a Young Life camp in Arizona, we are sending out:

  • 15 Teen Moms
  • 14 Babies and Toddlers
  • 5 Mentors
  • 6 Childcare Volunteers

To Big Bear for a “Dad-venture”:

  • 8 Teen Dads
  • 2 Male Mentors

I am blown away at the thought of these 51 lives being impacted! Young mamas will get to connect with each other and with volunteers that genuinely care about them. They will get to have fun zip-lining, horseback riding, they will hear the Gospel, experience testimonies, sing, laugh, cry, dance and much more! Kiddos will be cuddled, rocked, and loved on for days. Teenage fathers will kayak, eat, explore, have real conversations, and have safe good fun. Volunteers will be challenged, they will serve, they will connect, they will inspire, they will pray, they will cry, and I am certain they will see God at work.

Would you please join me in prayer in the upcoming days?

Thank you friends for partnering with us all year to make this priceless and truly life-changing experience possible for all fifty-one. I know that many of those kiddos (and their parents) will experience more hope-filled years ahead because of it.

~Myrna Bittar, Area Director of North OC YoungLives

 

 

 

 

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Pancakes, Crafts, & Community

This past Saturday YoungLives held its 7th Annual Pancake Breakfast at Lake Park in Huntington Beach. The clouds covered us, some rain drops spit out at us but it did not deter anyone from coming out to the event. Why? What makes people want to get up out of their cozy beds early on a Saturday morning and head out into the overcast cool morning weather? Devotion does. Devotion to supporting people. One can say “I support this ministry” and that is true, but the ministry is people. The ministry is teen moms, dads and their kids. And so, we all got up early and headed over to the park to do our part in supporting these wonderful people. The regulars came out, neighbors who smelled the cooking walked over and new people arrived to give teen moms the opportunity to go away to camp for an opportunity of a lifetime. Our moms get a chance to be teens for one week and laugh as they play games and do activities, to soak in the beauty of nature, to be waited on and showered with kindness by camp volunteers and to have an opportunity to personally hear about and connect with God away from the busyness of their lives.

IMG_9938IMG_4701IMG_9921Beyond the people who chose to come out and spend $5 on a pancake breakfast and extra money on some crafts and delicious treats, it took another group of devoted people to put this all together. There is the team who arrived there extra early to set up tables, bring all of the cooking supplies and stand there for hours to flip pancakes and sausages. There are the local merchants who start weeks in advance in creating crafts and food to bring to sell that morning and who also sit for hours and take time to talk with others, explain their goods and then choose to donate proceeds to the people of YoungLives.

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There are still others who have smaller parts in the morning yet all together it becomes one big fun community event. Year after year the same people and new ones choose to do this out of devotion and care for other people. I personally don’t think this is the “normal” actions of people these days – to do all of these things with no monetary pay attached – and this is one reason why I like serving with the people of YoungLives because they are different as they choose to love and serve others in very unselfish ways and it’s attractive and contagious.

If you missed the Pancake Breakfast, you can still support the moms by donating here.

IMG_4693Lisa Bryan ~ North OC YoungLives Committee

The Heartbeat

A few weeks back we had one of those mornings in YoungLives ministry where I just sat back and thought, “Wow, how did I get the privilege to be a part of all this?”

We were celebrating the YoungLives volunteers at an Appreciation Breakfast. A time where for just an hour or two we get to invite them in to sit, eat, share stories. To try to express to them how much EVERY single one of them play a part in the ‘whole’ of YoungLives. 

IMG_4390IMG_4409Here’s an excerpt from what Myrna shared that morning:

“Running games, dressing up in bacon suits, mentoring, changing poopy diapers, setting up, taking out trash, cooking meals, serving dinner, giving rides, teaching parenting classes, sending texts, decorating, purchasing supplies, teaching craft, visiting new babies, fundraising, showing up, attending meetings, planning, sharing your stories, inviting, folding baby clothes, welcoming, praying, loving on babies, designing shirts, baking, picking up donations, delivering diapers, finding carseats, opening your classroom, advocating, pursuing, sharing resources, picking up snacks, lesson-planning, showing up early… are just a few of the things that you all in this room do to make YoungLives possible. 

You my friends, are the heartbeat of North Orange County YoungLives.

Colleen, Adrienne and I we get to be on staff but we have such a huge admiration for all of you because we know, in part, what all of you guys do and it is crazy!! Together you are a part of something beautiful that is resulting in teen after teen, child after child knowing that they are loved, that they are important, that they are worth it, and that there is a God that loves them! You guys, you all are telling them this story through all that you do- through the many sacrifices that I know you make to be a part of this ministry. Your dedication and commitment even when life happens, as it does for all of us, amazes me! 

So as I led up to this day feeling like I could not possibly express how big of a deal your commitment and sacrifice is I thought of one way that maybe I could tell you— and that was asking some of our past years girls how the PEOPLE in this ministry have impacted who they are today. I asked all girls that were from 5+ years ago. The reason is this, I know that you guys, what you did this year, it is going to impact those young families for 5 years and beyond. And you know what surprised me the most, some of the girls that had the littlest involvement from my perspective had the biggest things to say…

I want to share a couple of their quotes with you….

“The one thing I will never forget about the YoungLives volunteers is that they were always there to give us a helping hand. Making us feel wanted and that we were someone in life not just some teenage girl that got pregnant in middle school or high school. It helped me become the person I am .. Now I just want to be someone that helps others and be there for others”

“YoungLives had one of the biggest impacts on my life because I didn’t think people who knew so little about me could care so much about my well being and my son. God used young lives to open my heart and show me how to accept love/help and be loving/helpful to others.”

“YoungLives for me was one of the best things of all. Even though I wasn’t there for a long time but I learned a lot . One of them was a connection to God.  As a new parent and specially when your a teenager is very difficult you feel like you’re on your own and you don’t have anybody there to communicate but once I went to young lives a change my life in a way that I saw that I wasn’t alone there was also plenty of people that are going through the same thing and they change my life until this day because I am still connected to God and I teach my kids about God and He made me a better person and a better mom and I am very grateful for YoungLives.”

It has been an amazing year! We have seen girls grow, we have many that are excited to go to summer camp and they have no idea what is about to hit them, We have done a full school year being on campuses at 3 high schools, we hired a new staff person-Adrienne, We have walked through some hard things, welcomed new babies in to this world and it has been quite the ride!”

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If you’re thinking about volunteering with YoungLives, just do it…come check out the ministry opportunities at our Fall Kick Off happening on Saturday, August 17 (you can register here). I really believe you’ll be asking yourself, “how did I get the privilege to be part of this?”

~Colleen Drew, Area Office Admin

YoungLives Prom!

This month I attended my very first YoungLives Prom Night! I didn’t go when I was a teen mom because I was way too shy, and way too pregnant, and man do I regret that now! 

The night began with dropping kiddos off in the nursery. Moms and dads were taken by golf carts to leave their kids with familiar childcare volunteers, who created a special party just for the kids with dinner, crafts, and a ton of toys.

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The teens entered the Prom under an arch of balloons, into a room decorated with palm leaves, candles, and beautiful flowers. Each of the girls were given a Mother’s Day bouquet made by Good Flower Co. and the guys got a YoungLives mug filled with candy. Music was playing and they had the chance to visit the photo booth for professional photos by Chloe Atnip.

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After Myrna prayed for the meal, everyone was welcome to grab pizza and salad that was being made fresh throughout the night by Pizzarageous. Dinner was followed with an amazing Ice Cream Sundae Bar equipped with waffle bowls, brownies, and an array of toppings.        D E L I C I O U S!

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I  had the opportunity to talk to many of the moms during the night, and they were all so happy to be having fun with each other, knowing that their children were having just as much fun. Many of the moms were using Prom as their Mother’s Day celebration as well.  

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Before the dance floor opened up, Myrna announced the 2019 Graduates and presented them with certificates, crowned them with crowns and tiaras, and outfitted them with Prom King & Prop Queen sashes. Just by looking at them, you knew that the graduates felt proud of themselves. But also the room roared with cheers and applause, a perfect segue to open up the dance floor. DJ, Luke Sensebe from Premiere Events, seemed to know just how to get the group in the dancing mood!

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Many of the young parents decided to bring their children in to dance with them as well which livened up the dance floor with more extreme cute-ness. It was such a fun and meaningful night, and I know it had a huge impact on everyone in attendance. 

Photo credit all goes to the wonderful Tony J. Matos!

~Jayanna, Mentor

 

I Was Very Alone & So Broken

“Three years ago I attended YoungLives Huntington Beach Club for the very first time. I had just turned eighteen years old and I was seven months pregnant with my daughter. I was very alone, and so broken. 

After my very long, exhausting, and complicated week of giving birth, I had Maria Jude. I took her to YoungLives camp when she was only six weeks old, and that is where I asked Jesus to take control of my life and my broken heart.”

These are a few of the details I shared at Huntington Club this past Thursday night. I was given the opportunity to share my testimony alongside three other volunteers and it was amazing. I was hesitant to open myself up on a stage, in front of teenagers, and share such intimate details of my story. 

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• What if they couldn’t relate to me?  •What if I didn’t say what they needed to hear? •What if I had something in my teeth?!

These thoughts ran through my head beforehand, but as I began sharing they disappeared. 

I looked into the crowd as I spoke and felt overwhelmed by the amount of compassion these teenagers had for ME! What a shock! As a volunteer I find deeper admiration and compassion for these young parents at every single club I attend, but I never thought that I would receive that back from them. 

Seeing that many of the mothers at club could relate to my story just affirmed even more that YoungLives is where I am called to serve. 

I entered the evening nervous about what everybody would think of me, but I drove home that night with a full heart and spirit. Sharing my testimony blessed me so far beyond my expectations. 

I often look back on my own time spent at club as a teen mom, and I remember every testimony that was shared so clearly. When somebody would share their story with us, it stuck. I saw the way God worked in their life, and it encouraged me to wait and see how He was going to work in my own life. Hearing testimonies of others has a huge impact on planting the seeds of faith, and I think they are so important to YoungLives and the community we serve. 

I want to encourage you, if you are ever asked to share your testimony, to prayerfully consider saying YES! For me, it brought joy from depths I didn’t know existed. 

Transformational

What a beautiful night our last Santa Ana Club Gathering was for the school year! Everything about the night was very intimate and intentional. The evening started with a delicious taco & nacho bar dinner and such sweet conversations amongst volunteers and teens about life updates and plans for the upcoming summer season!

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The game for the evening really brought out the “kid” in all of us. I have never heard so much laughter and seen such carefree spirits from everyone.

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The rest of the evening was filled with hearing four transformational life stories. It was such an honor to be able to hear how God divinely showed up in each individual’s lives during different hardships. They shared about how God’s unconditional love impacted their lives in powerful and unique ways. They openly shared with us about how their lives were before knowing God, how they came to encounter God and how having a personal relationship with God has changed their lives. It was such a Holy moment to see the teens so engaged in the testimonies and be able to connect with some of the stories.

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While I was sitting there, my prayer for the teens was that they would be able to walk away from the night with a sense of hope and truly know that there is a God that loves each and every one of them unconditionally and that He cares for them abundantly.

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I was able to talk to some of the teens about their thoughts from hearing the testimonies, some of them were able to relate to some of the situations that were shared and truly see that God cares for them even during the hard times in life. One of the teens shared how they are in a season of trusting God with a difficult situation they are in the midst of and that hearing the testimonies gave them hope that life is not always going to be like this and that they are never alone. She was so thankful that she was a part of YoungLives because she knows that there are people who are always there for her when she needs a listening ear and will always be shown love, respect and care no matter what. She said that every time she comes to Club, she leaves so encouraged and amazed by how caring and loving everyone is. Hearing that from her, made me realize that these teens just want to be loved and cared for and what an honor it is that God has allowed us as volunteers in the ministry to be able to display His love to them because He first loved us.

Adrienne Garcia, YoungLives Staff

Warmth & Acceptance

I started volunteering with YoungLives in September of last year and I have been blown away by these teen moms and dads. Club nights are such a special experience to witness. I love to watch the parents come into Club with their little ones in tow. Many of the toddlers rush into the auditorium knowing they will be loved on by the volunteers, staff and other teen parents. There is a sacred sense of warmth and acceptance at Club. Everyone is welcome because all are loved and accepted by Jesus Christ.

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Parents start the night by having the opportunity to mingle and to shop through the plethora of baby clothes, toys and gear. At around 6:30, after everyone has arrived the entire group stops to pray for dinner. Everyone then enjoys a delicious home cooked meal served by the gracious volunteers. Eating with the families is one of my favorite aspects of Club. It has been a great time to talk to these moms and dads and really hear about what’s going on in their lives, what they are struggling with but also to hear about how well they are managing life and a baby. These parents are incredible. I am constantly amazed at all that these young adults are managing in their lives: from school to work to relationships to family to raising these sweet babies. It’s truly an amazing feat.

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After dinner, everyone listens to a gospel message that is given by a leader or volunteer. Recently, Adrienne gave an especially powerful message. She talked about how Jesus paid the ultimate price by dying on the cross so that our sins would be forgiven. Adrienne demonstrated this point by writing down a sin of her own on a piece of paper and then letting it dissolve completely in a container of water. I think it was a special type of paper that dissolves in liquid, but it so beautifully portrayed how no matter how we have sinned, by way of Jesus’s grace and mercy we are forgiven.

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We broke up into groups after the message and went over a number of very thought-provoking discussion questions. The teens talked about sin and forgiveness. The dissolving paper was passed out and everyone was asked to write down a sin of their own. There were some awkward moments at first, but then everyone in the group ended up writing something down on that piece of paper. No one was asked to share what they put on their paper, because it was between them and God. After everyone was done, each person put their “sin” into the water and stirred and that “sin” immediately dissolved. The exercise was really powerful and helped everyone see the power of Christ’s forgiveness.

It has been truly remarkable to witness these teen parents come together as a community, support one another and learn about Jesus’s love for them. These teens are investing in themselves as well as their little ones. I couldn’t be more blessed by my experience as a volunteer.

♥ Kirsten Beck, Mentor

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Becoming Part Of

Can you feel it? The days just got longer, the California sunshine came out from hiding (finally!!!), yes, spring is almost here! What that means to YoungLives is that we are in the midst of so many fun and exciting plans! Starting with the Volunteer Appreciation Breakfast, Teen Prom, Summer Camp, Baby Bottle Fundraiser, Fall Kick Off Training, and even the Annual Giving Gala is already in the works. We wanted to share some ways that you can become a part of YoungLives events. If this is the year that you planned on becoming more involved, just do it – the Lord will meet you in it. You will meet some of the kindest, Jesus loving, self-sacrificing people ever – not to mention we really have a GREAT time together!

Volunteer Appreciation Breakfast – Saturday, April 27 :: 9:30 am-11:30 am

Need: Servers for Set up, Serving, & Clean up (this allows the volunteers that are being appreciated to enjoy a time of being served)

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Volunteer Appreciation

Teen Prom – Friday, May 10 :: 6 pm-9 pm :: Costa Mesa

Need: Dinner Sponsor (in the past we have had an amazing Paella dinner from local chef Richard Boufford/Just Good Fun sponsored by Barnabas Group and Corner Bakery donated a full spread, just to name a few.  Need: Tear Down Team (9 pm- 10 pm)

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Prom Night Dinner

Baby Bottle Fundraiser – May – June

Need: Grab a baby bottle from us, fill it up with coins, cash, or checks and CHANGE lives

Need: If you have a group that may be interested in this as a way to support local teen parents and their babies, let us know!!!!

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Annual Baby Bottle Fundraiser for Camp

Pancake Breakfast & Craft Fair – Saturday, June 1 :: 8 am-11 am :: Lake Park, HB

Need: Crafters! Rent a booth and sell your handmade items.

Need: Spread the word! This is such a fun community event, tickets are only $5

 

 

Summer Camp – Friday, June 14 – Tuesday, June 18

Need: Teen Mom Goodie Bags – we LOVE to be able to have a bag on each bed for the girls when they arrive to camp (some ideas – chapstick, hand lotion, sunscreen, candy, chips, handwritten note, $5 for the camp store/snack bar, etc…)

 

 

Fall Kick Off Training – Saturday, August 17 :: 8 am-1 pm :: Costa Mesa

Need: Join us to find out more about volunteering with YoungLives during the 2019/2020 school year.

 

 

Annual Giving Gala – Saturday, September 28 :: 6 pm-9 pm :: Yost Theatre, Santa Ana

Need: Mark your calendar for an incredible evening at the historic Yost Theatre in downtown Santa Ana. Dinner by 24 Carrots, inspirational speaker, teen testimonials, silent auction, and much more!

Need: Silent Auction items, services, and leads.

 

 

 

 

 

Meet Kelsey

We are excited to introduce you to one of the many amazing moms that we have gotten to know at YoungLives. Kelsey found time in her busy schedule to answer a few questions that we threw out to her and I’m pretty sure you’re going to love getting to know her a little better and hearing how YoungLives has impacted her life.

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How long have you been coming to YoungLives? • I’ve been coming for a year now and it has been the best year of my life.

How did you find out about YoungLives? • Through my old high school. When I first found out I was pregnant, I was out of high school but wanted to try to connect with some mom groups and I knew that one of my high school teachers would know of some.

How would you describe what YoungLives is to a friend that doesn’t have a baby? • I would describe it as a safe, fun, loving group of people who are there to support and love on you with no judgment.

What would you say to another teen parent to convince them to give YoungLives a try? • I would say that you won’t regret coming to one meeting! The overwhelming amount of love and support that they give you just makes you feel that you are not alone. The mentors truly listen to you and are here for you no matter what. 

What is your favorite part about club night? • My favorite is when we break off into arts & crafts time. During this time the guys go off with the guy mentors and girls with the girl mentors. I like how we get a chance to talk more one-on-one with the mentors while doing a fun activity.

What are your dreams/goals? • To one day get married, have a good mindset on life, graduate from college, be the best mom that I can be for my daughter.

What’s the hardest part about being a mom? What’s the BEST part? • The hardest part is learning to balance being a mom, my social life, and school. The best part about being a mom is waking up and seeing my baby’s face. I love watching her grow and learn new things everyday.

Kelsey♥♥

Interruptible

Has anyone else ever heard in church services that one way to walk with Jesus is to be interruptible?  Well, I have… truth is my pastor loves to talk about the miracles that can happen if we allow ourselves to be interruptible. It seems that this trait is reiterated throughout Jesus’ entire life… he was interruptible. I have experienced mini miracles when I follow this way of life, but I had a perfect example of it the other night at our Santa Ana YoungLives Club.

I have been working as a mentor with this program for two years and I have only ever missed one club night, but boy was I trying to talk myself out of going on Tuesday the 12thof February.  You see, I was drained both physically and emotionally and all I wanted to do was send a text with my apologies and take the night off. My family (including our three kids and two 5 month old puppies) had literally returned from a weekend in the snow just hours before club began and I had work the next day.  Gratefully, my husband has always been supportive of this ministry and reminded me that I had agreed to transport a teen and her daughter and that all I needed to do was be there.  I wouldn’t have to make dinner and plus our own teen daughter wanted to volunteer in childcare… so I went, fully planning on hiding in the background.

I picked up our teen friend and her toddler and smiled as they reconnected with my daughter, allowing them to lead the majority of the conversation. I walked into the hall, satisfied that I had done my job and ready to give into exhaustion, only to be greeted by another teen mom with a huge smile and a hug.  She exclaimed, “Where have you been, I’ve been waiting for you to get here?” Out went my plan to transport and then hide. I listened as she shared some changes in her life and tried to offer support and encouragement.  I helped her do some “shopping” from our donations table and looked forward to relaxing, eating and catching up.

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Just when I was about to find a place to sit down, Myrna (our fearless leader) found me and asked for my help.  She said that we had a large amount of new girls coming and asked if I would greet them and make them feel welcomed and settled. I said yes because I could tell that she had her hands full with one of the largest clubs we have had yet. She was trying to facilitate a diaper donation for each family and just plain old busy doing what she does (which is a little bit of everything). Of course I said yes, because after all… that’s what Jesus would do. When someone asks for help, you help.

So I put my plate of food down, ignored the pain in my feet, and put a big smile on my face while I looked for new girls. Boy was I surprised when not one, or two, but car after car of new teen parents came. I’m so glad that I allowed myself to be interruptible for these new girls specifically because I got to see how God’s plan would unfold throughout the evening.

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I got them settled with food and then acted as their own personal shoppers so that they could eat and visit. I then tried my best to check in on all the moms and dads and saw that everyone was paired up with all of the other amazing mentors and everyone was good. I then checked in on the childcare workers, many of whom are students of mine who volunteer each month and thanked them for being there. I watched as my own teen daughter mingled and felt a twinge of serious emotion as fatigue mixed with sentimentality. I felt the magnitude of the fact that 18 years prior, I myself was preparing to be a single teen mom and was just overwhelmed by amount of love and support there was in one room for the families which God had put together.

By this time my food was cold and Myrna had asked me to get the new girls involved in the games. I had missed the directions from sleep deprivation, but I tried to help. Finally, I got to sit and listen to the message. A message about forgiveness and grace and about how Jesus has the ability to forgive any sin if we just ask. I honestly thought my job was done until I was reminded that a mentor’s key role is to facilitate a small group discussion about what was heard and this is where God’s miracle really began to played out.

 

You see I found myself drawn to the group of brand new moms and was suddenly fielding questions like, “Do you do this because Jesus tells you to” and “why work with teen parents”. I got to explain how first off yes, I believe the mentors are there because Jesus calls us to be… but that it is so much more than just that. We are there because we have a huge amount of respect for each and every teen parent that comes through the doors. I shared how we are well aware that being a parent in today’s society is a choice and we super respect the choice that these parents have made to be parents.  I shared that I knew first hand that it is not an easy path to take on the responsibility of being a teen parent and the mentors just want to help in any way we can. If we can make even a minute of a young parents life easier, then we have done our job of sharing God’s love, forgiveness, acceptance and grace.

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Most importantly I got to direct the conversation back to the message of sin and forgiveness and by the end each and every girl had shared something for which they wanted forgiveness. I witnessed them drop their sin into a solution and spin it around and saw a visual change as they began to take in the magnitude of God’s love. Some were skeptical that forgiveness can be that easy but they were willing to listen, and that is the first and hardest step. Some shared their journeys and some kept them to themselves, but the end each and every one joined hands as we prayed out the evening and hugs were given all around. Many of them asked for phone numbers and said they wanted to return the next month.

The moral of the story is, yes it was an exhausting experience but I didn’t feel tired the next day. Instead I felt filled up from the love which I had witnessed by everyone involved and for everyone involved. I got to share with people the miracle which is the YoungLives program and I now get to encourage people once again to get involved.  We never know how many teens will show up or how many babies will need to be held, but God’s miracles always abound each and every month. There is always enough delicious food, there are always the perfect amount of child care workers, there are always mentors ready to give their all and most importantly there are always teens that are ready to be loved on.

I am so grateful that I allowed my life to be interruptible and showed up for my commitment to YoungLives, because the fact is that if you show up… God will use you and each and every time it is a miracle.

Theresa Stack, Mentor

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