Showing posts from July, 2016

Summer Plans

I really don’t know where to start with this newsletter. I want to share with you the victories; the words of encouragement, the conversations about Jesus, the good decisions and memories. I also want to share with you the new hurts and pains; the broken relationships, the self doubts, the poor decisions. I want to share with you the programs: the end of another year of Momentum, the beginning of Youth Alpha, the Youth Art Show. There’s really too much. The end of the school year brings with it huge changes. Many programs end, some new ones start, and teens get a lot more free time. Right now we are experiencing a huge interest from the teens in who Jesus is. If you’re a praying person, prayers for continued receptivity/openness are much appreciated.

As I head into the summer, people seem to be interested in how I’ll be spending my days, Here is a quick run through of what you could expect to see me doing this summer. Primarily, I will be hanging with my friends who are youth. They’r…

Celebrating Change

June is a very busy month with year end parties and high school graduations. The end of high school, for many teenagers, is not always as exciting and joyous as most people make it out to be. For many of the youth we work with, high school is one of the only constant and stable places they have in their lives. Home life isn’t always easy and school has been a place for them to leave that behind and try to get away from some of the brokenness at home. While it can be a very exciting time handing in your last papers, buying your grad dress or tuxedo and hoping someone will ask you as their date to grad, the excitement can be lost behind the real anxiety and nervousness of what is to come. When I graduated it was a happy time and even though I didn’t have an exact plan I had people in my life supporting me.

I really wanted to do something special for two teenage girls who were graduating this year because I can empathize for the changes that are to come. I wanted to make these girls fee…

Getting Started

I hope this newsletter reaches you well.

Through the last two years I have been able to volunteer with Youth Unlimited Langley in helping to improve teenager’s lives through a paradigm of holistic health. Whether it was through playing sports at Nights Alive, having deep conversation through one on ones after school or just making small talk in the smoke pit. I have grown to see the need for healthy adult relationships in the lives of today’s teens that seem to be facing adverse situations, many that I have not faced in myself.

As my practicum with Youth Unlimited came to a close I knew that I was being led to work with this organization. Youth Unlimited Langley is very relationally focused and I seemed to fit in with the team well.

As of May first, I have been hired on as a youth worker to assist in spreading love and care for these teenagers in the Langley community. I have found my specific place in the organization where I feel like I will be most impactful and that fits well wit…

Hold Fast

This past month and a half hasn’t been the easiest for me. So far in my career as a youth worker I feel like this last little while has been a great example of what living in the middle of the mess of people’s lives looks like. Anxious crisis calls at midnight (on my birthday), fentanyl laced drugs causing overdoses in Langley (including some students we’re connected with), youth homelessness (with only couches to surf), parties gone wrong (exploitation whether intentional or not), and suicide attempts from some of the most unsuspecting people.

Lord, have mercy.

Sometimes being surrounded by this can weigh a lot heavier on me than other days. Sometimes it feels like I can’t do much more than show up and be present, and honestly, that’s tough when you see and hear the things from young people that we do. Sometimes you just want to cringe and try to forget the scary reality you just heard. But this is my calling - I want to be in the mess of people’s lives. I truly care about the young…

Wandering in the Desert

As I write this I find myself walking through a spiritual desert. No this isn’t a victory story I’m writing about. You know the ones: how I once was lost but now I’m found. No, I still find myself very much in a dry and parched land. Perhaps you can relate?

Now I know that Jesus changes our lives and makes everything better… right? At least that seems to be the story we like to tell. Sure there’s room for the occasional desert (as long as it doesn’t last too long.) We like stories of victory and yet the bible is full of failures and broken people that God somehow in his mercy seems to use in spite of themselves. In fact, one of prevailing narratives of scripture is a story about wandering around in a desert wilderness for 40 years and this gives me hope in the midst of my mess.

I’ve come to realize my spiritual life follows the pattern of Exodus much more closely than I sometimes care to admit. It started off with celebration, as God’s power freed me from slavery and led me through t…

Ferguson Files

This may surprise you but I am not very good at small talk. I often feel awkward at social events where I feel an obligation to speak to others but feel as though I have nothing to say. It is ironic, isn’t it? I am in a position where I am consistently put in situations where I am trying to build relationships with strangers. To combat this, I have a list of questions that I have collected over the years to ask people to get the conversation moving. Some of these questions work better than others. For instance,
instead of asking someone “what do you do?” I find it better to ask someone, “How did you spend your time this past month?”

For example, if you asked me what I do, I could tell you that I am the Area Director for Youth Unlimited in Langley. But if you asked me how I spent my time this past month, and if you had the time to listen, this is what I could tell you:

I sat with a young person as she shared her story of heartache, abuse, neglect and abandonment. When I asked why she …

Complexity and All My Zeros

Complex. It’s the word I would use to sum up all the things I’ve witnessed this past year. And I’ve seen many things.

I’ve witnessed intelligent, academically-minded students get high and wreck their cars.

I’ve watched kids get baptized then go on to become drug dealers.

I’ve heard transgendered youth talk about struggles with self-harm one day and encountering Jesus the next.

I’ve encountered some of the kindest, compassionate youth who have struggles with suicide and depression.

I’ve met teen moms and responsible parents and drop outs and sometimes they’re all the same person.

I’ve seen statistical-improbabilities overcome obstacles and graduate, cap and gown, into promising adults.

People are complex.

Brennan Manning said it best; “When I get honest, I admit I am a bundle of paradoxes. I believe and I doubt, I hope and get discouraged, I love and I hate, I feel bad about feeling good, I feel guilty about not feeling guilty. I am trusting and suspicious. I am honest and I still pla…

End of the School Year

This school year has been awesome! There are so many things to be thankful for as I look back over the year and the connections I have made. As a result I am seeing more growth, both in the students I work with, and in myself. The longer I do this, the more I am blessed by the opportunities I have to see transformation in the lives of the people I hang out with. Like last night when I ran into one of my previous student volunteers and she yelled out at her work place “[That’s Amy!] she is the reason I am now a good kid”. This person was heading towards some hard life choices when I met her but she chose to give back to the community instead of following her friends into bad situations. It is such a cool opportunity to be able to provide a place where students can not only grow their leadership skills but also learn as a group, where they can develop solid friendships and know they are loved. I have you to thank for these stories because you support Youth Unlimited and provide the fun…

Summer Prayer Requests

- summer is not always met with excitement by all youth - pray for those who struggle as they lose the consistency school brought to their lives
- pray for the students who face new challenge and adventure as they graduate and join the ‘adult world’
- pray for our staff as we take some time this summer to vacation with family and regroup before the fall programs begin
- pray for the youth who will be a part of our Alpha program this summer

What Art Addicts Means To Me

At our 2016 Art Show, Brittany shared her experience with Langley Youth Unlimited. Here is what she had to say:

“I have been a part of Art Addicts since grade 10. I have now completed my first year of university and still continuously attend. This room and these people mean so much to me. I have met life-long friends here and every week someone new walks through those doors.

Originally, this was a place where I could be creative and express myself through art. Over the past four years I have seen this club grow into much more than just a creative space. It has become an area full of love, understanding, compassion and diversity. The workers here give ongoing support no matter the issue, sexuality, gender or age.

Personally, I have connected with Savannah Deepwell who has become like an older sister to me. She has helped me in so many ways and her support through my life decisions with relationships, school and family have been tremendous.

The youth whom attend this club find a great …

Applying Blindly

In October of 2014 I applied for an Administrative Assistant position with an organization I had vaguely heard of before. My husband and I had recently moved to Langley and I was looking for a job closer to home. In one day, three separate individuals suggested I apply for a job with Youth Unlimited (Youth For Christ). The job seemed perfect, combining my love for youth and my administrative skills. After having searched the Internet for a job description with no luck, I decided to blindly apply. Upon receiving my resume, the Langley Area Director replied with a ‘by the way, here’s the job description’. I could sense how badly they were in need of an administrator.

A year and a half later, my work with Langley Youth Unlimited can only be described as God’s answer to my prayers. My coworkers have a strong love for young people and are willing to meet them where they are, entering into the mess that is often their lives and helping advocate for them where needed. My team works to be th…