Showing posts from September, 2017

Snapshots of Summer

This summer was a busy but fulfilling adventure. In July, Youth Unlimited teamed up with Walnut Grove Secondary to run a summer school program called Gator Shades. The goal of this program is to help youth transition from elementary school to high school. We were able to spend three weeks with a group of 25 kids, helping them become familiar with the high school and accompanying them on educational field trips.

This was a great start to the summer as it gave us the chance to connect with grade eights. Since they are already familiar with us it will be easier to connect with them once school begins. This program can be exhausting, but it will be worth it when I walk through the hallway this September and see their faces light up because someone recognizes them in the crowd.

This September is the first time in five years that I am not going back to school which means I can now fully devote all my time to Youth Unlimited and take on more hours. Although I am not going back to school mys…

Turning the Corner

A booth set in the middle of a retro diner. The place is quiet. A waitress roams the restaurant, checking on the happy customers.

Two days in a row I had come to this little hole in the wall, each day with a teenager I had been spending a lot of time with. I hadn’t really expected to have the conversations that I was about to enter into. I had been considering when would be a good time to tell these students about a man called Jesus and this diner seemed to be the place that was sanctioned for this divine meeting of sorts.

The first conversation stemmed out of the importance of each person’s life. Do we have purpose? How did we get here? As we tackled these questions throughout the day we came to the diner at the peak of conversation. Now was the time. I asked the teenager what he knew about Jesus and he said not a whole lot, just random information. I asked him if he wanted to hear the story of God and Jesus. Over our lunch we discussed who Jesus is and how he wants a relationship w…

A Long, Hot Summer

In June we hosted our annual Art Show which a lot of my time, effort and planning went in to. This year we had an overwhelming number of entries from students and it was encouraging to see the smiles on their faces as they watched others bid on their pieces at the event.

Matt and I took off shortly after the Art Show for some much needed vacation time. We spent 10 wonderful days (2 weeks for Matt) in Naramata, BC with his parents where we did nothing. It. Was. Wonderful. As a detail-oriented-plan-everything-ahead-of-time person, having no concrete plans was a welcome relief. We came home feeling rested and, somewhat, ready to go back to work.

The rest of summer was fairly low-key. Summer is always a strange time with Youth Unlimited. Our programs end, school is finished and most of the youth and staff scatter for vacations and family time. I found myself quite lonely at work as a lot of coworkers were on holidays, leaving me by myself quite often in the office. I ended up bringing Mav…

Summer Renovations

Have you ever experienced the equal parts of joy and terror that come with starting a renovation project? The thrill of the sledgehammer demolishing that ugly, leaky, old shower and the sleepless nights of wondering if you can actually put this thing back together. The excitement of picking out new fixtures and the horror of hearing a toilet flushing after you’ve cut away the drain. The feeling of accomplishment as you check tasks of the list and the sinking feeling you’ll never get your house clean again… seriously, living in the same space you’re renovating is the worst!

This summer I set out to renovate our Master bathroom and bedroom - it was a project that was not for the faint of heart. You see, it wasn’t just a new coat of paint but a full, “to the studs”, gut job. It took most of summer to complete. Actually, if I’m honest, I still have some finishing touches left before its really done but I figure once you are nailing up the crown molding and touching up nail holes, you’re …

Stability in Chaos

For a good portion of the summer the sky throughout the lower mainland of BC and the Pacific North West of Washington was overcast with dense smoke from the forest fires raging throughout the region. There were threats of destruction by world leaders and hurricanes ravaged through Texas and Florida.

There were many conversations I overheard this summer that spoke to the apocalyptic feel of the world.  I make no claim to know how the world will end, but in these times one can see the mystery of the human experience.  A group of people made a human chain through rapidly moving water, risking their lives to rescue a stranger. Meanwhile, looters took opportunities to steal valuables from empty houses and businesses.  Images were shared across social media of the disasters to illicit a compassionate response, only to find that some took the opportunity to create false pictures to promote political agendas or induce fear and panic.

As if these incidents are not concerning enough there are …

Gator Shades

While at Gator Shades one day, I had a new Grove student open up to me in a meaningful way.

We were walking to a cafeteria because he had forgotten to pack a lunch for our trip to the Armada Ropes Course at Trinity Western University. I bought him some snacks and a drink and we started walking back to the others. While we were walking back he turned to me and said, “You know, I don’t have any friends. I’m bullied often. You know, when Derian was giving his presentation and said that his ‘friends’ at school called him the follower? That’s me.” I asked him some of my normal follow up questions, we got sidetracked, and when we came back to it he told me about a few people he was starting to get to know and I had the opportunity to respond with this:

“You know that I’m one of your new friends too, right? I’m going to be there when school starts in September and I’ll be there for you throughout the year. I’ll find you.”

This is pretty normal in my job, but the speed of the
openness caught…

On Behalf of Amy

Hey, I’m Wes!

I’m a youth that is involved with YU. I met Amy for the first time when I was 9 years old and I went to Nights Alive. For the next 3 years after that, Amy constantly said hi every Friday night and she never stopped. I never really understood why, but a few years ago I realized that she cares - she really cares and it’s amazing! And all I did was run and play games. A few years later, at the age of 14, I began to speak more and Amy and I began hanging out a lot. We soon became closer than before and now she is like family to me.

I have always been the last person to be picked and never really liked by many people. When I was introduced to YU my life was completely changed and it was amazing.

Amy is literally a life saver. May was a really rough month and she saved my life. Amy has helped me through so, so much and I am eternally grateful! I do not know what I would do if I hadn’t met her when I was 9 - I believe I would not be here today.

I have been involved with YU for…

September Prayer Requests

-  our programs began on Sept 13th - please pray for stamina for the staff as we begin the long stretch until Christmas - we are grateful for another year of ministry at Hangar 17!

-  praise God we have Philippa working alongside us as an apprentice this year! Philippa interned with us last year. Please pray that her fundraising would go well so that she can begin with us soon

-  pray for two of our students who are wanting to know more about Jesus - pray that we would seek wisdom from God in how to answer their questions and lead them closer to a relationship with Him

Greasy French Fries

I was 17 years old when I first began running the JR. High Sunday School at my church. I was ready to make a difference in the lives of these young people the way that my youth leaders had done for me. I recruited parent volunteers, planned ridiculous games and prepped in-depth bible studies. I quickly found out that things do not always go according to plan. My parent volunteers quit and one of the girls pulled me aside one week to tell me that everyone in the group hated me.

  I had to figure out something else. The next week I decided to ditch my lesson plan and coordinated some rides to the local McDonalds. Skipping church that day and sharing greasy French fries was apparently the trick to winning approval of this particular group. From that point on, things were better.

  Twenty-two years later, I still use this experience to train the young youth workers on my team and shape my own approach.  So many adults in the lives of youth stop engaging or showing up.  We have to be will…