Monday, June 15, 2015

Reflections on Week 2

It’s incredible that we are already in the middle of June.  My time here has simultaneously flown by and crawled by.  Week 2 was full of ups and downs, which I suppose is to be expected when one spends over 43.5 hours with youth (since last Wednesday).  I am continually surprised at the way youth ministry is run here.  Edge (middle school ministry) especially does a ton of activities throughout the week.  These activities are started by the middle school ministry director, several interns, and a handful of high school students who want to invest in the lives of middle schoolers (which is really cool to see)!  The activities are a chance to hang out, get to know one another, and show the kids that somebody cares for them.  While conversations about God are not discouraged, they haven’t been encouraged by the staff either.  Organized digging into God’s Word happens for Edge on Sunday mornings at church and Monday morning Bible study.  Last week there was great attendance at the Monday Bible study, however this week there was not as many kids (though it was encouraging to me to see the high school staff talk to the middle school director afterwards to brainstorm ways that they could attract more kids and make the study more engaging for the kids who show up).  It has been a great learning experience to see what the church does to attract students and reflect on ways to get students who show up for the activities to also engage with God and what it means to be a follower of Him.

Shoreline (high school ministry) is dramatically different from Edge.  Overall, there are less activities throughout the week (and lower attendance at the activities that do happen).  One of the main activities is crossfit every Tuesday and Thursday (between chasing middle schoolers around and crossfit, I’m going to be in better shape by the time I go home).  Shoreline had their first summer program night which was similar to ones I had seen back home in that it included a time to just hang out, worship, a brief message, and a game.  They also have AP Bible study for high school students (led by a young couple).  Not many students attend this study, but those who do are engaged in it.  Most of the high school students are freshmen and sophomores.  This brings up a difference between Edge and Shoreline: unlike Edge which has the luxury of immobile kids who long for a ride to the beach or North Shore, older high school kids can drive themselves and don’t need youth leaders to drive them places to just hang out.  Thus, Shoreline is forced to be more creative in ways to attract students to come hang out with them.  

Outside of organized events, I spend most of my time trying to connect with high school girls.  Two highlights from this week included getting up early to take a few of them to see sunrise at Shipwrecks, and taking a few of them to Kappa’a to go bike riding along a path that runs next to the ocean.  Yesterday I was asked by a group of high school kids to take them up to the North Shore after church (now that they realize I’m willing to do things with them and take them places).  On the way back, one of them asked me how I was able to remain so calm, being that they had been playing loud music and screaming as I was driving.  I simply responded, “I have a younger brother.”  This satisfied the question and they returned to their loud music and screaming.  The major part of the answer for myself though was that as things got loud, I would turn my focus to God praying the same prayer that I had been praying for months leading up to the internship, that He would give me a heart for the students here.  Since being here, I’ve added onto that prayer that God would be preparing a woman to come here and serve these students long term.  (While there are several men on the staff who have been here for a while and plan to continue investing in these kids, women leaders have come and gone (esp. since they have mainly been interns).  It is clear that the girls here are eager to have someone who will actually stay longterm). 

Sweet Potato and Coconut Shave Ice

The bike path

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