Youth, Youth, Youth

So, I’m a youth leader in my local church. If you’ve been following this blog for a while and wonder how, what, why I ended up being one, we can delve into that detail later. Anyhow, one of my girls that I lead sent me a picture of a snapchat group conversation involving boys from our youth group.

Pretty nasty profanities if you ask me. My girl was mad furious, being almost a generation away from her, it took me a while to decipher 16 year old language. But the gist of it wasn’t cool, the conversation was mean, the profanities were nothing near to endearment usage. I could understand why she was hurt, after my silly as self finally deciphered the message an hour later, with the help of my guy friends that I shared the message to on a group chat I have with them.

Part of me felt silly for sharing to my guy friends, one of them also a youth leader, the others were ex-leaders (now retired due to that growing age gap). Like I just told my girl to keep it down low and here I am asking a bunch of guys my age on how to decipher 16 year old boy locker room chat.

Turns out I got the context of the chat all wrong, I had already responded to my girl in ways I shouldn’t have. Holy crap, and now she ain’t replying me. Like silly me right, if only there was a manual, for these little things, on how to deal with 16-18 year olds in current Snapchat social media culture or requiring instant replies and crap, WELP. Turns out the rude boy in the chat is the kid belonging to one of my friends, now HE has a headache too, none of us knows how to deal with it. It’s wrong, Trump like rude behaviour, but how do we go about the whole problem without SNITCHING THE SNITCH.

I would be the last person to defend ‘locker-room’ talk/language. Things like trying to ‘fuck a girl’s ass up’ like seriously, stop. I personally, with my very Asian side still fresh from all the Chinese New Year festivities, would give this child a good-ass whooping. A boy, no matter how furious he is, should not, CANNOT speak down to a girl like that. My girl is probably crying right now, she isn’t responding to my messages but do I be that overbearing youth leader who calls her up? Like what do I do?

You see, I never went to youth group growing up, here I am being one. Everything is new, it’s gonna be my third year and as my girls grow and face this big bad world, getting attacked by these mean-as guys, I feel attacked too. Doesn’t help when the guys you asked for  help in deciphering locker room boy talk, can’t decipher it properly, seems like defending the boys themselves.

First question my friend asked: “How did this get out?” like? Okay? So it’s normal? Do I accept this fact and move on? That boys are vulgar? Tell my girl to suck it up and do the same? While I feel attacked, she’s having it worse as it’s directly related to her.

Another culturally Asian upbringing is to reduce the amount of drama you can as you live this life, it’s okay to suck it up and let it go, move on. We don’t fight it, we shouldn’t (because we are the minority), doesn’t help the fact that we are females, us in the big bad world, while much progress has been made, much hasn’t changed. When we feel attacked, we stay quiet due to unspoken fears of jeopardy and social suicide, that’s what I do and I hate the fact that I just asked my girl to do that. I hate it so much. Why did I?

It sucks being a Youth Leader, there I’ve said. If you can tell, I have a lot of personally problems to fight with and deal, being a mentor/leader, you are voluntarily taking on 16 year old problems, crap you might not even had experienced due to your wholesome-lack-of-internet lifestyle in the past, how do you mentor kids crap you haven’t dealt with?

Every year is a new year, new year new problems. Like honest to God I don’t know how this works. My ear infection is throbbing, this issue makes my face and head throb 10x more. God sincerely help. I’ve snitched the snitches and told the Youth Pastor. Yay me, the snitching youth leader who snitches on snitchs.

It’s a big bad world out there, while a lot of us have been told to stand up for ourselves, a huge part of the job is teaching men. Mothers play such a huge role in this, you have no idea, I see how my mother reprimands my brother and as he grows up and finds his strength, she cowers. My father on the other hand, is dealing with a long distance relationship with Mum and can’t do shit. It sucks. I honestly pray to God to have a daughter in the future but if I have a son, I won’t take a single bitch-talk from him. What’s on my list you say? A man who is going to be an ever-present father, I won’t take shit if he dares to leave me for a long-distance job when our kids hit puberty.

Okay tangent. But in all seriousness, no one, should be the receiving end of insults. Be kind to one another, please children please. God help us all.

Advertisements

The Quest

Note: Fungus is the name of the youth group I serve in. It’s Fun, Us with God in the middle hence funGus. No judgement please. It’s not funghi 

“Juanlin made me cry so so much oh my god”

I was in the toilet when I heard one of my youth homegroup members said that, there was a hint of gratefulness too. I don’t think she knew I was inside. We had just finished a night session on the second day of youth camp and I had prayed for her during ministry time and she bawled her eyes out halfway through. She thanked and hugged me after the prayer but I didn’t think she would be talking about it with her friends after it. It was a session where youth were being filled by the holy spirit and emotions were running on a high and we were running out of tissues from all those crying.

This was my first Fungus camp. First time as a leader and I have never even gone to Fungus in my life. Tell me about it, to say I was scared shitless during the lead up to this camp is an understatement. I had a respiratory attack in the morning of the first day of camp to add on to that anxiety.

10 years ago, I attended my first ever youth camp of my life and accepted Christ into my life. Shucks, 10 years… (writing this makes me feel old and it didn’t help when a youth told me I looked 27 during camp).

I knew the importance of youth camps and how life-changing and impactful it can be on a young person’s life due to my personal experience… however, my walk was never uphill ever since my own. I grew to despise youth groups due to my inability to feel belonged in one. Camp was amazing and God was amazing to me but the youth never seemed to love me the way Jesus did so weekly meetings seemed painful, especially when a bunch of people didn’t want to talk to you. The feeling never changed when I moved to Australia (hence I never went to Fungus). I loved Jesus, I hated youth groups. (I had actually hated church in general).

Ironically, 10 years later. I’m a youth leader and I went to a camp as a youth leader and doing the things I use to be skeptical of other youth leaders. 

My 15 year old self will laugh so hard if she hears where I am right now. 

I honestly didn’t know what to expect during the lead up to this camp. My well-hidden anxiety didn’t improve when I was told to lead deco for the camp and being part of the games group. 

I mean seriously, what is this angel & mortal things these fungus kids do. What are skits. Why do they do flags. What are round-robin games. Where is this place called Camp Howqua that everyone has been to and I haven’t and how am I suppose to know how big the place is to design the deco-layout… lol omg.

I had an assignment and test due during the week leading up to camp. I had a number of silent break-downs during shower time and despite the chaos… I heard this silent inaudible voice in the back of my head…

Do you trust Me

I knew Who it was and He was the only one carrying me to prevent me from cracking.

I trust you God. I do.

It was this trust that pulled me through. I knew that He could and He will. He had pulled me through Kids Ministry and Youth Ministry was no difference. 

He showed me this by placing people who were understanding to work with me and guide me. I was blessed enough to have a group of leaders who were supportive of each other as we worked through preparing for this camp. I didn’t even feel like I was leading deco, it felt like it was all done. It was only until the eve of the camp when one of my fellow leaders realized that it would be my first Fungus camp ever (like I didn’t even go to one as a youth, all these leaders have been in Fungus as youths themselves). Apparently, I was heading it up like I knew everything… well I didn’t know a lot of things but God did, true story

Back to where we were, it was ministry time on the second day of camp. Youth were stepping out during alter call to be prayed for, it suddenly dawned on me that I was a leader and I had to pray for these kids.. omgosh I was never the kid that stepped out during alter call, let alone as a young adult. What am I gonna say.. OH GOD PLEASE HELP ME OH MY GOD PLEASE.

Leaders were stepping out to their homegroup members and I saw my girls in front with their arms lifted high in surrender. They were hungry for God. They want more of Him. They want Him.

A mini time-travel began to occur in my head and suddenly I was that 15 year old again. The frustrated 15 year old who disliked youth group and never wanted to go. What did I do. What did I want.

I wanted to be prayed for…. but no one did.

Time for you to pray for these girls. Don’t make them feel like how you did. Make them feel Jesus’ love and your love for them. Let them know that they have a purpose and that they belong. Be the youth leader that you never had as a youth.

Early during the year when I just started being a youth leader, I was enjoying it. I told my friends I liked it, I was there because I think God wants me there. I wanted to work with youth in the future and get into the Youthlaw department for my legal clerkship. Being a youth leader will help my CV and my youth pastor really wanted me to join the ministry anyway. I took those as signs that God wants me there but never knowing the true meaning/calling behind it. I mean remember that time I was torn between leaving kids and joining youth…

That night I knew. Hearing Amanda’s words in the toilet and receiving the little notes of appreciation from my homegroup throughout camp made me truly realize God’s plan for me in this ministry. It made me understand the power of trusting without always knowing what is next and the faith involved with all that. The theme of our youth camp was The Quest and I was on a quest without knowing I was on one and that night ended that subconscious quest of mine as a youth leader.

This is the story of the girl who hated Youth Group. You truly will never know where God brings you next.

I love youth group and I love Fungus.

p/s: I’m in the State Library La Trobe reading room while writing this. Teared a tad bit during my writing and I think the girl next to me thinks I’m a loony LOL.