Do you ever have those days that are just blissful in an absolutely ordinary way, days that make you wonder why you don’t feel that quiet, subdued joy? Those are the best days.
Yesterday I spent the day in Westfield, a small(ish) town about an hour away from Princeton. Why? I was there checking out a congregation and youth group to see if they were a good fit for me and if I would be a good fit for them. I was put into contact with the reverend responsible for youth ministry at this church about two weeks ago, because another student here had told me that this church was looking for a youth intern. I was super nervous about even exploring this possibility, because I just kept thinking, “I don’t know enough yet to lead a youth group!” Well, that’s a lie and I know it. I have done youth ministry for so long that it comes very naturally, I just have to stop thinking about it so hard. Besides, I wouldn’t be solely responsible for this group, it would be an honest to God learning experience for me. There is plenty I don’t yet know about running a youth ministry and this internship would give me the opportunity to figure some of those things out.
The church is HUGE!!! I can’t begin to tell you how many people were in the one of THREE Sunday morning services I went to, but there were around 30 youth there for the Sunday School hour and probably 50 kids attended the lawn party later that afternoon. I am so excited and so nervous to work with a group that large. I couldn’t begin to explain my fears, but let me just say that at it’s largest my youth group was around 15 people.
During the SS hour, a woman talked to the kids about what autism is and what it might look like in someone their age. She also spoke about ways that youth might reach out to people who might have special needs and make them feel included as well as what ministry might look like with those kids. It was awesome! I mean, the thing that I want to do very most in the world is to develop ministry connections between “normal” youth and special needs youth! That is way over-simplified, but you get the idea.
After worship I had some serious time to kill, so I drove to the downtown area and was BOMBARDED by the street fair happening! No worries, I found parking and meandered for a bit. It was really nice to get to experience FestiFall, since I missed all the later summer/early fall events in KC. I had some lunch, I walked around the fair for awhile, and then I settled myself at a table outside a coffee shop to read and listen to music. I didn’t really get that much homework done, but it was really relaxing and more fun than I’ve had reading in awhile. Several people sat down at my table to drink their coffees or rest their feet. I even met a Portuguese water dog whom I was asked to watch while the owner purchased her hot beverage. I met some very interesting people and got a sense for the kind of people that made up this little town. And yes, I did take creeper photos of the people who sat at my table.
Around 3 I drove back over to the church and helped set up for the lawn party. There was pulled pork(salad for me), baked goods, games, friendship bracelets, and water balloons. I think everyone had a really fantastic time. I mostly met parents and volunteers, but I did catch the names of a few of the youth. One of the advisors for the middle school group is a sophomore in college who grew up in this particular church. She told me a lot about how the group functions as a ministry to the high school without really knowing that she was doing so. I guess the youth group is pretty transient in that large numbers of youth pass through, because the kids get really involved in sports and get slammed with homework. It’s a very affluent community, so there’s a lot of pressure on these kids. I may only see 20 of them on any given Sunday, but I probably won’t see the same 20 three weeks in a row and yet, they all get very excited about the ministry. I was told there there are typically close to 100 youth on the summer mission trip. Holy Moses! And this is the ministry I am stepping into. Get excited!
I really hope that the parents and the reverends liked me as much as I liked their kids. I really want to start digging into ministry on a regular basis again before I get rusty and I think this is the perfect community to spread my wings with.