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The best-worst event ever [Jun. 26th, 2004|05:38 pm]
I have been struggling with the Junior Youth Group all year. Last year, it consisted of grade 8's and one grade 6. So, this year, the grade 8's joined the youth group and a number of people born in 1992 became Junior Youth Group material. So, it was to be a rebuilding year.

Things have gone badly all year. The new members rarely come to church; when I call to do a head count about events, their parents usually haven't heard about despite that I announced it at church for 3 weeks (i.e. their parents haven't been there for three weeks.) We only meet once a month, and I've had months where zero kids are interested.

But, it was time for a year end event. So, I booked us to go go-karting at Karters Korners. We needed 10 people to get the group discount. It was a huge pain to get people to commit; no one seemed to be able to make plans more than 24 hours in advance - and that was their 40-something parents! I had 9 kids lined up (plus me was the magic 10), when we realized there was a problem with height restriction. You must be 4'6'' to drive a go-kart. But, they have double go-karts. Problem solved.

But, you must be over 16 to drive a double go-kart. So, I couldn't sent kids with taller kids. So I recruited mr_messy to come and help drive small kids around.

Then, Friday night, one family calls to say that their 2 kids won't be coming because their 23-year old half-brother is coming into town. (I've known their family for 5 years and never knew that the dad had been married before and had this son, but it figures that this is the weekend I find out about it.) SO, we're down to 9. And this family was going to drive some kids.

Saturday after much phone calling between that dad and other parents, that the dad will lent us his van (which mr_messy will drive) and we'll all have space. As we meet, it starts to rain. But there is blue sky where we are driving to. So, we leave and the trip takes 30 minutes.

We get there as it is starting to pour there. You cannot go-kart in rain. You cannot play mini golf in rain. (There is just something about sending kids into a thunder storm holding a metal putter that doesn't work.) The kids order food, but aren't event interested in going to the covered picnic table area where we have a cake for the girl who is moving to Saskatchewan in August.

So, we pile the cake and the kids back in the cars and go back to the church. I rent them a movie and buy junk food and we watch the movie and eat in the church hall. After the movie was over, I asked the kids (aged 8-13)to stack up their chairs and bring their glasses and bowls to the kitchen. It is too much to ask for. Everyone runs outside and I get to stack 9 chairs, carry everyone's dishes to the kitchen, load the dishwasher, wash cake off the floor, and do general clean up.

But, once I stopped grumbling to myself, I looked out the window and they were running around the church grounds playing hide and go seek. They were laughing and enjoying each other's company. The girls were telling the girl who was moving how much they were going to miss her, without me prompting them.

I finally got the group I wanted. It took all year, and it nearly drove me crazy, but I got it and we have a good foundation to build on for next year.

C.S. Lewis wrote in The Screwtape Letters about how time and the eternal are like 2 arcs and the present is the only place where they intersect. The past doesn't matter and the future really doesn't either; the only thing that matters is the present and the eternal. And I saw in the moment a glimpse of the eternal, and I almost missed it because of my frustrations of what had happened 10 minutes to 48 hours ago. How often do we miss little moments of the kingdom of God breaking through because it just looks so mundane.

So, I finished up my kitchen duties and I found them down by the river. We skipped stones, and looked at rocks, and dipped toes in water for 45 minutes until their parents came. It was the best-worst Junior Youth Group event ever.