I was so proud of my youth group girls a few weeks ago. Well, let me back up a little. Ever since I started my new job I haven’t been able to go to La Mesa, the weekly youth group small groups at our church. I’ve been volunteering with youth groups since I graduated with college, and it was one of the first things I did when I moved out here and started attending our church. I co-lead the high school girl’s small group and though this is a very small, small group, we have between 3 and 5 girls who do come regularly, and I love every one of them. I love seeing them grow, and ask questions. I love that our group is small and intimate, and that we feel free to go off the beaten path when we are in a lesson. Heading off topic is a regular occurrence, but it is never an issue; everything we talk about is important, interesting and relevant. I just love these girls.
One of the missions Robert, our director of youth has taken on is to do more local mission trips. Our church is located in a very wealthy area of the Seattle suburbs, and as such I think the teens sometimes forget or don’t realize quite how lucky they are. Recently they did something called a Box Out, where they slept outside and didn’t eat for 24 hours in an attempt to see what it was like to be homeless. They were even featured on our local news! Raising their awareness of the many homeless people in the Seattle area is so important. This brings us to last Wednesday.
Like I said, I haven’t been able to come around on Wednesday nights since I started working. I’ve missed coming terribly, but with my new schedule it just hasn’t been do-able. I am hoping, of course, to start up again in January. Anyway, at church the other day, two of my girls approached me and told me the idea of passing out hats and gloves to the homeless had been tossed around as a local trip they would do the following week. The girls wanted to let me know that we were doing that, so I decided it was important enough for me to try and get into work early so I could leave early so I could go with them into Seattle. It was tough, I was stuck in traffic on my way to the church, and I just barely made it before they left, but I was so glad I did, because the experience was well worth the rush, skipped dinner and traffic.
When we arrived at the spot, an intersection where Robert knows some people regularly hand out sandwiches and warm drinks, the girls dived right in and started handing out hats and gloves and chatting with the homeless men and (few) women there on the sidewalk. There was never any hesitation, any concern that they would be in danger. They chatted, smiled, offered as many gloves as they wanted, and generally seemed to be enjoying themselves.
Two girls and I headed down the street to find a few more people who were rumored to be there, and that is where we met Jordan. Jordan looked to be in his early 30s, and he was wearing a hat and a suit which was in excellent condition, aside from the fact that it had graffiti on the breast pocket. He was cheerful and friendly, and the two girls I was with took to him right away. We asked if he needed any food, and he replied, kindly, that he was all set, but did need some place to wash his clothes and a sewing kit. After chatting with him for a few minutes, we headed on our way and continued to look for people who needed the hats and gloves we were offering.
What touched me the most, however, was how touched the girls were when visiting with Jordan. They wanted to go back, they couldn’t wait to tell everyone else about their new friend, and they wanted to help him in any way they could. “Do you think he’ll still be there later? Maybe we can come back and help him.” Their enthusiasm was contagious, but most of all their love and concern for those who have much less than them was evident. These are girls who live in a well-to-do part of Washington, in a wealthy area of the suburbs of Seattle. I’m pretty sure visiting with these homeless people changed them, but even more, watching the girls visit brought tears to my eyes. If only all teenage girls could be as caring and openminded as the ones we took into the city that night.
Sometimes your heart just needs to be broken a little in order to see beyond.