much has gone on the past few weeks that it is mind boggling to think
about writing it down but we want to let you know how everything has
gone, so here goes...
we got back from Kathleen's (Tim's sister) wedding
bridesmaids and Husband, Dan
SC, our main project was preparing for three upcoming conferences.
We spent a lot of time reading and trying to distill the essentials
of youth work in the mexican context into two 50 minute presentations.
One of our goals was to not just TELL how to do it, but to MODEL a more
interactive and creative style. We also wanted to give them some
really practical handouts, stuff they could use the very next sunday
to improve whatever they were already doing. Our tutor, Dora Luz, translated
8 pages of games for one handout, I put together 5 pages of resources,
and Tim worked up a handout with specific instructions to make any Bible
lesson more active and applicable to the youth's lives.
Annette with our tutor, Dora
Thurs., July 9, we were off and running: we drove in to the airport
early to pick up our friends from Florence, Scott and Emily, at the
airport in Mexico City. We
were tired from the push of getting everything ready for the conferences.
They were tired after leading a two week high school missions trip,
but we just had to take them to Mexico City's main plaza to see the
Cathedral and the Diego Rivera mural in the national palace. Ducked
into the National Palace of Fine Arts to see the architecture,
ate at Sanborn's house of tiles, and even paid a guide to explain
the cathedral to us. Then we drove back to Toluca and got a good
Emily and us
we all left early to drive to our first conference in Jilotepec, Mexico.
Because it's the rainy season everything was green, which made the drive
lovely. Having never driven the road to Jilotepec before, we gave
ourselves plenty of time to get there (knowing that a drive is
45 miles isn't all that much help in knowing how long the trip will
take because of the inevitable curves, speed bumps, and slow moving
semis.) We were pleasantly surprised when we arrived
within an hour... but then almost had to turn around and go home.
Any time we leave town we have to
put our problem solving skills into practice. At each conference
we dealt with different kinds of problems and stresses, in Jilotepec
we almost had to turn around and go home because we couldn't get a hold
of the pastor or find the church. All we had in the way of contact
was the pastor's first name and telephone number. Tim had called
the pastor the day before and gotten through just fine, but when we
reached town and tried to call the number wouldn't go through.
We drove around the little town looking for the church (a needle
in a small haystack is still a needle in a haystack) but
had no success. We didn't know what to do next. We were parked
outside a hotel and after praying for guidance, Tim looked up at the
hotel sign (which had a telephone number) and saw
that it had only 5 digits - *AHA*
- we'd been dialing 6 a digit number like the numbers we have here in
Toluca, but apparently they have a 3 digit area code and a 5 digit local
number (and we were calling locally.) He
jumped out of the car, called, it went through, and we were only a few
blocks away from where the conference was being held.
met up with Steve Young, the conference organizer who like us trains
youth workers. He works for Reach Out Ministries (based in Atlanta)
and is moving to Mexico in January. Emily and Scott had the experience
of being in a Mexican family's home and we were served a really great
lunch. The conference took place in one of the two small protestant
churches in town. There were a few pastors, a few lay people who
work with youth, and the other 25 people in attendance seemed to be
church members who came because something was going on. The first night
Steve Young gave several really good talks (all unfortunately
poorly translated) and two Mexican girls from my Bible
study (Gaby and Vero) lead a game.
Vero, Gaby and I
morning the girls led more games and Gaby, Scott and Emily briefly told
how time spent with someone in a discipleship setting had deeply impacted
their lives. Tim gave a talk entitled "Youth: the key for the church
in the 21st century" in which he stressed the importance of working
with youth and of addressing their specific needs and cultural context.
The talk starts out with an icebreaker - "Signature Hunt" - which introduces
all of his main points. It also includes a skit in which the people
who got the most signatures in the icebreaker act out the roles of parents
and youth to show the differences in the cultures.
Tim also discussed the findings
of our survey of youth workers and led up to my talk by getting the
audience to say what they are most in need of in their work with youth
(from our survey and their responses it is always resources.)
So then I followed with practical helps in the areas of developing a
vision statement, understanding a basic model for youth ministry (Steve
also did a great talk on this and ours dovetailed well.)
We walked them through our handouts on creating fellowship, resources,
and active learning.
one of the youth conferences
at which we spoke
the active learning section Tim leads a powerful exercise where he calls
about 8 people up front who don't know the others in the group. He has
them all say their names and then asks if anyone can remember all of
their names. Of course no one can remember since they all said
their 3 or 4 names, like "Maria Guadalupe Fuentes Carranza," quickly
and quietly. Next they have to say only their first name and an animal
that starts with the same letter, like: Tim Tarantula. After this usually
one or two people can remember the names but never the shyer people.
play imaginary volleyball saying their names as they "serve" to each
other (Maria Monkey serving Carlos Crocodile.) Tim makes sure
that they have all served to everyone and then asks them to say everyone's
names. Everyone has a really good time through the whole process
and at the end everyone can say all the names. It's a vivid example
of how active learning is more effective than just hearing something
had asked Gaby and Vero to come to the conference to help us evaluate
it. They said that it was a really helpful time and we felt good
about it. We took off with Scott and Emily immediately after our
talks for a trip to Oaxaca in south
of Mexico. We had a great time talking in the car on the way down
and back, and the scenery was really incredible.
Two days after returning we presented
our workshops at two other conferences in two different states. So there
is a lot more to tell but so as not to bore you, we'll call this the
first installment and continue later.