Friday, March 19, 2010

Is It Worth It?

click pic to enlarge
The Monday after the earthquake in Chile Felipe, our Chilean student at the EJ Institute for youth ministry, kept falling asleep in class. When we had asked about his family back home he was unemotional and told us that he had spoken briefly with his grandmother and everyone was fine.

During the class break I went up to him as he prepared himself a cup of coffee, “Felipe, are you OK? It seems like you can’t stay awake?”

“I haven’t been able to sleep since the earthquake,” he replied. “I was finally able to talk with my family and now I know they’re fine, but I have a lot of college friends in other cities and I don’t know how they are.”

We know the crushing impotence of living many miles removed from people you love who are suffering. Logically you know that if you were there you couldn’t do anything to change things but it feels so wrong to go on blithely with life when they can’t.

In the following days Felipe was back to sleeping through the night and had more news from Chile. The following week I looked for a space to check in with him.

“When are you going back to Chile?” I asked.

“In December,” Felipe replied. “It takes three days to get to my house by bus and if I were to try to go during the mid-year break I would spend six days traveling for just a few days at home, so I’ll wait until I finish the program.”

Felipe came to us with high expectations. As he said in his application, “When I was a senior in High School I was voted president of the school’s Christian Student Union. As I worked with them I realized how abandoned teenagers are by the church in my area. There is a lot of work with children, adults and even the elderly but there was nothing for teenagers. I want to study at the EJ Institute so I can pay attention to the needs of this generation.

In the face of Felipe’s big vision you can see why I asked the following question a bit fearfully, “Felipe, it’s such a sacrifice for you to be here….is it worth it?”

He broke into a big smile which was echoed in his eyes as he said, “Oh yes.”

Whew :-)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

What Made It So Great?

Last night might have been our favorite time so far with the youth leadership institute. What made it great? I think it was the combination of working with enthusiastic, experienced youth leaders plus a subject we're passionate about and seeing them "get" how it has significance and application for their work.