so, i'm leaving on thursday for the national youth workers convention with 6 others from church. i'm pretty excited to go. i missed out on going last year. there's nothing quite like it. 7000 youth workers from around the US, all gathered in once place to learn how to be better youth workers. one of my favorite parts is how encouraging and uplifting all of the speakers are. as a youth worker, i can tell you, the appreciation you receive is not very often and not very sincere. you are more likely to receive criticism over compliments. the kids are more often wanting to argue with you instead of thank you. while i don't think its as thankless of a job as being a parent can be, at times it can feel pretty darn thankless. it is definitely not the place for someone who needs lots of encouragement and appreciation. so the planners for the conference seem to know this, so they usually take as many opportunities as they can to tell you what an awesome job you are doing and just how important your role is.
this year i've noticed they are doing something different ... they have these seminars that you can pick and choose which ones you want to attend. this year they have "tracks" so if you want to focus more on development or soul care or middle school, etc ... they have specific seminars that will be helpful for you. so i'm excited to really take some time, to be quiet, to listen to what God might be telling me and to be replenished and uplifted.
my roomie for the weekend, has never been before. so i'm excited to show her around and let her experience just how cool this conference is. i've never experienced anything quite like it before. we are driving, since it's pittsburgh and road trips are one of my favorite things ever...
so for a bunch of different reasons, i'm excited to go!
in other news, we had a "emo emerge" tonight at the high school service. it's called "emerge" and we've been teaching on the life of Jesus, in reverse. we started with the picture we see of Jesus in Revelation and have been working our way back. tonight we talked about the torture and death of Jesus. we kept it dark in the youth center, with a lot of candles lit and even some black lights on the stage. we had a "coffin" of sorts brought up on stage and at the end of the message gave students to chance to let go of a sin they've been holding on to. they were able to write it down and place their paper in the coffin during worship. worship was acoustic and we sang chris tomlin's amazing grace, my chains are gone right after the message.
what an emotional night! i'm not sure the students were affected as much as i would have liked them to be (didn't stop me from bawling my eyes out during amazing grace ... but that version, when sung right, gets me every time) ... but many put their papers in the box. and it was pretty amazing to hear many of the students singing out ... they paid attention during the message and were overall pretty respectful. it even rained all night, so they couldn't even sneak outside, or go to pizza hut. they were "stuck" in the youth center and i was pretty grateful to God for that. it even helped to set the "tone" of a dark and somber night.
we had our largest attendance of the fall, with 63 high school students there and a TON of leaders. overall, i'm pretty encouraged with how things are going now. i'm at times, frustrated and exhausted with all i'm having to do. but as long as the results continue to be good, i'll be fine!