Our youth are growing in their walks with Christ, they are becoming more mature and the process is both beautiful and excruciating for them at times; as it should be for all of us. One thing we encourage of our youth as they grow spiritually, is to step out into their community. To lead. To take the hands of the generation coming up behind them and guide them into the light they have found. This, too, is both a beautiful and a difficult process.
Once a month we pack up some crafts, games, snacks, and as much energy as we can muster and drive to Estarillos, a town about a half hour away. There, a couple dozen kids will descend on us with the unparalleled chaos of happy, small souls. We take with us three or four of the youth from Casafé who sacrifice their Saturday to be with these kids, play with them, teach them about the bible, and pursue relationship with them. With heartwarming enthusiasm and love, the youth throw themselves into the day. They play soccer with the bigs, they draw with the littles, they clean up after the messes, they sit with the shy, and they laugh with and encourage every small face that smiles up at them. They become rooted in the moment whenever their attention is needed, giving 100% every time.
This past Saturday we went on a cloudy day threatening to cancel our plans once again, but we had faith and we went anyways. It did not rain and we did have our club! Some of the youth right away grabbed a ball, a group of boys, and started playing soccer on the beach. Another, encouraged by some of the younger kids, set up a table under a roof, got out the colouring books, sat down, and coloured with them, chatting aimlessly. For a while this was enough for them as we waited for the rest to arrive so we could begin the games.
During the games one of the youth stepped up, showing profound leadership skills as he explained and ran the group games with energy and grace. Another, displaying wonderful relationship skills, helped kids paint and encouraged them all day. As is normal in any culture, these kids look up to the youth, it is easy to see, giving our youth an opportunity to be a good example-to teach through their actions. Our youth stepped up to the challenge gifted to them. Because it is that, a gift, something to be received with an immense feeling of honour, respected. It was, and they delivered on a promise made over generations, as the old have always taught the young. This is how it is supposed to be.
We have been teaching the kids about the armour of God, every month doing a different piece. This week we taught them about the shield of faith. We brought cardboard cut in the shape of shields and paints, the kids took to them with creative power. And lots of paint, not all of it ending up on the shield. But, in the end, that’s almost better; talk about painting outside the lines! Some even wrote the word “Fe” (Faith) on their shields. Not only were the youth helping to keep the kids focussed during the little lesson, they were helping to explain the lesson as it went along. For the kids having trouble focussing on the lesson and less trouble focusing on one of the youth, they still received the lesson. They still had it explained to them one on one. The youth know these stories now so well they can explain them without even really thinking about it.
Once the afternoon was over, we had said goodbye to every little child, and we had cleaned up, we packed ourselves back into the car and took off back to Jaco. The drive back was focused on reflection. Highs and lows? Hard parts? Best parts? We shared our experiences from the day, learning from each other, laughing with each other, encouraging each other, teaching each other, being in community and continuing to strengthen both the current youth, and those about to take their place.