The sound of girls whispering and giggling echoes as throughout the venue as unsure hands grasp for phones, giving them an instant occupation and distraction, they pile in the hipster lounge area sitting as close together as possible. The boys, each separate yet still engaged, the sarcasm within themselves and others is noticeably clear as they take in their surroundings, both sides present, yet neither side acknowledging the other outside of a quick remark about who was or was not ready. The room fills with giddiness as well as the anxiousness that comes over early teens when an expectation of using their voice in front of peers comes upon them. Ahhh…to be young again.
Overlooking this years Confirmands as they happily munch and drink the donated snacks, I sit taking in what is said as well as attempting to decipher each thought, all the while secretly hoping Jerome does not call on me, as one of the few adults attending. As time progress, I find I gain yet another par for the course of my life as I quickly become center stage as he addresses a question to, You guessed it, this blogger.
Trying to divert the fact that secretly my mind was otherwise occupied I blurt out whatever the teen wonder sitting next to me says continuing to freeze each teen, noting that some joked, some quietly looked over at others as they answered Jerome (before he so graciously selected me), some happily chatting quietly under giggles and still others watched, much like I sit, taking in the surroundings, finding a way to internalize what they hear and or see, quickly blurting out that I had just repeated what my newfound crime partner had told me, Jerome kindly repeats the question and I respond as if I was contemplating the cosmos, concluding with my own pithy concise answer…no. No, I didn’t know that.
You are aware that writing ability has little relation to speaking ability, right? Right, okay, of course, unless…The play begins with [lead Actress – walks in the opening scene in a dramatic way] but, I digress.
It struck me as Jerome was branching into our core values, (after which he handed out cool little calling cards that have inscribed in them those values) and asking the teen wanderers if they know what Cypress UMC’s values are. What amazed this blogger is that they acknowledge that these values require active participation, Radical Hospitality, Passionate Worship, Risk-Taking Missions & Ministry, Faith-Forming Relationships, Extravagant Generosity, Fervent Prayer, at their ages. As the evening progressed it was time to continue on to small groups which would meet separately in three different rooms.
I maneuvered through each of the three areas within the confirmands group I was assigned to, allowing myself to become what is known as a back stage worker, albeit shadowed, in another’s production. There would be three rooms to visit culminating in re-entry to the main hipster’isk, let’s praise Jesus, corner room.
The first of the three rooms was Terri Welch’s she is a fantastically bi-lingual, friendly sort with strong thoughts and an eye for straying teen minds and feet that will not pass by her without acknowledgment. Terri intriguingly calls each teen by number, reminding this blogger of that old television series, Get Smart, where Maxwell Smart aka Agent 86 (he is what some old school Italians refer to as a bachagaloup, who always seemingly falls into figuring out the latest mystery) he would always refer to his Co-Agent simply as 99 (who was the brains of the operation) as she belts out… okay 6, and other numbers as each was assigned, what ‘cha ya got? These teens were invigorated as they received no nonsense instruction as she went through each section outlined within the confirmand’s book while correcting the consistent Can I’s with May I’s as I watched the young emergents reveal a little of themselves and their vulnerabilities to this sassy yet serious Lady which stood before them.
The pounding of kids feet and loud chatting of other voices alerted us that our time had indeed come to an end, as we begin making our way onward to room two, much ado is made about this or that as the group continues, a race ensues, seeing who can run the fastest to get the best spot. Settling into the comfy, cool, fresh colored couches each confirmand meticulously finds their spot, the session begins with Tami Vossler at the helm, she is an engaging and entertaining sort, as well as truly enlightening, her front and center personality I find, commands attention. Her innate ability to refocus a group of teens is proof of her years of Motherhood and giftedness. Her inquisitive and mass minded mind captures the teens thoughts prodding their minds to stretch further, to grow like kneading bread dough over and over until you begin getting the flour to meld in perfectly with the other ingredients, knowing the steps one must allow for rising, and baking, automatically knowing that the final product will become this perfectly smooth, fresh baked good which permeates throughout a home’s kitchen that through smell, gives voice to the recipient that ahh, yes, its time has indeed, finally come. She is more methodical in her style as I watch her stretch and engage the emergents with real life stories and how life can be lived, with some failure, as a champion for Christ and The Christian Cause. These young confirmand’s rise to the occasion and not only meet her at the crossroads I find they in turn stretch her thoughts and ideals giving pov’s which she herself had not considered.
The pounding sound of feet alert us of our duty to change to room three, as sounds of screeching and feet imitating bunny hops infiltrate the ears, giggles abounding. The group quickly piling into room three where a semi circle is arranged in front of Christie Erwin. She is the exact opposite of the two previous rooms, she happily sits, not worried about teen slang speech as much as the experience, she is content it seems to smile and allow life to happen. There is no organized list in her mind, at least from what this observer can gather, she simply looks at the evenings papers, focuses back upon her waiting audience, smiles and throws her own brand of wonder into the room landing on who they may, reminding this blogger of those wide green pastures filled with sunflower’s being pulled and pushed by the winds yet holding strong while thriving, being happy, to just be in the sun while the song ‘what ever will be will be’ filters throughout her skies…the confirmand’s joyously share free form style, happily engaging, rising to each non conformed idea and thought their captor throws at them.
This is where I notice that each emergent offers their own unique brand of evangelism as Christie leaves for a few moments asking this blogger to share on the topic of gifts I begin with my own perceived abilities and then begin prodding them to share theirs, timid at first however each one eventually began to realize and to share at least one of their own forms of gifting. It was warming to the heart and opening to the eyes as a florist might pull a slightly closed rose petal by tender petal, opening it to reveal its beauty to the recipient.
Walking from room to room with the teen wonders, it was that during these moments and as I walked to the main gathering area with Ashely, after breakout sessions ended, a 9th grade volunteer who is currently enjoying the drawing form of the arts, that one begins to realize these emerging teens whom are stuck somewhere between being a child in all their wonderment and their eventual destiny, that they are the next generation, God willing, of Cypress United Methodist. For those of you who have not met the many teen wonders I speak of, I will try to sum up my lasting thoughts although I have been exposed and thus infected with their spirits. They are exhilaratingly simplistic, strong yet shy, curiously timid, happily excited, quirky and complex, jittery and hopeful about themselves and what lies ahead and just a little frustrating for those that choose to lead them down the path of hopeful leadership.
It is not enough to say that the brave and caring adults who ride the waves within the chaos of these tumultuous waters are those with a cause for Christ. As I watched each of them giving and thus bearing fruits after their own kind, this blogger finds that they are adding freely to the well from which these young emergents will spring and countless others like them, the well from which we will all eventually drink. It is astounding to consider and more-so to witness. I came as a helper yet I found I left this Confirmation class a grateful parent, a re-committed Mentor and a touched observer.
Written By: Lisa Wooldridge,
Cypress UMC Volunteer & Member