Sunday, December 11, 2016

Teenage Dream

I haven't been in Romania since the middle of October and while my focus has been on all things California (plus a pinch of North Carolina) I am getting back to a place of feeling like I belong back in Piatra. I realize I'm missing out on a lot of things. I open Facebook and see new photos of the kids, many of them taken by the talented Brandusa, and I can already see how they all are growing up. That might sound silly, that I can tell they're doing more adult things already, but it's pretty obvious. It's like they're discovering themselves a little more all the time. That's all breathtaking stuff, to me.

Working with teenagers requires a constant attention to the dynamics of the kids as they interact with you and each other. It necessitates thinking on your feet. Teenagers are in a state of growing mentally and emotionally, testing the limits of their popularity and social skills, and they also do that tricky thing called falling in love. It's up to their guardians to engage them in ways that protect them but also let them make decisions for themselves. Throw in a language difference and you might have an idea of what ministering to Romanian youth is like. I'm still figuring it out myself.

Being Jesus to these kids means having faith not just in them but in the power of Christ to transform them. I believe in these kids, but more than that I believe that God wants to be a part of their lives and that he will make the real difference in them. I get the privilege of being the hands and the feet of Christ to go and care for these kids as best I can but it takes the power of the Holy Spirit to bring hope that lasts forever. All the confidence and self esteem in the world cannot match what God can create: renewal and an awareness that there is more beauty in the world that they had ever dared to imagine before. When my eyes were opened to the greatness of the Creator back when I really began to follow Jesus, I was amazed to look at everything around me with a new understanding. I saw that things are the way they are for a reason, and the knowledge that God created a new order of purpose for humanity gave me ambition. It made me want to do the best thing I could think of: be a missionary.

Our kids need perspective. They're on the right track, for sure. But I think that what all teenagers need is a sense that they are a part of something really important. A sense of the greatness of God and the majesty of his creation is the perfect anchor to a strong sense of self. Being self-absorbed and short-sighted comes naturally to adolescents, and this is okay. It comes with figuring out who you are and what you want. But no one needs to stay in that place of immaturity. And that's why as mentors and family, I see the potential for us to speak truth into the lives of these kids. Caring for, teaching, and loving these teens entails a lot of personal soul-searching for myself, so I know I really have the right mindset and a foundation in the Lord. It's so easy to just assume that I've got it all figured out. Aligning myself with who God wants me to be is a constant practice. I want to be the best me possible, especially because now I've got twenty kids to influence positively.

I'm on board to spend the great majority of next year in Romania. I'll be in Piatra and elsewhere in Romania beginning in February all the way until next Thanksgiving. I'm excited and am looking forward for what this means in terms of really being there for the kids, and I imagine I will be learning even more of the language. There are difficult things about leaving SoCal for so long. Mostly the difficulties involve leaving the very young and the very old. I don't have many friends in my hometown but Ontario is still the place I've spent most of my life. My idea of home is sort of up in the air at the moment.

Normally, I would provide a link for ya'll to contribute to my mission...but I'm fully funded! Praise the Lord. Really, I hate fundraising, so this is a huge blessing. If you still feel called to give, pm me and I can put whatever you would like to donate away toward future needs. Thank you, friends.

Katie xoxo