Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Memory making with the lads...

Took our Youth Alpha guys away to Donegal for a night on Saturday. These are a group of 8 lads aged 15-17 who use the basement drop-in centre. Myself and another leader have been running a Youth Alpha course with them each Wednesday for about the last month. We decided it would be good to get them away for a night and chose Donegal because it was completely out of the way of any distractions (i.e. alcohol or girls!) and we were kindly offered the use of a house outside Carrigart.

I was a little anxious in the run up to the weekend. My main worries were that they would mess about and i would lose the rag with them, and that they would be completely bored and hate it! I was thinking about it a lot on Friday night and by Saturday morning i had a real peace about it and i was excited about what was going to happen! more than anything i just wanted this group of lads to have a night away that they would remember for years!

We left about 2pm on Saturday, loaded into 2 cars and arrived about 5pm. We went straight to Rossapenna beach and played a bit of frisbee and Nerf ball and then started collecting a bit of wood for a bonfire later that night. Then we headed back to the house, settled in and prepared dinner. Each week we have a different volunteer from the church who prepares dinner for our Alpha which is such a blessing. Sharing a meal together each week is such a great place for building relationships. So for the night away i had a couple of volunteers prepare two meals that could be easily reheated. After our feast we started into our Alpha discussion. Being honest with you, this group do not make discussion easy and in fact are not used to sitting round having a serious discussion. Each week we are lucky to get 5-10 minutes of good discussion. So i was expecting a similar pattern on Saturday evening. On the contrary, we launched into an hour long discussion covering questions like:
  • Do you feel like you should be living your life differently?
  • Do you know anyone who's life has been changed by God?
  • Have you ever prayed? Have you ever seen God answer prayer?
  • Have you ever read the Bible?
It was so encouraging to see almost all of the guys really engaging with the discussion and not getting distracted. Hopefully this will set a pattern for the weeks to come! After the discussion we made our way down to the beach, picking up some more wood on the way. I had hoped the guys would really enjoy the whole lighting a fire thing and sitting around it because it's something i love to do! I wasn't dissapointed! I think there is a bit of a 'pyro' within all of us guys - it's that God given adventurous spirit we have! So within half an hour we had a great fire going. At that stage i suggested the idea of going in for a wee swim - i was half serious and half joking and most of them were like 'aye right Neil, whatever!' Then one or 2 decided they would go in if i did so that was it, i wasn't for backing down at that stage so within 10 minutes there were 6 of us charging into the freezing cold February Atlantic for a quick dip!!! This was quickly followed by a dash back to fire to dry off and warm up! Now we were definitely starting to make those memories! After that we sat around the fire for about another couple of hours just chatting, telling our most embarrassing stories and when we have been most scared. It was one of those really special nights - a shared experience with a group of people that we'll still talk about in 10 years time!

The rest of the night back in the house involved little or no sleep for some but the craic was good. Sunday was basically breakfast, tidy and clean up, back to beach for some 'ultimate nerf ball', lunch and then home! The guys all had a ball, so much so that they want to go next weekend to do it all over again! Here is a picture of the unforgettable Donegal 10!


The Wee Brown-Eyed Girl said...

That sounds like an awesome weekend, way to go! It'll be interesting to see how the significance plays out for those guys in the coming weeks and months. Blessings!

The Wee Italian Chick said...

Sounds like you are doing a really good job with those lads and I truly believe that whenever we invest into people's lives for God's glory, it always pays off - I have always treasured that verse in the proverbs that says "teach the young the way that he should walk and even when he'll be grown up he shall never depart from it",what you plant is what God makes grow. Well done.

Steve McCready said...

Rock on Neil. You continue to impress me with how naturally you have become such a wonderful youth pastor to the young people in Waringstown. Great modelling bro.

Brian Heasley said...

that sounds great mate, the Donegal 10 look scary!