This might be our favorite crew right now. We have been spending more and more time with the youth in the community, and we feel like so much is happening for them. The hope is vibrant.
For many of these students, we’ve known them since they were six or eight. Now they are teenagers, in high school or finishing it up. They are making vital decisions about how they will live; how they will emulate their parents and brothers and sisters or how they won’t. They are working outside of school, and we’re desperate to keep them attending. They are on phones and at football fields after school; we’re doing our best to be involved and be present.
Many of you know of The Reinforcers, students Stephen has been training in live sound reinforcement. As the kids have grown and situations have changed, this is changing often, too. But in short: it’s growing! And it’s amazing.
We currently have three Reinforcers: Pyint Soe & La Point are brothers, and Yedi is a cousin. We’ve all known them a decade! Pyint Soe is taking his final high school exam this week and we’ll be celebrating his graduation this weekend. He’ll be continuing with us in a heavy part-time roll as he waits to get his exam results and decide about university options. La Pyint & Yedi are working extra over the summer with some recording projects, and partnering with two other youth from a local Burmese church. Stephen is teaching recording and coordinating projects every week for all five of them.
We also recently hired another teenager, Thaw Thaw, who is our new Computer Manager. We have three desktop computers available for the older kids to play games and video games together during our open house hours. It’s our effort to keep kids in a safe place, encouraging collective community play, rather than individualized phone time or the nearby questionable hangout.
Thaw Thaw has been learning new games and teaching the younger kids, while managing it all weekly.
This group is now called The Reinforcers+, since it’s a broad sweep! We’re trying to meet with them regularly in a mentoring capacity. We are addressing difficult topics and trying to give them openness into our lives and our decisions, while challenging them to be intentional with theirs. This past month we met to talk about phone and computer safety and addictions.
They all happened to show up in yellow, then voted for us all to match!
Throughout the year we have a weekly English class for the youth, and we’ve expanded it for the summer. Every Monday, we are watching Planet Earth and doing a workbook about what we are learning using a curriculum created by a local non-profit. We then play games and talk together, again providing safe fun and conversation.
The students are also a part of our Summer Book Club, which I am so very excited about. More on that to come.
And beyond that, we do whatever we can do bring the students together for fun! We want them to trust us and know us. There is a youth worship night held in town every month or two, so we’ve been inviting them to come along. They absolutely love it.
There was also a breakdancing competition a few weeks ago that boys went to watch. And Stephen took one of the guys out for ice cream and games yesterday afternoon.
We’re really excited to have these friends in our home a few days through the week, for English and cajon and guitar and worship nights and games. We love that Oak knows their names. We are hopeful for breaking some generational patterns within the community, and we are really hopeful for their futures!