Triennium 18 years later…

Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. 5I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4-5)

I just came back from taking a delegation of youth to the Presbyterian Youth Triennium at Purdue University in Indiana. I did this right after returning from a youth mission trip (where we were camping), assisting in a memorial service, Sunday worship, pre-Triennium event, and then to Triennium. Needless to say, I was tired at the beginning of the trip.

The last time I went to Triennium was in 1995 as a youth. Eighteen years later, there I was as an adult and the registrar leading the delegation. It’s a whole new world and perspective going this way. Last time I went, we also didn’t have AC in our dorms, but it felt like it took a different toll on me. It was SO HOT. When you sit still in front of a fan and you’re still dripping sweat…it’s hot.

All that whining and complaining beginning to say–it was worth it. It was SO worth it. Here’s why I love what I do….

Because after over 13 hours of travel and delays and little going right the first day, all the youth still have a positive attitude and don’t complain–and you get to see fireflies along the road on the 3 hour shuttle ride from the airport…

Because even though so much of me wanted to break down at times out of exhaustion or heat, watching over 5,000 youth and adults from all over the country and world sing and worship God together will sustain you.

Because when you think what you’re doing doesn’t really matter–or when you wish you could “participate more” with the kids (even with things like running through the fountain with them) and feel like maybe you’re not cut out for youth ministry anymore, one of the teenagers comes up to you and thanks you for putting it all together and bringing them there.

Because when you get assigned a dorm with no AC, the teens you work with don’t complain too much and instead tell you how they’re making the best of it…

Because even when you hear that a mentor/colleague, The Rev. Bert Tom, is dying at the beginning of the trip and passes away the morning of the final day, God places you in the midst of a community that understands and comforts you because these kinds of events bring us all together from all over…

Because in the midst of a denomination that seems to be in fear mode of all the changes happening, I see that the church might not look the same in the future, but it is still VERY much alive because of the energy of all the young people there…

Because on the way home, all the youth were sad to leave and couldn’t stop singing and talking about what they had experienced…

Because Jesus is the vine and we are the branches…and because I saw people willing to abide in the midst of all of our differences…

For this and so much more…

It was SO WORTH IT.

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Some of San Jose Presbytery sitting hillside before worship on Thursday night.

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