July 28, 2012

aurora & columbine

After my daily postings a week ago it was rather cruel of me to neglect my blog this past week.
All for good reason though.
I've mentioned before that I am a youth leader at my church.
It is something I've been doing for three years now.
People always comment how we (my leadership team) are having a great impact on these kid's lives, to which I reply that these kids are having a huge impact on my own life. 
I think any teacher can relate.
We get a short amount of time with each student (slightly longer if you are a specialist) and in that time we are responsible for molding these children.
Sure, parents play a key role in that responsibility. 
Once again though, I think that any teacher will agree we spend a great deal of time teaching, loving, and caring for our students.
This concept came full circle for me this past week.

Our annual youth camp happened the last seven days.
We've being going to these camps in different states where you work in the community and try to make a difference.
We decided we were going to Colorado last fall.

The day before we left tragedy struck Aurora, Colorado.
I, like so many of you, was glued to the TV on Friday when I should have been packing.
I was incredibly torn up inside.
I love going to Midnight premieres and so many of the people I love go to these fun outings too.
What if?
What if that happened to me? Or someone I cared about? 
That night I even went to see The Dark Knight Rises with my family. I've never been more on edge in a theater before. Security officers were roaming the premises, standing in the theater, checking the emergency exit doors. I spent more time watching the people in the theater with me than watching the movie.

We left for Colorado on Saturday but didn't arrive till Sunday afternoon.
My leadership team decided that it would be a good experience to take the kids to the Aurora theater area and Columbine High School to have them pray over each location. We didn't tell the kids, but it didn't take long for them to figure it out once we got into Aurora.
I've never experienced anything like that before.
We all experience tragedy when we watch something on television, but it is always from a distance.
To stand in the parking lot of the theater that I had been staring at on a television screen the day before was surreal. Camera crews, news stations vans, and satellites lined the parking lot.
We circled up and let the kids start praying. It was emotional to say the least.

We didn't stay long but the seriousness of the situation followed us in the van ride to Columbine.
I took out my phone and found a story on all the victims on a news website.
I started reading out loud the victim's names and what their ambitions were.
I about lost it myself when reading that one of the men killed was aspiring to be an art teacher one day.

We talked to the girls in my van about why a loving God would allow something like this to happen.
I referenced this blog post that my mother had read to me.

On we drove to a high school that has forever changed the way we do our jobs and the way our kids experience school. 
Our purpose behind visiting these two locations was not to have our youth overwhelmed with grief, it was really about reaching out to a community, and sometimes the only thing you can do is pray.

Columbine High School was quiet.
School is out for the summer and the parking lot was void of traffic as compared to our first stop.
We got out of the van again and this time listened to our youth pastor talk to the kids about what had happened there over a decade ago. I myself was only a seventh grader when the massacre happened. I believe our oldest youth would have only been five.
We prayed.
Then we walked to the Memorial that was established.
The Memorial was beautiful. It was situated on a hill nearby the school. Each victim's family got to leave a message about their loved one for the world to read. Most of the youth group was crying by this point.
It was a whole different experience as a teacher.
Because your students are like your kids.
You start thinking about what you would do if you ever faced a situation like that.
We spent a good part of the whole week serving the community through different outreach programs...
but this day turned out to be the best day of the whole trip because it really struck a cord in all our hearts.

It reminded me that our time here is very short.
Things can happen in an instant.
In the end, I want to be so certain of one thing. 
That I lived my life in such a way that God gets all the glory.

8 comments:

  1. This trip changed my life and my perspective on day 1, and I'll never forget the heaviness of my heart as we pulled into each parking lot where before a word was even said by anyone, I had tears streaming down my face. Thanks to the Youth Leaders for doing this for us...

    Shelby

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  2. I'm not totally sure what to say here... but I wanted to let you know that I read your post and I think stopping to pray at those locations was a great idea.

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    1. Thanks Katie. Words are definitely hard to come by when thinking of this tragedy.

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  3. what a beautiful post. and yes, life is short and should never be taken for granted. thank you for sharing all of these beautiful words!
    xo TJ

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  4. this was a heart-touching post! thank you for sharing it. what a beautiful way to honor and reflect on the innocent lives that were taken. makes me happy to know that there are so many ppl out there whom don't even live in colorado who care SO much!!! <3

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  5. Amaazing blog and I really love it.

    Very nice photos :))



    ~~follow each other?



    http://lajune16.blogspot.com/

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  6. Love it. Love that you found action in the face of tragedy, making a statement in the lives of your youth group.

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  7. Wow, wow, wow. I don't know if I have words for this...really glad you shared your heart.

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