Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Teen Girl Squad: The Epistilary Form

My mom was visiting us on Wednesday, so she came to teen girl squad with me. I was supposed to start teaching them from a book called GIFTS: Girls in Fellowship and Teen Study, by Hannah Colley. Unfortunately, the youth minister and I got our wires crossed, and he ordered a book called "The G.I.F.T.ed Woman"--not the same thing. That one was mostly my bad; I didn't realize how obscure (as in, not available on Amazon) the Hannah Colley book is. Luckily, I still have Special Delivery, by Jane McWhorter, on loan from Kassi, so I did the first lesson from that. Special Delivery is a pretty good study, mostly about the power of writing letters. It contains advice about what to put in a letter depending on the situation (what do you say to a grieving family? To recently divorced people? When you're admonishing someone?), and samples of the letters. Before we started, I told the girls that the teen girls at Kassi's church had used this book for their Girls' Day. "For their Girls' Day, the teen girls did everything--they taught, cooked, lead singing, decorated, planned the craft, wrote the invitations. Everything. The whole year leading up to it, they took turns leading their girls' class, so they could learn to do all the things they needed to in order to run their Girls' Day. I'd like to do something similar here. Each week, one person will lead the discussion, another will lead singing, someone else will plan an activity, and somebody else will plan the snacks. So, the really good news is that we're going to start having snacks." I went on to tell them that, just because they were assigned a task, it didn't mean that they were all alone in it--I would meet with them and figure it all out. I want them to learn to be adult women in the church, to do the things that adult women in our church do. They weren't overly enthusiastic, but they at least seemed receptive to the idea. We'll see how it goes. We're going to use the GIFTS books, which have at last arrived (the right ones!). Kassi recommended those as well, and so did Amanda.

We then continued with our lesson, mostly about how God is always telling people to write down the cool things He is doing. About midway through Habbakuk, God tells the prophet to write down his vision and send it out to everyone in the world. None of the girls had read Habbakuk--and a few of them didn't even know what neighborhood of their Bible it was in. We also discussed the moment where Jesus stands up in the temple and reads from Isaiah, saying "Today this prophecy is fulfilled in your hearing." That reminded me of something my friend Jack, who is Jewish, told me about the Torah reading. It is set. They read the same scripture on the same day every year--for example, each Yom Kippur, they read from Jonah. In the scripture it sounds like Jesus was paging through, looking for the right passage--but knowing that about Judaism, do is it more that he went on the right day? I was gratified to find that one of them (Amanda) knew what an epistle was--but she learned that from her high school English class, NOT any churchly teaching. None of them knew who wrote most of the epistles--and when I asked to whom Paul was writing in Romans, there was a ton of silence until Hanna finally said, "The church at Rome?" I'm glad she knew, but everyone else???? So, then we talked about the different things that Paul wrote about in the epistles, from admonishment to encouragement.

We talked about why Paul's letters were saved, and the letters that they had saved from friends and family. I'm a writing-letters junkie (in fact, there are several I should be writing right now!), and I told them what my mom always told me--You have to send mail to get mail. It turns out, in adult life, that that is not really quite true. My first major publication was a piece griping at the friends who don't write back to me! Still, I encouraged them to write to people. The first assignment was to write to a woman who was turning 100 this weekend (her niece goes to our church, and she was passing out the address and asking people to write). The second was to write to each other--I asked them to put their names and addresses on a piece of paper, and then I passed them out randomly. I'll remind them mid-month...I wonder who remembered. :)

On the way home, my mom and I talked about the class. It was definitely weird teaching with her in there. She told me that I was doing a good job, that I should be a teacher. Maybe she's right, but I'd rather be a writer. I like teaching them, though, and I hope I get through a little bit at least.

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