At Capital District Youth For Christ you hear the expression, “Authentic Christ Sharing Relationships” a lot! This is because when you boil it down, we are all about taking relationships with students and connecting their story and our story to God’s story.
In my position as a volunteer with the climbing team you might not even expect that I am a volunteer. I just seem to always be there. On team nights I’m not coaching, but I’m talking with students, perhaps encouraging them in a climb or in life. I attend their competitions, not just because I’m the coach’s wife, but because I love being there to cheer them on! I love making silly faces at them in the crowd to help them relax, or giving them a thumbs up to let them know they’re doing well. On Climbing Team Club nights my role is a little more obvious. During these times DeWayne and I spend time playing games with them, eating snacks, and then a focused time where we talk about aspects in climbing and connect them to our lives and our faith in God. I do all of this; team nights, competitions, and club for the purpose of building relationships with these kids.
One night not long before Christmas, I got to have an incredible moment building a relationship with a student named Lily. We’ve known Lily for 2 years now, and they have been a rough 2 years for her, but she has kept most of it to herself as she silently suffered. When she first joined the team 2 years ago she was going through a lot in her home life and had turned to cutting as a way of escape. Specifically over this past fall we’ve seen a change in her as she’s healing and finding joy and confidence. It has truly been remarkable to witness this change!
On this night she was giving us a taste of her family’s culture. Lily is Colombian and in the Colombian culture they have a specific way of making hot cocoa that includes cheese. We were all skeptical that this would taste good so she offered to make it for everyone. As she and I hung out in the kitchen making this for half an hour, forever keeping an eye on it so it didn’t over cook, she reminisced about making this with her Abuelita (Grandma). She shared about her family’s background and how they came to America. She talk about her Abuelita and how much she adores her and the music that she always played. So naturally I suggested that we should pull up her favorite Colombian music on our phones. This ended up turning into us dancing and chatting while making hot cocoa. There is nothing incredibly remarkable about this story, except for the openness in which she shared about her life and the connection that she and I experienced over making some hot cocoa.
It’s been months and I still look back fondly on that night. My verdict on the hot cocoa was that adding cheese is a little strange, but the experience making it made it amazing!
-Michele Moore *Climbing Team Volunteer*
*Names have been changed