Every adolescent is not destined to be a self-indulged, lazy, failure to launch addict.
In addition to working in the substance abuse treatment field, I am a mother to five kids. My oldest did get involved with alcohol and marijuana at the age of fifteen, things in his life spiraled out of control until he ended up at an inpatient treatment center in 2008 at the age of twenty. He is now three and half years sober.
My second son, age twenty, has given up his junior year in college to spend nine months traveling with nine other young Catholic adults. Their "team" drives from town to town in a van (like this one):
Each of them is allowed to bring only one suitcase. Only the team leader has a computer, and it is used very conservatively. Each young adult carries a cell phone, but only to call family on occasion and in case of an emergency. My son is currently on his way from Minnesota to South Dakota to facilitate several retreats for Catholic teenagers before he comes home briefly for Christmas with us. He will be back on the road with his team from January through May covering four states, including Wisconsin, Missouri, Nevada, and Texas.
In all, there are twelve teams of ten-twelve young adults who, at the moment, are traveling around our country delivering their testimony of God's love and their dedication to the Catholic faith. The retreats they facilitate in parishes all over the country are said to be life changing. My son and these teams serve the Lord through an organization known as NET Ministries (www.netusa.org) which is based out of Minneapolis and has been changing the lives of Catholic young people for thirty years.
Hundreds of young adults apply to become NET ministers each year. Only 130 or so are chosen. The application and interview process is lengthy, the training is intense. But these kids are completely committed to sharing with adolescents how important it is to understand God has a purpose for everyone's life and if you are living your life without a relationship with Him you are not fully living.
We had the privilege of housing my son's "sister team" for the past two nights, and I will tell you we received much more than we gave.
While they were with us we shared several meals, never once having to ask for help in the kitchen with set up or clean up. I had signed our family up to clean at a local church after they served Thanksgiving dinner to 1,000 low income folks from our area...the team came along with us and together we had the church multipurpose room cleaned top to bottom in an hour. These young adults are all about living selflessly.
Living the life we sometimes talk about living and then don't follow through on.
So, not all kids get involved with drugs, in fact, many young adults are choosing to spend their time working for God.
This was the letter we found on our kitchen table after we said goodbye this morning:
Like I said, we got more than we gave.
What we provided was a warm place to stay and some food. What we got was inspiration.
Prior to meeting them I jokingly referred to them as the Twelve Apostles, having spent two days with them I would say it is the highest compliment I can give them.
Our team left this morning to stay in Kansas tonight on their way to Iowa for retreats starting on Sunday. The teams stay in the homes of those who are willing to volunteer to house them all across the country. If you are interested in partaking in such an experience, use the contact information on the above website.
I highly recommend it! My husband and I, as well as our three youngest (ages 15, 10 and 8) will not soon forget the fellowship of these young adults.