[youth pastors and the trash]

[youth pastors and the trash]

After 2 hours of driving and walking, we finally came to the place where we decided to set camp.

As a side note, I have to admit that Ukrainians are not the neatest people ever. I am not sure why – but the habit of picking up the trash after yourself or of throwing your garbage into a trash can is mostly absent in local people. There are those who were taught to clean after ourselves back when we were kids, yet the majority seems not to care about it. I even heard some even say, “Well, the street sweepers need a job, so if I will not throw anything onto the pavement, they will be out of the job.”

Go figure… Back to camp.

We came to the site and first thing we did after setting our heavy bags was to CLEAN.

There was obviously a party right before we came to this place, so there was a pile of beer / vodka bottles along with bottles of Coke and even a discarded plastic tablecloth. Attacking the job of cleaning all together, we cleaned the place pretty quickly, but some litter remained. We cleaned the rest on the last full day in order to leave the place cleaner than it was when we came there.

A few days into the camp, I was sitting at the bonfire waiting for the water to boil so we could make tea, and our youth pastor was sitting next to me.

He glanced at the pile of trash that was still waiting to be cleaned, “People are such pigs. Why not clean after yourselves when you party?”

I glanced at him and wondered about the same thing but I didn’t expect his position against the trash to be such a strong one. My mind took me down the memory lane and I thought how much he has changed and matured in these 13+ years I’ve known him.

There was a time, couple of years ago, when I was really frustrated with him. I even stopped going to the youth group meetings because I simply didn’t want to disagree more and I’ve lost respect toward him.

I am Hermione Granger when it comes to keeping the rules. He is Harry Potter because there are times when rules don’t matter.

The change happened when he invited me along with several other young people to a prayer meeting at his almost-finished house.

The first time I came, I was wary. I wasn’t sure what would happen, I didn’t know whether we will pray all night long or go to sleep or perhaps we’ll pray for an hour and then go watch a movie like it was before… I sat on a sleeping bag and observed. My friends have been at these prayer meetings before, but I was too stubborn to come (I wasn’t personally invited…), so they felt at home and I felt… awkward.

We prayed from 11PM until about 3AM. There were three rules: everyone prays; no long prayers; and no long pauses between prayers. Then we had tea and went to sleep.

I woke up renewed. Having observed the way my youth pastor behaved, my respect for him reappeared once again. He was serious and while it wasn’t no-jokes-allowed time, it wasn’t just a silly friendly get-together.

Fast-forward to the camp.

I looked at Dziba and thought “I respect this man.”

He still can be silly and he is one of those people who are the life of any company. There are still times when all I can do is groan and a desire to hug him tightly around the neck arises in my mind. However, there are times when he gets serious and those are great times too because when he shares what God has showed him, it inspires / corrects / encourages / disciplines. I am glad I didn’t just write him out of my life as someone who doesn’t know how to behave and instead got to know him better.

He’s got a servant’s heart.

I know it became a Christian cliché of sorts, but it still has a valid meaning.

He is the one who doesn’t mind getting up early and making breakfast for us even though we didn’t let him sleep because of our talking at night and now are too tired to get up.

He is the one who can put his hand between the knife and another boy’s hand so that the boy doesn’t cut himself accidentally (and instead Dziba got hurt)…

He is the one who reaches out to others even when they don’t fully trust him yet.

He is the one who will help if you ask him for help.

He is the one who doesn’t mind taking a trash bag and cleaning the territory so others can enjoy the nature…

He is the one who doesn’t mind rolling up his sleeves and help clean the souls of the young people from the trash the society has left in them.

I am thankful to know him and while I groan at his jokes sometimes, I smile anyway because I know the heart of this man.


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