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The Famine Blog

In the Wake of Trauma


By Eric Woods

His eyes were locked in a glassy gaze straight at the ground. Clearly, something was not right with this high school freshman I had only just met when he arrived at our camp.

“I’d love for you to participate,” I said, but he didn’t look up.

“Yah, I don’t feel like it,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of tough stuff going on at home.”

I was sure he did, and didn’t doubt the way he was feeling…but I had 20 other students that needed me to lead some experiential learning activities. So, on we went. “Jump in when you’re ready,” I told him, “and we can talk more later.”

It was sometime the next day, after he came down from the high ropes course and sat on the log next to me, that I invited him to tell me more about what was going on at home. “Are you safe at home?” I asked.

“Oh, it’s nothing like that,” he said, “There’s just a lot of yelling between my mom and dad. And I don’t sleep good ‘cause it goes on all night.”

As the pastor to more than 60 youth who have been removed from their homes due to abuse, neglect or delinquency, I hear stuff like this all the time. It doesn’t surprise me anymore; but I’m also learning that the kinds of struggles I see in my residents are a lot like the things “normal” students struggle with too.

Perhaps they are magnified, and sure, the specifics may be different; but they’re there nonetheless. The truth is, almost everyone is wrestling with something.

They’re concerned about the upcoming SAT, and whether their score will be good enough to get them into college.

They’re struggling with the reality of broken homes—or intact but really dysfunctional homes—and tired of lying awake at night listening to mom and dad argue.

And more than one out of five of them have experienced three or more of what are called Adverse Childhood Experiences: things like physical, emotional and sexual abuse, household violence and mental illness, neglect, and parental separation, divorce and incarceration. (By the way, there’s tons of data and analysis of the landmark study, began in the late 1990’s to look at the long-term impacts of these experiences on overall health and wellbeing. Additional data can be found at

So, it’s safe to assume that a bunch of the students in any of our youth ministries on any given day have some pretty difficult stuff going on.

And in light of this reality in my own ministry, I’ve adopted three key practices that are helping my students to engage in the wake of their own trauma.

1. I don’t assume that everything’s OK.

Remember that old question everyone asks, “How ya’ doing?” Well, it’s a loaded question for many, and it forces them to lie or brings them right back to their deepest struggle, even as they’re walking into youth group surrounded by their peers and friends.

Instead of asking that, now I use greetings like “Hey, great to see you!” or “Glad you came, we’re going to have a great time today!” My students know they’re free to share, and often ask me if they can. But they also know they don’t have to.

2. I use caution with stories I tell.

I’ve learned this from experience. Sometimes, the funny story about not getting an A in AP Calculus (I got an A minus), or the heart-wrenching story about my parents’ divorce isn’t the right story. While those stories may make the point, they may also trigger significant emotions in youth who are on the edge about their own struggles.

I don’t avoid stories altogether—I tell a lot of them—but I do carefully think through each story before I share it from up front.

3. I allow some time and space to get ready.

In the room where we meet, I always have three stations out when students are arriving, each with a stack of scrap paper, a few pencils, and a basket.

Students can engage with and answer three questions. The first – “What is something good God has done for you recently?” — allows them to practice acknowledging God’s faithfulness, regardless of other circumstances. The second station gives them a chance to let go of the challenges in their life, even just for a while, by answering the question: “What is something difficult you need to release to God today?” And the third station is simply a place to write and release prayer requests.

My students know that these stations really are just for them, and between them and God. They know that sometimes I read their notes, and sometimes I don’t. But they also know that these stations are a chance for them to set aside the distractions in their own lives…at least for a while.

Big and Small, You Need Them All (The Ministry of Jesus)


By Russ Polsgrove

Jesus preached often to crowds. Big crowds. Four to five thousand people, but also rooms packed full of spectators. We don’t have specific numbers, but I imagine there were places where 50 or so folks just watching him teach and perform miracles. He definitely drew a crowd.

He also had 12 disciples. We know about those disciples because they’re featured so prominently in the gospels; but real ministry took place as Jesus mentored those guys. They went on to have amazing ministry stories even after Jesus left them, but there’s no denying he had an impact with that small group.

Among the 12 he also had three. There are numerous stories where Jesus takes Peter, James, and/or John aside to pray, to give a lesson, or even to scold a bit for their arrogance. A tiny group of people Jesus poured into had tremendous impact.

Jesus was a master in every ministry environment, no matter the size. Big, medium, and small, he excelled in all.

What does this have to do with my youth ministry?

Depending on the role we play in our church, or our specific personality, we have a tendency to drift towards one “environmental size” group. Extroverts are often in front of bigger crowds, introverts thrive in small group settings or one on one. If we’re honest, we prioritize the one we like best. My first church had about 25 students, medium sized. My second church had over 250 students, and my current church dips into the single digits attendance at times. I’ve been in all size youth ministries, and at every church, I’m ashamed to admit I thought we were doing it the right way and other churches weren’t. But ALL these environmental sizes are important for spiritual development. The miracle of the 5000 is so powerful BECAUSE there were 5000 people. The disciples were influential because Jesus spent 3 years with just those twelve. Peter was the rock of the church because Jesus grabbed his hand when he was sinking, and had awkward conversations when Peter was wrong. The truth is, no size is better than the other. We need all three.

5000. 12. 3. They’re all important.

The key is finding ways for your ministry to excel in all environmental sizes. If your group is small, you need to find some sort of large group connection for your teenagers so they know they’re part of a bigger story, they’re not alone in their journey. If your youth ministry is 500 teenagers, you need to find ways for them to connect with someone 1 on 1. Because if they don’t, their growth will be stunted.

As we start a new youth ministry year, here’s some healthy questions to ponder.

  1. In what environmental size does our group excel?
  2. Conversely, in what environmental size does our group struggle? How can we work on that for effective ministry.

If you have a small youth group, is there a large gathering anywhere in your town where your teenagers can be with others like them and experience God? If you lead a large ministry, when was the last time you personally invested in one or two of your students? If you lead a youth ministry, chances are you’re probably always looking to improve the way you reach teenagers. Sometimes it’s as simple as a change in crowd size.

How your youth group can help respond to Hurricane Harvey


By Adam McLane

Like everyone else I’ve been paying close attention to both the immediate rescue efforts and the long-term needs of those effected by Hurricane Harvey. And along the way I’ve heard from fellow youth workers wondering what they can do to help, more specifically how they can get their youth group (or church) practically engaged in helping.

My response to that Holy Spirit tug compelling us to act when something like this happens is always 3-fold:

Pray – Commit to praying for those impacted by the storm.

Give – Give what you can and as you feel lead.

Go – Consider going to help in recovery efforts, maybe not right now but as the Holy Spirit leads.

Today I specifically want to point you to those first two items: What is World Vision currently doing? How can you help? And how can we pray for those impacted and even those who are responding to the need?

Below is an excerpt from an article on the World Vision website which helps us answer those first two questions: “How can our youth groups pray? How can our youth groups give?

How is World Vision responding?

On Aug. 25, as the storm approached Texas, World Vision began shipping relief goods from four of its field sites across the United States: Fife, Washington; Grand Prairie, Texas; Chicago; and Philippi, West Virginia.

Our team of staff, local churches, and community partners is mobilizing to reach 300,000 people affected by the disaster. On Wednesday, Aug. 30, four 53-foot semitrucks arrived to affected areas and local partners distributed supplies to storm victims. Several other trucks are en route from warehouses across the country to Houston and Corpus Christi. Each trailer carries enough supplies to help about 2,500 people, said Reed Slattery, World Vision’s national gifts-in-kind program director, who is helping coordinate the response.

“The need is so great on the ground, we’re just trying to be able to respond as quickly as we can, to try to meet that need as best as we can,” Reed said.

Emergency supplies headed to the disaster zone include: tents, sleeping bags, coolers, food kits, personal hygiene items, women’s toiletry kits, school supplies, toys, socks, clothes, diapers, toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and latex gloves.

Products are being distributed to churches and local partner organizations to benefit storm victims there.

Getting supplies from World Vision to pass on to shelters and people in need is “a huge blessing to this community,” said Dan Worrell, operations minister for Houston Northwest Baptist Church which received one of the first truckloads of supplies Wednesday from the Grand Prairie warehouse. “We’re able to distribute in a level greater than we did previously.”

How can your youth group help?

Right now, our warehouse staff, truck drivers, and local partners are working to mobilize and deliver relief supplies to affected communities as quickly and safely as possible.

Almighty Father, we ask for Your mercy on those affected by Hurricane Harvey. Protect people. Guide emergency responders as they seek to help those in need.

Whoever believes IN HIM


By Jake Kircher

“Thanks for clarifying what you believe about [X]. God knows we couldn’t have anyone on staff who believed differently.”

I sat in my office with my boss slightly stunned. Did he just indirectly threaten my job because of the growing questions I was asking? What was even more shocking was that the topic we were discussing wasn’t even a major theological topic. It wasn’t something covered in the church’s statement of faith. It wasn’t even something that was talked about much within the life of the church. Yet somehow, it was a topic that if I didn’t believe exactly right, as defined by my boss, my livelihood would be put in jeopardy?

Over the last few years, I’ve been doing a significant amount of reading and studying a varying array of scholars and Christian leaders about many theological topics. The biggest conclusion I’ve come to? There is a wide, vast world of belief out there and it’s not easy to break down these beliefs into “right” and “wrong.” The fact is, I was finding God-fearing, Jesus-loving, Holy Spirit-seeking, prayerful and thoughtful people on both sides of different beliefs, and everything in the middle.

I believe we as Christians have, often unconsciously, taken Jesus’ claim that “whoever believes IN HIM shall not perish but have eternal life,” and added all sorts of other beliefs into that sentence.  Adam and Eve, Revelation, baptism, and more. I’m not suggesting these aren’t important topics! But as the list grows, it often forces us to look at someone who believes differently than us and condemn or judge their eternal salvation, calling into question the very God-given identity within them. In an attempt to “follow God,” we have created an idol of having the right beliefs about several things, many of which are honestly debatable.

The biggest thing missing from most faith communities today, both conservative and liberal, is thought diversity. Instead, emphasis is placed on comfort and surrounding ourselves with people who think and believe the same things as we do. The problem with that is that in that kind of environment, no one grows. More so, we don’t really love. (See Luke 6:32) Real growth and true love only gets fleshed out in the context of diversity, differences and challenge.

Following Christ and believing IN him doesn’t mean that we tell everyone what they should believe ABOUT any number of things. It means that we build loving relationships with others who are IN Christ and we talk and pray and discuss and debate ABOUT what it really means and looks like to live in Christ. This is what Jesus prayed for in John 17, “that all [believers] would be one…then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

Again, what is the emphasis on what the world would know? The right answers to every sub-point? No. That Jesus was sent and that the world is loved.

As we invest in this next generation; as we teach them how to study Scripture and ask deeper questions about life and faith, we must teach them how to respect differences and how to have loving dialogue that challenges us all to be more like Christ. We must help teenagers understand the paradox that we live in as far as finitely knowing the unknowable, infinite God. Don’t just teach the teens you work with the right answers. Instead do everything in your power to help them be lifelong learners with The Answer and the amazingly, diverse and beautiful community of others committed to the same thing.

The Importance of Planning Flexibility


By Aaron Wolgamott

Summer… the time when every Youth Leader is stretched to their limit with activities, events, trips, and seeking to take advantage of students’ free time as much as possible. It can easily become a 2-month whirlwind of sheer craziness with all that goes on. Thank goodness for coffee!

If your summer has ever been anything like mine, then you look forward to the Fall season as much as I do; because that means school is back in session, and some sense of normalcy returns. When school is back in, things slow down (at least for a bit) as everyone’s schedules become more organized. It is often easier to make plans during the school year because we know what to expect, and we as youth workers like to take this opportunity to create a well-organized plan and schedule for our youth ministry for this school year.

We plan trips and events for the Fall, Winter, and Spring seasons. We organize the curriculum for that year, figuring out how to make all of the lessons that we want to teach fit into the school year before next summer arrives. Of course, we schedule our 30 Hour Famine event! We create a calendar, begin to contact and organize who will teach which lessons or who will run which events, and we make sure that our team of volunteer leaders are all fully aware of and on board with the plan for the year. Then when all is set, we share it with parents and students.

I love that feeling of accomplishment, when the youth ministry schedule is organized and planned well, and everyone is aware of what to expect that year. It takes a lot of work to put it all together, and to see it all come together just feels good.

Planning Flexibility

Several years back, I learned a valuable lesson that changed the way I planned the schedule. It happened when, the day before our youth group meeting, a tragic event took place at the local high school where many of my students attended. The students had questions, the parents had questions, and everyone was trying to process and think through what had happened. I spent a good amount of time talking with and listening to students and parents as they tried to work through their questions and pain.

I knew this was something we needed to talk about in youth group. It wasn’t the planned topic for the night, but it was definitely the right topic to discuss that evening. So, I changed the plan and didn’t do the originally scheduled lesson that night.

Sometimes, we have to allow our schedule to change. We have to be flexible. And not necessarily just for major tragic events either. I’ve had parents ask me if we can talk about a specific issue in youth group because their student is struggling with it, but it wasn’t a planned lesson. I’ve felt led to share something…or had another leader feel led to share something, but it wasn’t a planned lesson.

Plans and schedules are awesome! They keep everything on track, and they help everyone know what to expect and prepare for. However, we must also learn to make room for flexibility in our plans and schedules.

The next Fall, I began to create my schedule differently. I still planned events and trips, still organized the curriculum and lessons for the year, and even still made everyone aware of the schedule once it was completed. But I began adding something new to the schedule…planned flexibility. I intentionally left some youth group dates open. I referred to those nights as “Flex Nights”. The purpose of those nights was to allow for more flexibility in our schedule to make changes as I and the other leaders saw fit.

If the plan for a particular night needed to be changed, then I could simply readjust the schedule by moving things around a bit and filling in one of those “Flex Dates”. This gave myself and the other leaders both the comfort of a well-organized schedule for the year as well as the ability to be flexible and make changes when necessary, without having to throw out something we had already felt the importance of planning.

It also gave us as leaders the ability and freedom to allow the Spirit to lead. I must admit that sometimes I am so good at making an airtight plan that I can easily miss the Spirit leading in a direction that might be different than what I had planned. The ministry that we oversee should not be our own, but rather the Lord’s that we are managing. He gives us the gifts and abilities to make good plans, but we also need to make sure we are continually seeking him and the direction he wants to take the ministry in, even after our schedules have been set for the year. We never know when God will lead us to share something we had not planned for, or to allow something big to happen in the lives of the students that we need to make sure to talk about.

Having a plan makes for a well-organized and well-run youth ministry. Having the ability to be flexible makes for a ministry that can reach out to and speak to students where they may be at in that particular moment. Having a plan that builds in room for flexibility makes for a Student Ministry that can accomplish both.

So, as you begin to nail down schedules for this coming school year, I want to encourage you to make sure to plan some flexibility into your schedule.

The Value of Gearing Down


By Andrew Esqueda

Summer is over and the new school year is here! For many of us we have tried to spend time recovering from our crazy summers of camps and mission trips, and we are already gearing up for our fall kick offs (although Fall has now been pushed earlier into summer). We are planning parties, grill outs, and the like, renting fun toys like bouncy houses and booking live music, and it’s likely that either you yourself will be doing the grilling/cooking or that you’ll be the one tasked with asking congregants to volunteer. I mean who doesn’t want to stand outside cooking in 80-90 degree weather while hovering over a 450-degree grill while basking in the smoke of meat and fiery coals? Yeah, we’ll let the youth person do it (oh, also if you could take care of all our sound needs that would be great as well).

We are gearing up and getting ready for 2017-2018, and it’s time to have energy to kick off what we all know is going to be a great year. Kick offs, grill outs, bouncy houses (especially bouncy houses) are all great and serve as vehicles for bringing people together. However, in the midst of gearing up for the school year, I’m also going to “gear down”, and I’m going to encourage you to do the same.

Instead of having a much-needed break and time to refresh our mind and spirit we’re rolling right into another year of the craziness that is youth ministry. The truth is that not only do we need a break, but our students do as well. They are beginning a new school year filled with new classes, new clubs, football and other fall sports, more attention-grabbing technology than ever, and more pressure for perfection from their peers and their parents. Our students are re-entering the world of over-programming, and the last thing we need to do is contribute to the problem. And, not only are they over-programmed, but often, we are too.

So, have your regular programs, but consider not adding anything extra; instead reinforce relationships. Programs can be life-sucking: there’s planning and execution, and so much more. But, relationships (at least usually) are life giving. Texting a student or a group of students and asking to get froyo is far more life giving than planning a lock-in that is guaranteed to leave you worn out the following morning when you realize that you got two hours of sleep or none at all. Go to a football game, be with people, and meet them in their own space. Not only are these things life giving for all parties involved, but they are also healthy modes of growing in relationship which will then, in turn, expand the reach of the Kingdom of God.

So as we gear up for all the 2017-2018 will bring, do your best to “gear down” and take some much needed time to focus on yourself and relationships with students and parents. Unfortunately, in the ministry that we have been called to, if we don’t “gear down” all that 2017-2018 has to offer might just pass us by.

Missions for Post-Teenagers Who Don’t Go To College


By Kathy Jackson

I am just 2 days back from a Praying Pelican Mission Vision Trip in Haiti and am slowly getting acclimated back to home. This was a trip for church leaders to get a hand on just how PPM works and to visit with the Pastors they are partnering with. None of us on this trip were new to missions but for some of us, it was our first time in Haiti. What an eye-opening experience.

I am not going to tell you all the gory details of the trip. Basically we visited pastors and the churches, saw the projects that were ongoing by PPM groups and heard the dreams of the pastors. The work the pastors are doing in ministry is amazing. They are the hardest working people I know.

But while I was listening, what I kept hearing was the need for people to help their school students to learn trades. They are in need of tradesmen who can teach their students about electrical, plumbing, wastewater treatment, carpentry to name a few.  The basics that we take for granted.

What does this have to do with youth ministry, you ask? Well, in my church, our kids come through youth group and they love doing missions. They want to do it, they will work hard to earn the money needed. But then they graduate high school and many head off to college. Many times they are not connected to us.  But guess what: they still hunger to be out on the mission field. If they are wise, they will connect to a group in college that will still fulfill that hunger.

But what about those who go into the work force or to trade schools? Where do they go to get involved? Many times, a smaller church like mine does not even offer a ministry for that age. We lose them completely or they find that it is easier to sleep in on Sunday and they will show up once in awhile at youth group just to visit. Yes, they are employed making good money, going to school at night to get their licenses for electrical, plumbing, and other fields. But they are not being led into the mission field. They now see that the mission field is impossible because of being too old to do what their youth group did.

I wonder if there are ways to combat this. I know in my church we are going through a revitalization that could attract those twenty-somethings back to our church. We are also forming small groups of people who like the same things. We are going to try to attract young people who are working and need a place to be social. Perhaps we will form a group that is called Young Adult Missions to attract those who have moved into the trades.

God is at work everywhere. He needs everyone’s help. Youth groups, medical groups, tradesmen and adult groups.

Planning for Justice


By Tash McGill 

Well, It’s August and you’ve made it. I’m not sure what kind of state you’re in, but you’re here. If you’re wrecked from a summer’s worth of mission trips, camps and other programs, take a big deep breath. If you’re recharged from getting away with the people you love on vacation, high fives to you. And if you’re reading this, along with hundreds of other emails as you start to get deep into kicking off another year of youth ministry – I’m with you.

If you’re in youth ministry, you’ve probably seen at least one ad offering you the perfect youth ministry planning tool or an article on the 10 Things You Must Include On Your Calendar. Those resources are probably really helpful. But there’s a key element to your youth ministry planning that I want to encourage you towards.

Plan for Justice. Plan for intentional activities and programs that will help you build a bridge towards Micah 6:8 living for your students. That’s why I’ve been involved in World Vision’s 30 Hour Famine for more than 25 years. I started participating when I was 9 years old (please, don’t do the math!) and continued until now. I’ve become a child sponsor, a volunteer and a leader of Famine in my own youth ministry programs. My involvement with Famine has become part of my life-long justice walk.

It’s one thing to teach on topics of justice but to participate in acts of justice is entirely another. From the first time I participated, when the world was in the throes of actual famine sweeping parts of Africa and ‘til now, I’ve not seen a movement so powerful for engaging students in what hunger means and how it changes our world.

So that’s why I would encourage you to engage your students in the Famine. In a world that is now more global than ever, we’re now facing the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II, driven by famine and civil war in many parts of the globe.

When you connect your students to the work of World Vision, they are connecting their sacrifice, fundraising and participation directly to support work that helps those suffering most in the world. Telling that story can help them connect to a life-long commitment to justice and living out Micah 6:8.

So hopefully you can take some time to plan for justice in your youth ministry program this year. Not just the Famine events but how you can extend your students understanding and participation in broader justice issues. Why not use your 30 Hour Famine activity to prepare students for next year’s summer missions or to further take these ideas into your local community.

The beauty of the 30 Hour Famine is the touchstone element it provides. A touchstone that can start in youth ministry but live on in the lives of your students for 20+ years. What a beautiful life.

Late Summer Break


By Mike Cunningham

Every year it seems like summer is over before it started. One day you’re celebrating the end of the school, making summer plans, and starting to work on your lovely tan. Then, in what feels like a blink of an eye, you start looking for the best fall deals, making plans and preparing for another year.

In ministry, summer is an amazing season, full of events, opportunities to connect and try new things, summer camps and road trips. A lot of great work is done! But, if you’re like me, sometimes you forget to take a break. Maybe it’s because we wrongly believe activity is a sign of health, or because we want to maximize time with students.

The reality is…YOU NEED A BREAK. Your Leaders NEED A BREAK. And let’s be honest, your students NEED A BREAK.  Taking a break – resting, relaxing, recouping —  those are all needed to keep a healthy pace of life for you, your leaders, your students, your parents and your ministry.

Every August, our group intentionally takes the entire month off (school doesn’t start where I live until late August). Was it hard at first? Absolutely! I felt guilty. I felt fear. I had a serious case of FOMO. What if parents get upset? What if my kids start going to another ministry? What if they don’t miss me, or us? What if they don’t come back?

The enemy we face everyday tries to convince us that we need to be busy. That our personal value is wrapped up in how much we achieve, both personally and in ministry. The truth is, though, your body needs a break. You need to enjoy life. Create space to play, to dream, and to sleep.

Taking a break is not only good for you, but also your leaders. If we truly do appreciate all the sacrifices they make then one of the biggest gifts we can give them is time and the freedom to take a break.

Taking a break also allows you to recalibrate and refocus. Taking a break from the week-to-week grind of ministry allows you to assess how you’re doing, prune things that need pruning, and create space for you to plan ahead.

So, before summer comes to a close and you launch into another fall season take my advice and shut things down for at least a couple weeks. I promise, it will breathe new life into you, your leaders and your ministry.

When 30 Hour Famine Activities Miss the Point


By Kevin Alton

I was once the volunteer I am about to warn you about.

Most church youth groups have at least one of these volunteers—loves the kids, first to jump in and play, probably a bit of a rough-houser if it’s a guy. That was me in my mid-late twenties—if Kevin was playing, probably somebody was eventually going to get hurt having fun.

I was eventually the paid staff person at that church, and the summer I was leaving one of the youth raised this question: “Kevin, have we ever gone on a trip with you where somebody didn’t go to the hospital?”

“Of course!” I replied, but quickly trailed off. His point, as we sat in a hospital room waiting for his broken tailbone X-rays to come back, turned out to be accurate. To be fair, I had long since stopped being the cause of injury, but we recounted every overnight trip I’d chaperoned in all of my years there and—sure enough—professional medical care had been involved in each. There was one standout mission trip to Arizona where the only day we didn’t go to the ER was the day I refused to go get stitches just to break the streak.

I still have a small scar on my right arm from the first 30 Hour Famine I ever attended as the aforementioned rowdy volunteer. The suggested activities that year included having the youth build cardboard shelters to sleep in. We gave them duct tape and a bunch of flattened boxes and let them have at it. I don’t remember if this was suggested or something we came up with on our own, but we added an extra sprinkle of flavor to the experience by waking them up in the middle of the night by blaring a thunderstorm recording over the gym loudspeakers and running around tearing down their houses. Naturally, I threw myself into the work. Somewhere around half-court I encountered a group of resistors to our destruction, and ended up with a bleeding cardboard burn on my arm.

All we were going for was giving the kids a sense of the difficulty of finding shelter and how easily it could even be lost to the elements. My over-the-top effort made it about something else—I blustered the meaning right out of it, and that’s what I’m hoping to help you avoid. There are often elements in the 30 Hour Famine activities that are meant to provide a mental check-in to the difficulties present in the existence of others around the world. Where you can, treat these activities with respect; don’t let them become just another goof for your crowd.