NYWC St Louis Thursday 1 November
Critical Concerns: Understanding Teenage Guys & Girls
Steve Gerali & Ginny Olson

Ok, one day down. It was totally serendipitous to run into Marko at the airport. I had been wondering whether or not we’d catch up at all, seeing as this is a really busy kinda weekend and you know – work! Funnily enough, walking to baggage claim I recognised both the hair and the ‘bent over my cellphone’ look.. a few moments later figuring out we’d actually been on the same plane. A perfect way to arrive in a brand new city, to a conference where the O’s are the only people I know. Yay.

Onto the actual NYWC stuff… the exhibit hall is about a billion times bigger than I remember from Anaheim in 2004. It’s going to take a few days to get through it. I scoped out the layout of the room at the WorshipTogether.com concert and I can’t wait to see it in action and then talk more about it.. it’s somewhere unconventional and it’ll be really interesting to see how a bunch of youthworkers respond.

So far, the 5 hours spent in session with Gerali and Olson have been completely worth the trip. So, I’ve become a bit of an adolescent development nutter recently – delightfully enough both the content and the presentation ability of these two is complimentary, challenging and thought provoking.

Olson is very well structured, linear and compassionate. She makes me love teenage girls and I really struggle with this aspect of youth ministry. I’ll be honest – I was raised by a strong, capable and confident woman and I find it really difficult to get my head into some of the spaces that girls find themselves nowadays.

Gerali is also straightforward, easy to follow and compassionate. But he’s sharp too. He’s a truthteller in that uncomfortable way that Paul was I suspect. His commentary around sexuality just has me leaping around the room for joy, because I find his approach so refreshing. Which then creates a sense of release and freedom to discuss the lack of truthful foundation behind so much of the underlying education around sexuality and healthy relationship development with our young people. It’s a difficult subject to confront and dialogue in a truly constructive way as a single woman unless you’re around the right people. For these few hours alone – it’s so good to be with the right people.

Finding Friends: I’m totally committed to playing the cute, international accent, yes, I really did come all the way from New Zealand card as much as possible this weekend – mainly because I want to make friends with more people this time around. In 2004, we were in a group and we just did groupy things, or us things. So this time, I really want to connect with like-minded folks in sessions and around the place. Not too hard at first, considering that so much of the four blocks around the hotel and the America’s Center are swamped with delightfully Christian folks that take joy in wearing their nametags! Woohoo. I’m wearing mine in traditional roadie style, through front right jean belt loop, tied off at 1.25 inches. I invite you all to join me in this! However, people like to read them things (it’s a polite way of being nosy I guess) and mine says NZ.

Tonight in Quiznos, Lance, Jeff and Brad discovered the magic lanyard, unwittingly realising that they had landed a conference buddy for the night. They are SO great.. and I love them already all the way from Iowa. Cruising through the exhibit hall is a great way to have a laugh and get to know people, as well as sharing our stories.

What do you think?