Assalamu-alaikum (peace be upon you) young men, mini-men, parents, and guests,

Well after a long slumber through the month of December (wow that kind of rhymes!) our youth group awoke once again for another semester of exciting educational, sports, fun, community service, and life skills activities! We officially kicked-off the ISGL Youth Group Spring 2012 Program last Friday evening with a Parents and Mentors meeting at the Islamic Society of Greater Lafayette (ISGL). The event almost didn’t happen as our mentors spent the previous two days debating whether or not to postpone the kick-off event due to an impending winter storm. Unfortunately with Indiana weather, you can never really trust the forecast. After monitoring the weather throughout the day, it was decided to conduct our first event as normal.

The event began with a presentation by our four youth group mentors where we discussed the following topics:

  • A Walk Down Memory Lane (the history behind the ISGL Youth Group)
  • Intro to Our Youth Group Mentors (including the process used to select and train brothers to become part of our dynamic team)
  • A Breakdown of the ISGL Youth (for ages 8-18)  & Junior Youth (for ages 5-7) Spring 2012 Program
  • Shout-out to Our New Educational Curriculum
  • Rules and Discipline System (yeah we know this is boring stuff but it is kind of important if you think about it for a minute)
  • Providing An Opportunity for Our Families to Get Involved

We concluded the presentation by asking families to complete a survey to help the mentors assess positive aspects of our current youth program along with getting recommendations for improving youth activities and programs for the future. As Salah was concluding his sage words of wisdom to the crowd, the iqama (call to start the prayer) for Isha prayer was made so everyone ran upstairs (okay more like walked).

After Isha prayer was completed, we faced a conundrum. Before our meeting started, snow had begun to fall lightly outside. Our original plan was to watch the movie “Kung Fu Panda” at an outside location (near the masjid). However, when we looked outside the masjid windows, we were greeted with a scene similar to this:

Ummm how do I get to my car? Okay so our winter storm did not look as bad as this scene; but the storm was no cakewalk either.

After one of our families lent us a pair of terrific speakers, we decided to make a quick change of plans and watch the movie in the multipurpose room of the ISGL instead. Before we watched the movie, our older youth (or young men as we like to call them) took part in a brief history lesson. We discussed the story of Prophet Muhammad, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam, and his difficult journey from the city of Mecca to the town of Ta’if. He, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam, walked a length of 40 miles to this town seeking support and help for his followers. Instead he faced ridicule and physical abuse at the hands of the people of Ta’if. He left the city, sought refuge in a valley outside the town, and sat alone making du’aa to Allah (God), subhanahu wa ta’ala. In this moment of tremendous hardship, Prophet Muhammad, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam, could have chosen to give up or run away from his followers waiting for him back in Mecca. Instead Prophet Muhammad, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam, picked himself up, walked back to Mecca, and persevered for several years against some difficult trials. This was the lesson for our youth – the idea of not giving up (or persevering) through the difficulties we face in this journey of life. The obstacles we face can include struggling in school with a particular subject, being bullied or made fun of for some reason (i.e. because of your faith, your ethnicity, the way you look, your personality, etc.), struggling when it comes to sticking with rituals of our faith (such as prayer or fasting), and so forth. We concluded our discussion by providing a few helpful tips or pointers for our youth to keep in mind when facing obstacles or challenges in life.

While our young men took part in the discussion of perseverance, our mini-men learned a very basic, yet important, lesson. Before we eat or do most anything in life, we should start out by saying “Bismillah” (In the Name of Allah).” To emphasize this lesson, our youth were given a nifty picture to color-in. There were some wonderfully creative masterpieces. Unfortunately we can only reveal one for your viewing pleasure:

Before we eat we say what kiddos...BISMILLAH!

 

We collected all our youth down in the multipurpose room, handed out some healthy movie snacks (fat free popcorn, reduced salt roasted peanuts, low salt, fat free pretzels, and 100% apple juice [with no high fructose corn syrup!]), and strapped in to watch the award-winning movie “Kung Pu Panda.”

All eyes gaze intently at the big screen...what will happen next they all wonder?

We selected the movie because it is an epic journey of a panda bear’s struggle to leave behind his family’s noodle business to pursue his dream of learning Kung Fu. Along the way, he has to learn the lesson of perseverance in the face of many obstacles (his fellow mates don’t like him initially, people make fun of his weight, his teacher is hard on him, and so forth). He eventually pushes himself to become worthy of being called the Dragon Warrior and defending his turf against the unlikable (yet talented) Tai Lung. Tai Lung is basically one bad dude who took the lessons taught to him in Kung Fu and tried to use them in a not-so-good way.

Meet the characters of "Kung Fu Panda" - Po the panda bear, Tigress the tiger, Crane the crane, Money the monkey, and Master Shifu!

 

Alhamdulillah we ended up finishing the movie 30 minutes ahead of schedule which allowed plenty of time for clean-up and to allow our families to drive home safely through the snowstorm. Until we meet again, we will leav you with one final parting photo of our youth hard at work:

Sheriff and his friends lend a helping hand during clean-up. You absolutely must admire the clever design of stacking the folding chairs against the wall.

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