A summer of dreams was spent mostly healing up from surgery on a torn ACL in my left knee, which in turn made my summer quite uneventful. The hardest part of the summer then became my expectation to work with the ELCA National Youth Gathering and help with their multi-cultural event, which was in New Orleans, Louisiana. I still had hoped to participate, and waiting to see if I could heal up enough to make the flight, a week or two from the dates in July I had to resign from my post. A crushing blow, but the right choice. Coming to Austin in early August, I was greeted with stories of the gathering from my pastor and some youth. A little bummed out at what sounded like an amazing experience, I decided with the help of some parishioners to be proactive with these experiences. I went and printed out a bunch of their photos from my pastor and kicked off our youth group with a memories session at the local Taco place down the street. It helped create conversation of what they wanted to do with their experience as they came back to their normalcy here in Texas. For me being a person who lived in New Orleans for 6 months, I was so happy just getting a chance to hear their stories and ask questions with knowledge of where they had been. I was also able to tell them some of the stories and history that I learned while I was there. New Orleans played such a big role in my story of getting to seminary. It was the first time that I really understood and felt a definitive call to pastoral ministry. My National Youth Gathering in high school was also in New Orleans and I remember many memories still today that personalized my faith. I was so happy for the opportunity to reminisce and talk about that experience as well as hear about how different and unique their experience was in the same place. What a great way to kick off the year and think about all the things we want to do with our youth. Giving them ownership and a chance to grow out of their experiences.