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Thiếu Nhi Thánh Thể

Thieu Nhi has always been the biggest part of my life.  It molded me into the person that you see standing here today.  I have been in Thieu Nhi for 11 years; this is going to be my 12th year.  As I look back and see, we had a lot of ups and downs for our Doan Le Bao Tinh, but the interesting and best thing is that as Doan Le Bao Tinh TNTT, we have always stuck together through hard times and amazing times.  I remember my days as an Au, Thieu and Nghia it brings back a lot of great memories.  I came into Thieu Nhi as a very shy and timid person.   I didn’t even want to be a part of Thieu Nhi Thanh The, but the Huynh Truong’s are what made me want to be a part of something special; they showed a certain passion, love for Thieu Nhi Thanh The, there was a lot more to it than lining up and listening to them.  They showed character, they showed care, they showed a willingness to serve, not only for the kids, but for God.  That made me really get into the Vietnamese Eucharistic Ministry, Thieu Nhi Thanh The.  As they showed energy, friendliness and outgoingness, it rubbed off on me, and I became that person.  Not only did I feel like Thieu Nhi Huynh Truong and members are my friends, they are my family.  To this day, I always look forward going to Thieu Nhi on Sundays, it is an opportunity to get away from everything that has bothered me in the world, the opportunity to relieve the stressors I have been having that day, that week, that month.  To some kids it’s hanging out with friends, some kids is studying and reading books, some kids is sitting at the computer, some kids it’s even sleeping to get that relief or sense of happiness, but to me, Thieu Nhi has always been my outlet, my friends, my books, my computer, my bed.  I look forward to coming to see my “family” every single week to share the laughter, the knowledge, the lessons, the care and the love for one another.  To see the smile that you give to the children that you look after, as a Huynh Truong, there is nothing more rewarding than that.  Being a part of Thieu Nhi has changed and bettered my life.

By Tr Brandon Dang

CATHY
My dad started TNTT at Saddleback Valley VN Community of St. Nicholas church in the late 80’s and he was the first Doan Truong.  So, this marked the beginning of my long TNTT history.  As far as I could remember I joined TNTT at the age of 11 and was in Nganh Thieu (honestly, it was so long ago no one knows) and worked my way up to be a leader. I looked forward to coming to TNTT every Sunday just so I could see my friends.  My Thieu Nhi friends became my closest group of friends when I was younger.  Church and TNTT became my only interaction with Vietnamese people. 

TNTT is a close knit “family”, it has taught me about being teamwork, spirit, togetherness, being spiritual and creating a bond.  I think that being involved in TNTT has made me the well rounded individual that I am today.  I became a HT so that I could continue what was set forth before me.  My dad soon left after I became a HT and I felt a sense of responsibility to continue the legacy (for the lack of a better word) so that the young generation had something positive in their life.

I believed that this youth group needs to exist so that kids have a place to come and build bonds with their peers.  I especially believe that TNTT is important for our teenagers - there needs to be a constant positive influence in their lives.  Whether it is from the bonds they build through the years with the other members or from the mentors they look up. My parents made certain sacrifices in order to make sure that my siblings and I had a good life.  I believe that TNTT gave me a strong foundation to be a better person and to maintain positive influence in my life.

Of course, TNTT isn’t for everyone.  It takes a certain discipline to give TNTT a chance.  Some kids give it a chance and love it.  Some refuse to give it a chance at all. And some quit and end up coming back later.  As a leader I strive to make every member that joins become part of this family.  We as a group enjoy every member that walks through; regret every member that departs, and welcomes back anyone who would like to give us a second chance. I myself have given TNTT a second chance. 

A few years ago I quit TNTT.  Yes, I will admit it I was a quitter.  But I felt that at that time I gave all that I could have given.  I left for personal reasons but I will admit I missed seeing all my friends and all the kids every Sunday. I eventually attended a different mass so that my quitting would be easier.  And I was very adamant about not coming back – like many of the HTs are.  I will admit, in the very very very back of my head I kinda wanted to come back it just hadn't caught up with my heart yet.

Yes, it takes a BIG heart to be a leader.  It has to be about the kids, it has to be about wanting to make a difference and making the sacrifices necessary to accomplish that goal.  Last year, Truong Tai approached me to come back to help rebuild the Doan.  I just laughed at him.  He explained to me that TNTT was on verge of being cancelled and was in badly need of help.  I tried to say no again but something made me say yes.  It must have been the thought of TNTT being completely over. Done. No more. I thought to myself, “where would the kids go?  What would the kids do without TNTT?” 

So I agreed to come back and help for ONE year. My return was based on one condition – that we must change how we operate.  I wasn't coming back to become another body I was coming back because I wanted to save TNTT from being cancelled.  I wanted to make a difference and not only talk about change but to execute change.  I decided that I wanted to be on a mission.   Little did I know that Tai would end up leaving me hanging and quit.  I felt like I was tricked.  But once I made that agreement with him regardless of the obstacles that came my way I couldn't quit now.  Even though I wanted to I knew I couldn't.  I rallied up the 5 HTs that were left and recruited an old friend that I had met in TNTT over 10 years ago. We enrolled 55 kids my first year back.
  
We wanted change and we worked hard to achieve it.  We strived to make sure that we did not over promise and under delivered.  We made sure that we came through on every promise we made to the kids.  We promised to do what leaders were meant to do - lead by example and be strong mentors for the kids.  We all have an equal amount of hours in the day.  No one has any less or any more time to spare than the person next to them.  We should all learn to make a little extra time to make a difference. 

I believe this - my return was probably at an untimely moment, but in the end every positive thing that has resulted from my return could have not been any better.  Because of the sacrifices I have made God has returned to me little blessing along the way.  I cannot promise that I will stay forever but I will promise to each and every one of the kids that as long as I am here I promise to work hard to make every Sunday worth it.  And all I ask in return is that you give TNTT a chance. 

I want to say thank you to all the parents as well as the members of the church for supporting us this past year.   I would like to also thank all the leaders: Jessica, Josh, Brandon, Tuan, Nick, and Jimmy for their hard work and dedication.  And thank you to all the kids that worked together with us to bring LBT back.  And to those that are giving LBT a 2nd chance we welcome you back and we look forward to the changes that we make not only in our own personal lives but in the lives of the kids we teach. 

P.S.  This year we have enrolled a total of 75 kids in Thieu Nhi.