A few years ago I attended a womens conference, and I recognised an old friend in the crowd. We met and while we chatted, she told me she was the Perth Area Co-ordinator for MOPS, an organisation that had over 3000 groups internationally, reaching over 100,000 mothers. Pretty impressive! I felt God starting to nudge me as we talked. Sure, I could see the value in a group of mums getting together, I said to her. I had 4 children myself, and was a single mother for 7 years, so I knew the isolation that this could cause. I said, “That is great Cherie, but my heart is really for the young mums!” She suggested TeenMOPS and as she explained the programme, I knew that this was exactly what I had been looking for…to help younger women reach their potential and enjoy motherhood.
I think you know when God puts His hand on your life and asks you to do something for Him. So the journey began, of researching MOPS, of understanding how the programme could work with younger mums (teenagers to 24 years), to my talking with other Christian women who felt the passion also. Not to mention approaching the church for spiritual support, and a place to hold the group each fortnight.
After 2 years, TeenMOPS Mandurah was born in May 2011. It is definitely a work of faith. For the first two meetings we organised, not a single person came!! However, we knew that this was what we were supposed to be doing, and we kept going. Now we have 6-10 girls attending regularly.
This is a wonderful Mum-to-Mum opportunity for young mums with pre-school children to build friendships and relationships, in a caring, accepting atmosphere. Each time we get together, everyone learns a new skill and develops friendships, while knowing that their children are looked after by great, caring MOPPETS helpers. The girls can experience time to be themselves for a few hours each fortnight.
Each young mum that comes to TeenMOPS has a different story, and different life experiences. They might be single, married, in a relationship, working, studying, or a stay at home mum. The point of connection is their youth and raising small children, with the many joys and frustrations that they can bring.
TeenMOPS has a dedicated team of helpers and leaders who make it happen each week: a MOPPETS leader who keeps the crèche buzzing, a Hospitality leader who keeps the food and coffee coming from the kitchen, as well as keen Creative people who love to share their skills and knowledge, be it cooking, art or craft.
We have had wonderful speakers. One time a music therapist came and the girls wrote their own song. Another time we had a professional make up artist, Duvah, give hair and make-up lessons, and afterwards the mums had a photo shoot in all their beauty. We have had a counsellor talk about boundaries, the Salvation Army talk about the soup kitchen in Mandurah, and another speaker about making traditions work in your own family.
There is no cost for the girls to come. All of the helpers volunteer their time, and Mandurah Baptist Church freely give of their space and facilities. We are absolutely blessed to have their unconditional support.
Sometimes it is hard as the Coordinator to keep the momentum going, keep the group interesting and to find speakers. We endeavour not to be too disappointed when volunteers do not come, or if the speaker isn’t exactly what we thought they would be. Regardless, it is a pleasure to be involved in the girls’ lives and a wonderful privilege to get to know them and their children.
All of us at TeenMOPS believe the group exists for many reasons – not the least being able to show the love and compassion of God, to share the spiritual truths we believe to be paramount to a peaceful life, and to be open to listen and encourage the girls on their journey through life and motherhood.
Coordinator, Mandurah TeenMOPS, W.A.