Anchorage Hope Youth Corps

Monday, July 13, 2015

23 hours of sunlight. 20 other teenagers (plus a 20 year old), 10 interns and leaders, 5 full days of 8 hour heavy-lifting, and four days of counselling young kids and teaching them about God. All of which came down to today (yesterday in Toronto), when I had to say goodbye to it all and head back home.
I believe it's 11pm or 12am in this picture

Hope Youth Corps Alaska was possibly the most interesting thing I'd ever done. With a four hour plan ride, a three hour layover and another three hour plane ride, I finally reached the beautiful, mountainous city of Anchorage, Alaska.

With a fear of heights, you could only imagine how great the plane rides went. I had to take a medicine that would knock me out in order to avoid having a panic-attack. The second flight did not go well. It began with a simple thought: "The last plane ride went very well, I won't need the medicine for this one". Oh how incorrect I was, because the second I had entered the plane, I began to breathe heavily, I was shaking, my hand was spasming, I was crying, and I really forced myself to not freak out and sit on the plane quietly. The second flight did not go well.

However, I made it to Alaska, and off I was in an old red Subaru to go and serve.

Upon arriving to the actual camp I was going to be living in, I had already met two of the other HYC volunteers on my way, which, made integrating with the rest of the group much easier.

The cool thing about being a disciple is meeting new ones from around the world. The second I jumped off the truck into the camp, I was bombarded by hugs and names from every side. I already felt at home, and I spent my first day playing volleyball and sleeping.

After waking up at 4 am the next morning (which is 8 am in Toronto), I was off to start my first day as a volunteer.

It was nothing like I expected. The first day, right after breakfast, I was assigned to take a mountain of rocks and dirt and move it to the forest. That meant shovels, buckets, wheelbarrows and huge rocks (that I could barely carry). Me, and the rest of the volunteers worked for three hours until it was lunch, and worked for five more hours until it was dinner. That's basically what we did for the first week, and boy can I tell you, my back and arms were so sore by the second day, I couldn't even lift up my water to drink.

That week was hard, because not only did I have to constantly work my best, but I was trying my best to get to know the 21 other HYC volunteers who were there as well.

It was funny because, while majority of us barely knew each other, there seemed to already be really close relationships with each other. I'm not good at making friends, in fact, meeting new people terrifies me, so building those close relationships did not come so easily for me, I had to work super hard for it.

It was difficult at first, since everyone was so close with each other, and I had to find my way in.
But there were a few people in the group who welcomed me in, made me feel comfortable and helped me to really get out of my shell.

While the trip wasn't "perfect", I think God planned every small bit out which essentially made the trip perfect in its own way. Every little thing I did, whether it choosing to do more or less work, to ask the deeper questions or to even make some wrong decision, all of it helped me to learn new things about myself, learn knew skills, and grow wiser and deeper in my love for God.
We're all just kangaroos without pouches.
These last few weeks, I learnt that while studying the bible with others and evangelising are things God calls us to do, we tend to rarely look at servitude. All of Jesus' life, he constantly served those around him. Even when he was so tired and just needed a break, he continued. I learnt that serving is a big part in our walk with God, because it brings us closer to being just as Jesus was, it shows us the need around the world, giving us compassion for others, and it let's people see Jesus through our actions.

I made so many amazing friends in Alaska, and the friendships I had had earlier, grew deeper. God blessed me so much with every single person who was at HYC. Seeing everyone's walk with God, and everyone's eagerness to serve inspired me everyday. Each person was so wonderfully unique, and even just thinking of them brings tears of such joy to my eyes.

As I write this post on the plane back from Toronto, I plan to get home and apply everything I learnt. To serve as often as possible in anyway I can, to really ask the deeper questions and not be afraid to, in order to have a stronger friendship, and, to look to God in all situations.

Throughout the HYC, I hadn't always seen eye-to-eye with everyone, and everyone wasn't on the same page all time either, and even when things got hard, and there was discouragement and anger, the only person who calmed us and listened to us, and even taught us was God. I don't know about you, but I plan to go to HYC next year.

The only thing now is to sleep in my comfy bed at home and use an actual bathroom (outhouses are not my friends) and to wake up tomorrow ready to change the world, with my amazing new friends by my side, and God, leading the way.

Thanks for reading dudes and dudettes

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