Today’s blog is written by Lili Galvez. Read as she shares her experience on this year’s StudentLife camp trip!
Over the last few years, StudentLife has taken a trip to Myrtle Beach for a youth conference (known as Beach Camp.) However, after hearing feedback from many students, we wanted something more service based. This year I had the pleasure of joining many of our amazing students and leaders on a mission trip to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. We worked with an organization named YouthWorks, that partners with local organizations to meet ongoing needs in the Allison Hill community. Over the years this community has become impoverished and trash began building up in the neighborhoods. Everyday we were assigned a certain location and a project to fulfill in this neighborhood.
On Monday, the first day we started our projects, we met at the Mansion. This mansion is a home of an organization called WildHeart, and they hosted YouthWorks for their service project needs. My group’s first project was cleaning up a driveway with about four feet of trash. As soon as I stepped into the dirt, ants crawled up my legs and arms as we picked up the trash. Most of us were freaked out about those ants because soon it would lead to finding spiders, and eventually an opossum. Despite these minor setbacks, my heart was just filled with desire to finish the job, to restore the beauty that was once there, and to clean up as fast as I could to avoid thinking about more creepy, crawling creatures. It was tough labor, I’m talking about shoveling piles of dirt, pulling out mattresses, and loading heavy trash bags on and off trucks. This is not something I do normally on a day to day basis, and I know some other students felt the same way. This type of labor really allowed more opportunities to bond with one another and to encourage each other! We were all exhausted on the first day, but after seeing all the effort and progress we made, it gave us motivation for the next day.
Although, the work did not stop there, we also had the opportunity to help with breakfast, dinner, and your typical household cleaning chores. After dinner, we would meet as one big group and talk about how our day went. After worship and a message, all the churches involved had their own group time. This was one of my favorite parts of the day. Many of the students would share how they were truly feeling. Sometimes it seems better to hide our emotions to ourselves, to avoid vulnerability, but the students were willing to be open with everyone. Whether it was excitement, fear, or hope, everyone was listening and supporting our friends. I couldn’t help but admire how our students are brave, hardworking, kind, and generous. Some of them were a lot younger than me, but the wisdom that they spoke blew me away. Not only did God stretch us out of our comfort zone, but I truly saw heart transformation in each and every one of us.
The last night of camp was amazing and that night is where I truly believed the students and I had our heart transformation. The YouthWorks hosts washed our leaders’ feet, and then the leaders washed our feet and prayed for us. I was a little self-conscious about having someone wash my feet, but the meaning behind this action is beautiful. Jesus washed the disciples’ feet to demonstrate humility and servanthood. It was an experience I will never forget because it left me in so much awe and wonder. I looked across the room and was just overwhelmed by the Lord’s presence and just how much he cares and loves us all. His presence was so powerful, some of the students began breaking down in tears. They were willing to let God enter their hearts and repair open wounds. I was so proud to see other students stepping up and surrounding their friends with love and encouragement.
I loved this trip so much because I had the chance to serve the Lord with new people in my life, and He began to stir in me new passions and desires. I have always loved working with children, but I am open to working with middle school and high school students when I am older. I also believe this trip gave all of us, (students and leaders) a new perspective of how we can reach our communities here at home. My hope is that we will have more volunteers in different areas at church, more attendance from students in REACH events, and more students participating in mission trips.
We are so thankful for the what God is doing in our students through the StudentLife ministry! If you would like more information about StudentLife visit: thepointva.com/studentlife