I had the opportunity to go to the Nepal HOPE Youth Corps (HYC) with many other disciples from around the world in December last year. The focus of our trip was to serve at the HOPE school: taking care of the young students and helping out with renewal works. On top of that, we had lots of fellowship with the Nepalese disciples.
Having already been to numerous HOPE Youth Corps before, I was excited to see how this experience would soften my heart again. Each past HYC has truly taught me a lot- from loving one another, to Jesus’ compassion.
A part of the renewal work was to scrub the walls before we could paint a new layer. It was a daunting task for hours on end and, honestly, I couldn’t see how doing this would make a difference in the kids’ lives, and I felt like I wasn’t giving much. Adding to that is the fact that I could see that the other volunteers, whose roles were to teach the kids, were more personally involved with them. However, Jiah, one of our GSI leaders for the trip, mentioned how what we do actually helps them to take pride in their school- seeing their school clean and new, and that even the seemingly boring task we were doing, makes a difference in the children.
After school, there was some time when everyone gets to play with the kids before they went home. I was overwhelmed at how clingy they all were and also how much they needed attention all the time. On Christmas day, we had the opportunity to visit the kid’s houses to see their living conditions and to spend time with them. In the house my group visited, there were 7 people living in the house, including the little girl who studied at the HOPE school, yet there were only three beds in total.
We then asked what her hobby was and she said that it was washing the dishes. Confused and unsure if she understood us, we asked what else she likes to do for fun, and she said she likes to cook for the whole family. Hearing her answers made me realise how she had to fill in adult roles in taking care of her younger siblings and cousins, since her father has to work every day and night to provide for the family. Listening to her go on about her hobbies also made me realise that the kids are really deprived of attention; they only get to be kids when they’re in school. I was encouraged to know that the little service and love that I give does make a difference in the kids’ life.
Looking at the little girl and her family, I see 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 come to life.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
It was about seeing that obeying God’s commands about love is fundamental to what the meaning of love is. To be patient, kind, not self-seeking, serving and loving to the children, also helped me to better understand about how He sees the world with compassion and love. I’m truly grateful for the opportunity for my heart to be stirred.
Written by Chanel Susantyo (Nepal HYC, 2018)
Eight months ago, as part of the July 2017 HOPEww Volunteer Corps (HVC), I had the incredible opportunity to travel to and serve in Lusaka, Zambia as part of an international team of 40, including campus students, singles and two families. In the two weeks there, we all worked very hard to refurbish a pre-school in Mtendere township, where vulnerable children attend, through activities such as painting, landscaping, and restoring and making new playground equipment, to name a few. Amongst all these activities, the trip was made all the more rich and memorable by meeting new people and building great friendships, learning and teaching devotionals, interacting with the local church and disciples, and experiencing the rich culture Zambia has to offer.
Since I spent a part of my childhood in Zambia, this trip was very special for me. Going into it, I expected that I would perhaps learn something about service and compassion, but what I found was that I learned another side to love. In my nature, love is very much about doing things but not necessarily about the heart behind it, and so I find myself doing things in the name of love, and yet sometimes with an apathetic heart. But seeing the gratefulness and love of the people we were serving, and of the Zambian disciples, and how they continued to give to us despite what little they had, made me realise that a deeper love takes sacrifice. To me, even with Jesus dying on the Cross, the action carries so much more weight because of the sacrifice and cost behind it. Coming back from this HVC, I decided I wanted to do my best to live my life with that same kind of love - not a superficial love, but one that is motivated out of a genuine care for others and at a cost to myself. This HVC has encouraged me to desire to grow deeper in my love for God and others.
Furthermore, during this HVC I had opportunities to grow spiritually and in leadership. Having quiet times, devotionals, and D-groups every day, evangelising and running Bible talks at the local university with the participants and Zambian disciples, and leading a Sunday service enabled all of us to grow by learning and leading these activities. This trip has also motivated me to learn more about leadership, both generally and spiritually, and to do more to help the poor and needy.
These trips allow individuals to remove themselves from comfortable environments at home, and engage with people who have needs that we sometimes don’t realise. Living every day by spending time with God and disciples, and loving the poor, has definitely helped me learn more about God and desire to grow closer to him and his church. I highly encourage anyone and everyone to go on one of these trips and experience the relationship building, cultural exposure, and lessons of love and service that are sure to follow.
Written by Dylan Panacheril (Zambia HVC, 2017)