HYC Volunteer's Experience

Anthony Herrera, an American delegate shares his HOPE Youth Corps experience.

This Christmas I had the opportunity of serving on a volunteer trip in Ormoc City, Philippines. This volunteer trip had a massive impact in my life by the way I view poverty and the power of contentment. First off, I want to say thank you for everyone who donated and gave me endless jobs to make this service trip possible! It would not have been possible without the help of you guys because all my money came from fundraising. I also want to thank HOPE for all the great examples they set out for young people like me who get the chance to rethink their dreams in life because of service trips like this.

So I first want to share about contentment. I learned so much about contentment on this trip with personal situations I came across. As we were constructing homes for the people in the village, it was so encouraging being with them because they had less things than I did and some houses only had three walls meaning that when rain came in it would flush their house. The Filipino people are so content because they remind me of the value of quality time. Everyone in the village knows each other and all the kids there play with you for hours and hours and it never seem to stop. These people are content because they have the small things in life. When we as foreigners walk in the scene, the whole neighborhood comes out and pretty much throws a huge celebration because you came to visit them.

This inspires my heart because I don't think I would be content if I knew my house was filled with ants and the rain would come inside my house. I don't know the people in my neighborhood and it's hard for me to have this type of excitement during the busy days of my life. I am moved to be more content with the smaller things in life. These people made time to give even if they had nothing. The beneficiaries would find even the smallest thing they had that meant the most to them and would put our needs first. This is a radical way of contentment but this is an example I feel a disciple should live. I was challenged by how giving they were and how they served me when I came to serve them. This was radical because serving isn't just picking up trash, its going out of your way in everyday life and doing something differently that no one would ever do. I am inspired to serve everyday, not just until the next volunteer trip!! When I serve people I feel less entitled and more content!

Secondly, I would love to share about sustainability. This subject has became a huge excitement for me because when I hear this word I think of power!! Let me explain, so I recommend that everyone watches Poverty. Inc on Netflix. This movie changed my life in the way I view poverty. The reason why I chose this volunteer trip was not so that the people can continue to be beggars. No, we went on this trip so that people in these communities can feel loved by Jesus and they can feel empowered while taking ownership of the life they live. Let's be honest, people in poor communities do not want to be beggars for life! They want to be businessmen, they want to come home and buy their children shoes not have random foreign people provide for them their whole life....Sustainability is finding new ways a country can be made stronger so that the cycle of poverty doesn't continue. When we love these people the way Jesus did, it offers them more hope and ambitions to live a life of sustainability because when we are loved by God we have motivation to never give up!

On the contrary, I do not want to say that I am not against foreign aid. I do say there is a balance that needs to be made because the people in these communities are no different than we are in developed countries. They unfortunately just don't receive the same resources we have. So on our service project we repaired homes for the beneficiaries as well as we extended and built a local business for the family. We built a store that extends from their house and we made it look professional and welcoming.

As a part of sustainability, we offered the owner of the home a loan because we hired a professional carpenter to guide us on how to work on the homes. Providing a loan for the beneficiaries is a sign of goals and optimism because it inspires them to have more accomplishments to reach in life. When we lose motivation and don't have anything to look forward to in life; poverty in itself continues to grow. But the disciples of Jesus made a huge impact this Christmas because we came with the RADICAL LOVE OF JESUS and made sustainable impact leaving the beneficiaries with bigger goals and some who are interested in making Jesus Lord of their life. This trip has inspired me to live in a developing country some day and use all the knowledge I have received in a developed country to pass it on. I really hope this inspires you to do a volunteer trip because this trip will humble you and open your eyes and give you a heart check in the dreams that you have for your own life. Thank you everyone, God bless!

These scriptures are the scriptures that stood out to me.

“The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” - Luke 10:37 NIV

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” - Proverbs 31:8-9 NIV

“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” - 1 John 4:11 NIV

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