Family’s Testimonies | HOPE Youth Corps 2017

“A Most Unforgettable Christmas – From Halifax, Canada to Ormoc City, Philippines and back again!”

This past Christmas, our family had the incredible opportunity and privilege to spend our Christmas in the Philippines on a HOPE Youth Corps. In our minds, we went there to “give” of ourselves, but as was we as a family reflect on our time there, we definitely “received” back so much more – by our time together with seventy other amazing HOPE Youth Corps volunteers from literally all over the world; and our family was deeply touched and inspired by the warmth, the amazing serving hearts and never-ceasing joy of the HOPE staff and the many Filipino brothers and sisters we met and served with.

This was not our first HYC as a family, having previously served in India, Nepal, Hungary and now in the Philippines…but each trip touches our hearts and lives in different ways and this time was no different. “When was the last time you truly looked at someone? For every time you feel the thud of your heart beating against your ribcage, I urge you to think: this is my liveliness, pounding within me, at this very moment, which I will never get back.” I learned how to really focus on living in the moment and how to truly connect with the children and be 100% present in that moment.”

- Jillian Taylor, aged 19, is in her 2nd year of University in Halifax and this was her fourth HOPE Youth Corps

“Going on many HYC’s, it can become easy to get distracted from the basics of service. For me, I find that service is not an individual effort, but a collective one, and that collective action and connecting with others only happens when you are vulnerable with them.”

- Cameron Taylor, aged 22, is in his first year of Medical School in Halifax, and also serves as a HOPE Youth Corps Global Service Intern

“For myself, one of the highlights of this HYC was being able to help a specific family repair their home, which allowed us to create a bond with each of them and get to know them each as individuals and as a family: cooking, eating, laughing, playing with their children and working alongside them. This bond was further extended to their community and it was so special to meet the grandmother who came to visit one day from an hour away to meet us. We did not (by our standards) seem to make much of a difference – just a couple of walls and some paint – but they were so touched by our willingness to help them. This made me assess my gratefulness in my heart for how much I have been blessed.”

- Nancy Taylor, lives in Halifax with her family and volunteers regularly with the Halifax Chapter of HOPE worldwide Canada

One of the highlights of being on this HYC was the opportunity to worship with the different churches in the region – both The Central Region of the Metro Cebu Christian Church (due to a Tropical Storm cancelling ferry service, unplanned) as well as the Church in Ormoc City, where that incredible church of 11 faithful disciples had over 300 in attendance at their service!

After the service, we had number of events for the local community, including some games for the children. As we were playing with the children, I noticed a little boy, Nino, who was about 4 years of age, had picked up an empty plastic water bottle and was playing with it. So I picked up another one and we must have spent over 30 minutes tossing those water bottles back and forth to each other. An activity that seemed so simple yet made him extremely happy. Something so simple that met a need in this child’s life – that he mattered, that someone was interested in him, and that someone wanted to spend time with him, and that someone cared about him…something so simple, yet, by the look of sheer delight on Nino’s face and by his constant giggling and laughter, I believe meant so much to him.

That interaction with little Nino made me think about my relationship with God and how He views us. Sometimes, I know that I can, in my own life, make my relationship with God so complicated. Our heavenly Father wants to spend time with us, he is interested in us, we do matter to Him – that’s why he sent his Son to the cross to reconcile us to Himself. Nino, a cheerful, full of laughter 4-year-old boy in a village on the other side of the world in the Philippines reminded me of that truth this past Christmas.

- Greg Taylor serves as a volunteer with HOPE worldwide Canada; both as the Co-Country Director as well as on the Board of Directors

This year's HYC will be on December 2018 and will be held in the province of Aklan. To register, please visit HOPE Volunteer Corps page.

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