Patty Burrage from Halifax shares her reflections after an incredible time serving with HOPE Youth Corp (HYC) in the Philippines.
I was really excited in December when I heard that Philippines was a December site for Hope Youth Corps. I had always loved and appreciated their culture as I grew up in a church in Ontario where there was a thriving Filipino community. As a result, the desire to visit this place was planted in my heart for years. While serving on the National Youth Advisory Council (NYAC), which is part of HOPEworldwide, God continued to open my eyes and heart to the needs of underprivileged communities in my own neighbourhood as well as on a national and global scale. I no longer wanted to live in the comfort of my cushy North American lifestyle but wanted to help the poor and vulnerable and see God in a whole new way.
Serving In Cebu
There were over 60 volunteers from different age groups that came to the Philippines from all over the world. While we were there, we were involved in a many service projects in the northern city of Cebu called Daanbantayan, including:
Helping the fishermen in this area by re-painting their boats
Implementing service projects for children in the community
Helping renovate the new HOPE worldwide Philipines centre.
My favorite project was when my team was assigned a family to build a house for in a span of three days. I would have never dreamed of having had the opportunity to learn how to build a house, but it was amazing to learn from the two men who were helping us. Our team also built extremely close ties with the family and and their neighbors. The amount of love that these people showed us as we were there was incredible and life changing. They gave so much to us and, in spite of the fact that they knew very little about us, were so willing to share their lives with us.
Personal Spiritual Journey
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” -Ephesians 3:20
This scripture immediately came to mind because this is exactly what He did when He allowed me to visit the place of my dreams while being challenged in a capacity that I had been praying for.
I remember feeling surprised by how much energy I had despite the visible sleep withdrawals and long days. I felt as though God had stretched my heart to love others in a way that I did not think was possible under the circumstances.
During my time in the Philippines, I realized that I am someone who tends to be focused on altering my behavior as opposed to changing my heart. I recognize that God was calling me to recognize that I needed to be broken by God and repent of my self-reliant nature. I was not called to be perfect, but God was calling me to a spirit of humility and of vulnerability. This is something that I wish to emulate and grow in as I am back home.
I saw the fruit of my reliance on God as I served with my whole heart, mind, soul and strength. I was able to build unforgettable relationships with one particular group of kids. They filled my heart with more joy than I could have ever hoped for as they loved me unconditionally, laughed with me and overflowed with gratitude. God taught me to give in a way that I never thought I could and I was deeply enriched by those that I was serving. I was there to help, but little did I know that they would be my teachers for the days that we were at their home.
Bottom line is that God can do amazing things when we surrender ourselves fully to His plan. This place will forever be the place that stole a piece of my heart and that taught me the value of surrendering myself over to God. I caught a glimpse of the Lord’s compassion, which is abounding and infinite, and I hope to continue to grow in this area.
For more information on HOPE Youth Corp click here