This past summer, I attended Catholic Heart Work camp in Mishawaka, Indiana with my youth group of Blessed Sacrament Church in Morton, Illinois. I had gone on the same trip two years before, so naturally I was expecting the events that would take place rather than looking forward to what was going to happen. I wasn’t very excited or open to meeting new people and putting myself out there this year, which was a different attitude I had the previous time.
Each camper was split into groups of six or seven with whom they would be working that week. The work sites varied from individual residents’ homes to the YMCA. I had the opportunity to work with five other teens from five different states on an elderly woman’s home.
The first day proved to be extremely difficult, not only in the labor we completed but also in our team chemistry. My team wasn’t bonding or making an effort to get to know each other. After that first day, I was extremely discouraged and ready to go home.
That night, however, one of the testimonies really made me think. The speaker talked about how to be yourself and come to ‘true north’ with yourself and with God. Later that evening, after praise and worship, I decided with God that as a senior member it was my responsibility to make the effort to encourage each team member to bond.
The next day I started opening up and began getting to know my team members personally. I believe my actions set an example for them because that afternoon we all started talking and getting to know one another as a team. By the end of the week, we were no longer five Catholic teens but rather one group of Catholic friends.
Although the week ended really well, I couldn’t help but be upset with how things started due to my attitude. On Wednesday all camp attendees were given the opportunity to experience Four Corners. This is an event in which four stations were set up around the gymnasium and labeled ‘Prayer for Others,’ ‘Healing,’ ‘Faith,’ and ‘Reconciliation.’ All the lights were turned off and the room was enlightened with candles.
All the teens moved from station to station speaking with adults and staff members present at the given station. After realizing how much of an impact being yourself has on the relationships in your life, I chose to open up with God. Wednesday night was a major turning point in my life.
I have always had a close relationship with God but on that night I really understood who I was. I spoke out with my problems and my worries and really listened to the advice that was given to me. After going through the sacrament of Reconciliation and admitting to my mistakes, a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders.
I felt renewed as a person and because of that I felt great about myself, my Christian values, and my relationship with God. Relationships will always be present in your life, whether you want them or not. I have gone on many trips in my life and at some points struggled with being able to open up and become acclimated with new environments and people. I finally realized that everyone gets nervous, especially with the idea of working with a group of strangers. After I grasped that concept, my teammates became my friends and with that, my bond with God grew stronger. As difficult as meeting new people may be, those people may someday change your life. Without my teammates at Catholic Heart Work Camp, I would never have been able to become closer with myself and with God.
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