It was the summer of 2007 and I had so much adrenaline pumping through me that I hadn’t slept in weeks. I, along with thirteen friends from church, had spent the previous year fund raising to help with the cost of a trip that will never be forgotten. It was the Nazarene Youth Conference of 2007. This event only takes place every four years. This time it took place in Saint Louis, Missouri. Allow me to put that in perspective, I live in South Charleston, West Virginia; this means traveling over half the country and staying for eight days, the cost for those who went was around one thousand and two hundred dollars. This isn’t exactly pocket change for most thirteen to eighteen year olds or to their parents who are sending multiple children. My dad was one of those parents; I can’t say that he was very enthusiastic. Therefore, after much convincing and hard work at fundraising, I was able to go.
Our group, the West Virginia South District members of the Church of the Nazarene, departed around eleven thirty at night. We were all from many different churches in the Southern part of West Virginia, but there were many people going that I knew and with whom I was comfortable. This included my cousin Briana, our friend Jaime, my stepbrother Aaron, and my very best friend Jackie. I was very excited to spend eight days with these people, especially since we had all spent a week together recently at church camp.
Anyway, we made it to Saint Louis and got checked into our room, and found out where everyone else’s rooms were and so on, and then we found out that our services and everything would be held in the Edward Jones Stadium, that completely blew my mind.
The entire week we had major Christian bands play before evening services; Family Force Five, Toby Mac, Barlow Girl, Starfield, David Crowder Band, and more. We had some of the major Christian speakers throughout the week too. However, the eight days weren’t just spent in the stadium with speakers and bands, during the day we went out and participated in the “track” that we had selected prior to going to Missouri.
I had selected the “painting the schools track”. All week, the group I was assigned to painted and cleaned up schools in the Saint Louis community that couldn’t afford the repairs. All of the tracks that could be selected were activities that gave to the community in some manner. There was a “habitat for humanity track”, that built and repaired houses; a “food drive track”, that helped organize the one suitcase full of canned food that every participant had to bring; and many others. The event ended up helping the community tremendously.
There were around six thousand teenagers from all over the country from ages thirteen to eighteen, and every one of them participated in helping out the city of Saint Louis in some way. Five or six schools were cleaned and painted, homes were repaired and built, and not only did we meet our goal of feeding five thousand families for one week; but we were able to meet twice that. We were able to feed ten thousand families for one week! That is an incredible event especially for teenagers.
I left Saint Louis with new friends and becoming closer to old ones, having heard amazing speakers and bands, and most importantly having realized that even I, at the time a sixteen year old girl, could make a difference in this world.
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