At YTI, they have exposed us to many different kinds of food – Middle Eastern, Ethiopian, Indian, Korean, Mexican and Jamaican. Even local food was new to me, like alligator and fried okra. I can be a picky eater at times, so I promised myself to be open to trying new things. And I found that I liked it all.
I started to understand that trying all these different foods is similar to looking at different religions. While they are very foreign to me, I have begun to appreciate the uniqueness of each religion. I see how they give people a way to connect to God like Holy Covenant does for me. This experience has taught me to be more open – not just to food, but to religious beliefs and people in general.
On the Day of Interfaith Youth Service, we had the opportunity to spend a day with teens from other countries and faiths. I met kids from different places like India, Pakistan and Egypt. Some were Buddhist, Jewish, Islamic, and other religions I hadn’t heard of. It was very cool. We shared things about ourselves and learned about being a teenager in other countries and different faiths. I found that being a teenager was pretty much the same no matter where you lived.
One of the activities we did together was volunteer for Books for Africa which gives books to kids in that country. Their goal is to end the “book famine” in Africa. The place we worked in was very hot and humid. I couldn’t wait to get back to my room and get a shower, but it was so worth it. In the end, you could see the difference we made. For many years, my family has sponsored a boy through World Vision. His name is Makiye Elakpebi and he lives in Ghana. I wondered if he would get one of these books and how happy it would make him if he did. I started thinking of the excess we have in this country. We take for granted things like books and clean water. The next time I am disappointed that I don’t have an iPhone or my own car, I hope I will stop and remember how little others have. I want to do a better job of recognizing how abundant and blessed a life I have.
Love and Peace,