When you go on a HOPE Youth Corps, you have no choice but to focus. Plucked away from the comforts and conveniences of home, the volunteers are left with each other, their service work and God. We interviewed Nathan Cheong, a 16-year-old who has recently returned from his first HYC experience in Cebu, Philippines to find out more about his experience.
Q: What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome?
A: Not feeling good enough. Everyone else knew what they wanted, they were spiritual, could quote scriptures, seemed to have a better connection with God.
I told my dgroup there how I felt, that I wasn’t doing as well spiritually and I told them that rather than just feeling this way, I wanted to learn from them to become a better disciple. I had a great time with one of the brothers, Chris and he helped me realise that I’m not the only one. We’re all struggling; it’s just how we deal with it. I had to go to God and not deal with things my own way.
Q: What is something you’ve learnt about yourself?
A: I realised that I am more empathetic than I thought. On Christmas morning, we had a devo on humility by a brother. He shared about a guy there with no legs and it hit me, how much I had and I literally broke down, seeing him and what he didn’t have and yet how grateful he still was. That’s when I realised I was able to care that much.
Q: Our theme is Focus. What was your focus on this HYC?
A: I wanted to be out of myself. To be vulnerable, build more relationships. In Singapore I’ve always stuck to my comfort zone, with my own group of friends. And it really worked out; I talked to everyone and there were some overseas disciples I got really close to. And even with the other Singaporeans, this was the first time our group of friends actually sat down and had a deep conversation – not about superficial things like football but about what we saw in each other that needed to change.
Q: What was the highest high on the trip?
A: Christmas carolling. At first, it wasn’t all that exciting. We were tired, after building houses for 4 days. But when we got to the place and started carolling and giving them gifts, they started to cry with gratitude. It hit me how much what we did meant to these people, and I finally understood why it is better to give than to receive.
Q: What is something you’ve learnt about Filipino culture?
A: They are really open! We went evangelising and it wasn’t like Singapore where people are like ‘no, get away from me’. Most of them said ‘okay I’ll be there’ and they actually were there! The church of 20 had over 800 people at their Sunday service that week.
Q: You’re back. What’s next?
A: My theme for the year is ‘It’s all about You’, to have faith and believe in God’s sovereignty no matter what. I’m struggling with that because of O Level results and things not going my way, but I really want to focus on that this year. I will also keep building deeper relationships with my friends, by talking more about how we feel and what we want this year – all that deep stuff, and not like how we were.
Q: So you have all these plans, how will you keep this focus?
A: When we came back, we divided ourselves into smaller groups to keep each other accountable. My group has me, Steffi and Jared in it and I share with them my struggles, even this week itself when I struggled to have faith. That’s how we will keep the focus!
The team at Sonja Kill Memorial Hospital recently celebrated its 5 year anniversary. SKMH opened in April 2012 with the mission to meet the needs of poor children and women of Southern Cambodia. It is managed by HOPE worldwide . Since its opening, nearly 50,000 patients have been touched by the team. On May 26, the hospital honored 31 employees who have served since the hospital’s opening day. Through the dedication of its staff and supporters, SKMH has seen tremendous growth. Since its opening, the hospital has accomplished the following:
· More than 140,000 patient consultations with nearly 50,000 new patients
· 71% of visits have been for women and children
· Nearly 800 children have been born at the hospital since the opening of the Maternity building in November 2014
· 7 Cambodian doctors have graduated from three year hospital training program.
· Currently employs over 180 people
· The Neo Natal Intensive care unit opened November 2015. To date the NICU has served 49 children
· Centralized Medical Gas System for NICU and campus opened in November 2016.
· Surgical department opened in 2015
· Surgical team has performed over 360 surgeries in 2016, not including C-Sections. 86 surgeries have been for children
· Blood bank opened in August 2016
· A Learning Center for children of hospital staff opened on June 12
Sonja Kill Memorial Hospital has been blessed with international support from medical and administrative partners as well as volunteers from around the world to serve and teach. The local Cambodian staff continues to grow and serves as the primary patient care providers.
The team is grateful for all the support that has been given this past five years; however, there remains more to do. Future development includes the addition of a CT scan, upgraded X-ray diagnostic equipment, continued development of staff training programming and pursuit of international accreditations. Please consider how you can make a difference at the Sonja Kill Memorial Hospital. Go to https://www.hopeww.org/donate . Use the drop down box and select Sonja Kill Memorial Hospital. If you wish to learn more about the Sonja Kill Memorial Hospital, please visit www.skmh.org .
Dr. Rin Receiving the Empathy Amplified AwardClick here to watch .
Jenny Harkabus spent Christmas serving in the Philippines. She wrote this, and also made a short video:
I did not imagine that I would be spending Christmas in the Philippines for my first HOPE Youth Corps experience. This opportunity has deeply changed my perspective on the importance of service in my daily walk.
We are created in God's image, therefore we are meant to help and serve others. I know this to be true because I have never felt so used by God and fulfilled, than the times spent serving and pouring out my love in the Philippines.
James 1:27 says, " Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." Some translations refer to this as true religion. The bible also stresses the importance of giving to the poor (1 John 3:17, Matt 9:21, Proverbs 14:31). God considers caring for the poor and orphans as true religion, yet this can be an area of faith that is overlooked.
I was privileged to spend time with girls who have experienced trauma and abuse at the HOPE worldwide center in Laguna. Many of these girls have been separated from their families, becoming orphans, as a result of the abuse they have experienced. I also received the opportunity to play with children within the community as we rebuilt their homes and provided them with medical care. I witnessed the children’s precious value for human relationships, as they clung to me emotionally and physically. They showed me instant love and respect, which I find to be rare in today’s society. Our focus should be about investing in others just as the children in the Philippines invested in me.