In December 2015, one of my close friends from church travelled to Fiji for HOPE Youth Corps. As I eagerly listened to him explain his experiences, a deep desire formed in my heart to sign up for one myself. Reading through the site descriptions, one in particular stood out to me the most - a site based in Kathmandu, Nepal, in December 2016. I was thrilled when my application was accepted, and eagerly awaited to embark on this incredible journey, finding some pretty interesting ways to fundraise in the process (e.g. donating my hair! Read the story here: A Fundraising Inspiration).
When the day finally arrived, I was bursting with excitement, but truthfully, had no idea what to expect! I had never been on a HYC before, and I had never been to Nepal either, but I was keen as a bean to see the ways in which God could use me, and change me for the better!
In Kathmandu, we spent a lot of time at the school, serving in various ways. This included painting walls and benches, renovating the toilets, setting up a basketball hoop, and spending time with the kids. Being surrounded by the gorgeous kids for so long was in so many ways a blessing, but in my mental preparations for this Youth Corps, I had never really thought about how challenging it could be!
Being around the kids so often meant spending a lot of energy! It was hard to keep up with them, to be honest! I spent a lot of time learning clapping games, playing ninja, hugging them, and letting them hang off of me, and use me as a human swing set - this, of course, got exhausting and in my selfishness, I found myself hiding away in the teachers room on a few occasions, so I wouldn't have to keep up with them!
The fiery desire to serve with all my heart was dwindling, and because it was an emotional desire, it was very fleeting. I didn't feel like giving the kids my all - I kind of just wanted to take a nap actually. But Jesus calls us to serve even when we don't feel like serving. One of our lessons on HYC was about compassion, and about how compassion is more than just an emotional response. Compassion is a decision we need to make, based on self control and allowing God to strengthen us. Love is also a decision. We don't always feel like loving - and the same goes for service. On HYC I realised that serving is more than just an emotional response, and it is impossible to serve wholeheartedly without first looking to God for strength!
Going on HYC completely changed my perspective in so many ways. I never could have learned so much without this experience. I realised not only that serving is a decision, but how important it is to make that decision. Jesus spent 70% of his time on earth serving the poor, and he calls us to "go and do likewise."
I feel ready now to tackle whatever 2017 has in store for me, and whatever challenges it may bring, because I know that God gives us the strength to do anything!
We are repeating the same program this coming December over Christmas and New Year. The trip is a Volunteer Corps open to all (teens, campus, singles, married couples, families). Click on this link for more information and to apply:
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.