Adventist Youth Community sets out on a Mission

From November 8-10, 2012, student leaders from the Adventist Academies in New England, Bermuda, and New York were set and ready to head out to Camp Winnekeag in Ashburnham, Ma for a teen leadership conference. The student leaders came from schools all over the Northeast including; South Lancaster Academy, Union Springs Academy, Greater Boston Academy, Greater New York Academy, Northeastern Academy, and Bermuda Institute.

Two weeks prior to the planned Teen Leadership Conference, Hurricane Sandy made landfall on the shores of New Jersey and New York on October 29. 2012. Although the storm also hit Massachusetts and left thousands without power, the effects we had were not comparable to the devastation New York and New Jersey received.

In New York and New Jersey, a total of 34 people were pronounced dead, 4.9 million people without power, 150 burned homes, thousands of homes destroyed, thousands of people who lost everything they had,and millions of people with horror-like memories to haunt them forever. People are still without power to this day.The effect that Hurricane Sandy was severely underestimated, which made the reality of facing how much damage to clean up and getting all the supplies to do so, worse.

Meanwhile the Atlantic Union Conference continued to make preparations for the upcoming Teen Leadership Conference, while Hurricane Sandy was continuing to tear up New York and New Jersey. On the week of the conference, the union youth directors including, Pastor Cortes, Marlene Alvarez,Astrid Tommassian, Milca Amich, and Jerrel Gilkeson, decided to take the skills the students would learn from the upcoming conference, and put them to work on an on-scene mission in a real life situation.

Despite all the havoc Sandy caused, it was the perfect opportunity for our youth to lend a helping hand and be leaders to our neighbors in need. With a series of last-minute meetings, making arrangements, and settling final details, the Union with the help of the other Adventist Academy faculty, were able to finally put together a mission trip to New York, to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

On Thursday, November 8th, the Adventist academies previously mentioned, and an additional one, Pine Tree Academy, started their trip for New York. We received a warm welcome from one of the participating schools, Greater New York Academy, in Northern Manhattan. Due to our lengthy trip we had orientation and went to bed.

Friday morning started out by sorting out all the donated clothes, personal items, jackets, blankets, shoes, bedding,water, and other items for a relief pick up center. After all the sorting was done, it was time to head out for the main mission. Long Island and Staten Island were the places that were most affected by Sandy. Upon our arrival to the locations we saw something that did not even look like New York. Looking out the window you would see cars piled on top of cars, garbage everywhere, fallen trees, ruined household items piled in the street, and the look of desperation, helplessness and the need for reassurance on the faces of those affected.

A student from SLA quoted, ” I didn’t think this kind of stuff was possible this far up North. I’ve seen things on this trip that I didn’t think were possible like a boat on top of a porch. How does that happen? It doesn’t look like New York it looks like a war town. When we walk into buildings that have been without power and flooded it smells like death and the need for help is highly recognized.Overall,I am glad that we are here to help out, because if this had happened in my hometown I would hope people would do the same back to me.”

Without delay, the mission team broke out into different groups going door to door asking what each family needed, handing out hot meals, food, flashlights, batteries, blankets, coats, a smile, and a God bless you. Other groups helped out with the clean up, medical clinics, and other things our group alone could not accomplish. When starting out it was cold and seemed like an impossible task, but local churches and members of the community helped out and reminded us that none of us are alone.

When asked what was their favorite part of the trip a sophomore from Union springs Academy responded by saying,” On Saturday when we went out to work it was so cool to see the streets filled with other outreach groups all banding together to accomplish one very big task. On Friday it felt like it was just us and a couple of churches, but then the next day the streets were filled with soo many people trying to do the same thing.”

Another student from SLA when asked what their favorite part was, they responded by saying, ” the look someone gives you after you give them exactly what they need, especially little kids. I Also like preparing the food and also getting to bond with the other schools, the whole trip life changing experience. I also thought it was cool how so many people helped out including A’mare Stoudemire, center for the New York Knicks.”

During our three-day trip we were able to accomplish a lot more than had been expected. For the SLA students that went, the New York mission trip was a sneak peek at the greater Mission trip to Masai, Mara, Kenya, they will be attending in March. As Thanksgiving is approaching, helping out in the New York Mission trip was a real humbling experience that really gives a reminder of what to be thankful for and to not take anything for granted,because the second that is done, waking up to it tomorrow it may not be here anymore.God has blessed us all with the simple gift of time, that even spending a few minutes with someone in need, can change their life forever.

Many groups including Red Cross, different church groups, youth, volunteers, and food places have been helping with those in New York since the storm hit, and will continue to do until everyone has been helped. In the bible Ecclesiastes 3 tells us that there is a time for everything. There is a time to watch and there is a time actually do, so as I leave you today I have just one question, What time does your clock say?


Posted on January 2, 2013, in Spiritual Life, Top Stories and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: