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My ELCA Youth Gathering Experience
My experience on this trip was something I could never imagine, and was not what I was thinking it was going to turn out to be.
The spaghetti factory, the arch, and six flags were the first stops that were going to start the trip off with a kick. From our hotel room in St. Louis, we could see a beautiful view of the arch. And from inside the arch, over 650 feet up, you could feel the arch lightly sway.
Louisiana had many wonderful sights and attractions: Beignets at Cafe du Monde, St. Louis cathedral, the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, and all the jazz flowing through the streets.
The walks were long, and most times wet, but the city was amazing and was worth walking everywhere.
Another fun thing we saw was a building implosion. A round of about 12 loud bangs and the building began to collapse, and became a pile of dust within seconds.
But what I thought was most fun was the gatherings at the Superdome. I, along with 33,308 other youths, sang, danced, worshiped, prayed, and had a great time together. The music was great. They really knew how to get the whole dome out of their seats and moving, especially with the song “I Get Down”
A lot of the speakers really resonated with me, like Nadia, Shane, and Andrea.
Nadia really got me with her humor and how she looked and acted. She isn’t afraid to look how she does and be who she is.
Shane got arrested for helping out homeless people in Philadelphia, where it is illegal to help the homeless or be homeless.
And Andrea, who was abused and molested by her father, addicted to many different drugs and alcohol, and has the HIV virus. Her faith in God is what, she says, is keeping her here today.
All of this made the trip everlasting, but there was one thing that made the whole trip outstanding and changed the trip and my life forever.
That one thing? God.
God changed, followed, and carried us through this trip. Before this trip, I couldn’t really tell you my reason for believing God. All I knew was that I just did. Then, as the trip went on, I started to realize everything. Everything came clear.
I believe in God because he believes in me. My faith in him gives me everything I need to reach my goals. He helps me use my strengths to my own advantage, but he also helps me push my weaknesses.
God sent me to this great earth to make a change. He knows I can make a change, and He also knows I need his help, but I have had it this whole time, I just need to find and embrace it.
I learned that God made Jesus so we could be his disciples and spread the words of the Lord. He created us all for certain reasons; reasons He knows and for each of us to find out.
I know God put me here to make a change in mine and other people’s lives. Even if the change is small, every change makes a difference to someone or something. Our work cleaning up from hurricane Katrina was small. It was a lot of work clearing all the plants and dirt that buried the sidewalk, and we all wished we could stay and finish clearing the rest of the sidewalk, but we ran out of time. It was only a chunk of sidewalk of a whole block that needed clearing. A small chunk of a large percentage of New Orleans that still needed cleaning up, but it is a small chunk that is now done. A little change that helps the next person make more change, so that one day that large percentage becomes a small percentage.
I, as a child of God, can say that I have been blessed by the lord to make a difference in this world and make a change.
All it takes is one. One change. Then another, and another, and another. Like a domino, you stand them up one by one, putting them in a swirly design and you put the last one in place, then you walk to the beginning and knock the first one over. You watch the dominos cascade. Each domino is a change. You look back and realize all the changes you’ve made and differences and help to the world and God’s people, not only do you have an overwhelming feeling of happiness, but so does the Lord. He is glad you had made His world a better place to live in.
To finish things up, the trip was amazing and a live changing experience. I now have a new look on life and a new look on God. I would like to thank everyone who made this trip possible for me and the rest of the youths, and also Janelle and Pastor Steve.