Monday, February 23, 2015

Summing It Up - The YAM 2015 Team Reflects on Antigua

New Families, New Games, New Memories

Anna Jensen writes:

This morning began with my family (Jill’s Family) doing devotion. We decided to perform a skit about materialism. We then set out on an educational tour of the island, including a stop at a fort and a quick history lesson. We got lunch at “The Big Banana” which was great but Tyler and I didn’t get our food. Then we dispersed into family groups for shopping for our family and church. Currently we are playing "Kenyan mouse nail” a game derived from Egyptian Rat Screw, but with more rules. Every 10 minutes or so we remind each other that we leave tomorrow and all agree that refusing to leave and staying an extra week is the best choice. Karla requires me to include her name before I finish writing, so here.

Changing Me for the Better

Shamar Green writes:

First in my blog I’m going to talk about how last night I made a new friend in Antigua from who I think is a really cool guy. I am really enjoying my time in Antigua. I feel good about what we are doing in Antigua from building our relationship with each other, from helping building the church at Baster and at Gilbert. I’m happy that this trip is changing me for the better. I have made lifelong friends on this trip that I can look for when I’m down or in trouble. These guys and girls are like my brothers and sisters. OLEANDER

About Those Donkeys...

Randy Pringle writes:

This trip so far is fun, I met many new friends. We have to wake up early in the morning, eat breakfast and go to our work site. I’m used to waking up early in the morning because I got to get up at 5:45am for school. Coming to Antigua is a good experience because it was the birthplace of John Wesley’s Methodist teaching in the Americas. The first work site my group began to work at was Gilbert memorial. I didn’t like it at all. It had donkey droppings on the floor grounds. Every stop I took there was donkey dropping. I felt uncomfortable walking around the field. The second work site was Baster Methodist Church. It was good because it was no doodoo and it was mostly in the shade.

The Best Birthday Ever!

Michael Sibley-Prusak writes:

Coming on this was the most amazing experience of my life so far. I’ve made lots of new friend’s and made soooooo many new and awesome memories. I don’t want to leave, I don’t think anyone does. The memories I’ve made there will stay with me forever. It makes me sad when I realize that I won’t see any of these people again. Or at least not for a long time. I think I laugh the most and the hardest I ever have with these new friends. My squad/crew of me, Cameron and Jerami had the most fun EVER! after we found that we all share the same personality and all bonded so well. My bros, Presley, Joe, Jerami, John, Justin, Eriq and Matt. Then my girls, Cameron, Kyleigh, Tyler, Jess, Hanna, Sydey, Imama. I’ll miss the times we had together and hope I’ll be able to hang out with all of them again. ANYWAY, this trip was AMAZING!! The views were absolutely breath taking. I took as many pictures as possible. Swimming with the sting rays was a once in a life time experience that I am so happy I got to be part of. My birthday cake that totally shocked me when I saw it. My birthday here was the best one I have ever had. I love being here and I didn’t want to leave. If only pictures were like portals, I’d jump right into each and everyone everyday. Working with Bobby was the Best. Working up on the roof was so fun. Bobby gave me loss of life lessons, like how the last one could kill you. We get to pick coconuts from the trees and drink the water inside. I’ve learned so much and I enjoyed every second of the work we did. I wish I could come back. This past week was a dream that I lived in reality. I loved this trip. I don’t want to leave yet. Just one more week PLEASE. I love it here. The work was so accomplishing and I think I’ve left my mark.

Getting of the Dust

Jon Lohutko writes:

I feel as if I peak for everyone. When I say this trip has undoubtedly reached the “transforming” stage. Our chaperones, Youth, and religious leaders have all united in the boiling point in this stage of our faith journey. With Antigua acting as our figurative teapot. I feel as if my character has drastically developed with this trip acting as a catalyst. The friendships I’ve made on this excursion will last longer than I can ever imagine. As far as the members of 2015’s YAM group go, I’m sure as the dust settles from the quake that his trip was, a new refined more perfect group of future youth leaders will rise.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Quick Travel Update

For those not in touch with loved ones on the mission trip, Rev. Joseph indicated from the airport in Jamaica that all was well as the group travels home. Prayers for safe travels and warm reunions!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Fellowship, Fun and Lots of Sun!

A Life-Changing Experience

Carolyn Lorenzi writes:

Oh my goodness, Antigua has been AMAZING! It is so much warmer here than New York, first of all. Everything is so beautiful and breathtaking. The only thing that is better than the scenery is the people I have met. Every person who came on this trip with me is so cool and awesome. I made friends here with so many different people. The people from Antigua I have met are amazing as well. I know I’m not going to want to leave on Sunday! It feels so good to know we have helped out so much in Antigua. We did so much construction work each day, and talked to young children in a primary school. This honestly is a life changing experience and I can’t wait to tell everyone about it when I get home!!!

No Longer Strangers

Karla Johnson writes:

Today is the 6th day. This week flew by so fast. I feel sad that we only have one more full day together. I was just becoming closer to everyone because in the beginning I was so shy. This week was honestly the best week I have had in a while. I’m surprised to say that because just last week we were all strangers to each other. I love that I got to have this experience. I tried new foods and I helped work at the work sites. The citizens of Antigua were so nice to us and they treated us good. I don’t even miss NY … I wish I could stay in the hot climate instead of the cold snowy climate. I’m going to miss my roommates, family members and chaperones.

Lots of New Experiences

Justin Christmas writes:

My time in Antigua is a good experience so far. I met new people during work over the week. The food we had during the week was good most of the time. I enjoyed the trips we had like the stingray farm and the docks with the boats. The sun is very hot and it made me darker which I didn’t like about the stay here. I’m glad we got to meet the children at the school and interacted with them. 

Soaking it All In

Eriq Johnson writes:

First, I just found out it was 3 degrees in NY so thank God I’m not there right now. Second, I have three words: ANTIGUA IS AMAZING. Beside the off and on rainfall we got today, I like the warm temperatures, the great food, the beautiful views and the interesting new people. After having lunch which was hamburgers and wedges with ice cream, we headed for the sting ray farm. I thought it was interesting even though it rained a little. On the way back to the hotel, we made a pit-stop to the Gilbert Methodist Church where we say displays in honor of Methodism. So it’s two more days and I’m going to soak in everything while I have the chance.

About Those Sting Rays...

Anaya Walters writes:

This morning when I woke up I was in a good mood. I was excited for 2 reasons. One was because we were going to the sting ray farm and because my group was going back to the Baxter Methodist Church. I like Baxter better than Gilbert because there is enough work for all of us. I think plastering is fund and I can’t plaster at Gilbert but I can do it at Baster. Today at Baxter I plastered 2 walls in the bathroom for their shower. I know that I did well because it took Jon the whole day to do one. I did 2 in less than that. Also a lot of the workers were complimenting me. Before I got to the string ray farm I was excited to swim with them, but when we got there and I went in the water I was scared because they were HUGE. So far I touched one and got out of the water. I had a good day today and I hope that it continues.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Knee Deep in the Experience of Mission


Mission Team Members Celebrate Ash Wednesday
Kyleigh Curtin writes:

My experience thus far has been the most wonderful experience I’ve had so far. On our flight here to Antigua it was crazy. I’ve clicked with so many people so fast it’s weird. I’ve never clicked with people this fast. The six hour flight had me all types of crazy because for one; I’ve never been on a six hour flight before, two; take off, landing, and turbulence was just ridiculous (never again, maybe), and three; it gave me the worst stomach ache in the world. The worksites are so much fun. I think it’s because we have a good group. I feel very good that I’m here being the best that I can and doing the best I can. Some of the work is work that I’ve never done before but I learned pretty fast. I really feel like this is something everyone should do because for me it gives me joy to know that I’m doing good and helping in the best way possible. Also you learn a lot from trips like this. It teaches you great life lessons.

"Storming" the Mission

Cameron Neiblum writes:

Once upon a time there was a group of teenagers that made it to Antigua. They were not alone for their faithful and caring adults were right alongside. The days went by smoothly with oceans, smiles, and ghost stories, but as all good things do, a bump in the trip came along. Siobhan once told me that a good mission trip goes through the stages of forming, norming, storming, performing and transforming. Today is Wednesday, some people call it middle of the week, others call it "hump-day" and some storming day. Well today started off brilliant enough. Breakfast had delicious cereal and egg sandwiches, and my group got to work at Baxter Methodist Church. We plastered walls, talked to Jermaine about his truck driving dreams, and ate the most delicious rotis you’ve ever tasted.

We came back and … well I was last in line for the shower and covered in cement so I jumped in the pool and started a little fiesta. The splashing, jumping, and marco poloing ensued until dinner. Have you ever had pasta while listening to live steel drums? If not I suggest you try it sometime! Until this point in time Mike, Jessie and I were sure that the storming phase would not appear. Could it be possible that this group is so amazing that storming cannot exist? Well unfortunately we spoke soon. When the subject of cell phones came up everything fell to pieces. Anyway, let’s fast forward back to the fun times. Currently I’m sitting around the table with Carolyn, Jon, Anna, Matthew and Jerami, Claudia, Jessie, Eric with a Q and Matt … I mean Mike. (I seem to be mixing Mike and his brother’s name up.) Good night world! That’s all there is for today!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Lots of Work, Sun and Friends in Antigua

Lifetime Friends

Sapphire Tucker writes:

Today was great! Coming on this trip I was a little hesitant because I only knew 3 people. I was so scared to be in a house/room with a bunch of random girls, but I’m so happy I was. The girls I’ve become close with are so amazing and I’m so happy to have made such awesome new friends. We all work together so well whether it is at our worksite or just hanging out. it’s great. It’s only day 2 and I feel like I’ve known these girls for a lifetime. I can’t wait for days 3-8.

Coconut Milk and Sunburn

Tyler Papallo writes:

Today I got to work at the Gilbert worksite for the second time. I got to do so much work these past two days from painting boards to working on the roof. Even though I got sunburn in the process it was worth it. During our lunch break we got to drink the coconut milk from one of the coconut trees. I’ve had so much fun at the worksite the past two days, but I’m really excited to work at the other worksite with the kids. And cement work. I’ve made many new friends during these past few days, and shared so many new experiences with them. I can’t wait for the many days to come.

Nailing it Down!

Presly Gabriel writes:

Today I had fun climbing and nailing down a roof. I actually got over 2 fears the last two days. I got over my fear of lizards and my fear of being on a roof. I stood on a roof and I held a lizard. I surprisingly got a sunburn. I got to play cards and even drink straight from a coconut. I also found out that I’m a very good photographer.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Making Bonds, Buildings and Memories

“So Far”

Ima Otto _during writes:

So far this experience has been absolutely amazing. Antigua is one of most beautiful places I’ve ever been. Although the plane ride and layover was rough, it was well worth it. The group of YAMs this year is great also. We all began bonding and forming friendships immediately. They are a great group of youths. It’s nice to know that we have a judgment free and safe place. I can’t wait to see how we bond more in the future. THIS PLACE IS LIKE A DREAM!!

“The Sun”

Doria Bruny writes:

Siobhan knocked on my door so early. I wasn’t tired but I just wanted to sleep. The bed was so good and I wasn’t expecting it. As I walked in the room and touch it, it was type hard. After the pool I didn’t want to go to sleep. I wanted to play and sit on the porch. Before we went to sleep it was hard for me to brush. I couldn’t manage for me not to wet my brush with the tap water. I couldn’t take a shower yet. I had to wait for a while for it to come on. I ended up taking a shower so late but I felt fresh by the time I was going to bed.

"Teaching the Americans"

Claudia Anderson writes:

Today, my group went to Baxter Methodist Church and we shoveled sand, moved cement blocks upstairs. That was interesting hard work. When we finished that we went to a school for 3rd to 6th graders. I visited the 3rd grades. They were just awesome. We played ‘never have I ever’ and 7 up. They taught us a dance and a song called “Rock your bones.” It was so awesome. I think that they liked that they got to teach the “Americans” something. We asked them what they wanted to be when they group up and most of them said Doctors. I thought that was great. I am having a lot of fun, but so far my favorite part was being with the kids.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Day Two in Antigua: Humble and Light Hearts at Work

Rev. Siohban Sargent writes:
I'm already amazed by our Youth Ambassadors. Arriving to the Baxter worksite, the youth were hard at work and they had been hard at work all morning, carrying large cement stones to the 2nd floor of what will soon be the Baxter community center, bringing piles of sand up bucket by bucket, and finally shoveling gravel and mixing cement to continue the masonry work to be done. They don't shy away from getting their hands dirty and their willingness to jump in is inspiring.

With their reflections the evening before during our sad/glad time, these 26 young people seem to not only recognize the meaning behind what we're doing here in Antigua but they also wield this gift of service and transformation with a sense of humility and light-heartedness. Even when asked to give up their prized electronic devices (phones, iPads, laptops) there was little reluctance and ultimately such requests are met with flexibility and understanding. They are a joy to be around and their gratitude is witnessed in their heartfelt prayers and willingness to chip in and help one another. The generosity we've received from our hosts has been received with appreciation.

It is only day two and I feel like I'm a part of one great big family marked by God's spirit, love and grace. We are playing games and enjoying our new friendships.

It is a blessing to witness the level of commitment and dedication among these youth to live out God's call on their lives and I'm excited to see their growth and deepening spiritual connections throughout this trip.

Reflections on the Journey to Antigua

A New Experience

We just got off the plane and I honestly feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders.

I have taken a plane in the past, however I have never really taken the plane or traveled out of the country by myself or basically without my parents. But me being kind of scared to travel without my parents is not the only thing that made the weight heavier. Another thing that made that weight heavier on my shoulders is, before I got to the airport and since the beginning of all the meetings and what not, I really thought that no one was going to be talking to each other and the only people talking would be the people that already knew each other, which was kind of true at first, but after we got through security everyone started to converse and joke around with each other. Even right now as we are in Trinidad and I am writing this, all I hear is laughter and kids that just met having a good time. I really cannot wait until the end of the week because I feel that we will all be very close and act like an actual family.

Matthew Johnson

The Hours

Being punctual did not feel as sweet as it appeared. I was supposed to arrive at the airport at 5 O’clock. I got there at 3:30pm. After 2 minutes it was 10:30pm and I was boarding the plane, I only have a few thoughts:

I will get hotter

I will be smarter

I will be blessed


In a few more hours my environment will be different. I will see new people, In a fe hours I will help someone in need. In a few hours I will make a difference. I just have to wait for it...

Steven Cox

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Up, Up and Away! Farewell Photos from JFK

The United Methodist Church's New York Annual Conference's Youth Ambassadors for Mission are now in Antigua! As they progress in their experiences there, we'll be keeping you abreast here on the blog with journal entries from them and select photos. Below are a few select photos. We'll be sharing the full set of photos with family members. Please offer your prayers of support and encouragement to these energetic young Christians in service to our Lord!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Getting Ready for Antigua!

The New York Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church is proud to be sponsoring a new Youth Ambassadors for Mission team of volunteers to help families and children in Antigua, the main island of the nation of Antigua and Barbuda in the Caribbean Sea. The team is packed and ready to leave for St. John's in Antigua, taking off from JFK airport in New York City today. The team will be in Antigua from this evening through Sunday, 22 February, and will experience the life, culture and faith of people in Antigua as they help to build up their communities and to build bonds of friendship and faith. We'll keep you posted here on how the team is doing, with entries from the journals of the YAM team members as they reflect on the events that they experience. Please share this blog with others, so that the world can see our youth in action for Christ!