Why did you feel called to attend the retreat? The Streetworkz students look forward to the retreat all year, so I was excited to get to experience the full weekend with them. It is such a special time for them, so I wanted to help make it as fun and meaningful as possible.
What did you enjoy about spending time with BCM students in this type of setting? It was great getting to spend a full weekend with the students. Normally during program, we need to keep things moving so that we can accomplish everything on the agenda; so, it was nice to get to spend more unstructured, free time with them.
Was there anything surprising/interesting you learned about one or more of our students? I learned that Julissa really does not like rollercoasters...but I don't know if that's relevant. ;)
Did you witness any moments of growth in our students? On one of the nights we had a sharing time and a few of the students professed about challenges they are facing in their lives. Often, it can be difficult to get middle schoolers to let their guard down and share what's really on their hearts, so it was awesome that they felt safe and comfortable enough to do so.
Did this experience give you a new perspective about the students or yourself? It was cool to take a step back and watch the students interact with and learn from the Hope volunteers. Through the Hope volunteers’ hard work and preparation, the Streetworkz students were able to learn and form strong relationships.
What are your overall thoughts about the retreat? The retreat is such a fun and memorable way to bond with the students. I'm glad BCM does such a great job of providing them opportunities to learn and grow by adventuring outside of EPA.
Hope Student: Jacob
Why did you feel called to come all the way from Michigan to serve East Palo Alto Students? “Last summer I spent 3 months in Poland; it was a leap of faith, a God thing that made that possible. He showed me the changes I need to make and called me to be a leader. I believe it is something God put on my life; he really convicted me on that trip.”
Jacob returned to the US thinking, 'What can I do to make God the center?'. He felt called to continue participating in activities that centered his love for sharing God’s word which led him to apply for the immersions trip BCM offers to HOPE students.
Was there anything you learned about one or more of our students? “I love how funny they are, these kids have a fantastic sense of humor and it was so great to experience; they have big personalities.”
Did you witness any moments of growth in our students? “One boy in particular was a class clown and he didn’t seem to take the spiritual stuff seriously” said Jacob.
Jacob went on to share how during the camp fire, students were invited to share their own struggles and that same student became vulnerable with Jacob and revealed his own issues. “I was surprised how deep thinking they are.” said Jacob, as he recalled that conversation he had with our student.
Jacob noticed another student who was in deep thought but did not want to share: ”I told him that I will be here for him to talk, and if now is not the time there will be other people in his life that God will provide for him to talk with.”
Did this experience result in your own personal growth? In what ways? “It was really great having that experience working with babies; given the opportunity to teach and simplify the bible for kids those age.” said Jacob referring to working with our Bible Club students after the retreat. He went on to say that this was less of a growth experience and more of a confirmation that sharing God’s word is his calling.
What are your overall thoughts about the retreat, and would you recommend this experience to other Hope students? “I would definitely recommend it especially to education majors. I am seeing so much growth in my friends on this trip who are education majors and confidence in knowing that this is the right place for them. For me, it was great to see that God is working everywhere and how he is touching [BCM students] lives just as he touches the lives of people back home. God is big and he is reaching everyone; it’s so nice to know that my God is everywhere.”
BCM Student: Jeremiah
Why did you decide to go to the retreat? “Because it is my last time” said Jeremiah referring to this being his last year before he ages out of Streetworkz.
What was your favorite part of the retreat? “My favorite part was when we started doing the games, like throwing the cheese balls and capture the flag and the noodle ninja. It’s a time when we can get competitive and work as a team.”
Did you learn anything new about yourself? “That I have an existence here and God is always going to be there through the hard times; just whenever I need him, he will be there for me.”
Did you learn anything new about God? “That he is faithful, just, powerful. He brought justice to all of us and he is faithful and gives faith to others.”
What are you overall thoughts about the retreat and would you recommend it to other? “Yes of course! It is very fun and gets everyone together; you’re going to learn what God is.”
Jeremiah went on to share how he enjoyed meeting and getting to know the HOPE students stating, “I always find that one perfect HOPE student!”