GIFT Tour & Exposure (GTX) 2016

 The objective of this GTX was “to provide opportunities for GIFTers to be the hands and feet of Jesus by reaching out to the Positive Living Community” . The main activity of this mission trip was to clean the fish pond in PLC which had accumulated mud at the bottom of the pond due to the construction work on the opposite side of the road. This caused the fish to die and the PLC hoped that by having the mud removed, they could start their work therapy of rearing fish again. It was also one of their sources of income. Therefore, the GIFTers contributed their energy by cleaning the pond. After cleaning the pond for two full days, they managed to remove a considerable amount of mud and silts. They also helped to dig a drain and installed a pipe to drain out water from the pond.

Besides physical work, time was also set aside for God everyday. Every morning, the GIFTers got together for Lectio Divina and at night time there was bible sharing in small groups. It was also the time for the participants to share their daily experiences with each other. These sharing sessions have brought them closer to one another. On one of the nights, the GIFTers had the privilege of doing their bible sharing by a campfire specially set up for them by one of the residents of PLC. It was the first time many of them experienced a campfire and it was an exciting night. After the daily bible sharing, there was a sharing by one of the residents of PLC who was an ex-drug addict. He told them the story of his life and how he fell into addiction. He also advised the GIFTers to always respect their parents and follow their advice because their parents know what is best for them. It was an insightful session for the GIFTers and they appreciated the openness of the community in PLC. It was an emotional moment for both the residents and the GIFTers. The GIFTers were able to listen to ‘the other side of the story’ when those who were once involved with alcohol and drug abuse shared what they went through and how they were able to break free from their addiction due to the support from people in their lives. It taught them to not be judgmental towards others and to give others second chances. The sharing from the refugees also taught the GIFTers to appreciate the life they have. All in all, the session was an eye opener and they valued the advice they got from the PLC. After the sharing session, the GIFTers dedicated a few cultural performances to the residents of the home. It was a time of fun and laughter as the residents joined the dancing and singing. Though it was so soon that they had to bid the residents goodbye as they returned to their respective homes, everyone had a good time together.

GTXOn the last day, Mr. Alex Arokiam, the person in charge of PLC gave the GIFTers a treat by bringing them to Kanching Falls, a waterfall not far away from PLC. It was a time all the GIFTers looked forward to and they enjoyed themselves greatly there. They were also treated to a delicious lunch before boarding the bus back to UTM, Johor. They returned feeling tired but very privileged to be spending their midsemester break in PLC, gaining new experiences and learning what it means to be of service to others. They were also very thankful for the hospitality of all the residents of PLC.

One of the participants, Sheila— GIFT’s newly baptized sister in Christ, wrote in her testimony that: “GTX’16 pushed me to a whole new level of serving Christ. Nothing is better to see after all the hard work done, everyone including the residents of PLC were able to put a bright smile on each other’s faces. I want to praise the Lord that we were able to do something for the residents there. Their stories touched me, especially when all of them mentioned that family is everything. Before you do anything, always remember that you have a family back at home. Don’t make them cry over you because of your mistake. That sentence was from a brother in PLC and it struck me the most from the whole GTX event. The sharing from the residents made me realize that I should always respect my parents although at times I may not agree with everything they say and I am really thankful that both my parents are still around.”

Frenester shared that he felt sad that the residents there were treated differently by society just because they had gone through a hard time and had fallen into drugs, alcohol or because they were HIV positive. “Every person deserves a second chance to learn from their past and continue their lives. Why do people keep rejecting them? It is not fair at all. We too need to give chances to others even though they have made mistakes.”

One of the fears of the youths nowadays, is getting out of their comfort zone. Through GTX, all the participants involved were allowed to live and love in faith and to put their trust in God while answering His call to serve. As potential leaders of the church, we should be bold and and have faith in God’s call for He will provide what we need to do His will.

By engaging in such a mission, The GIFTers not only filled their midsemester break with mission work that gave them new experiences but they hoped that they were also a blessing to those they encountered by letting them feel that God is love and He is present in each one of us. You do not have to stand up high on the mountain to reach God for He is within you and you are the temple of His Holy Spirit. The GIFTers would like to extend their appreciation to the Positive Living Community for being a great host throughout their stay, giving us new experiences to take home, and also to all those who have contributed financially (GIFT alumni and parishioners) which enabled this GTX to be carried out successfully. –By Mika Angelika Enriquez