One of the very first things we were taught during MDC2016 is the difference between serving and helping. We were told that when we help, we lend a hand to someone at a lower position than us. On the other hand, when we serve, we are dispensing our assistance to someone who was at a higher position than us. Throughout this camp we were given the opportunity to embody the spirit of Christ who came not to be served but to serve.
In the first week, we learned about God in the most fun way possible. Usually, bible studies would have been a painstaking bore; but here we inspired each other to delve deeper into the passage and actually ended up enjoying those sessions. We were given a crash course on the proper way to evangelise and on apologetics. Not only that, we were educated on the saints, the Eucharist and on the church and her role in the world. As Natalie Roa said, ‘It was amazing to see youths like me, thirst for the knowledge of Christ’.
The week ended with us driving up to Subang Jaya for the second part of MDC2016, but not before we detoured for a hike up St. Paul’s Hill, Melaka and had an impromptu prayer in front of the statue of St. Francis Xavier, the Patron Saint of Missions, for courage, wisdom, perseverance and safety.
Our first exposure was serving the homeless at Carl’s kitchen where not only did we help in the preparation of lunch, we also sat and had lengthy conversations with them as they ate. For the next few days we had sessions on the Theology of the Body in the Bosco Goretti Youth Centre, Subang Jaya. Soon after, it was time for us to try ‘bare-handling’ for the very first time. This activity saw us separating into groups of 3 and getting onto different LRT lines. We were given the responsibility to ask random people on the train about their personal thoughts on certain topics which included homosexuality, pornography, pre-marital sex, and also abortion. We were also tasked with incorporating Christ into our conversation and to share with them the Church’s view on the topics mentioned above. Just as we thought that we were done for the day, we were once again released into a crowded food court and were told that the next challenge was to tackle a conversation and pray for those we talked with. It is superfluous to say that this activity pushed us to our limits, but it was also gratifying as we not only boosted our confidence as youths but also as disciples of the Lord.
But if we were asked which exposure tugged the hardest at our heart strings, it would be the time we spent in Batu Arang among the HIV/AIDS patients as well as the migrants. We had the liberty to spend time with them in the simplest of ways; like playing football or carom with them, or even just singing to them, yet it brought such undiluted joy to them that it proved grandeur is not always necessary, what matters is sincerity.
Our two weeks together ended with a one-night stay in Kuala Selangor Nature Park. There, we spent our last night together sharing testimonies as well as our thoughts and the lessons we’ve learned. Justin Goan shared, ‘I have learned to spread the love of God and to serve without prejudice’. Grace Ong told us that the most important thing she learned during the camp was how to bring God’s love into her everyday conversations.
We have done things that have impacted us tremendously and we can only hope we have made an impact on the lives of those we set out to serve. Mission Discovery Camp 2016 has changed our lives in the most positive of ways and we can proudly say that our mission did not end even though camp has. In the words of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, ‘the world offers us comfort, but we were not made for comfort; we were made for greatness’.