SUMA! (A National Youth Day 2017 Reflection)

Hope Reyes in National Youth Day

By Hope Reyes
CFC KFL Full-time Worker

This year 2017, one of the surprise blessings that I’ve received from the Lord is to be part of the National Youth Day (NYD) 2017 in Zamboanga City.

This has been my second time in attending such event, the first one was the NYD 2015 in Tuguegarao City. I clearly remember when they announced the next venue, I was secretly wishing to myself, hoping I could be part of the next one. Truly the Mighty One has done great things for me!

In the five days I spent in Zamboanga during the NYD, I was able to feel, taste, and see a peaceful, friendly, and simple Zamboanga. I realized that in everyone, no matter the place, location, religion, dialect, are innately good and capable to love. It is only our misconceptions and personal judgments that lead us to such confusion and doubt towards other people. There is still a lot more to say and share about my NYD 2017 experience, but let me summarize it in 4 phrases:

1. Share Yourself and Listen.

When we interact with people, we tend to put on a mask, a face, a prepared presentation of oneself to others, literally putting your best foot forward. This is not bad per se, but it sometimes hinders us from truly sharing ourselves to others.

To fully share oneself is to be comfortable in the presence of others even to strangers, and just naturally seeing the goodness in others (seeing Jesus in them). When we have this kind of posture, it will be easier for others to interact with us and fully be themselves without any hesitations or barriers, and through these interactions we get to learn a whole lot more from their personal experiences which we can relate to and adapt in future scenarios.

The world today teaches us to be careful with who we interact with, but I say, be who you are, be who God wants you to be, and related with people as if you were with Jesus himself, and it will be much easier for you to share yourself with them. There is so much negativity in the world that being a friend and having a friend is a delight and a precious experience.

2. Unity in Diversity

During the NYD, there were a lot of moments where we were just waiting for the next activity to happen or waiting for: our transportation going to the next venue, further instructions, or just plain free time during lunch, snacks or group discussions. There was a lot of down time, but it was really a lot of free moments to be productive, thus instead of using it to nap or be ‘alone’ with social media updates, I made the most of the time by literally interacting with the people I meet. Especially getting to know them personally.

These interactions not only led me to better know them, but I was also able to learn techniques, ways and activities that they do in their respective dioceses and organizations which are also applicable to our community. I was able to better appreciate the uniqueness in diversity and how in our differences we are able to learn something new, and grow more. In our group discussions, the phrase “unity in diversity” kept playing in my head, and truly the Lord manifests himself in a lot of ways, different but effective in each organization, various approaches that leads to the same blessings and outcomes.

3. Making the Most of Time

The NYD 2017 reminded me of the World Youth Day 2016 in Poland, because of the many program dynamics, animations, and parades. One can either just sit passively and listen or be active participators in the event.

I believe that to really feel God’s presence in any event, is to actively participate in it as best as you can. Thus, even though I knew I had two left foot, I kept on dancing in all the animations (most times making a laughing stock of myself but nonetheless enjoying the experience) and cheering at all the presentations, taking notes of the sessions and talks, and sharing myself to the group discussions, and making new friends.

Literally grabbing all the opportunity the Lord was offering during the NYD. Taking hold of it tightly in your hands, and enjoying every moment of it, whether good or bad, for in these moments God tends to speak the most, for in all things and everything, God is there, and it is part of His plan.

4. Appreciation is Dead Without Action.

The things we see and experience should move us to do more. Even in the animations, chants, cheers, icebreaker, and activities, in these you learn, and to learn is to actively participate. We can just be bystanders in an event or we can literally be part of it, instead of just observing and listening, to appreciate is to use all of our senses and fully immersing ourselves with what is offered.

To appreciate doesn’t just end with your active participation, it is only the beginning, to appreciate is to be able to share it to others as well. To share the good experiences and your personal reflections and learning from the activities to others, especially to those who were not able to experience it. And learning from the bad experiences and seeing the beauty of learning something from it, understanding God’s way of teaching you to grow and be strengthen by it. For every opportunity is a learning experience that should empower us, for appreciation is dead without action.

I am blessed and truly thankful to God for letting me experience the National Youth Day 2017 in Zamboanga!

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