High temperatures, travel distance, and even darkness all present challenges for youth from Alaska
by Scott O’Neill | Presbyterian News Service
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The group of 19 young adults from the Presbytery of Yukon faced some significant travel challenges coming to West Lafayette, Indiana for this year’s Presbyterian Youth Triennium.
Coming from all parts of Alaska, including Barrow in the North to Anchorage in the south, where average temperatures in July range from 60 – 70 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 40 – 50 degrees Fahrenheit in the evening, Indiana greeted them with temperatures approaching or exceeding 90 degrees, and humidity percentatges in the high 70s and mid-80s each day. As if that wasn’t enough of an adjustment, they were assigned a dormitory without air conditioning.
All first-timers to the five-day event, you might think the combination of weather, extended travel—and even adjusting to the fact that it gets dark in the summer—would be enough to dampen their enthusiasm and spirit for worship and communion with nearly 5,000 colleagues from around the country and world. But the resiliency of youth triumphs once again. Whether it was tracing and cutting out fabric so Ugandan women can sew together shoes and create their own revenue stream, meeting fellow Presbyterians from other countries, or confessing their sins in written form and throwing them away in their small group meeting, each participant seemingly found their own path and unique activity that meant the most to them.
Amanda, 22, an adult volunteer mentoring the delegation, shared what’s stood out to her at Triennium.
“I’m impressed by how many youth there are here. Our church is comprised of mostly older adults. We have youth groups and I’ve been to youth conferences in Anchorage, but not many of us are Presbyterians, so it’s impressive to me to see the numbers and how involved Presbyterian youth are,” she said.
The camaraderie fostered by the event and connectivity of Presbyterians made the biggest impression on Tanner, 16.
“Everybody is friendly; people will walk up and just start a conversation even though they don’t know you. Last night some of us were talking about our home states and two different groups just walked up and joined in the conversation. It’s cool that people do that,” he said. “In Alaska there aren’t that many Presbyterians so you don’t have that connection like you do here. That’s new and unique and I’m excited and proud to be a part of it.”
Stevie, 16, who previously spent a brief time In Indiana, found the small group meetings and the opportunity to meet Presbyterians from other cultures fascinating.
“The global partners event stood out to me because there was someone from Japan and a few people from other countries. It was interesting to hear about different cultures and lifestyles,” he said. “They talked about what’s a normal day for them, how their school system works, and what they eat for meals. It was very interesting.”
One of the most inspiring sites at the Triennium is watching the passion and enthusiasm young adults have for worship. That did not go unnoticed by many in the Yukon delegation. Kailen, 15, said one of her biggest impressions from the event to date is her takeaway from worship.
“I’ve learned so much, you can take a little from everybody,” she said. “More ways to pray, how to get to know God better, get closer to him and feel comfortable with him through prayer.”
Alfred, 16, concurred on the worship services.
“Worship stood out to me the most. It was really awesome and really touched my heart.”
Presbyterian Youth Triennium continues through Saturday, July 23. Presbyterian News Service will continue to post stories from the event and live event information can be found on Twitter via this link: https://twitter.com/search?q=%23pyt2016
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