Youth Board Member from Lake Merritt United Methodist Church, Oakland, CA
This past summer, one of our youth group leaders at Lake Merritt United Methodist Church suggested our youth group go on a service trip with Sierra Service Project. We raised the money to go from donations and fundraising events, and chose to participate at SSP’s San Diego site.
As a pastor’s daughter, I mistakenly thought I had learned and experienced all I needed to know to maintain my relationship with God and my beliefs. However, after sitting down and opening up with my group, I realized I had barely touched the surface of my faith journey. I sat in a homeowner’s backyard after hoisting up beams, screwing in bolts, and hammering down the foundation of a new awning, and recognized the intense level of transparency and solidarity I built in my group. This experience helped me carry these traits forward into the communities I encounter every day. SSP allowed me to delve into my insecurities and vulnerabilities to look at the big picture of our communities through faith. Recognizing this place of selfless service and inclusivity has pushed me to realize no matter our age, experiences, or beliefs, we all have a continuous journey with God.
“Recognizing this place of selfless service and inclusivity has pushed me to realize no matter our age, experiences, or beliefs, we all have a continuous journey with God.”
On our Adventure Wednesday excursion, I headed to Tijuana, Mexico. I will carry the stories and trials shared there by Pastor Guillermo and the people who work with him for the rest of my life. Even though there was a language barrier, I could clearly sense and understand their struggle and how grateful they were that we had come with open minds and open hearts, ready to help and grow.
Looking back, Sierra Service Project left an impact on me unmatched by anything else I have experienced. It has compelled me to share the necessity of service alongside others with kind words and grace. Between homeowner stories and the pastoral support in Tijuana, I gained a deep sense of fulfillment that comes from serving in communities near and far. I have made many friendships outside of my group because of the profound understanding and acceptance that surrounded me. SSP cultivates a deep growth in my connection to God, an intense passion for serving the community, and the need to continue exploring my faith and perspectives.
“SSP cultivates a deep growth in my connection to God, an intense passion for serving the community, and the need to continue exploring my faith.”
My time with Sierra Service Project has been unforgettable. Every day I work toward fulfilling SSP’s mission to strengthen communities, and it is my mission to ensure other youth have this same opportunity to experience growth in service.
Editor’s Note: Tiye is a youth Board member for the 2019-2020 fiscal year. Senior at Alameda Science & Technology Institute, and has attended Sierra Service Project in San Diego with Lake Merritt United Methodist Church. Tiye is passionately involved in youth activism around Climate Change and Equal Rights. She is the Vice President of Fundraising at Alameda Science & Technology Institute, as well as the President of the Girls Who Code club and the ASL (American Sign Language) club.