Our family has been involved with Young Life for years and we are currently serving on the Committee for Hilton Head Bluffton Young Life. We found out about Young Life Expeditions while searching for a family trip we could all take together. Before our family of five departed for India, we were asked why we were led to go to a place so far away and different. To be frank, we struggled with a satisfying answer and stumbled through a few thoughts…we were looking for a life changing trip for our entire family; we were in search of an adventure; we wanted the chance to serve others while immersing ourselves in a new culture across the world.
Our trip to India answered the ‘why question’ and was everything we imagined it could be and way more.
We won’t sugar coat it, it was hard!
The flights were long, the driving chaotic, and the heat/humidity was oppressive (100+). The food was hard to digest at times and nothing was similar to home. We were all pushed well out of our comfort zones (often in unexpected & subtle ways) despite our experience with international travel and being prepared to have all of our senses overwhelmed.
But it was worth it!
Our kids (16, 16 and 13) were amazing in their patience and willingness to engage. The people of Young Life India seemed like instant family as soon as we got past basic introductions. They were able to show us India in a way that no tour guide could. We sang, prayed, laughed and played together. Hearing their personal stories was very inspiring with many struggling with families from different faith and ethnic backgrounds.
The young men, many Muslim and Hindu, at the first Young Life camp stole our hearts in Dehradun with their spirit and dancing. It was awesome to watch the joy in the faces of both adults and children at the first ever Young Life India Family Camp in Siliguri. We also learned about the many challenges of life in India – from human trafficking, poverty, treatment of women, divisions among the different religious groups, and a regional crisis with flashes of violence in Darjeeling (not far from Siliguri where we stayed).
The attributes that seemed consistent among everyone we met in India – love of life, persistence, a sense of community in the chaos and deep belief in their respective faiths. In an odd way, many of things we have lost at home. Our hearts are full from new friendships, eyes wide open for work to be done, and minds alert to our many, many blessings.
Some parting thoughts from Team Long:
Chris: It was so cool to see the whole family dive into a dramatically different culture with compassion and understanding. We left a large part of our hearts in India.
Christy: We accepted the Young Life Expedition challenge to GO, SEE, and ENGAGE. It was so worth it and we are changed because of it.
Wilder (16): I had a great time in India from riding motorcycles to playing kabaddi. I had fun getting to know the guys and would love to come back!
Isabel (16): I absolutely loved exploring the beautiful country that I’ve been wanting to go to since I was 7. We met so many amazing people, saw so many new things, and ate really good food! I can’t wait to go back!
Lillian (12): Getting to see all the little school kids just already knowing some of the songs we sang with them and that they knew them by heart.