A Family’s Journey to Armenia

“I grew up hearing stories of Armenia while enjoying my Aunt’s cooking of choreg, paklava and dolma. My Father and his sisters often spoke of the hardship and challenges they endured and the desire to someday return.” Adam Zakarian explained. “When we heard about the camp Young Life purchased outside of Yerevan, we decided to go and see what God is doing in Armenia!”

Adam’s journey actually began back in 1913 when his grandfather Moses Zakarian emigrated from Armenia with the hope of earning enough money to bring his family to the United States. After a century, new world finally revisited the old world when Adam, along with his son, Noah, and his wife Kathy and I journeyed to Armenia to serve kids at a Young Life Camp. We extended our trip to help with building projects at the newly purchased Young Life property and were able to see the beginning stages of what is now Camp Pioneer, which opened in July of 2017.

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At our layover in New York, we were joined by a Young Life leader, Miraidy Rodriguez, from Puerto Rico, where we all flew on to Armenia and the beginning of what would be an amazing time. We were enthusiastically met in Yerevan by leader, Aram Gevorgyan, who took us to a gathering of leaders and volunteers, led by Regional Director Arman Asatryan and his wife, Lilit.  They were grateful to be with us as we all planned together for the upcoming camp.

A central focus of the expedition was to serve kids and experience a Young Life camp at the site they had been renting each summer, located at a camp called Bujakan. Lilit described what they hoped to achieve at camp:  “We want them to have fun, to enjoy themselves, to get dirty and relax.  We make it very easy to laugh and have joy – growth comes from the Holy Spirit! The kids can be normal a camp, even if they have problems or troubles, they know we will be there for them and they can trust us.  We have personal relationships with kids from all walks of life.  In most homes, they are told ‘don’t get dirty, don’t get wet.’  Here we break the barriers — want them to just be themselves, to be kids! And we give them permission to be free.”

In addition to this permission to be free, they give plenty of permission to talk, to lounge, to have time for fostering new friendships and strengthening old friendships. “We want them to hear about how Jesus loves them – no matter what. And we encourage faithfulness to relationships,” said Lilit.   Friendship remains the key to Young Life camps.  “Friends bring friends,” explained leader, Arusik.  “If not bring a friend, what’s the reason?  Every Young Life camper is encouraged to bring a friend.  If this is your second camp, you can bring two friends.  Third camp, three friends.”

In recalling the enthusiastic worship experiences of the camp, Kathy admired the emphasis on “the team building, the relationships, the friendships, getting to know each other, the last Bible message at worship was so special – even with the language barrier.”

 

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Once the camp was over, our group went to the new camp property.  Because of the exorbitant rental price and dilapidated condition of facilities like Bujakan, the leaders and volunteers were thrilled as the dream of a new camp property was soon to become a reality! After years of prayer and planning Young Life had purchased a former Stalin era Young Pioneer indoctrination camp that had been designed to initiate adolescents into becoming dedicated members of the Young Communist League (more on the camp history here ).

Young Life was committed to renovating the facility, which would allow them to host camps throughout the year, as well as hold training conferences and accommodate kids with special needs.  Our team cleared brush, painted and witnessed the beginning stages of this now beautiful Young Life camp!

 

Our group’s experience in Armenia was incredible, serving Young Life and being a part of the excitement of the newly purchased camp, the memories we brought back home as we toured the country and learned more of its history from our hosts.  Miraidy plans to return this summer and felt her time was especially blessed as she forged deep friendships with her Armenian friends and “learned more about being a leader then I could have imagined”.

Said Noah Zakarian when asked about his trip experience:  “The highlight for me was experiencing Young Life Armenia and how similar it is to what we have in Danville.  Seeing the ministry changed me … being with them … I felt they had a special grace and presence.  They seem spiritually rooted and more serious there.”

Find out how you can serve this amazing ministry and experience the new Young Life Camp Pioneer at www.Armeniacamp.younglife.org   or contact Carrie Fraser 719-229-4970

Written by: Robert John Andrews

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No Passport Needed

Did you know there are opportunities to serve with Expeditions in the U.S.?

Grace took a team of girls from her Young Life club to Memphis, TN for a week of service. That week they had the opportunity to bike around Memphis, help with several school & church cleaning projects, work at a kitchen that provides meals for the poor and participate in a park clean-up project. In addition to the work, they connected with people in Memphis and had the chance to hear their story’s. Each night they met as a team and processed what they were experiencing, prayed together and explored what the Bible had to say about service.

 

“God really shined throughout the week on our team. He showed us who needed help and why. He gave us a purpose, gave us a reason and gave us a chance to be someone that we have always wanted to be, someone extraordinary! In one week we were able to see some of His amazing work in Memphis and I learned that He is in everyone, no matter what their story is….He is with them for the long run.”
                        – Grace
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To learn more about places to serve in the US click here or if you’d like an Expeditions team to serve in your community please contact us.

Club Beyond

I grew up in the military family. Moving every 3 years was the norm, but one particular move rocked my world. I was 15, had an amazing group of Christian friends, and had an incredibly successful year on my High School’s Swim Team. My father was told we would be moving that summer, and I found out we would be moving to Heidelberg, Germany. I was shattered. After saying my goodbyes, I remember very melodramatically stating “My life is over” as I walked onto the plane.

What I didn’t know was that my life was just beginning.

Upon arrival, I was introduced to this local group called Club Beyond (or, as you might know it, Young Life Military). They played games and talked about Jesus, but the staff were all about to move. I tried going, but giving up what I had in Texas mentally was holding me back from fully being present and trying to make friends. That year was rough. There were very few kids in my school who were living out their faith, and I felt completely abandoned and isolated. My mom grew increasingly worried, as her normally happy go-lucky daughter turned to emo music and cried herself to sleep every night (No, really. You should hear my mixtape from that year. I laugh at it now). One night she wondered out loud if maybe I would benefit from being sent to live with my Grandparents in Colorado. The thought cheered me up a little, because maybe it meant I could escape. Increasingly, however, my mood and demeanor turned sour. I was a walking cloud of depression, and I started to doubt whether or not I would be able to keep myself alive through the remainder of high school.

Then came Sara.

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Sara at my graduation.

Sara came to YL Military at the end of my first year in Germany. She became my person. I think she knew that I wasn’t ok (a fact I was successfully hiding from most people). She took me out for my first cup of Starbucks coffee, and made “Coffee Dates” a regular thing. She helped me dive deeper into my faith, and emboldened me to start inviting my friends to Club. New teens arrived in community who also had a relationship with Christ. We had a place to go that was safe. We knew we could relax and not be on our guard from the stream of negativity so pervasive at our school. We knew we had caring adults who would listen to what was going on in our lives; to give us advice if we asked for it but just listened when we didn’t. We knew that they actually cared about us and our futures. If we were called out on behavior, we didn’t mind because they truly loved us. More people from school started coming to Club. Even if they didn’t buy “the whole Jesus thing”, Club was recognized as one of the safe places for teens in our community. Kids who didn’t come to Club would still want to hang out with the leaders, because the leaders were safe.

I now work for YL Military-Club Beyond; ministering to kids just like me. Who are lost. Who have no roots. Who are pulled out of everything familiar on a routine basis. Who are trying to answer the age-old question “Who Am I?”, when they’re surrounded by people they just met in a place they don’t know. It’s an adventure. It’s hard work. It’s a need at military bases around the globe.

And it’s the most at home I’ve ever felt.

Written by: Bethany Carter

Young Life International Camp Internships

Are you ready for a life-changing experience in a new culture?

Are you looking for something different to do for a season?

Do you love serving others and want to grow in your walk with Jesus?

If so, a Young Life International camp internship could be a great opportunity for you!

Dominican Republic, Pico Escondido

Our Internship and Summer Staff opportunities are a great way to be a part of what God is doing in the Dominican Republic. You will serve a very special role in facilitating the relationships between American work teams and the Dominican Vida Joven staff that serve at camp.

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Spring Interns and Summer Staff serve primarily with American Work Teams, while Summer Interns work through the summer Work Team season and Dominican Outreach Camp. For more information & application, click here.

Central and Eastern Europe

The European Summer Camp Intern program is an intense cultural and service missions experience in Young Life. Interns will play a vital role in our summer camping ministry and serve on camp weeks in multiple countries in places like: the Czech Republic, Poland, Albania, Bulgaria and Hungary. Interns are committed to Christ first and foremost, they have the ability to lead others and have a strong desire to serve with excellence.

Camp Interns will join Assigned Teams and Work Crew / Summer Staff to serve Christ, kids, and each other. They will have the opportunity to grow as leaders in ministry, develop Christ-like relationships, and enjoy the fun and beauty of Central/East Europe.

Click Here for more information.

Session 1: June 11 – August 7, 2018

Session 2: July 2 – August 30, 2018

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Scotland, Cairn Brae

Cairn Brae is looking for summer camp interns to serve from June 7 to August 19. Intern positions include: Guest Services, Kitchen, Admin, Video and Retail. Please know they will be giving preference to hiring from Young Life volunteers in the UK and Europe and prefer candidates who have prior Young Life camp intern experience. For more information or to apply.

 

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5 Last Minute Gift Ideas that Give Back

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41 & Change Coffee CO.

A portion of every sale of 41 & Change Coffee goes to giving a young person in Nicaragua the week of their life at a Young Life camp, an experience that gives them a sense of their incredible God-given worth. We also build fundraising relationships with Young Life in North America, allowing students to raise funds for their own life-changing camp experience.

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Karama Collection

Our vision is to live in a world where poverty is overcome through dignified work, so families and communities can thrive. Karama alleviates poverty by restoring dignity through creative, purposeful work for artisans, beginning in Africa. We work to nurture artisan relationships, help champion small business development and provide access to a global marketplace. We also invest in African teens through Young Life Africa camp sponsorships.

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Prodigal Pottery

Prodigal Pottery’s mission is to provide a safe and therapeutic work environment for women in need that develops healthy professional skills, interpersonal relationships and spiritual depth. We transform the lives of at-risk women by providing them with meaningful employment, while equipping our staff with the entrepreneurial skills needed to succeed.

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The Apparent Project

Our focus is to “make the needs of Haiti known,” to support opportunities for Haitians to provide for themselves and their families, empowering them to rise out of poverty… to be able to keep their families together… to avoid relinquishing their children to orphanages… providing educational opportunities for both parents & their children.

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Make a donation to your local Young Life area, the location you served with Expeditions or to the Every Kid Scholarship Fund

The Every Kid Scholarship Fund was created to help under-resourced kids become world changers.

At Expeditions we believe every kid should have the opportunity to experience the life-changing transformation that happens when serving others as Jesus taught us to do throughout Scripture. We know an experience with Expeditions changes people from the inside out. We want city kids and suburban kids, kids from the projects and from the plains, able-bodied kids and kids with disabilities. We want every kid to know that a relationship with Jesus means serving one another and serving the least of these … and that’s how we change the world.

We’ve learned so often kids and their Young Life leaders in under-resourced areas want to serve in a cross-cultural setting but do not have access to people with funds to help support their Expedition. We never want funding to be the obstacle for kids to learn about service. So we’ve created the Expeditions Every Kid Scholarship Fund so we can begin to strategically offer Young Life leaders and local areas the opportunity to take their kids on an Expedition.

Young Life Surf Camp…in Portugal

For the past six summers Portugal Young Life has held a YL Surf Camp outside of Lisbon. This July the camp will take place in Sintra, an incredible spot for kids to hear about the love of Christ and spend time with their friends and Young Life leaders. The camp offers a ropes course, hiking and surf lessons.

Over the years the camp has grown and this summer the Young Life team will add a second week of camp. The first week will be for Portugal Young Life while the second week will host students from France, Spain, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Each week will serve approximately 80 students and leaders.

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The past several summers Young Life Expeditions has sent a team from the US to help serve as Work Staff (a mixture of work crew and summer staff tasks). Last year our team had an amazing trip and shared some of their highlights:

  • It was a great experience to see the Gospel message shared in a different country and culture. I was reminded of the beauty & simplicity of the Gospel story.
  • I learned so much about being flexible and a willing servant. Our team really got to jump into camp and felt a part of the team. We were given the opportunity to begin serving from the very start of our trip.
  • One of my favorite parts of the trip was the chance to hear the life stories of those on the Expeditions team. We also had time to interact each day with leaders and students at camp and build friendships with them.

This year we are in the midst of recruiting another Open Team of 8-12 people to serve from July 4 – July 22. It’s an amazing opportunity to see Lisbon, serve at a YL camp, build friendships and encounter God in a new place.

In addition to serving as work staff alongside Portugal Young Life Staff and leaders the Expeditions team will have the opportunity to participate in club each night and visit a local beach to try out some surfing.

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Ready to GO SEE and ENGAGE Young Life in Portugal? Click here for more information or if you are ready to apply here is our application.

Entertainment Ideas for Long Flights

We’ve all been there before, getting ready to settle in for a long flight when “ack!” the movie screen on the seatback in front of us is out…or the selection is weak…or you’ve already been on so many flights this month that you’ve watched all of the good ones. What now?

Here is a (non-definitive) list of how I entertain myself on a long flight:

Hoopla: this is a free app available from most libraries, simply download to your phone, enter in your library card info and the app will let you download a set amount of ebooks and audiobooks for free each month, usually 3-6 titles. Once you check out a book make sure to download it to your phone before you take off!

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The Young Life Podcast: Young Life has been rocking it with these podcasts, download them before your flight and maybe check out a few other solid podcasts while you’re at it. I really like the Typology podcast, Planet Money, and Christ Community Church-Oak Ridge.

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Language Pratice: If you’re on your way to a new country why not learn a bit of the language? Duolingo is a free app that offers most major world languages. However, only a few lessons at a time will be downloaded to your phone.

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Babbel is a subscription based app (around $13 for a month, or if you get a year’s worth it’s $7 per month) it allows you to download lessons to your phone so you can brush up on travel phrases, grammar, vocab or take full intensive courses. This is what I use and I’m a big fan of it.

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Here is a link for a free week with Babble.

Spend time with Jesus: Bust out that Bible and your journal and spend some time praying for your Expedition, your heart, your team, and the people you will meet (or spend some time processing what you learned and what God did on your way home).

Write thank you letters: It is likely that there is a whole crew who made it possible for you to go on your Expedition, pick up some postcards once you reach your destination and on the flight home write postcards telling your friends and family all that God did on your Expedition.

Two Dots: This is a stilly phone game but it can be quite addicting. I also enjoy candy crush. Not super proud of either of those but they are part of my “long flight strategy.” The trick for me is that I only allow myself to play them on flights, that way they don’t take over my life.

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Read: Bring a good old fashioned book or magazine and get lost in its pages.

Make art: I one time on a flight brought some pastels and paper and spent some time just creating art. You could bring crayons, colored pencils or even watercolors on the flight.

Write us a blog!: We are always looking for more content for this blog. Did God do something rad on your Expedition? Have a funny or moving story from your time with your new international friends? Tell us about it and we may feature it here on our blog!

We’d love to hear your strategies for long flights, be sure to share a comment!