Young people from across the diocese have been reflecting on a ‘momentous trip’ to the United States which has deepened ties with the link diocese of Southwestern Virginia.
Led by Children, Youth and Families team member, Katherine Grasham, the group of six 15 to 17 year olds and two leaders spent nearly three weeks in the episcopal diocese experiencing nothing but 'warmth', 'welcome' and 'hospitality' as they stayed with local church families and met other young Christians from across the region.
Now safely back in Yorkshire, Katherine says that the unanimous verdict on the trip was ‘brilliant!’
(Pictured top, L-R: Hatley (USA), Ella (UK), Gabriel (UK), Ryan (UK), Cole (USA), James (UK), Jodie (UK), Jack (UK), Liam (UK) and Katherine (UK))
“The young people, the chaperones and all the Americans had such a great time over the 3 weeks we were there. It felt like much longer as we were able to fit so much into our trip.”
The nineteen day trip included a visit to Washington DC before the group travelled to different parts of the Diocese of Southwestern Virginia. They stayed with local families and enjoying a packed programme visiting local historical sites, taking part in outdoor activities like canoeing, volunteering on local projects and spending time meeting Christians from the area.
“Our first stop after DC, a town called Staunton, was the favourite of a lot of us,” says Katherine. “The whole town felt really friendly and welcoming, and it definitely helped that it was the site of some amazing shops, ice cream parlours and thrift stores!”
“We visited Trinity Church, Staunton, a few times, and spent some time with the Revd Paul Nancarrow, who we heard preach on the Sunday morning. A quote from his talk really stuck with me - "a handful of genuinely loving people...isn’t much. It won’t change everything overnight...but it will be a start. And Jesus will take our start, offered faithfully and generously, and Jesus will make it enough."
“For me, this summed up the whole trip – especially as we were only able to complete some of our mission work whilst over there, as the soup kitchen we were due to help at had to close because of a gas leak and we were only able to do a small amount of work at the urban farm due to extreme temperatures – but even our little bits of work made a difference.
“We were also able to visit some amazing places,” she added, “including Sharp Top Mountain, the James River, Virginia Tech University, the Roanoke Star, Monticello and so many more.
“We all feel really blessed by all the things we got to do, people we got to meet and food we got to eat!”
Jodie, one of the young people from Bradford said, “I enjoyed all of it, it was great and an amazing experience, and I've met so many great people and made many new friends. I'd love to go again someday.”
“As we try and get over our jetlag, please pray that these experiences would have impacted us all for the better, that the friendships made would continue to grow, and the young people would be able to share what they’ve learned and gained from the trip with their churches and everyone around them.”