We gathered in Columbus, Ohio for this year’s Legacy Conference and here’s what people had to say about it:
“I loved getting together with the workers from other Kairos university outreaches. I really did not know many of my counterparts in the Saint Paul’s Outreaches. There was a lot of camaraderie between the SPO missionaries and UCO missionaries because of our common service. That was great to see. I also loved seeing old friends who are now all over the country. It was refreshing to catch up with many of them. At times it felt like a giant think tank to answer the question, ‘how do we really be on mission in the professional setting?’ It was encouraging to see so many young professionals sharing their experiences of intentional outreach in their work places. I also experienced a richness in the worship. The Lord was present there. I left encouraged and refocused.”
-Clara, Mission Director for University Christian Outreach Lansing
“I thought the highlight of the conference was the fellowship and worship times. Dave Hughes gave an awesome talk about ‘proverbs’ for us young Christians who are trying to rise in the world professionally, but who are also trying to establish our lives in Christ. Bonus: we also stayed in a pretty nice hotel!”
-Michael, PhD Candidate at Michigan State University
“This was my first time attending the Legacy Conference,” said Claire, who works for a large hospital system. “I enjoyed the chance to meet other young professionals striving to live for the Lord. We had a lot of time to socialize and meet people from different places. The talks we heard were geared towards our demographic and were helpful to me as a person trying to figure out how to navigate Christian life in the secular working world. I particularly enjoyed the talk about how to live out a ‘bi-vocational life’: a life where you have a vocation to live and serve in a Christian community or church setting and also a vocation to work at a secular job. Dave Hughes shared wisdom that he has gained from living out this kind of life as a member of a Sword of the Spirit community and a GM executive. We also broke into small groups to discuss the talks. It was a good opportunity to meet other people my age and hear about how they are living as Christians post-college.”
-Claire, Human Resources Specialist at a large hospital system
“My favorite thing about the Legacy Conference is that we come together with young professionals from outreaches and communities we don’t often see. I mainly see people from other UCOs we are working with, so it was awesome to get to know people coming out of SPO as well. The fellowship and worship were spot on!”
-Rebekah, Mission Leader for University Christian Outreach Lansing, originally from Costa Rica
“The Legacy conference was indeed a Legacy. It served as a great reminder that the Lord deserves all our time and lives. It was a great opportunity to enjoy His goodness, sit in His presence and relax! Spending the weekend with people from different cities, states, and countries demonstrated the wonderful blessing of being part of a community of communities. Personally, Dave Hughes’ talk was very inspiring, mainly the part where he talked about the fact that God loves success. He’s not asking us to choose between being Christians or being successful at work; He loves to see us successful in everything we do.”
-Daisy, staff worker for Ignite Youth Group in Ann Arbor, originally from Lebanon
Stephen Giles shares his experience about travelling to India and learning to deal with discomfort.
“James Munk (Director of Kairos North America) shared what he does in India. He spoke of the challenges in working with college and high school young people in India and about the mission there. He said that one way we could serve the mission in India was to participate in the May households he was organizing. It sounded like a real adventure; it hit at something within me. I thought about it and then called James and said, ‘I’d like to go.’ Within about 10 minutes, James was saying, ‘when you are in India…’ ‘Wow,’ I thought, ‘I’m really going; I’m on the team!’
“I was looking for adventure, which I thought maybe that wasn’t a ‘spiritual’ enough reason to go. James said no, it is good for young men to crave adventure.
“Soon, I was on my way to Bangalore, the capitol of the state of Karnataka . It is an enormous city by my standards (8.42 million). Besides James and me, our household included 12 Indian guys, one Filipino, and one American doing a GAP Year in the Philippines.
“My first impressions of India: it was warm (even at 1:00 in the morning) and there was not much night traffic. Then morning came. There are too many cars for the roads; it is hot and noisy with scooters and motorcycles everywhere. We walked around the neighborhood which was really helpful for seeing Indian street life. There are lots of street vendor stands with fruits and other foods. You can buy a fresh coconut, for example, cut the top, drink the milk, scoop out the wonderful flesh.
“Living in India made me re-evaluate distance and speed. Driving an hour and a half would be normal coming back from an evening activity. 30 mph would be very fast (I don’t think I ever achieved that on a scooter). Driving in the U.S. is so easy in comparison: a two-lane road in India would have three cars and a truck across the same two lanes.
“My role was mainly to be part of the small group, be a solid member of the household, and be a witness of a man ‘fired up’ for the Lord. I also did the morning prayer meditations. James told us on the team that we were an ‘authority’ just because we were there on behalf of the Sword of the Spirit and knew how to apply the talks we were hearing in our lives.
“Our household did ‘memory-making trips.’ We traveled to national parks and had adventures together. We grew in trying new things. In our household talk series, we heard about not making decisions based on fear of discomfort or pain.
“We took bucket ‘showers,’ had six guys sleeping on the floor as well as three each in the two bedrooms, and ate off our laps because we had no table. Personal space was lacking so it was a stretch for us all. I learned that it is OK to be uncomfortable and that we have a very easy life in the U.S. I learned what I actually need and what I just want. We all learned to do dishes, cook, and work on a task together (and stay until the job is done). There were no moms to do stuff for us!
“Looking back at my time in India, I can see that I grew in an attitude of ‘gameness’: being willing to do things outside my comfort zone. It was a lot more fun when I was willing to try new things, new foods, and be uncomfortable. Embracing that attitude allowed me to take on more responsibilities and do things that were ‘out there,’ rather than sitting safely at home in the air conditioning.
“I grew as a disciple – I did things a little ‘unsafe’ like sharing the Gospel with someone. I saw that being afraid or uncomfortable keeps me from doing things for the Lord – not really good reasons. I learned lessons by ‘doing,’ not just from hearing a teaching.
“I am moving on to a mission year in Detroit this fall. I’ll be an employee of YouthWorks-Detroit, working with Detroit youth. However, since I didn’t get sick in India and I got a 10-year visa, James said I am coming back!”
Peter Galer, a freshman at Lansing Community College, shares about going on a Kairos Mission Trip to Agua Prieta.
“Mike Kramer (Kairos Mission Trips Director) came and did a presentation at our youth group. Last year was my senior year of high school and I had never gone on a mission trip, even though I had heard the ‘mission trip pitch’ many times. That day, some buddies in the youth group and I just looked at each other and it was, ‘Yup, we’re going.’
“Our trip had 14 guys and 3 staff participating. When we got out of the bus in Douglas, Arizona, it was like being hit with a heat wave for this boy from Michigan. Wow.
“We walked over the border into Mexico pushing wheel chairs, needed by a mission group. It was pretty amazing and random. Obviously, getting into Mexico is a lot easier than getting back! Douglas is a normal U.S. city. Over the border, a couple of miles away, is Agua Prieta. The difference is night and day. At first I thought that someone had ‘pranked’ the town of Agua Prieta; trash was EVERYWHERE. I soon learned that dealing with trash is not a priority; there are many other needs.
“Our days began and ended with prayer together. The consistency was great and praying with the guys was really good and uniting for us. It strengthened our relationships and made us feel like a real community of Christians living mission.
“At the worksite, we did various jobs. We started a house by digging the foundation and then pouring the cement, preparing it so the girls mission trip after ours could build the walls. A lot of the time before that was spent working on bricks. They are made of horse manure – really. The bricks would be too brittle in the sun, so we mixed dirt and rocks from the desert with concrete and mortar and then plastered this on the walls (stucco) over the bricks. You have to cover every bit of the walls.
“We dug the latrine for the house (four feet across, four feet wide, and nine feet down). We also dug the piping for the PVC vent and covered the hole with a thicker concrete mix. All this was a lot harder than we thought it would be.
“Working together allowed me to see the strengths and gifts of the different guys. Some of these guys were as young as 14; I was really struck by their Christian maturity. I would not have been where they were on a mission trip at 14 (I’m 18). Some of us were more used to manual labor. Some guys were incredibly smart, as in ‘you have to do the formula conversion to fluid ounces’ when we were trying to figure out how to build a latrine. Everyone brought something to the table.
“We also spent time with orphans who lived about half an hour away in a city called Naco. We played games with them and went swimming with them – the kids would be really excited and talk and talk. Only a few of us spoke Spanish. They probably couldn’t figure out how guys as old as we were didn’t know how to speak!
“During this trip, I learned some things about myself. I realized that I was not a very sympathetic person to those in need. My view was that they should just work hard and push through. But, being in a place with such poverty, seeing people working 12-14 hours every day and being happy they have work at all, caused me to reevaluate. For example, there was a 74-year-old guy there who arrived in the morning before us, worked longer than we did, and never took a lunch break. He always acted happy and grateful. I saw that I complain WAY more than they do. I learned how difficult other people’s lives are and how good I have it. I also learned that if you are on kitchen duty, you keep working even if you are dead tired!
“Even though it was tough, I would love to be there on mission longer than the 10 days we had.”
Elisha Miranda, a gapper in Lansing, Michigan during the 2015-2016 academic year, describes her experience of life as the child of immigrants while becoming quite “Americanized.”
“There was some culture clash at times between traditional Filipino culture and U.S. culture. My dad had an easier time as he likes to be informed about current trends and counted on me to tell him the latest youth happenings. My mom had a harder time letting me be an American teenager. In spite of trepidation, however, they sent me to four high school YES Retreats in Michigan and on two mission trips (Mexico and Detroit). They wanted me to love and serve the Lord.
“As I approached high school graduation, doing a GAP Year seemed like the normal next step. I had no idea how impactful it would be. Difficult as it was for my parents to have me go so far away, they were really supportive of my GAP year.
“I didn’t know anyone in Michigan when I came last August. I think what was in my mind was some experience like the YES Retreat (show up, have a great experience, make some friends, and go home). I was very homesick at first. I called my mom crying (and I am sure she was crying too) but it was good to work through it. I soon had lots to distract me. The transition to basically being on my own and related to as an adult was weirder than I had anticipated. Being in this good environment allows the mistakes I make to be minor and good learning experiences, not the monumental mistakes many young people newly on their own make.
“The August Summer Academy is the ‘diving board’ into the GAP year. It was a bit overwhelming for me but in a really fun way. The week at the Academy confirmed to me that I was now expected to make basic decisions for myself. At home, I would always plan for fun a few days ahead after clearing it with Mom. At the Academy, people spontaneously would do Karaoke late at night, or go walking outside in the warm evening, or decide to go swimming because it was hot. I had never done anything that spontaneous before.
“After the Academy, I moved into my new home, the women’s UCO house. Guys from the Academy and the UCO chapter moved us in. I was completely drained with all the new people. I was afraid things would never slow down. But, they did; we got into our house patterns, relationships were built and established within the house and the chapter, and I actually did have some time to myself!
“I have learned how important supportive, Christian relationships are. I have learned about myself as I work on maintaining good communication and loving relating. A fantastic part of my GAP year is the daily prayer, praise, and worship we have here in our household. I did not have the opportunity to pray regularly with others at home in L.A., but I am going to work on that when I go back. I will really miss the support I have in Lansing.
“Another fruit of my GAP year: I have become more outgoing and I take responsibility for greeting and engaging new people at our UCO events. I find myself choosing for the Lord – I choose to do this because I am serving and loving the Lord, not because my parents are.
“I would not have grown and changed like I have if I had stayed in California. The challenges and the personal stretching so far have born great fruit. I will be the GAP ‘ambassador’ when I go home; I will really be pushing people to do a GAP year. I firmly believe that youth should find the Lord first and THEN go to college and build UCO – God first, then family and community, then school. There are only brief moments in life when you can really give yourself to the Lord in a full way – I want to encourage other young people to grab those opportunities.”