Why Serve 2014 Reflection: Jenna Stevens & Stephanie Moe
Jenna Stevens, Dinyee Tribe, Fairbanks, Alaska; Bachelors of Technology major at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks
The concept that I took away from the Why Serve conference was identification. Why Serve has brought a lot of light into my life that I didn’t expect to come as an opportunity. With loving friends and great mentors, it was a possibility that showed up at my doorstep. The Episcopal Diocese of Alaska was able to send me and others to this Why Serve Discernment Conference in Berkeley, California, for simply connecting with others on the same journey and getting to know more about ourselves.
I learned that finding out who you are and where you come from goes along with finding out what your true purpose is in society or the community you live in today. Culture shapes a way of living and the way people see things in the world, and as a young adult you are able to explore your own self-identity, background, and beliefs.
At Why Serve young adults were on similar missions of reconciling their own lives and figuring out ways of improving while researching the question, “why serve?” I think that I can say most of us came out with a different answer to the question but all with the same purpose: to be a better person. Either it’s in life you improve at a hobby, career, or helping others you are reconciling your life to become better. At moments when you reflect on your life you find understanding that God is calling you in a certain direction. Whether it be in missionary work, becoming ordained, or continuing to research a higher calling, it will find you when you least expect it.
The knowledge I gained at the conference will for sure enable me to become a better person by simply growing within my own family and inspiring others to explore their own calling or faith. I really didn’t know what to expect before going to this conference but now I’m more open-minded to what God may be calling me to do in life’s situations of change, especially if we live in a world of challenges.
At Why Serve we were able to connect with others that had similar ambitions to take on leadership roles in their communities and it felt good to know that they were passionate about related issues people face today. Young adults have many opportunities they can choose from. Having a chance to learn about multicultural missionaries around the world gives young adults more of an open mind to what it’s like to be part of a common mission. Also learning more about their self-identity and cultural heritage will help shape their passion for researching their own vocation.
I would recommend this conference to other young adults who want to gain new friendships, be a part of fellowship, or who want a true insight to exploring their own calling. This was one of the best experiences in my life for sure!
Stephanie Moe, Diik'aagyu Tribe, Tanacross, Alaska; Rural Development major at the University of Alaska Fairbanks & office manager at Mount Sanford Tribal Consortium
Reflecting on the Why Serve 2014 Conference I instantly am taken back to that warm and inviting time we had together. Many of us young adults admitted the first day that we came to the conference not knowing what to expect or where to start in our faith but we soon found ourselves learning more about what “our calling” actually meant and where we stood in discernment.
My idea of the conference changed the very first day after hearing from each leader in Ethnic Ministries and learning more about each other in groups and I’m pretty sure it was the same for everyone else. I was inspired by the variety of ministries and their involvement in their community. Each ethnicity has such unique challenges and these ministries are the strong factors in the positive impact we want to make in the world. Being a rural development student in Alaska, I found my interest in healing among the Alaska Native/Native American communities and the importance it has in positive development.
What I learned most in the conference that is helpful in discerning my call is everyone is overcoming some sort of hardship that leads us to our calling. Our relationship with God is what will guide us through our hardships and enable us to become better people within. We become part of God’s plan to inspire others and rebuild faith in our communities. I am so very thankful I got to attend the conference and I would recommend this experience to every young adult aspiring to find where they are in their faith.