So I have finally started my gap year. It definitely seems like it has been a long time coming! With Nomad having first caught my eye in 2010, it feels great to finally be on the team and serving like I’ve seen many others do before me! I’m now into my 4th week of the year and its been pretty full on since I’ve started, with plenty of training and new experiences!
The first week of training was ETC, a place where all of us who are doing gap years with Youth For Christ (both first and second years) got the chance to meet for the first time and build relationships within teams. For me turning up halfway through the week was slightly odd and a bit unnerving as everyone had already bonded but I think I was able to fit in relatively well, largely through embarrassing myself (i.e. falling over multiple times and getting my name in the first aid book within 8 hours…) and being the loud, loud person that I am! *MORNING!* Apart from the obvious banter that was had during the week, we did actually do some training and a lot of it has been incredibly beneficial and challenging to me and alongside all the great friendships that were formed, it is something that I have really taken from that week!
Our first adventure as a team took us to Southall for our Sports Ministry Training and Introduction to Nomad. For me going to Southall was something that I found quite interesting and incredibly different to anywhere that I had been before as it is incredibly multicultural with around only 6% of the population being white and Sikhism as the biggest represented religion. To put it into context a bit more, across the road from the church that we were in was the largest Gudwara outside of India and it was a spectacular sight to behold! As well as taking part in several more training sessions, we also decided to put up the cage for the first session on a local estate in the area, something that we, as a team, had never done before! Although slightly nerve-racking, once the cage was up and we were in full swing of the session, it was amazing, even though not many kids turned up! It was something that definitely helped us to gain a picture of what the year was going to hold and it was a great experience to be able to work with the guys in Southall who do the same work as Nomad, but based in the Southall area and getting that first hand-experience with other religions and cultures.
As aforementioned, our first couple of weeks were incredibly full on and 2 days after returning from Southall we were off again, this time however it was to Clevedon and for our first proper mission of the year! It was great to finally get stuck into a mission and I think we were all glad for the opportunity to get started. We spent most of the week in the local high school, running lessons and setting up for break and lunch time, getting to interact with the kids and tell them about Jesus. As well as putting the cage up in the school, we also spent a lot of time working with the local YMCA setting up the cage for the after school club and a few evenings during the week, at an ALD (Adults with Learning Disabilities) and Youth Club later in the week. I think it was definitely a good experience for me to work with a range of groups as it provided us with experience in several different areas that we may not have throughout the year. The final setup of the week took place at a local festival called Tides in which we were based next to the local churches and had the cage open for anyone to use. It was quite a nice relaxing end to the week and it was good for us to be able to recognise several of the kids that we had worked with during the week and formed relationships with at the festival.
Overall it’s been a really great few weeks settling in and getting to experience how the year is going to work and what’s in store for us over time! A massive thank you to all those who have supported me in getting onto the year, both financially and through prayer, I really appreciate everything and it means a lot that I have been able to do this year!
One of the many all girls lessons at Clevedon school!
Packed out lunchtime session!