hour fast changes lives
On Sept. 10 and 11 thirteen youth and four adults met at the Keuterville Hall to begin the challenge of fasting for 30 hours. The purpose behind the challenge was to raise money for the people of Haiti.
The first comments the kids had were, “I have never gone for more than 3 to 4 hours without eating, I don’t think I’m going to make it!” or “I eat all the time, this is going to be really hard” or “I know I can’t do this, but I’ll try!” So, the challenge our leaders had was to keep them busy so they couldn’t think about food and that is exactly what we did!
The first part of the morning was filled with various activities which called the youth to a deeper awareness of who they are as young people fasting for others, and why they were fasting for others. In the first activity they were divided into teams and had to stack 150 cups into the tallest tower they could. Team number 3 was in the lead until they all came crashing down, cups flying everywhere along with laughter and team cheers for working together. The tumbling cups represented the earthquake in Haiti and were a great introduction to the theme for the day.
Next they set the prayer table using symbols for the fast such as water, a Bible, a candy bar and a crucifix, all representing the call to faith through action.
Our next adventure was to divide up into tribal teams, which included tribal competitions. We had three teams with tribal names from Haiti which included Pationville, Laschhobas and Soleil tribe. After tribe introductions the teams gathered to paint shirts using symbols, words and phrases to reflect their 30 hours together. Words like love, hungry, will starve for food and fasting for 30 hours filled the spaces on the shirts. It’s great to see the love and creativity in these young hearts as they display their desires to serve others through the pure giving of what is inside!
Of course these young hearts were excited when it was a juice break. It was like they were receiving a big juicy steak, what appreciation for something small, yet a lesson for something big. As the morning continues in this awareness of gratitude the tribal competition began. The great cardboard house-building race! Each tribe was given some duct tape, a roll of string and 6 big boxes to build the house they would sleep in. Let the games begin! It was so much fun watching the teamwork, conversation, planning and construction of these structures! At the end of the hour, some of the houses sported 2 rooms with sunroofs, doors with handles, chairs, wallpaper and even a floor. It wasn’t easy but the smiles, laughter and fun again reflected a project well worth doing.
After the tribal game the group gathered to paint ceramic pots with words that reflected their experience. These pots were sold at Youth Mass to raise money for the Haiti cause.
Time came for the next tribal competition. Let’s just say it had to do with socks, gravel , water and buckets. The theme of the competition reinforced the gift of clean water and called for recognition of unhealthy water systems in Africa. The result of this activity called the youth to reflect through prayer and a guided meditation on how we take things for granted and how our efforts to help others can really change lives.
The early evening brought with it a trip to St. Mary’s Church to set up tables for the celebration following the Sunday morning Youth Mass. From there we went over to Ferdinand to attend Mass. Here Lauren Duman gave a beautiful testimony of what we were doing and that we would be gathered outside to collect money for our cause. What a wonderful response we received from the people gathered at Assumption Church. The youth met people outside as they held signs that read, “Ask me why I’m hungry” or “Ask me where I am sleeping tonight” Thank you to all who gathered at Assumption Church, your generosity and love won’t be forgotten. The night continued as we gathered back at Keuterville Hall to dress our tribal chiefs. The competition was fierce as sheets, feathers, belts, face paint, beads and even fly swatters took on meaning. If you ever want a good laugh, you put a bunch of teens loose with an idea and give them permission to use their idea. It’s the greatest thing you’ve ever seen. Wonderful competition and wonderful energy equal wonderful opportunity for God’s love and grace to shine through. The beauty of the night continued as we gathered together with David Hamm and Sister Wendy to praise God through song.
As the evening quieted down we finished our competitions and announced our winners. They received 3 bags of candy, which they couldn’t eat. It’s tough sacrificing for the good of another, but no complaints.
Abbie Lustig closed the night by reading “The Giving Tree.” The book spoke a beautiful message of selfless giving as the youth gathered on the floor to listen with open hearts. Finally, the call of sleepiness brought with it a group of hungry people with rumbling tummies to their homemade box homes. This one night they were given the opportunity to live the life of another for the sake of another. What more can be said?
It’s hard to wake up in the morning hungry, tired and sore. But the beauty of the sacrifice continued as the youth cleaned up and readied themselves for Mass. May I say without complaint. At the closing of the fast they gathered around the prayer table and blesses each other with oil as a symbol of sending each other forth. Their words were “You are sent to walk humbly, lover tenderly and live justly.” We moved with grace filled hearts to celebrate the Mass, to enter the sacred ending our fast. As the words were prayed and the songs were sung, the meaning of the Eucharist took on real meaning, becoming the bread of life, the food that sustains us after 30 hours of fasting. How wonderful is that? As a celebration of the fast came to a close, the celebration of food flowed forth as community gathered in the Sacred Heart Room to rejoice in the greatness of each other and applaud our young people for being examples of active discipleship in our midst. Because of the wonderful demonstration of selflessness these young people raise $1,100 for our Haitian brothers and sisters. Thank you everyone who contributed to our cause, your hearts and hands joined ours as we gathered in love to find love beyond ourselves! What a wonderful experience for all!
Youth participating in the 30 hour fast are pictured at Assumption Church holding sings. Front from left are Katherine Nida, Keely Schmidt, Beka Bruner, Jessica Kaschmitter, Samantha Keating, Emily McHugh and Brandi Gehring. Back from left are Ashley Cannon, Clark Bruno, Whitney Sonnen, Tyler Hankerson, Kayla Johnson and Beth Dinning. Not pictured are Lauren Duman, Abbi Lustig, Sister Wendy Olin and Debbie Chicane.