12

Volunteers

6,550

Meals Prepared

7,000

lbs of Food Sorted

Vicina Youth at Central Texas Food Bank


“As we work, we become united; we help each other without even needing to be asked– a hand to lift a heavy box there, or moving boxes out of their way.”

At first glance, the food bank does not look like a food bank. The building is quite large, and seems to be impossibly clean, which is exactly the opposite of other food banks I’ve been to.

Inside, waits clusters of people. To one side is a troop of Girl Scouts, all around the age of 10, along with their parents. On another side are a few groups of people, maybe families or other organizations similar to Vicina.

Once we’ve all checked in via the kiosks, an employee of a food bank walks up and explains to us the rules of the food bank: no tank tops, open toed shoes, gum, etc. She leads us past a large kitchen and into the product recovery room, where we are greeted by other employees, and told that we are to sort through frozen food today.

We are split into different groups. Six of our students go to help move around the finished products, and the rest of us help pass out food that needs to be distributed to the sorters. Other jobs include banana box lifters and trash sorters.

We work for three hours straight. Although there’s a break room, none of our students go to use it. While we work, background music is played, along with a football game (but most of it is ads). As we work, we become united; we help each other without even needing to be asked– a hand to lift a heavy box there, or moving boxes out of their way.

When we’re done, it seems like no time has passed. We all smile at each other, hearing the employee give us the stats: we’ve sorted through over 7,000 pounds of food, resulting in about 6,500 meals.

Rock climbing in Wyoming
20 days and 20 nights backpacking and rock climbing in Wind River Mountain Range
Ran the half marathon at age 13 and full marathon at age 14
Canoeing on Buffalo river, AR
Performing the violin for the elderly
Volunteering at Shepherd’s Field Children’s Village in China
Volunteering at a food bank in New Orleans

Living in a Fearful World


Dear Reader,

 

The world we live in is a world full of anxiety, stress, and doubt. This is not a new discovery, but it isn’t a topic that we teenagers reflect upon often. However, the truth still stands: we live in a world of fear. In fact, a while ago, my dad said this: “I’ve been alive for XX years, but this is the first time I’ve seen the world in so much fear [due to the coronavirus outbreak],” and it got me thinking.

 

From the very start of our lives, even before we are born, our parents are worried for our life, our health, our future. As we grow up and start making friends, we start experiencing something known as “fear of missing out.” As we mature into young adults, we start becoming anxious for our own futures. When we grow older and have families, we become stressed about our own children’s lives, their health, and their future. And on and on it goes.

 

Various researchers have determined that one of the factors influencing our decision making (both consciously and unconsciously), is our emotions, fear being one of the main ones. Fear can cause us to overthink, make crazy decisions, and lose options when we put off or avoid difficult decisions.

 

A few weeks ago, a student who studies in America flew back to the U.S. from China. Although he hadn’t been anywhere near any confirmed or suspected the coronavirus, once the news of his return was leaked to his classmates, parents started calling and insisting that the principal needed to suspend the student from school. This student’s own family members were afraid of the .001% chance of him having the virus that they thought about setting up a tent in their backyard to quarantine him, causing the principal to step in and allow the student to live in her home.

 

Bless the principal. Pray for the parents.

 

Although this problem will never be solved, there are many steps that we can take that will help us live fearlessly in a world of fear. Here are a few:

Be cautious but brave

It’s impossible to be completely fear-free, but instead of turning that fear into something negative, be cautious when needed. If you’re stressed out because of the coronavirus, for example, wash your hands often and sneeze into your elbow. Encourage your friends and family to do the same, if they don’t already. However, there is no need to wear a face mask wherever you go and discriminate against Chinese people.

YOLO

You only live once, so don’t spend your whole life too afraid to do something new. Someday in the future when you look back at your life, I guarantee that at least half of your most regrettable moments have something to do with fear.

Take calculated risks

Of course I’m not telling you to do anything dumb, but wouldn’t you rather die having attempted to climb Mount Everest (with serious training) than dying with no significant achievements in your life because you were too afraid to go out of your comfort zone?

Open your eyes

Don’t be blind to other views. Listen to other people’s perspectives. And if you decide to do something about it, at least get your facts straight.

 

When the coronavirus first broke out, a group of Chinese (half from Shanghai, the other half from Wuhan) were in Japan, ready to board their flight back to China. They had all been in Japan for a few weeks, before the virus even broke out. However, when the Shanghainese heard the Wuhan people’s dialect, they refused to board the plane and instead demanded that the airline send another plane just for them. When people are this divided, how can they ever hope to solve the bigger problem?

No one is perfect

There is no such thing as perfect, and it’s normal to be afraid. What matters is what you will do with that fear. Will you use it to do something for the good of the world or will you turn it into something harmful to others?

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;

I have called you by name;

you are Mine.”

-Isaiah 43:1