October / November 2015 - Vol. 82

My GAP Year in Glasgow

  by Mariah Waraksa

This past year I took some time off of from school to do a GAP year in Glasgow, Scotland. During my time away I traveled, met extraordinary people, and deepened my faith in God through Scripture studies and the witness of others. I also did various services within and outside of the Community of the Risen Christ (a Sword of the Spirit Community in Glasgow). All of the service I did impacted my life in a great way, but there are two particular areas of service that touched my life in a very unique way.

At times I can be a difficult person to get along with. This is an area of weakness which I have been trying to improve. There was a particular relationship I during my GAP year that began with a high level of mutual annoyance. This blinded me to the fact that I could, potentially, get along with this person.

At the beginning of the year when we received our service assignments, it turned out that we had been given the same service and had to work together every week. At first the work assignment was quite difficult for me. The events we ran weren't didn't seem to be well coordinated. This was due, at least in part, to my lack of communication and my arrogant attitude.

During the 40 days of Lent, however, things began to change. I could tell this person was deliberately putting more effort into our relationship and becoming kinder towards me. This encouraged me, in a huge way, to put the past behind me and to go forward by imitating the kind actions I was receiving.

As our relationship grew, we were able to carry out our services a million times better. Communication became like second nature to us. Through all of the service we did together and the dedication we put into our events, we became like siblings.

"I am eternally thankful to God that He gives us the graces
 we need to overcome our weaknesses."

The other service I had that greatly impacted my GAP year was a bit different. A few times each week I would travel up to a rougher area of Glasgow to take part in some programs at a community center called The Preshal Trust. The Preshal Trust is a place for ex-addicts, alcoholics, people with different mental and physical disabilities.

At first it was quite nerve-wrecking to go there. All these people had gone through so much - I felt like I had basically had my life handed to me on a silver platter. These people knew real trial and real suffering - why would they want to talk to me?

Boy, was I wrong! They are some of the most courageous, caring, accepting people I've ever met. I felt a particular blessing through a friendship I built with a woman named AnneMarie. At first I didn't know what to make of her, but after hearing about her life, personal difficulties and the things she had overcome, I was truly inspired by her. She changed my life for the better through the love she showed me. Whenever it had been awhile since we'd seen each other, the beaming smile coming from her face and the squeals of excitement I would hear would soften my heart and give me a sense of joy and love that I'd never experienced before. The day I had to say goodbye to Annemarie was one of the hardest days of my life. She tells me that I changed her life, but I feel that she completely changed mine.

One of the big things I learned through these experiences was that doing service for others actually does lead to growth. The more you serve and put your best foot forward with a good attitude, the deeper you grow in faith and in relationships with family and friends.

Serving others taught me that making the sacrifice to be kind, even in the smallest way, can change even the hardest of relationships. No matter how small, a good deed never goes unnoticed. Through my service in Preshal, I learned that you cannot judge a book by its cover - there is so much to people that lies beneath the surface and taking time to build relationships can go really far for both people.

"For you were called to freedom brethren;
only do not turn your freedom into the opportunity for the flesh,
but through love serve one another."
Galatians 5:13


Hello! My name is Mariah, I am 19 years old and I am a part of the People of Hope Community in New Jersey, where I was born and raised. My family is very important to me. I have three sisters and two brothers. I'm a massive New York Rangers fan. After taking this next year to work, I am hoping to go to school to finish my education education and be an elementary school teacher! I love to travel and wish to travel all around the world someday.

This article was reprinted with permission from The Lovely Commission.

The Lovely Commission is a new publishing venture and brand of Kairos North America. It is
is run by Molly Kilpatrick and Mary Rose Giles and a team of contributors from various Christian communities in North America and beyond. Together they are working to build a culture of radical love, femininity, modesty of heart, mind, and body amongst young women. Their aim is to inspire and equip young women to embrace and promote a culture of Godly femininity in which we live out our rich identity as daughters of God and disciples of Jesus Christ.

> See related Kairos articles and reflections in this issue:

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