Youth Forward Scholarship 2017 – The Struggle to Serve

Name: Charles Rey
From: Boulder, Colorado
Grade: 12
School: Fairview High School
Votes: 0

on YWAM Townsville’s medical ship in Papua New Guinea’s (PNG)
Bamu River, I watched on as locals paddled in dugout canoes towards
their homes. As they struggled against the current, I struggled
internally feeling unimportant. During the previous months I had been
prepared for PNG. Trained in everything from Tuberculosis prevention
to water tank assembly, I was ready to bring change. However, I was
unprepared to bring change by working in the ship’s galley. Over
the course of outreach I grew discontent as other volunteers returned
with stories from remote villages, while I could only retell of how
many dishes I washed. It felt as though my time and finances were
wasted on being nothing more than a glorified kitchen appliance.

thought continued to creep up until recap night when we reviewed the
week’s accomplishments: 536 kids were administered vaccinations, 143
teeth were removed, 13 regained sight, and over a 1000 were taught
about Tuberculosis. Listening to these statistics furthered my
disappointment. I couldn’t claim a single data point. A short
speech was then given honoring the galley workers. I hoped being
acknowledged for my work would reveal my significance. Although it
was a nice gesture, it wasn’t until a volunteer pulled me aside and
told me a story that I understood what it meant to be part of
something bigger than yourself.

volunteer’s name was Charles, an elderly dentist, who befriended me
during outreach. My apparent emotional shift pushed him to share an
experience from the past week. The previous day he had been able to
help over 60 locals with dental needs in a near by

However, what stood out to Charles wasn’t the dentistry but an
interaction. While taking a lunch break, a young boy came and sat
down with Charles. He didn’t make eye contact but instead was
watching the orange in Charles lap. Amused by the behavior, Charles
handed over the fruit. Jumping up the boy ran into a nearby palm
grove and gave a final glance over his shoulder with a delightfully
mischievous grin before disappearing into the jungle. Turning to me
Charles said, “Although you never left the ship, one of your
lunches made its way to a child’s hands. That orange was an escape
from the fears and issues he faces every day.” The goal of outreach
was to bring support in anyway we could. I had indirectly supported a
boy with a mere orange. Charles left me with this final idea; when we
bring about change, we don’t often see its fruition. This is why we
must be committed to whatever task is at hand.

brief conversation entirely changed my mentality and mission beyond
PNG. Charles brought support when I needed it through one
conversation. He demonstrated how observation paired with
understanding, can bring change even through a brief interaction. Our
conversation not only left me understanding my importance, but more
importantly what it means to elicit

change in all walks of life.

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