News and Events - August 2017

NEWS AND EVENTS - Tuesday, August 29, 2017


Serve-X-Treme was founded and organized by a humanitarian organization (IOCC) of the Orthodox Church with the goal of preparing our young adults for humanitarian relief efforts. Thanks to specific donors who cover all of the expenses for all participants, high school seniors from most jurisdictions of the Orthodox Church in North America come together for a whole week of learning, serving, workshops, and fellowship. We have been sending representatives for the past few years, and the following is a short personal report from the last gathering. Our representative was Aleksa Gujanicic (of the Midwest Diocese).

Dear Fr. Dragan (Director of Diocesan Youth Department),

This experience, which the Youth Department facilitated, was beyond my expectations. Going there I was a bit nervous and even scared to a point because I had never done anything like it, but once I met my fellow members and staff, I could even say that I felt at home the first night. I guess when you start building relationships with someone when you have your faith in common, it is stronger than anything you build at work or at school with other people. You develop a deeper connection which cannot be made outside of Christ.

We had a number of presenters come in during the week to explain to us how we should serve, and we even did a bit of serving ourselves. One thing that I learned from one of the presenters named Paul Karos, a blind man (which inspired me even more) who ended up having a successful career on Wall Street as the top airline analyst in the world for five years, is that while he was having all of this success in his life, he was very distant from the church and had breakdowns. He told us that without the right foundation in your life which should start with Life in Christ and the Holy Trinity, nothing would get done, and that really made a mark on me.

We would start every day with a Matins service and then would go into our presentations. After the presentations we went out to an attraction in Minnesota like a waterfall park or a mall and would spend time together. I learned a lot in these outings because all of us had specific questions that would get answered by one of us which made for great discussions.

We also had a couple instances where we went out to volunteer our time to a person or group in need. One specific project was a flood cleanup where a disabled retired couple was displaced from their home due to record amounts of water and flooding in their area. IOCC was helping them rebuild their house, and we as a group helped gut their house and clean it up. The cleanup made me realize that we as servants of God should go out of our way, loving our neighbors as ourselves.

After every day, before we went up to our rooms, we would have a Vespers service followed by group reflections where we would split up and would discuss what we got out of the day and if we learned anything. Some things I said and learned out of these reflections were that we are saved together but go to Hell alone, that working with other people makes us work harder and better, and that we should go out of our way.

This experience was truly once in a lifetime and life changing, both physically but more spiritually. I have a lot more I could talk about, but I will stop here by saying Christ is in our midst and thank you.

Aleksa Gujanicic
Midwest Diocese

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