Hey, Mega Camp! How are you? Awesome, awesome. So, the Gospel earlier reminded us that God is always there and that he’ll make sure that we’re always provided for. The people in the story were worried and scared that there wasn’t going to be enough food for everyone to eat. When Jesus told them to go eat the food, they looked at him with doubt and told him that there was no way everyone would have food. Jesus replied something along the lines of “Nah fam, I will always have your back,” and made it rain fish, which gave them enough to eat for a long long time. It was when they didn’t have enough that Jesus provided them with an abundance. Jesus showed them that he would always be there to provide.
In a lot of ways, we are a lot like the people. It is often that we believe that we don’t have enough until Jesus reminds us that we have more than enough. So, I’m going to tell you a little story about myself in relation to the Gospel. If I cry, I apologize. The Diocese of Kansas has always been something very special and dear to me. My very first youth event was New Beginnings in 2012, so 6th grade. I was very apprehensive about going because I had never been before and I didn’t really go to church because my mom didn’t. As soon as I arrived I felt accepted and like I belonged with everyone there. As the event went on, I felt myself getting closer and closer to the people around me, to myself, and to God. This was really big for me because for my whole life I had struggled with the thought of belonging and being alone. I only had my mom at home, my dad lives in Florida and my closest sibling was 4 hours away or more. There were times when I felt like I didn’t have enough love, care, friends, happiness, etc. I felt alone and I found myself always wishing for more. But let me tell you something… These youth events, camp included, have been my saving grace. It is here that I found the most happiness. I have found the best friends and the best mentors. I have formed the most amazing memories and had the best experiences in my life. For example, my very first Happening, I had an amazing experience. I got to know myself better and grow my relationship with God. During one of the surprise activities, I got some notes from people who were close to me and those who were not as close. It was eye-opening to know how many people are in my corner.
That was just one of many instances where people in the diocese made me feel loved. It was at these youth events that I realized that what I believed was not enough, had actually become an abundance. I am swimming in an ocean of love, support, friendship, and community. God has shown me that everything really does happen for a reason. I have been so blessed in my life. It is with my abundance that I go out into the world and community and give all that I can to make sure others feel like they have enough too, just like youth events and the people at them made me feel. A specific example of when I shared some of my abundance was last summer at Mission Wichita. At Mission Wichita we go into the community every day and volunteer. For one of those days, we went to ESS, Episcopal Social Services, and we got to help serve some of the homeless that had come there to eat lunch for free. While serving them, I could tell how grateful they were for the food they were receiving. I was extremely happy that I got to be a part of it. Another time I tried to share my abundance was at home in Lawrence. I was on Mass Street, and I had seen a homeless woman, many times before, but this time I decided to go buy her a cupcake. When I offered her the cupcake, she politely declined but explained to me how thankful she was that I thought of her.
When I give to others what has been given to me, it makes me feel as though I’m changing the world. Did you know that that’s how we’re going to do it? Change the world with love and acceptance? If you didn’t, now you do. Everyone deserves to feel loved and accepted and like they’re swimming in an abundance of it. So here I am, standing here as an 18-year-old, in my last year of camp, as a camper that is, about to go to college and I’m asking you to challenge yourself. I ask that you go out into the world, youth events, and everyday life and share all the love and acceptance you have been given with those around you. Soon enough, the world will be changed and your “enough” will be an abundance.
Eliana Seidner, Trinity Lawrence
Eliana graduated from Free State High School in May 2018 and will be attending the University of Nebraska-Omaha next year. She has served on the Diocesan Youth Commission, Bishop’s Search Committee, is a Youth Servant Leader, has been a Youth Delegate to Diocesan Convention, and is part of the Mustard Seeds youth band. She was co-rector of New Beginnings in Spring 2017 and Happening #92 in December 2017.