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  • Writer's pictureJules Arata

a simple weekend in upstate NY

Updated: Nov 12, 2023

Rochester, NY

due to air travel issues (as is the case with a lot of people nowadays) i arrived later than i expected to. under the darkness that seems to be creeping closer and closer to completely taking over daylight, the town i was in had a general feeling of being in middle america. if i hadn't known exactly where i was and someone had asked me to point where i was on a map, i would have guessed kansas.

i don't know what i pictured in my mind of what upstate new york would look like, but what i saw did not match up with my brain. and i cannot explain that to you.

yet the next day when i ventured to the local wegman's grocery, somehow as soon as i walked through those doors, it was exactly as i pictured it, it fit the bill. and i cannot explain that to you either.

as far as the space we are working in for the week goes, i have come to learn to not have expectations of what it will look like. each event is different and unique and so beautifully intended that i try to enter with that mindset, free of comparison.

but this space had this strange ability to make you feel at home, and i cannot explain that to you either.

throughout the event, i started forming those friendships with the host team that i hold so closely to. i have found that while yes you work so closely with your team, that you become like a small family unit, its different with the hosts. its as if i have stand in parents for the weekend. they greet you with kind eyes, somehow affirming you without saying a word that you are safe. they tease and mess around with you, to keep you on your toes. they encourage and uplift, wanting nothing more from you then a genuine smile.

this is such a refreshing type of relationship to find today. one that has no expectations. one where you are completely present when you are together, fully invested in each other and a greater purpose. but when you part, while yes there are hugs and sometimes tears, you know that that relationship fulfilled its purpose for that season. where if you saw each other again, oh what a blessing that would be. but if that was the only time you ever got, that would be enough. contentment found in the fact that you simply got to serve alongside each other and know a small bit of their heart.

what i can explain to you though is that over the course of two days, together we packed 102,600 meals that will give 281 kids a meal a day for a year.

together we saved lives. together we made a difference.

time for the tradition:

what i learned

1. the Lord will fill me and not put me in a position that He will not equip me for

2. i am more capable than i thought

3. the relationships you foster on trips will be the support system you have in place, do not overlook that

how i grew

i have had stage fright my entire life, and this summer helped me get over that a lot, but the underlying anxiety is still there. i was so nervous to lead my first orientation, but i saw my stand in parents from the host team in the back of the room. they were smiling at me, radiating encouragement. when i walked out of the orientation room, they were there and it felt as though i was surrounded by pure pride and genuine joy.

favorite parts

i am just a sucker for the in between moments.

the jokes that are created. the little mistakes that turn into smiles. the little boy's face when he hears the numbers of the impact he made in 2 hours.

to lakeshore community church

i cannot think of any place more perfect for me to have my first orientation. there is no team of people i would've rather have had my first "upstate experience" with.

thank you for your intentional way of listening and opening your arms to us so wide.

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