Words from our Young People in South Africa

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The four young people heading to South Africa have been asked to share some thoughts as they prepare to leave. After they begin their experience, they have been asked to share a paragraph or two reflecting on their days. You are invited to read, share, and pray daily for these young people and all gathered in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Todd Cox
Epiphany Fields
Maggie Taylor
Georgia Touchton







Georgia Touchton – 7/22/18

Today was the last day of GYPC and most definitely my favorite day. We had the last part of our legislative forum and were able to pass some pieces that will go to Conference 2020. After that, we had an amazing worship service and then had dinner. At dinner, we sat with all new people and played a game of trivia with questions from each of the five official languages! My favorite part was the culture night where each jurisdiction and central conference presented a song or poem or something else that represents where they come from. I loved seeing all the presentations and learning about the different cultures. GYPC was such a great experience and I am so grateful that I was able to attend.

Epiphany – 7/20/18

Yesterday we began real conversations with our small groups. My small group consist of persons from Cameroon, Congo, Ivory Coast, Norway, and Alabama. It was great to be able to hear many different perspectives of topics, but my group also decided much of us were like-minded in many ways. Conversations always led to us sharing stories of personal experience and I think that helped us in discussing the legislative work. Today we were able to leave the camp and go out into the city on our excursions. I went to the Hector Pieterson Museum, and I was a little hesitant of what to expect from this museum seeing that I was not familiar with who he was.  I learned about Hector Peiterson, and the rallies that children ages 13-18 held against learning the Afrikaans Language that caused 600+ youth to be killed by White South African police just in 1976. The stories and pictures inside the museum shed light on something that I had never learned before. That museum highlighted the resilience that those young people had and how they were not afraid to speak up about something they were passionate about. Today struck a nerve in me, and to be completely honest it made me very angry. I cringed as I walked through the museum knowing that these were just KIDS who lost their lives fighting for just a better education. Today was a wake up call that every country is different but we are still one in the same. We are all still dealing with a lot of the same issues and it’s sad. As a soon to be educator I ask myself now “what are you going to do to provide the best education you can to children?” I pray for the mothers and fathers, who lost their children on June 16, 1976. I pray for the siblings who lost their sisters and brothers on June 16, 1976. I pray for the grandparents who lost their granddaughters and grandsons on June 16, 1976. I pray for this world because to be completely honest we are still living in times where children can/are being killed. I hope my story today will light a fire in someone other than me. It’s time for a change.

Todd – 7/20/18

Today, I spent most of the day in the legislative committee. This special opportunity brought me together with representatives from the central conferences to go over all the discussions from the various small groups yesterday and try to find commonalities between all the discussions that could then translate into statements or legislation that will go before the body tomorrow. We went through the process and discussed our thoughts and how we felt the body was moving for around 7 hours before finishing our work together. Tomorrow, our work will go before the body!

Georgia – 7/20/18

Today was our excursion day so I ended up going to Constitution Hill. We explored the old prison where prisoners were held in terrible conditions. We ended up meeting a former prisoner who told us about his time in the prison. We also got to see where Nelson Mandela was held for so long. It was really eye-opening to see how badly the people were treated in the 80s. After our excursion, we went back to the conference center and I luckily got to take a nap! The day then went as usual! Can’t wait for tomorrow!

Maggie – 7/19/18

Today I experienced one of the most powerful worship services that I have ever participated in during my time on this earth. I stood in the back of a massive conference room and watched as people from around the world worshiped as one. I know that the hearts of the young people in this room were turned towards God even though their minds might have been full of difference and division. This gives me hope for the Christian community and the faithful love that it can show the world!

Todd- 7/19/18

The worship this morning was by far the highlight of my day at GYPC. The theme of our worship was “United”, and we heard a message on how God wants us all to unite as people to further Christ’s message. We must be filled with the Spirit in order to live into our Christian mission. In the current climate of our denomination, it was an incredible reminder that even though we have differences among each other we are of one body and must remain of one body to live into our call. We are United Methodists for a reason and must remain that way.

Maggie – 7/18/18

We are here and United We Go! Today was busy and full of meeting new people and learning what the work of this convocation will be. I am excited to be surrounded by other young people who are passionate about God and the justice God demands for creation. Sitting at registration for part of my day reminded me that getting hundreds of young people from around the world for this time together is truly an act of God. We must seize these moments. I’m ready to see the creative conversations that ensue tomorrow!

Georgia – 7/18/18

After almost missing my flights, losing my luggage, and taking a disastrous shower, the first day of GYPC is here! The hectic adventures of the last two days have all been worth it to see so many youth and young adults come together to worship and have fellowship with each other. I am so glad to have the chance to participate in this event and I can’t wait for the next couple of days.

Todd – 7/18/18

So far today, I have attended orientation and opening worship along with all the other GYPC participants. This morning, I met the others serving on the legislative committee. As a committee, we will take the information gathered from the small groups and then condense it all together and into legislation/statements that will then go before the body for discussion. Tonight’s worship featured the Bishop that is over South Africa, and it was an incredible experience worshipping in different languages and seeing God move through the GYPC as we begin our work.

Epiphany – 7/18/18

This morning I woke up very tired, trying to adjust to the 7 hour time difference. I started the day having conversations with my roommate, and her friends who are from Zimbabwe. We shared that we had a lot more similarities than differences. I learned a lot about her culture and she learned some of mine. I went to orientation and a worship meeting. I will be participating in one of the worship services this week. Tonight’s worship was cool because the Bishop over the South Africa conference spoke in Portuguese but we were still able to hear and follow along as she preached through the translation devices. I am excited to see what’s next for the rest of the week.

Georgia’s Pre-Trip Entry (7/11/18)

On the nervous/excited spectrum, I am much more on the excited side. While the nervousness about traveling to a different continent is real, the excitement about meeting new people and being in a new place for 12 days is much more on my mind. I know that once I get through all the airports and arrive in Johannesburg, the trip will be so amazing and worth all of the anxieties that came with it.

Georgia Touchton

Todd’s Pre-Trip Entry (7/11/18)

As I prepare to head to South Africa for GYPC, I am both excited and nervous. This will be my first time to ever travel internationally, so it’s a learning experience for me. I have also never been on a plane for longer than about 4 hours, so a flight that’s 16 hours makes the nerves all the higher. However, my excitement for the incredible worship I will get to participate in and knowing that I will get to meet all sorts of incredible people eases my nerves and makes me more and more excited the more I think about it.

– Todd Cox

Maggie’s Pre-Trip Entry (7/16/18)

For the first time in a long time, I am nervous to travel. I travel all the time but something about this trip to GYPC is putting my stomach in knots. Maybe it is because of the current state of our denomination and our world, maybe it is pure excitement to meet hundreds of young people from around the world, or maybe it is an unnerving sense of hope. Global Young People’s Convocation started in South Africa and there is a possibility it might end there as well, but I am personally more interested in the possibility of radical change created by youth and young adults with a passion for God. I guess I’ll figure out what is to come very soon!

-Maggie Taylor

Epiphany’s Pre-Trip Entry (7/16/18)

As I get closer to heading out to South Africa one word I would use to describe how I’m feeling is excited. I am excited to meet many others my age who share my same passion for people and the church. I am excited to talk about what’s next in the United Methodist Church. I am most excited to be able to experience a new place with beautiful people.

-Epiphany Fields