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What comes to mind when you hear the word Alaska? If your answer is “cold, cold, snow… or cold,” then we’re on the same page. BUT, hear me out! When I first heard about OCF Real Break, I was extremely excited to participate in one of the trips. When I found out the one offered during my spring break was in Alaska, I was a little confused. Who lives in Alaska?! I wasn’t sure what exactly we’d be doing, and if it was even a good idea to go.
After some encouragement from my friend Alexandra (who also came on the trip!), we were signed up, paid in full, and trying to decide which of our Texas appropriate jackets would keep us warm enough in what is otherwise known as “the Arctic circle.”
From the second we touched down in Anchorage, it was go, go go! I had the opportunity to meet and spend the week with Father John, who was absolutely wonderful. Our small group quickly bonded over mini-hikes, nature visits, pizza, and the few clean-up projects we participated in.
The thing that stood out most to me during this service trip was one particular event we were able to help with. Our group had the opportunity to cook and serve dinner at a local children’s house – where kids were able to come after school for a hot meal and some good old-fashioned bonding time (yes, we played Go Fish, and yes, I lost). I wasn’t sure what to expect at first; the kids were loud and didn’t seem to be interested in talking to us. When we finally sat down and pried our way into their conversations, I was surprised to realize: these kids were AMAZING!
Most of them had just started high school, but a few were about to graduate and already had plans for college. I remember talking to one teen whose dream it was to play college football for a big school. Another just aced his math test. A bubbly middle school girl beat us in every card game we played. Yet another offered to help clean up.
These kids had goals, aspirations, and talents, just like everyone else. I was so happy I could help give them a hot dinner and good conversation, and I am blessed to have known such talented kids with such potential. Our afternoon at that house was what I would call life-changing. Nothing crazy or dramatic happened, but the short few hours we got to spend with those kids was eye opening, and I keep them in my prayers each and every day.
Our afternoon at that house was what I would call life-changing.
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I encourage everyone to take your spring break and participate in an OCF Real Break trip. Whether you go somewhere familiar (like Ohio), or somewhere you would have never thought of before (like Romania), GO! You will meet friends that last a lifetime, you will see things that will change you, and you will come home with a renewed interest in your faith. Going to Alaska through Real Break was one of the best decisions I have ever made, and I hope you do the same!
Ana-Maria Frampton is a junior at the University of Texas at Dallas studying Global Business and Marketing. She’s the OCF North Texas District leader, and part of the South Region. She LOVES traveling and has a long bucket list of places she wants to see before she finishes college.