This year is a year of firsts for STORM Co trips run by Northpine. The College has been sending STORM Co trips out for many years, however due to the demand from our students, we are having more and more students wanting to be a part of this program.
For the first time: Northpine sent out five teams.
For the first time: Northpine had a group run by PAST students only.
For the first time: We took two teams to Cambodia.
For those who may not be aware, STORM Co is a program where students head off to various locations and help serve in local communities. Its mission is to send teams of trained young people to work for, learn from, and encourage individual communities; sharing God’s love by building bridges to all peoples through an adventure in service to others. STORM Co is an acronym for Service To Others Really Matters – Company. STORM Co trips don’t just happen, but are strategically built on five foundations:
STORM Co teams enter a community with the express purpose of building a relationship with that community. A team will go first to listen, and then to serve.
STORM Co teams commit to service. They will work for a community and learn from them. Their goals are to serve without compensation.
STORM Co teams are committed to support Christianity above religious barriers. They have a mandate to encourage others in their walk with God.
STORM Co teams maintain a relationship with the community. Their goal is to return and be an ongoing positive influence in the community.
STORM Co teams are built through worship. They will not be afraid to stand for their God as they serve in the community.
This was the second year Northpine sent a team to Monto. Building onto the rapport they began to build last year, the Monto community immediately embraced this year’s STORM Co team.
Northpine has visited Blackwater for nine years in a row. Each year is different, different people, different venues at times, but the result is nearly always the same. Stacks of kids turning up to the kids club and plenty of appreciative locals who we are able to help out in their back yards or similar.
This year there was a ground swell of young adults, past students from Northpine who wanted to come back to be a part of another STORM Co trip. While there were a number of past students who went to both Blackwater and Monto to help out as staff, a whole team, about 22, turned up to Eidsvold to run another STORM Co. The young people planned and ran the trip and were once again able to very much impact this community.
Due to a large demand, Northpine was able to send two groups of Year 11 and 12 students to Cambodia this year. Flying into the capital Phnom Penh, spending most of our time in the area of Kampong Thom and flying out of Siem Reap. Students served in two major areas:
1) Each group worked in a separate local school, building a playground with monkey bars and a set of swings, and also at one of the schools we all helped build up the main access road into the school, which is affected during the monsoon seasons each year.
2) At See Change International, who hosts our trip, our Northpine students taught English classes to over 100 Cambodian local young people every weekday we were in Kampong Thom.
There is no doubt our local communities love seeing STORM Co come into town. We see kids running up to greet us as we pull into town – quite literally. We see elderly people in tears as we wave good bye after we spend an afternoon totally transforming a jungle back into a lawn. We see young kids desperate to just hang out with our team, longing to just play “one more game” with them. We see very clearly so many God moments, times when, in our opinion, only God could have orchestrated events as they turned out.
However, not only are we able to see clearly the positive impact in the communities we serve, but we see the impact serving others has on us, the students and staff. Not only does serving others give an unparalleled sense of satisfaction for many, and a sense of the presence of God, but it also keeps into perspective our own lives and what we already have and what we ultimately need in order to be happy and content.
We will do this all over again, but in the meantime, our hope and prayer is we will not wait for next year’s STORM Co trip to look for opportunities to serve and help others and to see God at work, but we will also look and find this on a daily basis. Thank you STORM Co Teams!
-Neil Redman, Chaplain