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 | By Mary Gates

I see God in others, and they make me want to be closer to him

Jaymn values opportunities to serve

A junior at St. John’s High School, Jaymn Medlock is a teenager with a kind, contagious smile and a gentle, humble demeanor. Gifted with strong faith from a young age, Jamyn vividly recalls the anticipation of receiving his first holy Communion.

“I remember being so excited to receive my first Communion. I think I was smiling the whole time. I think I still smile every time I go up – I get all excited. I always believed that God was with me. I grew up believing that he guides me with decisions I make in my life. There was always a relationship.”

Recent opportunities to grow in that relationship haven’t passed Jaymn by. Involved in the St. Joseph Parish youth group, Jaymn attended a retreat his freshman year to prepare for the sacrament of confirmation.

“I don’t really know what I was expecting. Before that, I had started going to youth group every Wednesday and helping with food drives for our local food kitchen. We also had something called Journey Group to prepare us for confirmation. I really liked being there with others talking about our faith and about where we see God, so I thought I’d like the retreat. I knew I was going to be with my friends and with people I go to school and church with. I knew it was something that would bring us closer to God and each other, and that it would strengthen our faith.

“It was a weekend retreat, so it helped that we had a good amount of time together – we had small groups where we were really able to get to know each other and hear what our different relationships with God were like. I thought it was a great experience, and I got closer to God through it. One thing that was very helpful was that we were able to be quiet and really listen to God. I’d say it was a pivotal time for my faith – being in youth group was the start of it, but the retreat changed my perspective and helped me grow.”

After encountering the Lord on retreat, Jaymn took more steps to grow in his own relationship with God and to help others to do the same.

“My first mission trip was to Kentucky with Habitat for Humanity. We were helping a family build a house, and because I was 15 at the time, I couldn’t work with the tools (students are required to be 16 to work with tools), so I was a little bummed. But I gardened and did a lot of other things, and I really believe that every little thing helps. Some people really wanted to do big things, but I knew that even if I was doing something small, I was doing God’s work.

“The family was ecstatic to have us help them build their house. They had a baby on the way, so this was a relief to them to have this burden taken off of their back. Our group stayed at a convent and slept in the gym area, and we were able to hang out at night and talk and pray about our day. We all got a lot closer to each other as we were getting closer to God.”

Changed by his experience on the mission trip, Jaymn knew he wanted more opportunities to serve others.

“This past year, I went to Dayton, Ohio, after there had been a devastating tornado there. With the local Parks & Rec Department, we got debris out of playgrounds, cut down dead trees and cleared areas. The work we were doing might not seem like service because we weren’t working with people, but it was so needed. Those playgrounds are areas that kids go to get their minds off of what happened with the tornado. We helped in big ways even though we were performing small acts. I remember that one of the men who lived in the neighborhood was so happy just to be able to mow his lawn for the first time in a long time. He was so happy that we came down to help out.”

Youth group, retreats and mission trips have formed Jaymn and increased his desire for an even stronger relationship with God and his people.

“I see God in others, and they make me want to be closer to God. I feel like I have gotten closer to God and I want more of that.

“Personally, going forward, I want to pray more and to go to confession more. When I pray, I feel like any burdens or bad things from the day are lifted off my shoulders. I plan on doing more of God’s work in little ways and big ways. Whether it’s going on mission trips or helping a sad friend in the hallway at school, or talking to the guy on the street, I want to do God’s work.”

While Jaymn credits his peers and the people he’s served for his increase in faith, it is evident that his ability to see God in others, paired with the joy he gets from being around his peers, make him a trustworthy friend and peer mentor.

“I want to tell others to jump into these things, too. I would totally recommend that young people get involved in youth group, retreats and service. It helps people be more open with what they’re going through – it can be hard to talk to parents sometimes. It’s great to be with people who are your age and also be able to strengthen your faith. Any chance to encounter God is an opportunity that I would recommend.

“I really think people should go for it and not be afraid. If God is someone that you love, if the parish and the Church are things you love – go where your heart takes you. God has a plan for you, so do what you are meant to do.”