Rachael (Cleator Moor)
From night prayers, to the nights spent singing along to High School Musical, my year working at Castlerigg Manor in community with my most wonderful friends, really has been the greatest year of my life. We have spent our days here trying to let young people believe that they are loved by a God who they can encounter personally. And in return, God has reminded me daily of this same fact. Not one day has passed since 18th August 2018 that hasn’t been filled with laughter and something to learn. I am different in ways that I may have only dreamt of before I moved into this home, and ever grateful for this.
To say this year has been awesome covers a lot of variation. It neglects to mention the times of frustration, with myself, others or school children who just would not co-operate. It neglects to mention how many times I rocked out of bed on many fewer hours sleep than necessary for another long day. But those won’t be the moments I remember and take with me from this beautiful place.
What I will remember is the many hours of laughter I have shared with my fellow team members, young people and teachers. I’ll take with me my newfound confidence for sharing my story of life and faith with others, affirmed by those who told me it helped them to reflect on their own journey. When life may be difficult, and I may question why God has led me to a place, I will always have in my heart the love and peace I encountered in this place, and enduring friendships forged in the unique fire of a gap year at Castlerigg Manor.
These three months have been the best experience in my life so far and I really wish it would have been longer. This place and especially the team helped me to experience my relationship with God even stronger. I am going to take home new approaches to youth ministry that I have learned about at Castlerigg and will always have a smile on my face when I remember this wonderful time. Becoming part of the Castlerigg Team has been a gift, I am already looking forward to coming back.
When I arrived at Castlerigg, I didn’t know what the future had for me. I didn’t know what to expect, I finished high school in Hungary and I came here, to do a gap year, before university. That was the plan, just improve my English skills and work with young people, talk about faith and lead some activities, nothing more.
But this year was completely different from what I thought it was going to be. Obviously, the language part of it and the activities were included in it, but so many other things have happened during this time: I’ve learned so much about faith from professionals and random people; I’ve worked with more than 1000 young people who are all unique, with so many talents and gifts. I think they have given me as many lessons and beautiful moments as I ran activities and workshops for them.
Also, I became a part of this year’s Castlerigg Team…no, I would say a member of another family. Each member a fantastic person, all incommunicably talented, kind and warm hearted, beautiful souls. We’ve had a brilliant year with loads of fun, adventures, awkward moments to laugh about afterwards, as well as growing in faith together. It’s been a pleasure to be on retreats with them and live with them.
Every community day/night/activity was an unforgettable event with these guys because of their humour, creativity and just their whole personalities. Also, if we had any kind of challenge, or someone had a difficult time, either in personal or professional life, we were there for each other to help, even just being present without words.
To summarize my thoughts (which were meant to be 100 words only) I just want to say I feel blessed with this year. It wasn’t what I expected, but way better and exciting; I will never forget it!