A hiking trail outside Anchorage, Alaska. Photo by Jessica Porr. 

By Jessica Porr
Friday, January 25, 2019

My experience here with Service Adventure has been a lot different than I imagined it would be. When I came to Alaska, I had the same mentality I would have on a short-term mission trip. I've been on plenty of mission trips, and on every one, the flow was the same. At the start, everyone is excited, not fully knowing what to expect, ready to be flexible to change and to pour all their energy into serving and learning during the week.

Service Adventure is different. I've had to learn more balance in life with this type of longer-term service. I'm not able to keep pouring out energy week after week without becoming physically, mentally and emotionally drained. If I did this, I would constantly be getting burned out. Realizing this, I've learned to set time aside to rejuvenate myself. For me, daily, I need time in the morning to read my Bible and listen to uplifting songs. Periodically, I need time to be by myself for a little while, whether I sit in my room and read or go for a run. I rejuvenate best this way as more of an introvert.

I also have learned that I tend to skip important steps that take time, miss experiences that could have been made, and sometimes decide to do things on an impulse, even if they are not the wisest. Now all this is something that, back home, I don't think I would have ever realized. It's crazy how after 18 years, you discover something about yourself that you have always done, but never realized.

Before Service Adventure, almost all my life was decided for me. This was not a bad thing; it was just life. I was in high school and not technically an adult yet, so the tendency was to just keep doing things the same way I had all my life. My routine was handed to me, and if I was unsure of something, I would ask how specifically to do it. Going from that to Service Adventure, there was a whole world opened of possibilities on ways to do things in life, from chores and family dinners to the freedom we have to fill our schedules. 

When you put five people into a house who grew up in very different cultures and lifestyles, you have different options on how to do life. This has been one of the most overwhelming things for me this year. The overload of options and decisions to be made as a group has forced me to voice my opinion more. I have had to work on my decision-making skills and not just say what I think the rest want to hear. It has almost forced upon me a different kind of independence I never had before. I never thought about switching the way I did things, and am grateful for the perspective shift that living in a unit house like this has provided.

Along with a shifting perspective with unit life, I have been learning new ways to share my faith and be vulnerable to having open faith-based conversations with people I encounter. Growing up in a small town where everybody knew everybody, I rarely had the courage to start conversations with strangers about my beliefs. Recently at my job placements at Habitat for Humanity, I have had my fair share of opportunities that have stretched me and my thinking as far as my faith goes. I have seen and taken so many more opportunities to talk to people about faith. All these experiences have allowed me to grow in confidence.

I have been praying that these moments where I can have even the littlest conversations with people would continue to come and that I would be prepared for them. God has blown my mind with all the things he's already done in the few short months that I have been here. All these challenging conversations, with difficult questions, have challenged me to want to keep growing and really make my faith my own, so I firmly know what I believe and why. I have a lot to learn and know God will keep revealing to me what I need and when I need it. Everything that has already happened has 100 percent been in his timing and I know everything to come will be also.

As the year goes on, I hope to continue to push and challenge myself in all these areas where I am growing. I want to keep learning all the little things that are made possible in a program like this one. Whether it is pertaining to household things, relationship building, personal spiritual growth, or how things work at my job placements, I am continually soaking everything in by taking every experience as it comes and growing from it.






​Jessica Porr serves at Habitat for Humanity in Anchorage, Alaska, through Service Adventure.



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