SA 2011: Same name, different lives


Ministry assignment a “God” moment

by Arianna Castillo, a sophomore attending Neighborhood Church, Visalia, Calif.
Editor’s note: Congregations were invited to select one student to serve as a CL student reporter for SA2011. Thanks to the 11 youth leaders who recruited student writers and to these students for their honest and inspiring reflections.

San Antonio 2011 was a life changing four day experience, filled with many “God moments!” I will never be the same.

On the day before we left the conference (Monday), each youth group took part in a  ministry assignment within the city. My youth group was stationed at a facility for the mentally handicapped.

When I first found out that we were going to be at this site I was a little skeptical and worried that I would be put in awkward situations where I wouldn’t know the right thing to do or say. These fears were completely unfounded and so far off from what I would experience there.

San Antonio has a yearly Fiesta celebration and the facility was having a fiesta-themed carnival for the clients at the facility. We were in charge of setting up for the carnival along with working different booths. I was assigned the face painting booth.

As the carnival began a couple clients started to make their way to the booth. It was difficult to paint faces because many of these clients had no way of controlling their constant head movement or they couldn’t tell me which painting they wanted because they never developed the ability to talk. I started painting faces and became caught up in the moment and forgot about being nervous.

A nurse pushed a young fragile girl my way and called her name, “Arianna.” I turned around to answer and realized the girl in the wheelchair had the same name as me. I proceeded to tell her that was my name too. Unfortunately, she didn’t understand what I said nor did she hear me. The nurse told me that Arianna has never been able to talk or walk and she is 24 years old. This broke my heart. She looked so small, yet she was eight years older than me.

I talk too much sometimes, and sound has never come from her mouth. I complain to walk a short distance, and she has never been able to leave her chair. These are things I take for granted every day, and I forget that I am so blessed that God gave me these gifts.

Even though Arianna couldn’t speak, God spoke through her to wake me up and remind me that as a Christian, I can’t be afraid of the unknown. God speaks to us in the most unpredicted situations and uses every person for his glory. God spoke to me in San Antonio through a girl I will never forget. She shares my name but lives a completely different life.


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