This Christmas Kyogle teenager Ashley Hession will be swapping Christmas turkey for a bowl of rice. And instead of opening presents on Christmas morning surrounded by his family, 14-year-old Ashley will wake up in a tent, have a quick wash in a bucket of cold water, pull on his steel cap boots and get ready for another day at boot camp.
Ashley and two other Kyogle teenagers Hannah McElligot, 17, and Kavita OBrien, 16 have decided to swap Christmas cheer for overseas mission work with Teen Missions. To prepare themselves for the gruelling conditions they must first spend 10 days at a boot camp in Noosa.
Then its off overseas Ashley and Kavita to northern Cambodia and Hannah to Bulgaria to work in orphanages, entertaining the orphans and helping to build new facilities.
Im not excited, Im scared, said Ashley. Its my first trip overseas and it will be really weird to be away from my family at Christmas, but I really wanted to do something like this because in the long term I want to do missionary work in China.
Ashley said he was inspired by his mother Julies own teenage experience working in orphanages with the Youth for Christ group.
It was an absolutely life changing experience that I will never forget, said Julie Hession. I came back completely inspired, and thats why Im happily, if a little nervously, sending off Ashley, because of my own fantastic experience.
Julie said the Kyogle community and the Christian Life Centre church had rallied around in support of the three teenagers mission, raising $3500 towards the trip.
Ashley attends Summerland Christian College in Goonellabah and said his school mates had also been really supportive of his decision to go.
I got about 50 million hugs on the last day of school.
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