Youth Testimonies

Categories: Youth

UMCNL Youth Mission Trip

2014 in Louisville Kentucky

Youth Mission Team

THEME of the WEEK

DEVO – LIVE LIKE JESUS

The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. Luke 4:18-19

Michaella J:

This is my second mission trip, I was very excited to have another chance to do God’s work. This trip our group got the joy of working with a kids day camp at a Salvation Army. We got to work with the kids doing crafts, Bible lessons, and even just playing games. I love working with kids and this opportunity was more than I could ever ask for. Seeing God work through those kids was amazing. We focused on bonding with the kids so they always knew they were important to everyone especially God. I feel like these kids impact in my life as much as I impacted theirs. I’ve seen many kids grow in their faith in God over the years and my faith has grown over the past few years of my life especially, but I’ve never seen a group of kids whose faith grew so fast in such a small period of time.

Paige M:

Well this was my first mission trip and all I can say is that it was amazing. I’m so glad I went, I made new friends from other states and got closer with some people from our church. There was some emotional times that made me cry like when we had to say good bye to all the kids. We got so close with them within 3 days it was fantastic I feel like that was the only down side to the trip was saying goodbye to the kids and the new friends we made. There were also funny times that made me cry there’s too many to remember. Over all it was a great trip and I can’t wait for the next one!

Dean R:

I made lots of friends in other churches, that I still talk to. I felt good that I could make a difference in kids lives. I hope to go back again next year. It was a cool experience.

Rachel L:

This was my second mission trip. I didn’t think it was possible, but this mission trip was even better than the last. I thought that I would enjoy myself because my best friend wasn’t going to be on this one, but boy did I ever! I was able to make so many more friendships with the other youth from our church.

Throughout this week, I was able to strengthen my relationship with God. As basic as that sounds, I actually feel that way. A few weeks prior to the trip I wasn’t really feeling like going. I didn’t want to go away from all my friends and everything I had back at home. Leading up to the mission trip, I felt like God had left me. But from the very beginning of the week, I could feel my relationship strengthening.

During the week, we worked with a kid’s summer camp. The kids were so great and such sweethearts. We all got so attached to them that leaving was the hardest thing of the week. One of the mothers had called the church where the camp was at and told her that the kids had come home crying. That was the moment that I knew we had made a change in someone’s life.

Along with the friendships I made with the kids from our church, I made some with the kids from other churches. The leaders of our site at youth works were amazing people. The leaders of our own church were awesome as well. Everyone on this trip—leaders, youth, and the kids at the camp—made the trip worth it and all the worthwhile.

In conclusion, this trip was amazing and eye opening. This was probably the best week of my summer. I strongly suggest to anyone who is contemplating going on a mission trip to go.

Leah L:

This was my first mission trip, and I am so glad that I decided to go! It was a wonderful experience, and really opened my eyes. I learned that it doesn’t take much time or effort to change a person’s life. The kids we worked with are an excellent example of this. We were only with them for a few days, but you could tell we made an impression. Saying goodbye was just as hard on them as it was on us! I know I’ll never forget this trip!

Nick A:

This mission trip brought me closer to Jesus through the children.  All the little kids we helped out over that week inspired me so much.  They make me want to help people out more and just be a better community helper.  My vision of God was in the children.  They brightened up my week and made me soo happy.  I felt like a great person helping out these children.  They made me discover that I’m actually great with children!  I personally would definitely do this trip again.

Alexa S:

This mission trip to Louisville, Kentucky has been an important one for me. It let me see a different view of the world and the unfairness of it at times. It is the third mission trip that I have been on. The mission trip was a bit different this year. On previous mission trips, all of the churches have had the opportunity to mingle and work with each other. This year each church worked with each other instead. It actually turned out a lot better than I expected it to. I found it fun to work with our youth group because I got to know the youth better and we all got to work as a unit. Our group worked at a Salvation Army church with kids, and did a day at the soup kitchen. One great thing that happened on this trip for me was getting to meet those kids. They were incredible! They made me remember just how fortunate we are here in New Lenox. I try not to take as many things for granted now and eat all of what’s on my plate if I can. The kids there may not have as much as we have, but they still make it work and have fun in the process. Just because their situation is different than ours, they are still very kind kids at heart. On the mission trip, there was a thing that Youthworks did called “Ya God”. “Ya Gods” were a way for the youth to give thanks that something went right with the day. One “Ya God” that I had was when we were working in the soup kitchen. I was really nervous because I had never worked at one before. In the end it all turned out great and I gained some experience. My advice to people who want to go on future mission trips is this: don’t be scared if you don’t know the people going all that well. This is all about you and your journey with God, not them. You’ll make new friends, do God’s work, learn about God more, and have fun. I gained a lot from this trip and I’m sure younger and new youth will as well. The mission trip is a wonderful, life changing experience you don’t want to pass up.

Brandon H:

This mission trip was an unforgettable experience that I will always remember. I met so many people including adults and children, who heavily impacted me in a way, without even realizing it. The personalities of the children were so happy and positive. To be honest, at first I was kind of shocked because I was imagining them to be a little sad, based on what I had thought about their life at home. This is mostly the thing that impacted me. I will never forget the smiles or the laughs of some of them. One of the kids that stood out to me was a little boy named Fredrick. He was really awesome, friendly, and would smile or laugh at anything you say. On this mission, I would wear a hat every day to the summer camp, and once in a while I would let Fredrick wear it. On the last day I made the decision to let him keep it, to remember us. At first I told him, and he really was excited. But when it was time for us to leave, at the last second he came up to me with tears in his eyes and placed the hat on my head. This was probably the most memorable moment that I will never forget. I hope the children from the Salvation Army were as strongly impacted as we were, and I hope they will always remember us.

Alex L:

All I have to say is that this mission trip was a new experience for me and that I am grateful that I had the opportunity to do it. I enjoyed helping the kids at the salvation army day camp, but I must say my absolute favorite part was being able to work at the soup kitchen and feeding all those people. I know that in both instance we made a difference and helped them. I would like to thank Mr G, Mrs L, and Adam for taking their time and guiding us on this experience.  I would like to thank the Church that made this possible

Lynne L: (leader)

I must be honest. When I found out that we were not split up into mixed church groups I was completely disappointed and then when we got to our work sight and there were only 10 kids in the day camp I was even more disappointed. Really GOD ? Don’t you want us to help like hundreds of people this week? Really 10 kids that’s it? Well I was in for an awakening and God heard my cry of disappointment because my heart was completely changed and I realized something so important that week: That great things are done in small acts and felt in simple moments that are God – filling, Disciple- teaching and that will last for a lifetime.

Our youth were AMAZING – I mean it they jumped in within minutes of these children arriving at day camp. They played, they talked, they listened, they did crafts, had lunch, played in the water, and they played games. What they did in each and every minute of the time with them is they made each of those children feel important and special. AS the days went on some days we had 14 kids. SO there was a 1:1 ratio which was so awesome for those young kids to get that kind of attention. There was a definite connection between our youth and these young children with in the first hours. Reality came as the week drew to an end and we all realized soon it would be our time to say goodbye.

On Thursday I was walking Savannah to the bathroom and she looked up at me and said, “So you mean on Monday you won’t be here and I won’t get to see you again?” Oh boy I was about to lose it as I felt my eyes water up because I realized I also would also be sad that I was not going to be there Monday. I said to her that it was true and we were going back home, but that every week she would make new friends and by the end of the summer she would have made so many friends and it would be amazing. So then she chimed back with “what about all the pictures you are taking?” ( 300 for the whole week !) So I made her a promise that we would send each of them photos that were taken during the week, and with those pictures we also sent notes from many of our youth.

Many of us were crying as we said our goodbyes to the kids on Thursday afternoon. We gave Dan and Lindsey a big hug good bye. We packed up our lunch coolers and were off to the showers, when Dan called me back, Pastor Trayler of the church wanted to talk to me ( UH OH ! was my thought, what happened ) She started out “ One of the mothers called..” (UH OH my thought continued to be fearful of some possible problem) She continued, five of her kids were at the day camp this week, and they are all in her living room crying up a storm because they are so sad they are going to miss the youth that were there” The mom wanted Pastor Trayler to know how much the youth meant to her kids and how wonderful it was. Pastor continued to tell me how hard they have been working to get this summer camp going and with this kind of positive information it would be very good for them. I assured her that our kids were very sad but were also very impacted by this experience in a positive way.

The only paid person is Lt Dan and there is no way the program at the Salvation Army would even exist if it was not for the partnership with Youthworks and the volunteers they provide every week throughout the summer. As a leader I am so proud of our youth and so proud of their ability to make a difference in the life of these young children, while making a difference in their life at the same time. I also grew this week realizing that God does work in small moments, small acts, simple smiles, simple gestures that all create a big difference. This quote came to mind as I reflect how our youth showed their faith “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” -Maya Angelou Our youth touched each young child by making them feel so incredibly important. Praise God for the work that was done that week.

Mattie T:

Counting this year, I have been on three Mission Trips with the church (St. Louis, Cairo, and Louisville). You would think I would know what to expect by now when approaching a mission, but God constantly surprises me in ways I never imagined. The trip did not happen as I thought it would, it never does. Every trip has it similarities and it’s differences. No matter what, I never fail to see God in the people I work with. To me, that is one the great blessings of a mission trip. The people at the work site were so loving and fun that we couldn’t help but make many friends there.

However, our group encountered a difficulty when we were told that the churches would not intermingle in our crews. This bad news turned out to be a blessing because our youth group got to work at the same site which was a kids camp at the Salvation Army. I got to make close ties closer and reach out to other kids in my own church I had never talked to before. It really helped our youth overcome issues and get closer. For that I am grateful because it was something that was needed. As well as ties with the church, the youth also made wonderful ties with the young kids at the camp. I made close connections with this one family of five, particularly a kid named Kevin. We played together all day the first day and the days to come. At the end of the first day when the leader of the camp asked the kids what the best part of day was, Kevin raised his hand. He said that he was glad to make a new best friend and he held my hand. We were best friends ever since, playing basketball, working together making chains and crafts, as well as being teammates at table hockey. I have him rides on my back and plenty of love. Throughout the week we were inseparable. I found out all about him and his family, which isn’t a pleasant story. Things also started to get sad a camp when the kids realized that we were leaving. The last day was hard because of how attached we got to the kids, more so than any of us expected. I remember Kevin and his family leaving that last day, knowing they would never see is again. His younger brother was bawling and Kevin gave me a strong hug bye. He kept waving the whole way out and I waved back. That was hard. What was even harder was the phone call that we got from the family saying that all the kids were crying at home because we were leaving. When we went to bed that night and the lights were out, I cried silently to myself for a minute thinking about the kids and never seeing them again.

I fell in love with those kids that week. I made amazing memories in that city and met amazing people I would consider family. This trip really impacted my life and I am grateful to have gone and I look forward next year as I always do.

Devon W:

I had an amazing time in Louisville; Working with the kids at the Salvation Army was a great experience. It really helped me grow in my relationship with Christ. I’ve been on several mission trips now and I think this one was the most meaningful for me because the kids made such a difference in me and it brought me so much closer to God. It’s definitely something I would love to do again and I hope I get the chance to.

Amanda R:

Something good that I took from the mission trip was being able to touch these wonderful children’s lives and be able to help people by serving them food in the soup kitchen. A ya god moment was being able to meet some great people and be apart of their lives. Something that really touched me was when one of the little girls said, “I didn’t think we were that important, and I didn’t think anyone really cared about us.” When I told her that we had traveled 5 hours in the car just to be with them.

Jack G:

This year’s mission trip was to the southern city of Louisville, Kentucky. Louisville being famous for its production of the Louisville Slugger baseball bat. My anticipation building up to this mission trip was at an all-time high, because my father and brother would be joining us again on our mission to serve god, which is always a comfort to me. Thankfully, my anticipation was not in vain, for as soon as we arrived I knew that this was going to be a good one, when I found out that I would get to work alongside my father and brother all week. When we were assigned our worksite as the children’s summer camp, I was a little hesitant at first. I have never had to serve the lord in this way before, but with his help and lot of prayer, I was able to do his work, and even bond with the kids in ways that made it so difficult to leave them towards the end of the week. Overall, this mission trip is an obvious example of Gods work in not only the city but also in those who went to do his work there. And I can only count the days until next summer when I will be able to serve in his name again!

John G: (leader)

I thought my mission trip days were over. Thanks to Pastor Sarah, Lynne and my earned vacation time, I was able to go to Louisville on my third mission trip, second with my sons George and Jack. Serving others in need is what Jesus intended for us to do. I was blessed to work with Lynne, Adam and the youth of our church. It was a great mission trip.

George G:

This was my third mission trip. Having been to two others I would definitely say I was ready to step up and take charge this year. It may even be my last one! And I was prepared to give my all. And that’s what I did. As soon as the van stopped at the church we were staying at, I jumped out and took charge. I started games and social activities, I made instant friends! I talked to Garrett and Ryan who were 2 of the 4 Youthworks staff. A great start for an amazing experience, and one I will never forget. This trip was so great and so different from all the other trips I’ve been on, more friends made, and unseparated work groups. This was also the one that I fully got close to the Youthworks staff. On “cry night”, Adam and I decided to wash the Youthworks staffs feet after ours was washed. I washed Garret’s and Kendall’s. Great trip, definitely worth it, and I’ll try my best to make it next year.

Adam M: (leader)

This mission trip was a great experience. It was awesome to see the youth grow and make an impact on peoples’ lives. We had the opportunity to serve at Salvation Army where we helped facilitate a day camp as well as organize and fix up the building. By the end of the week it was plain to see how much of an impact they made. The building was in much better shape and you could see a change in the kids that they were working with. Throughout the time there were many chances to connect with God as well. We had devotional time in the morning to quietly reflect on a Bible passage and what we had done the day before or were about to do that day. We also got to connect with other churches and share about how God was working at our job sites and in each of our lives. Club was how we ended each day talking about a different way to demo or relationship with God to others and talking about it in small groups afterwards. My favorite part was the music during club. We were in a small room with just acoustic guitar and vocals so you could hear everyone praising God together. There is just something cool about hearing a group of people all praising in unison all worshiping an amazing God who loves each one of us. I’m grateful for the chance to spend a week away from other distractions and just focus on God and serving as well as for all the people that made it possible, the Youth Works staff, volunteers, and church members. I ask that you continue to pray that the youth would not leave their experience in Louisville but would continue to grow and seek God and serve others. I can’t wait to serve on the next one!

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