If you look closely at the photo above, you’ll see Pastor Donald in the last row – second from the right. The photo was taken on the 8th grade mission trip to Kentucky last year. It was one of many hundreds of photos from the trip, but rarely was the entire group gathered and posed. They were far too busy for that…they were working on projects, interacting with local people, and having fun. Pastor Donald joins us today to discuss mission trips, in general and one specifically. He is organizing a mission trip this summer for Immanuel. Anyone – high school age and older – is welcome to join him. But I’ll let him talk about that…
Over the years I have been on a handful of mission trips and they always have been a blessing, not just to those we have been serving, but even to those on the team. Reflecting back on the mission trips I’ve been on, I want to share some of my thoughts.
First, it’s amazing to be out in the world serving those that God sends to us. There have been countless times where it has been humbling serving people on mission trips. Seeing people smile when you do the simplest of things to help them. It warms the heart. And we don’t do these things for the smiles or for our own self promotion. We do this because of our love of God and our desire to reflect that to others, without the expectations of hearing, “Thank you.”
Second, the community that it builds among team members never ceases to amaze me. You truly do become family with those on the team. You share in the highs of their lives during that week, while you also lift them up if they are struggling. We truly are stronger together when working together on a service project, whether here in the Palatine area or in a completely other state or country.
The third thing that stands out to me is the mentorship of the adult members with the youth on mission trips. Mission trips are a great learning experience. I, myself, have learned some handyman skills over the years, to the credit of some people patient enough to teach me. Not only that I have seen the way adults take leadership to teach the youth skills they have learned over the years, I’ve seen the connection it builds between the youth and that adult. Plus, they learn a life skill for later on that they might never have learned about.
The final thing I would like the share is that you never know what will happen on a mission trip. Despite all the preparation, there has always been something come up that I didn’t prepare for, such as a tire going flat on the bus late on a Sunday afternoon. Even though something unplanned always take place on mission trips, the team always comes together to overcome. They truly are stronger together.
Mission trips are truly a valuable part of a church’s ministry and I am blessed that God gives me the opportunity to plan mission trips. I’m excited about our upcoming trip to Lutheran Island Camp in Henning, Minnesota. There will be all sorts of things going on:
Christ Serve Ranch is the home of the first Creation-Science Environmental Learning Center in the nation! There’s a lot that needs to be done and in which we could be involved: building trails, observation decks and shelters, developing scientific experiments, removing brush and trees, and building corrals and docks.
Christ Serve Ranch says that mission trip participants, “will have a greater understanding of our Creator God and how we can use Genesis to better grasp the significance of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.”
This trip is geared for high school youth and older. Even though it’s geared for youth, I highly encourage everybody to consider coming. This is a great opportunity for families to come together and serve others. I also want to encourage adults without children. This can be a chance to mentor youth and teach them skills you have.
Ultimately, consider going on this trip, or become involved in local service projects that might come up, because it is a way to reach into communities and share the love of God. Trust me, you won’t come back the same person.
It is a blessing and honor that God has given us that we can reflect His love out into the world. Please, consider coming to Lutheran Island Camp with us the week of July 16, 2017. If you have any questions please talk with me!