Being involved in mission trips, youth retreats and other ministries is something that is extremely rewarding and if you give it the chance to be, perspective and life altering. Having the chance to take time out of your own life to try and better someone else’s is a uniquely special experience. The memories from these days, trips, and weekends are some that I will always hold dear and close to me; there are few as special as them.
When I was old enough to begin attending my church’s youth group, I was highly encouraged to dive in and be involved. This was so exciting to me because I always looked to the older kids in my congregation as super cool because they got to meet up and play games, acolyte in church, and travel for mission trips. Plus my brother and sister where in youth group at the same time and I was never old enough or cool enough to hang out with them and their friends, but at youth group, they were forced to be around me!
My very first mission trip was to Juarez, Mexico. We caravanned there in vans for 12+ hours and spent our spring break there. We met up with a bunch of other church’s and were part of the process of building homes, a school, and relationships among the residents of the current mountain of cardboard boxes. This trip meant the world to me because it was my first perspective altering experience and I thank God for that because from that point on I was able to understand what was outside of my own little world and appreciate what I have. Our youth group had the chance to go back to Juarez one last time before the drug cartels took over and it became far too dangerous to go. Juarez, Mexico continues to have a place in my heart and prayers.
St. Mark’s and its youth group has also conducted multiple VBS’s, outreach ministries, and has been apart of many retreats. I have had the chance to be a VBS counselor numerous times, deliver food baskets, paint houses, plant landscapes, be on staff for retreats, help lead worship multiple times, and even travel further and be apart of a mission trip to Uganda, Africa. These opportunities and experiences have helped shape the person I am today and I can only thank God, my family, and my church for that. They encouraged me, saw my love for it, and supported me spiritually and financially.
My current major in school is Public Relations. My plan is to eventually work with the public relations team for a nonprofit organization. I want to be apart of working interpersonally with these organizations and continue with my love for ministry work to hopefully make a difference. I believe that these experiences with my church and youth group has inspired me to take this occupational path. I wouldn’t have been able to do any of it without the love and support I received. Being involved with my church community has changed my life and I urge anyone who hasn’t been apart of any community service or ministry work to try it. Be involved.