By Rev. Clint Loveall
Spirit Lake First Presbyterian Church
Early this month, the Presbyterian churches in Spirit Lake and Lake Park sent 33 high school youth and seven adults for a one week mission trip to New York City. It was a first for many in the group, in fact many of them were
on an airplane for the very first time on this trip.
They were there to work with local churches who continue to do Hurricane Sandy relief and they were involved in painting, dry-walling, flooring, insulating, and other general repairs. They worked in groups made up of some of our members and local kids from area churches as well.
The kids and their sponsors worked hard, and got a great chance to work alongside local homeowners who were
very grateful to have the help -- even from unskilled labor. The group also got a chance to do some sightseeing, experience parts of the city (including traffic), eat NYC pizza, and worship at very urban downtown churches that
are a complete change of culture from our little corner of Iowa.
It was a great trip and we feel like the kids were blessed to have the opportunity. And as it always is, the best part is hearing the stories that come back with our young people and sponsors.
It always feels so good to give of yourself to those who are in need, and to know that you have done something that made a difference. It's also great to hear stories of adventures, getting lost, trying new things, practical jokes and pranks, and building new relationships with people you didn't know very well before you left but somehow became great friends with in a single week.
Perhaps the best part is hearing the kids realize the truth that people there are pretty much like people here ... they have struggles, needs, problems, challenges, and joys just like everyone else. Seven days doesn't seem like much time, and it does go fast, but somehow working beside grateful homeowners turns strangers into friends very quickly.
These kids will never forget the chance they had to go and meet new people and try to make their life better in some small way. The work is great, but ultimately mission is really about the relationships. Letting others know
that someone cares. Letting them know that someone is willing to be on their side. That's what God has done for us in Christ, and it is an incredible joy to share that with others in real and meaningful ways.
The other amazing part of a mission trip is that somehow going 1,300 miles away to serve others makes you more interested in serving people right here where you live. It feels good to help people, and our kids and adults always
come back more committed to the idea that they can do that anywhere. There are lots of ways to serve and no shortage of people in need.
And, while big trips are a lot of fun, you don't have to go far at all to do "mission."
Thanks and blessings to everyone who has taken the opportunity to serve someone this summer in Christ's name.
Wherever it was and whatever you have done or will do, you are a blessing to someone and God is glorified in your
effort. May we all remember that there is much to be done wherever we are, and may we do it joyfully and faithfully in the name of Jesus. Blessings.