Sunday morning we heard from three of the students over the course of the three worship services; Elliot shared at the third worship hour about the student mission trip to Maine. Here’s what he wrote if you missed it (there’s actually more here than what he shared – he cut some of it for time):
This summer I went on the Maine youth missions trip from June 22 until July 1. For over a decade, our church has sent a group of teenagers to Maine. Each year we run a Vacation Bible School for several churches that are too small to hold it themselves. A Vacation Bible School is a weeklong event for children to come and learn about God. Our mission team had 32 people, including adults. One of the main differences from last year, was that Matt Ousdahl led the Maine trip instead of Pastor Mcnutt. Matt has been my small group leader for about three years now, so I already knew and respected him. He knows how to make the whole team laugh, or lead them in a deep, spiritual conversation. To start off our trip, we spent two long days in vans. However, we made them exciting and by the time we arrived in Maine, our team had bonded a lot. Some of the things we did in the van included talking, making friendship bracelets, playing games, and filming a music video of the song “Call Me Maybe.”
When we got to our destination on Saturday, there was a lot to do. We had to clean up the lodge where we would be staying, and set up tents outside. Last year, many of us were reluctant to help with the chores. This year things were different. Our team verse was Romans 12:1: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”
We were giving 110% of our effort to God, and what pleased him, not us. So when we got to Maine, my team did shower duty. We had to clean mold, mildew, and scum out of the dirty showers. The theme of serving God continued throughout the week. Every single person on our team helped out with the chores. Matt would say, “Someone needs to take out the trash.” Instead of running away, several of us would run straight to the task.
Then came Monday, and VBS began. We went to a public school, where the VBS would be held. We got there at eight, and started setting up for the VBS before the kids got there. I was on the games team with Tim Lin and Rachel Hughes. Our adult leader was Mr. Robinson. We set up the gym to play games that would let us learn the kids’ names. Soon the kids started arriving, and the day began. The kids got their name tags, and went into the auditorium where they would start their day. Part of our Maine team led them in worship, and then another group of the Maine team took them around the school to different stations. There were many groups of kids, divided into age groups. The first group to come to the games station was the 3rd-4th grade group. I helped lead them in games, and then they went off to another station. Throughout the day, the 3rd-4th graders would also go to the craft station, music station, snack station, and teaching station. This is how our mornings went for the rest of the week.
At night we did different things. Some nights we just cleaned up, ate dinner, and worshiped God. Other nights we had a special activity. On Tuesday, a pianist named JoEllen came to play a few songs for us because we couldn’t go to her concert. After she was done playing, she told us how she was going on a mission trip with her husband, just like we are. They were also going to run a VBS, but they still needed to raise $1,000.
The next night, we were supposed to have fun by going candlepin bowling and eating pizza at a local restaurant. We decided to give them both up and make do with the food we had at the lodge. You might be wondering why we gave them both up. . . . The Maine team was so touched by JoEllen’s story, that we gave up those activities and raised the remaining $1,000 dollars for her. We may have missed out on bowling and pizza, but I would have done it again in a heartbeat. The whole mission trip was not about us. . . It was about God and everybody around us. Later, we brought JoEllen over to the lodge and surprised her with the check for $1,000. She and her husband were so happy. I was glad that I could give something up to help someone else. The Maine team gave the couple hugs and prayed with them. It was a priceless moment that I will remember for the rest of my life.
One of the other highlights of the week was leading children to Christ. On Thursday, all of the children at VBS were given a chance to accept Christ. Many of them accepted Christ into their hearts, and I look forward to seeing them in heaven.
The last moment I want to share with you was when the Maine team climbed Mt. Haystack. When Matt first told us that we were going on a hike, we all groaned and complained,but by the end we were all glad we did it. We started off hiking on a somewhat flat trail. The trail kept getting steeper and steeper until we were climbing at an over-50-degree-angle. We were rock climbing! Many of us were scared, but we worked together as a team and encouraged one another until we got to the top. The view was stunning, to say the least. For several minutes we gazed into the distance, amazed. I looked down and saw a car pass on the road that went by the mountain. We were so high up that I couldn’t hear it! I looked back out in the distance and admired God’s beauty. Off in one direction, I could see another mountain with a river flowing around it. In another direction, it was raining and cloudy. Everywhere I turned I could see the work of God. The Matt brought us together and we sang a song called “You’re Beautiful.” There aren’t words to express how you feel when you can see God’s beautiful earth for miles around while you sing about Him.
I went to Maine to help children learn about God, but I think I learned more than anyone. The trip led me closer to my friends, to the children at VBS, but most importantly, God.