2016 Summer Youth Group Mission Trip Recap
Some may ask us, “why do you go on Mission Trips?” Well, the answer is simple, because Jesus told us to.
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” –Matthew 28:19-20
This is not the only scripture reference that talks about sharing the goodness of God’s love to others. In fact, the whole Bible, is sprinkled with these commands, even from the beginning of Israel’s story, they’re told to:
“Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.” –1 Chronicles 16:24
And there you have it…as Believers of Jesus Christ, this is why we do what we do.
With that purpose in mind, ten Youth and three Chaperones drove four hours to United Methodist Camp Mechuwana to spend 3 nights and 4 days serving the community of Winthrop, Maine. The two ministry opportunities that the group would participate in were visiting a nursing home and spending time with the residents there and helping out with manual labor construction projects at Camp Mechuwana. Although these were the projects in which we would serve, other ministry opportunities presented themselves along the way. Including helping serve and clean up from meals, participating in devotionals by reading and praying, creating bonds with the other students that were on the trip and having various interacts with other visitors at the camp.
Below is a description of exactly what John Wesley Youth members did while in Maine:
Once we arrived at Camp Mechuwana, we had a spaghetti dinner outside at the picnic tables. We then met up with the other Mission Team that was there and had a meeting about what we would be doing, some information about the camp and various other details. After the meeting, our night was free to do what we wished. We used this opportunity to explore the camp…which would be our home for the next few days. We walked down to the soccer field and basketball court. The girls found a huge tire in the field and started to see if they could move it and even put someone in it and roll them around the field. It ended up being a bust, but it was a fun time to work together to see if they could do it. Then the group made their way to the basketball court where some started shooting hoops while others jumped rope and hula hooped. It was a great way to start bonding with one another.
Then we made our way back to our cabin, unpacked a bit and then met in the common area for our first night of devotionals. Youth were given journals where they were encouraged to document their experiences while in Maine, write prayers to God in them or whatever they felt like writing in them each day. We then discussed why we decided to go on a mission trip as a team in the first place, who we represented while we’re on the trip and any questions the Youth may have had. We then started winding down and went to bed.
The team woke up around 7:00 am, brushed their teeth and headed to the Mess Hall for a pancake breakfast. We came back to the cabin for our morning devotionals and time of prayer before heading to the nursing home. The Bible talks often about the elderly and widows. Since many of our Youth had never visited a nursing home, it was important that the foundation was laid on how to view and interact with the elderly.
- God talks a lot about how the old are wise and they can teach us many things (Job 12:12, Proverbs 16:31).
- God talks about how important it is that we respect our elders (1 Peter 5:5)
- God wants us to care for the elderly (Acts 20:35, James 1:27)
Once we prayed for the day, we were off to Heritage Rehabilitation and Living Center! Monday mornings, the residents play Bingo! So our Youth were divided among the residents so they could have conversation with them and help with chips if need be. Surprisingly, a lot of the Youth were the one’s to get BINGO! Although winning is fun, the best part of helping with Bingo was making conversation with the residents, learning a bit about their lives and laughing together. Some of the sweetest moments of the morning were when you would see the Youth helping the residents and the patience they demonstrated and in turn, the humility the residents had in accepting their help, or seeing a Youth give her prize to a resident and the resident hugging the stuffed animal and kissed it with gratitude. These are just a few of the special moments that were shared with the residents. I am confident that every student walked away with even more memories that cannot be explained.
On our way back to camp, we stopped at a local Methodist’s house to see the notorious “Tree of Life” in his front yard. The tree was dead and instead of chopping it down, the man chose to carve it out and included all different types of animals on it. It was amazing to see it in person! Once we had lunch, we played a few games together as a group and then headed back to the nursing home to play card games with the residents. Again, Youth were spread throughout the room and played different games with the residents: Uno, Crazy 8’s, Yahtzee, Slapo and more! The Youth absolutely loved playing games with the residents. Residents would joke with the Youth, show their competitive side and laugh together. It really was amazing and nobody wanted to leave!
But the Youth were hot and as soon as they finished dinner, they knew it was time to head to the lake for their designated swim time! Youth took a tip test so they could boat and took a swim test so they could jump off the swimming platform. For over an hour, Youth after Youth climbed up the ladder and jumped off the platform. Each Youth must have jumped off at least 30 times (if not more)! They were in heaven! After swimming, we walked back to the cabin, showered and met for our first night of debrief. The group gabbed away about all the awesome conversations and experiences they had at the nursing home. They also talked about what was challenging for them. The debrief opportunity allows for Youth to open up and talk honestly about their experiences. Because of this special time, Youth began to get even closer with one another. And of course, they talked all about swimming and boating!
By now, the Youth were getting a little tired, but excited about what was ahead for them for the day. At breakfast, everyone loved the cinnamon swirl French Toast, but I can tell you, the Chaperone’s were most excited about the caffeine! With tummy’s full, it was off to work! Our teams split up, some went down the hill to start painting/staining a few cabins near the Mess Hall, while the others stayed near the retreat buildings to help side the front of a cabin. Both assignments were challenging in their own ways. First, the paint was actually stain, so the consistency was a little thinner than paint. This proved challenging and and showed itself by getting more on the Youth than on the building. The siding was equally as challenging. Who knew that construction could be so detail-oriented and academic! This is school break for goodness sake! Some Youth had to measure where cuts would go, while others used the table saw and still others had to nail gun the pieces onto the building. Each participant had the opportunity to help in every facet throughout the day. Even the painters got in on the action.
One of the most exciting aspects of the day was seeing the intent and determination of the Youth when working hard in the heat and sun. The conditions weren’t ideal or convenient, but they stayed committed and had a great attitude! It was also cool to see how the Youth interacted with one another. Whether it was in the communication to say something was crooked, or hearing encouragement that only two nails went in instead of four, or aiding in holding, supporting and lifting when it was time to use a ladder. These projects really brought the Youth together and gave them a sense of accomplishment and ability.
After a hot day in the sun, you bet the kids were dying to get in the water, and after dinner, it became a reality! Some decided to boat first and others went straight to swimming. The cool part was that those who were kayaking, paddled over to the swimming area to say hello! After swimming and boating, the Youth showered and headed down to a campfire site for their final debrief which…was in front of a file! After we talked about the day, the whole trip and what they’d like to do in the future, it was time for s’mores! As the fire slowly burned out, a Youth lead us in a closing prayer and just like that, our Mission Trip was nearing its end.
Our final few hours at Camp Mechuwana consisted of packing up all our belongings saying goodbye to our poisonous spider friend and eating one last meal in the Mess Hall. We packed up and drove back towards Massachusetts, saying goodbye to the lakes, mountains and farms. Our hearts were full. There was so much purpose and impact in Maine. It’s where friendships were made and strengthened. It was full of joy and life. We look forward to next year’s mission!
God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. –Hebrews 6:10
On behalf of the John Wesley UMC Youth Group, I thank you for your support of our flamingo fundraiser to make this opportunity affordable for all of our families, your prayers for a fruitful time together and your interest in our experiences when we returned. Thank you so much to Larry and Aline Ward who so graciously gave of their time, their love and themselves to our Youth. It is undeniable the impact the both of you made on our Youth.
To view all the pictures from the trip, click here.