Wheaton First’s Youth Mission Trip

Written by Erin Miller, member of First Presbyterian Church of Wheaton, serving on its Communications Committee

Forty-two students and nine adult leaders from the First Presbyterian Church of Wheaton recently returned from a week-long Group Workcamps mission trip to Omaha, Nebraska.  Allison Kunz, Youth Ministry Coordinator at First Presbyterian, describes Group as a “fabulous youth ministry support organization providing curriculum, events and service projects to aid Christian youth groups.”  The group from First Presbyterian participate annually in Group’s weeklong mission trips where the teens work hard repairing homes for people in need while, according to Kunz, “experiencing the amazing power of community to accomplish God’s work.”  The group joined 267 other campers from youth groups across the country.

Kunz defines the goal of the mission “to show the love of God to the people of Omaha through home repair projects.”  The campers participated in a variety of exercises from interior and exterior painting to building stairs, ramps and handrails.  Emma, Senior at Wheaton North High School (WNHS), relates her experience painting an entire exterior façade of a resident’s home.  She says “God helped us get a lot done while also making memories with my crew, resident and her family.”  Kathryn, Sophomore at Wheaton Warrenville South High School (WWSHS) and a newcomer to the missions trips, describes her feelings going into the trip “Not only was I excited, but I was a little intimidated by going out of my comfort zone in Wheaton and visiting complete strangers to fix up their homes.  Nonetheless, I tried to go into this with an open mind and an open heart.”  Kathryn worked on a crew painting rooms in a home she described as being “fairly large, well-furnished and filled with antiques.”  She and her crew members wondered why they had been assigned to a house that seemed to be in good condition.  As the spent time with the home’s resident and learned about some of her misfortunes in life, including the recent loss of her grandson, Kathryn says” I realized that my crew and I were not in this city and at this house by coincidence… this is just another example of how God works in mysterious, amazing ways.”  Carly, Senior at WNHS, explains the lessons she learned from the woman she had been assigned to help.  She describes Ms. McMillan as a “truly inspiring woman who seemed to have an incredible relationship with God… Ms. McMillan made me realize how truly blessed I am and how much I take for granted.”

“I realized that my crew and I were not in this city and at this house by coincidence… this is just another example of how God works in mysterious, amazing ways.” — Kathryn, Sophomore at Wheaton Warrenville South High School

Kunz explains that the youth of First Presbyterian loved making new friends with other youth, residents, and volunteers.    Carly says that “it was amazing to get to build relationships with people from across the country.”  Jonathan, Senior at WWSHS, exclaims “I believe God gave us the energy and motivation to work really hard and finish with half a day left!  We were able to use the extra time to get to know our resident and hear some incredible stories from her and my crew.  God showed me once again how loving and comforting he is.”  The youth participated in morning devotionals, lunch breaks that include discussion-time, and nightly worship sessions accompanied with fun competitions, singing, a presenter’s lesson, and individual contemplative activity.

Allison states that “year after year, teenagers point to the mission trips as a moment when their faith was strengthened or they learned to see God in a new and personal way.”  Susannah, Senior at WWSHS, recalls the awesome adults that her crew was blessed with.  She says, “If it weren’t for their dedication to the job and the work of God, we never would have been able to provide for our resident and it was incredible to see how happy the new stairs made her.”  Hilary, Junior at WNHS says that she saw God working through her job site coach, Craig, and describes him as having a “grateful, helpful, and caring spirit.”  Jesslyn, Senior at WNHS, says that her resident had much more pride in her home and showed gratitude to her workcamp volunteers.  She says, “she cried when she had to say goodbye to us.  It made it all seem so worthwhile.”

When asked to reflect on the “lessons learned” by the youth involved in the week-long mission, Kunz says, “Workcamps teach campers to put someone else’s needs above their own and to serve others with no expectation of personal return gain.  They learn to share and explore their faith as they grow and to boldly share God’s love with others.  Many youth have experienced a new appreciation for how much they have.”

The First Presbyterian Church of Wheaton is located at 715 North Carlton Avenue in Wheaton, Illinois.  Children, from infancy to adulthood, are a very important part of the life of First Presbyterian Church.  Sunday School classes and educational opportunities are available for youth from age 2 through high school graduation.  For more information, please visit our website at www.firstpreswheaton.org.

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