I have never participated in Show Us Your Life at Kelly's Korner. But today's really brought up lots of great memories and I wanted to share.
This week's topic is mission trips. My youth group at Lakeside UMC in Pine Bluff, AR went on a mission trip every summer. I went on every trip from the summer I was entering 7th grade until the summer I before I left for college. I have so many great memories.
I have hundreds of pictures in a plastic bin sitting on top of our tornado shelter in the garage. Needles to say, I have no pictures to share with you today. But I do want to share about the trips. I am going to attempt to list them in order! OH MY, I am getting old so this may be a challenge.
7th Grade - How could I forget my first mission trip. We stayed at a Women's Shelter in St. Louis. My mom went on this trip with us and one of the women became very attached to her. I believe she had been abused. She had a mental disorder, but I was young and not educated. I remember how much she adored my mom and they wrote letters back and forth to each other for about a year. I always wonder where she is now. We did various things to help the shelter. We laid a new linoleum floor, painted a laundry room, assisted with VBS, and sorted clothes for the Thrift Store.
8th Grade - I am pretty positive that this was the year we went to Mississippi. (Ok, it may have been Louisiana. Erica, your memory is way better than mine. But I hit 30 already. Does that give me an excuse?) I do not recall where in Mississippi. (Erica told me that it was a small town in Louisiana!) We helped elderly and handicapped with renovations on their house. I remember that my group painted the outside of an elderly man's home. Wow, can you imagine a dozen teenagers painting your house? But we always worked hard and took our mission very seriously. Another group built a wheelchair ramp. This was the year that we also spent a few days in New Orleans. I was exposed to homosexuals for the first time. Well I was exposed to a lot in New Orleans and we weren't out at night!!
9th Grade - Kansas City - I have gone blank what we did in KC. I remember that we stayed at a church, but not sure what we did to help. But most of our trips consisted of painting, home repairs, soup shelters, etc.
10th Grade - Dallas, TX - I remember that we stayed in a Hispanic Church and I experienced Authentic Mexican food for the first time. I never knew there was a difference between Mexican and Tex-Mix. Here we helped with VBS, food bank, and I believe painting was involved. (This is really testing my memory skills and I am loosing!)
11th & 12 Grade - I cannot remember which year we went to each place. One year we went to the mountains of Tennessee. I remember that we helped with major repairs to a family's mobile home. The family's mobile home was pretty high off the ground and they used cinder blocks as their steps. They had young children and we were terrified that they would get hurt. We built them a covered staircase and replaced the carpet inside the house. And the other year, I am drawing a blank. I believe we went to Mississippi again.
My last mission trip was one of the most memorable trips. We went to EL Paso, TX. (Thanks for the Correction Erica!! I knew my memory was fuzzy!) We stayed at a Christian School that was in a very bad part of town. We were gated in the and were told not to go outside at night. One of our jobs was to paint the metal bars that covered the windows. We also painted the roof of the school, among other things. But what really stuck with me over the years was our trip across the border. We went to Mexico. Our driver took us to where the wealthy live. They had really nice houses and lived up to what I always imagined Mexico to be, TROPICAL. Then they took us to the boxed villages. This was the first time that I had ever witnessed any type of poverty. These people were living in unbelievable conditions, but they were so nice. One lady was sweeping her dirt floor, another was cooking rice over their very simple coal stove.
There were at least 30 teenagers on this trip. We were all speechless, but felt compelled to do something. We all had tons of money that we had saved up all summer to go shopping and out to eat on the mission trip. But we all decided to collect money and give to the families. I cannot remember the amount of money, but it was pretty impressive for a bunch of teenagers. We cried and we prayed with the villagers.
I look forward to going on mission trips with Tyler and Landon one day. I want them to experience what I experienced. In fact, I would love to chaperone a mission trip with a youth group now. Sometimes we all need that reality check of how good we have it and to help those in need.