24 youth and 5 adults travelled to Asheville, NC for a week of being God’s hands and feet.  The stories and lessons are too numerous to list here.  What a great week.

Each year, at the end of our week, I have our group reflect on the week and what it meant to them. I share some of their responses with you here.

What is the one thing that you want people at the church to know about our trip?

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  • We had things that didn’t go our way but overall we came through and made the best of it because that’s all you can really do. We made many important memories that we will keep forever.
  • Our youth have much to say. We should give them space to be a part of our congregation in a real way.
  • To know how hard we worked. I put so much effort into everyday, and I want people not only to appreciate the work we did but also respect us, knowing we aren’t just immature kids.
  • How hard we worked
  • It was a great opportunity to do God’s work and to be a lot closer to God and the youth.
  • The impact we made and the effort we put into this trip.
  • Most of the work we did was a lot of work on our body – it took a lot out of us. We kept working and working and, in the end, it was the best feeling you could have ever imagined.
  • It’s OK to step out of your comfort zone, even if it’s hard, because it will not only open your eyes, but it might be a new memory/experience.
  • How gratitude is all some people can give but it is still worth more than any reward.
  • Watching the kids interact with the veterans – during lunch and while we were playing Cornhole. They had genuine conversations with one another.
  • Even though we didn’t do “traditional mission work” like building houses (that is, we often didn’t have an “end product” to see at the end of the day), we still made an impact on the community in Asheville.
  • It was not easy. A lot of work was put into all the projects we completed, and we never abandoned a project and left it unfinished.

What was the best day/the day that made it all worthwhile?

  • Thursday was the best day. I was in a group at the Veterans’ retirement home and had so much fun helping plant and weed. It might sound boring but with the people I worked with, everything was amazing. It didn’t matter that we were sweaty and gross.
  • Spending time at the food bank, learning how much work goes into feeding 1000s at a time.
  • The day our group worked at the Veteran’s Quarters. Hard work was coupled with building relationships with Veterans.
  • Working at the Veteran’s retirement home. I got to spread mulch and plant plants.
  • Wednesday, when we went to the Veteran’s Quarters. The stories and the inspiration and the joy on their faces said that they loved to interact and tell their stories.
  • Wednesday. Before the day started, I was nervous about going to the Veterans’ Quarters and talking to those men. It ended up being a fun and important experience.

What was a lesson you’ll never forget?

  • You can’t always expect everything to be perfect. You need to be flexible. You don’t know what kind of great experiences you will have.
  • Not to discount someone because of their age.
  • No matter how small the deed, it is much appreciated.
  • Being a teenager doesn’t mean one is just crazy and fun (though they often are). It’s also a period of growth and learning, how to be a better member of the world. I saw such maturity in this group – care for each other and the people around them.
  • Don’t prioritize things over people.
  • Great things can come in small sizes.

How did the experience affect your priorities?

  • There’s too much going on to choose to remain in a bad mood.
  • The free medical clinic was such a great place with a great mission. I hope I and others make time to work with Crossover when we return home.
  • I have always loved to volunteer. It made me want to be more involved with my fellow church peers.
  • I need to stop thinking about my life so much because there are people out there who need help, and I need to put them first before me.
  • It opened my eyes to different kinds of people that sometimes we make assumptions about or judge without even getting to know them.

In what ways did you see God?

  • In teamwork
  • Through the veterans
  • Through Dane (groundskeeper at Veteran’s Retirement Home), through the Veterans, through every single youth member, the enthusiasm after every day at the work sites and at the top of the mountain after our climb.
  • In every way I possibly could. When I turned around, there was God (mountains, stream, hike, people, animals)
  • Through the Veterans, Dane from the retirement home, my friends, and in nature that surrounded us this week.
  • Through the people of Asheville and their passion for taking care of their community.