Wednesday Word from Taylor: Mission Trip Update
This past week, four high school youth and two chaperones from St. Thomas traveled to Charlotte, NC to participate in a mission trip through CROSS Missions. The experience far exceeded my expectations. We served eight ministry sites over four days. Our service included cleaning medical equipment, serving lunch to men recovering from addiction disorders, sorting clothes for a clothing bank, picking tomatoes for those with food insecurity, building bunk beds for kids in need of a comfortable place to sleep, and completing yard work for a group of recently incarcerated women. Along the journey, we met countless volunteers, staff, and community members who shared their stories and inspired us with their commitment to service. Those we served met us with open hearts, challenging every negative stereotype or bias a person might have about them. They shared their pain, their passions, and their joy.
The days were long and hot. We dripped with sweat each afternoon as we ate our bagged lunches on park benches or in the car on the way to our next site. I am incredibly proud of each youth as they pushed themselves and encouraged their peers to smile through even the toughest moments. They ventured outside of their comfort zones, learning new skills and meeting new people. Each night, we gathered for compline and shared laughs about all we’d enjoyed throughout the day. Through hard work and faith, we all learned a little more about ourselves, our friends, and our neighbors in Charlotte. God was truly at work in our hearts.
At the end of the week, I asked the youth to consider all they had given. They talked about giving their time, energy, heart, prayers, and love. I then tasked them with giving one more thing—money. Earlier in July the Thommies completed our annual carwash fundraiser. We raised over $600 to donate toward the mission trip sites. I asked the four youth to consider where they felt the money would be most useful. They alone discussed how each site was funded, how their work impacted the community, and how the money could be of service to them. Ultimately, they chose three sites to split the funds between: