Today over at Kelly's Korner, we are posting about mission trips that we have been on. I have been fortunate to get to go on several....so here is the scoop.
My first mission trip was Spring Break 1998 my freshman year with the Baptist Student Union. I was a new christian, and honestly I thought it was just a great way to spend time with my friends during spring break, and it was only $65. I didn't know this trip was going to change my life. We went to East Saint Louis, Illinois. (Most of East Saint Louis looks like this, so I felt it was an accurate portrait of the area.) We went to the Christian Activities Center there, and worked with kids. God really started to work in my heart that I wanted to work with kids from poverty. I also met a boy who was beating the odds and was in college. He was the hero of the center. I also started learning about the vast differences in how schools are funded unfairly. I also read Savage Inequalities by Jonathan Kozol. I also really got to know Mandi and Penny, who are still my best friends.
I knew that God wanted me to do summer missions for the summer of 1999 (my sophomore year of college). I told my dad that I had applied to do missions, and had been accepted. He had intentions that I would come home and work all summer. With summer missions (10 weeks), you got paid $600, which was basically your money for groceries and small expenses as not to be a burden on the family that you lived with. I got my acceptance to Savannah, Georgia, and my dad went crazy. I was crushed. I ended up declining the opportunity, to go home and please my dad. I got hired at a day care, but after two weeks, the lady pulled me into her office, and told me that she had over hired. I was her last hire, so she had to let me go. She was a Christian, and I told her I could not believe what an answer to prayer she was. There were no more jobs in my town because college students were pretty much placed. Within a day, I had made some calls, and I was on a plane to Savannah.
Again, God solidified my love for inner city kids. I taught Vacation Bible School, led Backyard Bible Clubs, worked with youth groups, and many other things. I also had my first experience being a minority. I was in an all African American community, and attended an African American church. It was great being put in that position, because it has taught me great sensitivity to others.
Two spring breaks in a row, we went to Saint Simons Island, Georgia. I learned that some wealthy people think they have everything together and that they don't need God. I also met a lot of genuine lovers of Christ.
At the end of my junior year of college (summer of 2000), I went to San Antonio, Texas. My dad didn't even buck at all when I told him I was applying for the program again. He said that it was such a positive experience for me last time, he thought that it would be a good thing. I again worked in a housing project community, but unlike the previous summer where I served alone, I was able to serve with a team. I became absolutely convinced that God wanted me to teach in the inner city.
My two best friends took a trip to San Fransisco in 2000, and we spent one day doing mission work. It was great serving along side them.
God has blessed me with many opportunities to be able to serve away from home. Those trips were life changing, and being able to spend two summers immersed in ministry really helped define who I am as a person today.
I would like to take a foreign mission trip, but many of them are in remote areas. With Ben's epilepsy (although he has not had any episodes for some time), and me working to come out of some pretty steep vitamin deficiencies, unless we went to a major city, I really don't feel that it is advisable to take another one for awhile.