Teens Found Youthworks Teen Mission to Be Best Week of their Lives!
Each individual had a different experience on the trip, but repeatedly, the teens testified that the trip was “the best ever”, “the highlight of my life to date,” “life changing,” and “it got me reconnected to God.”
The whole experience began with a team building afternoon on Sunday, June 22. The team building began with designing pizzas in teams of two that would be their lunch upon being cooked. After the negotiations to build an edible pizza, we had lunch and discussed expectations and fear for the trip. Almost all of the students dreaded being cut off from cell phones and iPods. Then the group divided into two teams to try what looked like simple exercises.
One was to simply lower a piece of PVC pipe to the ground while holding on the tip of our forefingers. The pipe seemed to have a mind of its own and took all we had to get it to go down instead of constantly rising up. The hard part was that we could not talk to discuss with our teammates what we each needed to do. We learned from this and the other exercises the importance of communication and listening to each other.
The following Sunday, the group regathered to pack the vans for the trip. It was a good thing that Youthworks gave us a packing list and luggage limit. Even then, we were fortunate to get everything in, including snacks and beverages for the trip. We then attended the early service together, during which the group was commissioned with the laying on of hands by members of the Church Council and the Missions Committee. Council President Chuck Shroyer and Missions Chairperson Cheryl Klotz prayed for the group.
We took off for Pawhuska, OK, with a brief stop at the Precious Moments Chapel, an interesting display of the deep faith of the creator of the Precious Moments figurine. He has created a retreat for those who have lost children. There are many remembrances of those who died of cancer and other causes.
We were the first of four church groups to arrive at our work site. One other group also arrived early, the youth from Westside Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis. We got to know and love the brothers and sisters from this inner city, African-American church. Together our two groups got to go to see the Pawhuska tribal dances nearby. We found out that four weeks out of the year they gather with the week in Pawhuska as the climax of their celebration. These dances were a celebration of family with special presentation of gifts to show love and respect to people in the community. It was very sacred and photographs and video were not allowed to be taken. On Tuesday night, Eddy Red Eagle came and explained much of the significance of the dances as well as outlined the history of the Pawhuskan Indian tribe. We discovered that they originated in our area and that Fort Osage was originally built to be a trading outpost with this tribe.
Each evening we had Club, where we met as a large group with all of the other church youth groups. We had two other groups work with us: Church of Christ from Marietta, GA, and a Presbyterian Church from Pennsylvania. During our Club time, we had a time of great worship, teaching by one of the Youthwork staff members, time for special recognition and encouragement of those who had done exceptional work or had somehow really been a blessing to others. We also had a special “Yea, God!” time where God was praised for things that were clearly His work that day. After Club, we met as a church group to share what had happened that day (our group was split into two groups that teamed up with other youth groups), to share anything God was doing in our lives and to pray for one another. As the week progressed, both Club and Church Group time grew deeper and more meaningful for all of us.
One of the highlights of the trip was experiencing the wide range of worship music from the Youthworks leaders and the other groups. Music was huge for two groups in particular—West Side and the Church of Christ group. Two nights each of these groups led special worship times featuring their unique style. God has truly blessed them with awesome abilities, a heart for God and a passion to exalt Him through music.
Our work projects focused on leading a kids club in the afternoon, visiting the elderly at a nearby nursing home, and working on three different homes in the community. For these work projects (and for chores) our group was divided into two groups, the Bouncin’ Buffaloes and the Twitchin’ Toads. The four days we worked side by side with students from the other groups. One home the Twitchin’ Toads worked at, they painted for a woman who was presently being cared for in a nursing home. Though the team was glad to serve her, they were disappointed at not being able to meet her, spend time with and encourage her. The Toads also did yard work for another senior in the community. After their work on homes, the Toads finished the week leading kids club.
The Bouncin’ Buffaloes started the week with kids club. The teams would plan out the activities (songs, skits, crafts, games, etc.) for each afternoon to be done at the local Boys and Girls Club facility. The kids there come from some very sad family situations and our students were glad to be one of the bright spots in their summer. The children at kids club really fell in love with our students even though they only had a chance to spend two days together. The Buffaloes then finished the week doing two days of year work for one senior woman named Frankie. She was so appreciated that they tore out the ivy that had nearly ruined the siding on her house, pulled out 44 bags of weeds from the flower beds along the house, the front yard and the side yards. The group also tackled a huge pile of junk behind her house, cleaning out leaves and snakes. Gotta love those snakes. J
Students who participated this year were: April Beissenherz, Lauren Bross, Kaylynn Crowder, Benjamin Niendick, Brantley Niendick, Courtney Niendick, Kelsey Plumb, Evan Riesmeyer, Dalton Wieligman, Destie Wieligman, Brett Williams, Cody Williams, and Hannah Williams. Tina Niendick and Pastor Christopher were the adult leaders.
We want to thank all of those who supported the group going on this trip. We especially want to thank Cheryl Klotz for all of her work organizing the many details for the trip, including renting the vans.