Last summer, thirty youth missionaries and I embarked on an adventurous road trip from Golden, Missouri to Tulsa, Oklahoma for a missions trip. Filled with music, food, and fellowship, the four hour drive flew by quickly. Once we reached our destination, the party came to an abrupt halt. Shading our eyes from the sweltering, Midwestern sun, we gazed out the window, taking in scenes of poverty and destitution. Upon witnessing the city’s needs, I decided that I would strive to leave this city in a better state. During the week of sweat and toil, I had countless opportunities to do so.
During the first few days in Tulsa, we traveled to two inner city Salvation Army day cares. Here, we were able to intermingle with the kids, play with them, and discuss their problems. Judging by the beaming smiles on their faces, they appreciated our presence. Many of these children have older siblings and parents who are either working or on the streets. Therefore, they aren’t given the personal attention they long for. Serving as a big brother or big sister to these children for a day had a strong impact on their lives going forward.
After our time with the children had passed, we traveled to a homeless shelter. Before getting to work, the staff presented an orientation. During this brief preview, we learned that the staff to homeless person ratio was incredibly lopsided. The work before them was gargantuan, but they had only a small handful of employees. With this in mind, we dedicated ourselves to ameliorating their work load through hours of hard work. On that humid, rainy day, we divided into groups and scrubbed the windows, raked up leaves and trash surrounding the building, and cleaned the interior facilities. Only by teamwork did we accomplish this huge task.
Finally, toward the end of our journey we served from breakfast hour until the last lunch hour at a soup kitchen. Before the multitudes arrived, I helped open cans, lift boxes full of food, and transport them to storage facilities. Because of my strong lack of any culinary skills, I was only allowed to make ham and cheese sandwiches.
In the midst of the lunch rush, a friend and I noticed a homeless man dining alone. In order to keep him company and encourage him, we sat down at his table and began dialoguing with him. Amazed and slightly confused, I listened to the man as he articulated to us the tendencies of muscle groups of human body and workout routines to strengthen them. I wondered to myself, ‘How could this man be homeless. He possessed so much knowledge in the field of sports medicine and the human body, yet he was living on the streets.’ Later in the conversation, he explained to us how his wrong choices led to homelessness. I left the soup kitchen that day with an important lesson and an inspiration to work harder.
On the last day, I left the city I called home for a week. During our stay, our group demonstrated sincere compassion, dedicated service, and cooperative teamwork that impacted Tulsa in a small, but significant way. To me, this was more than a missions trip. It was a journey that taught me countless lessons such as diligence, thankfulness, and sacrifice. Little did I know at the beginning of the trip that I would be so blessed through simply serving a struggling community. As I prepare for my second missions trip (this time to Kingston, Jamaica), I can only imagine how it will change my life.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.