The summer after my sophomore year of high school I was given the odd opportunity to go on a mission trip with my church youth group of about 35. It was a spur of the moment decision, a year in advance, that I would remember for the rest of my life.
I never really knew why I decided I would go on our trip. I didn’t hang out with anyone who was in my youth group, and I had no idea what sort of people I would meet and things I would be doing for a whole week in a very different place. Our destination was Las Vegas, Nevada. Believe me, I was thinking the worst too. How could we make good in Sin City? Why would I want to go to a place where rapists and theives live, and try and make their lives less horrible? The idea scared me, but I never told my parents, or anyone else for that matter, how I really felt about this awful trip.
The first thing to go wrong was the decision to drive to Vegas from Minnesota. It was a 60 hour bus ride, with no stopping at night. It didn’t help that the bus broke down every 20 minutes and the AC was out the entire ride. All I did was sit and complain about how stupid I was for deciding to make this trip. The second thing to go wrong was that we had to get up every morning at 6:00 AM to get ready for six hours of working with the community I was so desperately afraid of. With going to bed at 11:30 or later every night, this was not making me very pleasant to the people around me.
As the week went on, I found myself making friends from other states that were staying at the same church as us, and even making friends within my own group. I worked with senior citizens in homes, and homeless people living out on the streets. The more I served these people and God, the less I thought about myself and going home. I even began to enjoy myself, and I began having fun with everything I was doing, even if it was washing dishes or painting a house out in the dry heat.
Our last night in Vegas was my favorite, not because we were leaving the next day, but because I finally realized that God was with me, and that he loved me more than anything in the whole world. I had been struggling with my faith, and perhaps reluctantly deciding to go on this trip was Gods was of pushing me back to Him. Either way, it worked. I saw God in everything I did after that day. I took everyday like it was a gift, and I was genuinely a more happy and friendly person. I remembered how to laugh and smile, and I made some wonderful friends. This mission trip made me see the world as something special, something that wanted to be changed. This trip was one year ago, and since then I have been on another mission trip to Puerto Rico, and I have been an active volunteer in my community and church. I thank God everyday for the chance I took on going on my first mission trip. It was a trip that changed my life, and it can never be erased.
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