Wednesday, September 18, 2013

I want to go where you lead me to

I'd originally planned to do a whole series of posts detailing our mission trip, but then something wonderful happened. I was asked to write an article about the trip, including stories of the work done, lessons learned and impressions made on the youth. My friend and fellow chaperon, Justin, works with the diocesan Office of Social Ministries and hoped that my article could be used to encourage other area churches to plan a ministry trip for their own youth.

Imagine my surprise when I saw this yesterday:

Let's look a bit closer, shall we:

Check me out!  I'm in print!

I was so excited to put together my thoughts and report our days of work and fun.  I love to write (y'all knew that part, right?)  I was also very touched by the people I met, the youth I worked alongside, and the Social Justice themes we explored.  I find myself rethinking all items our family uses, including food, to determine if there's a way for us to purchase it "fair trade" but affordably, or to find a way to do without it completely.

Before I blather on's the article, followed by my favorite shots of the trip.

In mid August, 16 members of the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church Senior Youth Group loaded a bus bound for the Eastern Shore of Virginia.  Fueled by the Spirit, friendships, deep faith, and numerous bags of chips, these youth were eager to serve the migrant population.

St. Charles parish in Cape Charles generously housed the youth and chaperones in the parish hall.  The week’s activities were chosen to reflect and instill the seven themes of Catholic Social Teaching.  The days were filled with service activities and the evenings were filled with witness talks, discussions of Social Teachings, and prayer. 

One morning was spent gleaning potatoes to provide food for migrant families and to offer the youth the experience of the migrant worker.  Two thousand pounds of potatoes were then brought to a local migrant camp and distributed with smiles and encouragement.

Another morning was spent collecting trash from the parking lots and beaches of Kiptopeke State Park.  Working in teams, the youth enjoyed the majesty of the beach and waters while providing a necessary service for the park rangers and the public.

A hot, sticky afternoon was spent picking and boxing peaches at a local farm.  Two migrant camps and a senior housing complex benefited from the harvest. 

Additional activities afforded the youth opportunities to explore the themes concerning dignity of the human person, call to community, and option for the vulnerable.  While learning that the Migrant Head Start program provides medical and dental attention, the youth entertained the children with skits, sing alongs, and outdoor play.  The group also visited a local home for the aged and provided the residents with music and conversation. 

The Mission Trip ended with an evening Mass at one migrant camp.  While the altar was prepared for Mass, the youth again entertained the camp children by reading books, playing chase, simply cuddling, and repairing toys.  The joy in the faces of the children and the youth reflected the absolute presence of the Spirit.

At the end of the trip, the youth were asked for their reflections of the mission experience.  Several responded that, for the first time, they truly understood the term privileged and they would never take running water, a full stomach, or medical care for granted.  One young man stated that the trip was about meeting the poor and humble and that “to humble ourselves to their work and coexist with them was a really joyful experience.” 

The youth agreed that their role was to bring their experiences back to their community and become the voices of the migrant workers.  They are now the hands and feet of Christ. 

At the Migrant Head Start school.
I've blurred the young girl's face for privacy reasons.

At the Migrant Head Start school.
The children adored having big people play with them
and give them one on one attention.

After cleaning the Kiptopeke beach. 
The backdrop of LOVE just says it all!

At the senior home.
These three convinced the home's most cantankerous
resident to enjoy a manicure and lively conversation!

The group sporting their "Gone Outreaching"  tee shirts.

During the trip's closing Mass, these two young men repaired
bikes and toys for the camp's children.  While they didn't get much out
of Mass, they got so much out of their service.

I'm honored to have been able to tell our little story and I'm so impressed by our young men and women.  They served beautifully and supported one another awesomely.  I see them at Mass and my whole face lights up as my heart remembers their selfless giving.

Today's post title from Matt Maher's Just Like You

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I thank you for visiting with me and for sharing your thoughts. I hope your day is fabulous and that you make some time for music - no matter what kind!