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YouthWorks Mission Trip to Vancouver Canada

Unfortunately I find myself writing this on August 13th, 2004 and not the day I got back from the mission trip. But, maybe that is a good thing, because it might help to emphasize what a wonderfully positive experience the trip was for me since I can still say so much about it one month later.

The mission trip I went on was organized by YouthWorks Inc. I went as an adult chaperone from St. Thomas More Catholic Church, but, there were teens and adults there from three other churches for a total of 41 teens and 11 adults.

I went on the mission trip hoping to experience a week away from my work as an electrical engineer that would allow me to experience something completely different from my everyday life. What I experienced was exactly what I was hoping for and more. The trip was very well run by the four YouthWorks staff in Vancouver (Ira, Melissa, Ernie, and Josh) and the individual site staff where the teens volunteered. They helped the adults on the trip to focus on the teens and insured that the teems were able to immerse themselves in the experience rather than being pulled out of the mission experience to deal with logistics. Having such excellent staff on the trip allowed me to also stay immersed in the mission experience from the adult perspective. Perhaps in my role as a chaperone, and not a leader, there was less stress, but, I don't believe that was a big factor. The biggest reason I got so much out of the experience was because I was willing to be led into new experiences by the YouthWorks staff. Any adult on a mission trip that is willing to participate fully in addition to being a leader or a chaperone will get as much out of the experience as I did.

So, what did I get out of the mission trip? It is difficult express in words the way that I felt during and after the mission trip compared to before. We were told by the YouthWroks staff that this mission trip was not about building houses or painting walls, it was not about accomplishing some quantitative task, it was about building relationships and that is exactly what happened, The mission trip was based on the example we have from Jesus Christ on how to treat others. That foundation was clear in all of the relationships that were built during the mission week. We each experienced a bit of God, our creator, in each other. For me the week long experience of focusing on seeing God at work in my life and in the people I met as well as a regular daily schedule of prayer, service, worship, and reflection gave me a great sense of peace. Now that the mission trip is a few weeks behind me I still have the great memories, but, I also have a closer relationship with God as well as a greater realization that spirituality is a journey not a destination.

One of the things that sticks out in my mind about the week was Melissa talking about how God wants us to have and gives us the best. Looking back on the mission trip it is very clear that I received the best in so many areas that week.

There is much more to the YouthWorks Vancouver mission trip than I have written here. There were truly shocking scenes of drug use and poverty, but, there were also many experiences of hope and joy. There were discoveries made about our selves and myths broken about others. I would highly recommend the YouthWorks Vancouver mission trip to teens considering a mission experience.

The following pictures were taken during our mission trip to Vancouver. Although none of the pictures were taken at our actual work sites we all carry in our hearts the memories of the lives that we touched.

While we were feeding, clothing, and loving the least of Vancouver we discovered that we had as much to receive from these people as we did to give. We found friendship in the most unlikely of places and we found amazing examples of those who despite their situation have chosen joy.

God did amazing things in our lives this week. God gave us the best! We worship God and praise God for the many blessings we received.

I have put the pictures from the trip into a 13 minute QuickTime video with music from our club time. If you would like a copy just send me your name and address in an email and I will mail you a copy.

(July 10-16, 2004)

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The group from St. Thomas More, St. Mary Magdalen, and St. Michale's.
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Ira caught off guard.

Click on a thumbnail above to see a larger version of the picture.

The pictures in this gallery were taken with a Nikon D70 Digital SLR camera. Any use of these pictures without permission from the photographer is strictly prohibited. Email me to request permission to use any of these pictures or if you would like a higher resolution version.