Our youth go on a mission trip each summer.
Our first trip with Sierra Service Project was in 2008 to Walker River, Nevada. Most of our current youth were toddlers then. This trip was led by the Rev. Cliff Haggenjos, our previous assistant priest.
Since then, we have travelled to Mc Dermitt, Nevada; Fort Hall, Idaho; Smith River, California (x2); Chiloquin, Oregon (x3); South Central Los Angeles, California; Wellpinit, Washington; Imperial Beach, California; and this year we are headed to Tsaile, Arizona to serve on the Navajo Nation. Nearly 9,000 miles of travel and counting.
In that time, we have shepherded a combined total of nearly 75 youth to these various locations. Each time on our return we are thanked by the parents of the youth we have been blessed to lead. But I am going to let you in on a secret. We appreciate the thanks, but we instead should be thanking the parents for letting us spend a week with their wonderful youth.
Each year, the youth we take give us their absolute best. We witness them build community with the youth they travel with, but also the other youth and adults from various churches. We get to witness them interact with the residents of the community we visit. Their individual and collective acts of hospitality are truly inspiring. Most of all we get to witness the sense of pride and accomplishment that the youth display when completing a project for a homeowner in need, or a community project. This can be as dramatic as building a wheelchair ramp that allows a homeowner to leave his residence for the first time in years. We see the joy on the faces of the homeowner when they see their home refreshed with a new coat of paint. We receive overwhelming thanks when we complete a shed that will keep their sole source of heat, firewood, dry in the winter. New fence, we got this. We hear the gratitude of the community when a garden or playground is made new. But mostly we get to witness how a community of youth and adults come together as the hands and feet of Christ with gesture after gesture centered in love and respect.
None of this would be possible without the generous support of the members of St. Mary’s. On behalf of Wendy, John, the youth, and me; we just want to say thank you.