2017 High School Summer Trip Reflection

Huddled together on the floor of a small sanctuary, tears rolled down our faces as our impassioned prayers filled the room. This group of students and adults had become far more than just a group of friends; we now shared an inseparable bond that could only be crafted by the intentional works of the mighty Savior. Five days prior, most of us were complete strangers. Little did we know, driving across the country together would bring us closer than we ever expected. This trip marked a very pivotal, permanent part of our lives, and we can only hope that we will never forget the way that we felt in the deepest, most spiritually-renewing moments.

On July 29, 2017, I left Cedar Rapids, IA with fifteen entertaining students and three insightful adults. Our final destination would be Greenville, South Carolina, but in reality, that destination detail is insignificant. It wasn’t the location, or the travel, or the sight-seeing that so vividly marked this trip. No, it was much deeper than that.

After driving for about seven and a half hours, we stopped in Louisville, KY. An incredibly generous family allowed us to stay in their home for the night, treating us to meals, a shower, a bed, and a competitive two-hand-touch football game. Leaving the next morning, this family prayed over our group of students and leaders, and sent us on our way. This family, and these people, are part of the reason that this trip was so entirely reformative. But, there is so much more.=

The next morning, we woke up and reloaded the vans. Stopping at McDonald’s for breakfast, though highly-debated, was a critically beneficial decision for us. There, we would meet and talk to a man that desperately needed to hold on to the Good News and the Lord’s guidance. And in our hearts, so did we. We talked with this man, we prayed with this man, and we said goodbye to this man. And in a small way, it healed parts of our hearts just as it had hopefully healed parts of his.

Now, if the trip had ended right here, only 24 hours in, I would have been more than content. We had seen the Lord so vividly in our very first day, and we already had marked memories that we would never forget. Lucky for all of us, we still had 192 hours to learn and to love. And little did we know, this trip was about so, so much more.

Later that night, we arrived in Greenville. Wow, what a beautiful city.

We stayed in the study rooms at a local church, and partnered with an organization called YouthWorks. YouthWorks partnered with an organization called Rebuild Upstate. With these connections, our job description was clear—fix up homes for people in the local community who can’t afford to do it by themselves.

For the next four days, we were split into two groups that were assigned houses to finish up. My group was assigned to Mr. B’s house. Mr. B was a gentle, serving man with a house that desperately needed fixing. With help from our leaders, we spent four days working on Mr. B’s house, growing closer together while we finished a long-standing project. But, that still isn’t what this trip was about.

In the midst of all of this building, we would come back to the church at night to have some Jesus time. One day, this consisted of attending the local youth group. Sometimes, this consisted of some worship. And sometimes, on my favorite nights, this consisted of emotional, transformative prayer time with each other.

As I hinted about in the beginning, these prayer nights were very real. Students confronted the sin and struggles that they had barely admitted, they battled with significant and looming life-changes, and they faced things they were terrified to return home to. With these emotional barriers broken down, the relationships that formed between students and leaders were real and critical. We opened up in ways we never had before, and we grew closer and more dependent on the Lord. And that is what this trip was about.

During this week, we very clearly saw how the Lord provided comfort while we are on mission for Him. We saw how He created memories and relationships that will last for the rest of our lives. We saw how He provided strength and rest when our own was running low, and we saw how He wrecked our walls so that we could become entirely dependent on Him. We saw how He blessed conversations, situations, and newly formed relationships. We felt the presence of the Holy Spirit pulsing through our bodies during the nights of prayer and fellowship. We grew closer and understood more about an awe-inspiring God that we were desperately longing to know.

This trip was about Savion, whose sense of humor never failed to lighten the crowd and whose extensive wisdom inspired those around him. This trip was about Trevin, whose responsibility was unparalleled—always taking pictures to document every aspect of the experience. This trip was about Grace, whose kind and quiet demeanor allowed her to wholly love those around her. This trip was about Reid, whose careful and intentional word choice showed through to his genuine spirit. This trip was about Arianna, whose endless joy was admirable, and whose secret stash of essential oils kept everybody healthy and sane. This trip was about Beth, whose kindness and smile consistently lifted the mood. This trip was about Jared, whose genuine sense of humor made him an absolute joy to be around. This trip was about Malia, whose ability to befriend anybody and everybody allowed her to be a pivotal part of this trip. This trip was about Ethan, whose joy and boldness was clearly rooted in the Creator. This trip was about Samuel, who never failed to bring a new reasoning or a new point of view into our stories or our discussions. This trip was about Darby, whose sweet demeanor and uplifting spirit encouraged those around her to embrace the same feelings. This trip was about Jaegon, whose maturity and love for Christ paved a path for others to follow. This trip was about John, who never failed to make others laugh. This trip was about Aiden, whose competitive nature and heart for Jesus was motivating. This trip was about Sam, who served and led us so very well, always pointing us to the cross when we didn’t know where to look. This trip was about Amber, who provided laughter, joy, and support when we needed it. And this trip was about Timbo, who served the Lord and this group of students so incredibly well.

This trip was about Savion, Trevin, Grace, Reid, Arianna, Beth, Jared, Malia, Ethan, Samuel, Darby, Jaegon, John, Aiden, Sam, Amber, and Timbo. This trip was about spiritual renewal. This trip was about service and submission. This trip was about worshipping a God who provides a comfort and a salvation beyond all compare.

That is what this trip was about.

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