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The Value of Mission Trips

July 13th, 2011

Do mission groups help the agencies and communities they visit? Do they help themselves? Or is it just a way to get the church to pay for a vacation?

Long a proponent of mission trips from the church viewpoint, I have now had the opportunity to work with a good number of mission groups at United Church Outreach Ministry (UCOM). I thought I might spend some time blogging about the philosophy behind promoting mission trips, but then I read the reflections written by 20 people from Trinity United Church of Christ in Wooster, OH on the last day of their week of mission to UCOM. Suddenly I decided that I don’t really have much to add to the insights of these energetic, passionate and creative people—from middle school, mostly high school, to adults.

Here are their written responses to our four areas of reflection. What did you do? How did that affect the community in which you worked? How has your feeling toward people in poverty changed as a result of your visit? What will you do as a result of this mission trip? I hope you are as moved by their responses as I am.

What were some of your highlights from the past week?

- Taking off wallpaper: it was fun and hard as well!

-  I enjoyed meeting the new group of SERVE kids every day.

-  I can now measure pants and jackets [from sorting in UCOM’s clothing area].

-  I enjoyed being able to help people who needed it.

-  The zoo! [A field trip with UCOM’s Believe2Become Summer Literacy program for 1-5th graders]

-  The food!

-   Working with UCOM and all the people involved with this organization.  They are very kind, generous and helpful.

-   Working downstairs and sorting all the clothes and toys.

-   Unloading the food truck and working with the kids.

-   Moving furniture and driving the big truck.

-   Talking to the families at their houses while delivering donated furniture.  They were really appreciative.

-   Staff, work, food and organization were great!

-   Watching all the youth work together even though we were from different groups.

-   Working with the children and learning about how much the afterschool programs have improved reading levels.

-   Visiting the zoo w/ all the great kids.

 

How do you feel you’ve been a part of or a help to the community this past week?

-   I think I’ve helped make the community better by making this awesome place cleaner and easier to pick clothes and toys in the basement.

-   I helped by giving to those who needed it

-   I pulled weeds in the community. (beautifying it)

-   Helping others who couldn’t do things themselves (lifting heavy items)

-   By helping to supply the necessary materials to aid those in need.

-   All the work we’ve done this week will help UCOM to better help the community.

-   Even though a lot of our work was not done working directly with the families, all of our work ultimately will assist the families. The fact that the  shelves had to restocked so often means that people were getting a lot of food in a short amount of time!

-   We saw people taking the clothes we organized; shopping from the shelves we stocked and we received thanks from many.

-   All different programs were working in one place.  There is lots of help for many people and different situations.

-   I felt like we were helping UCOM’s presence in the community. Weeding to make the facility look nice helped the surrounding neighborhood as well.

-    I’ve helped to give people things they may not be able to afford and tried to make that experience not as sad.

 

Has serving here changed your view on hunger and poverty at all?

-   Yes, I think the donations of food from the community really says a lot.  How UCOM displays it and distributes the food to the people is brilliant.

-   It makes me want to not use as much so there is more for the less fortunate.

-   It has definitely changed the way I take life and the things I take for granted that could disappear tomorrow.

-   It’s become more real to me…before I came here I knew poverty and need was a crisis but I was never actually involved.

-   The need must be great.

-   I didn’t know that all of these tons of food are just needed to help one community in MI.  It made my perspective of world hunger a lot more realistic.  There’s a lot more people in need out there then we think.

-   Seeing all the food come in taught me that a lot of people need help to get things for their families.

-   Seems like the need is all over the nation

-   My view of hunger and poverty has expanded.  Knowing that this is a neighborhood program, but knowing the help you provide makes me question what more we could do in our community.

-    We have hunger in our community which I see every day in my job, but I did not realize the importance of treating the experience people have in coming to receive food with dignity.  I liked how clients at UCOM can pick their items; it’s a nice space, more like shopping at a grocery store.

-    Yes, because I never experienced any of this personally so I didn’t quite know how to react.

-    Working at UCOM has opened my eyes to see that poverty and hunger are all around and can affect lots of people

 

How can you take this experience home with you and implement it in your area?

-   I can see if there are organizations like this in my county and help when I can.

-   I can go to the Salvation Army or work at the soup kitchen.

-   By volunteering at local places that help the not so fortunate.

-   After seeing the passion the people I’ve worked with over the past few days have, I know a difference can be made.

-   This experience has given me a lot more ideas of what our community in OH might need.  I think the organizations in OH could learn a lot of good ideas and practices from UCOM.  Hopefully we can bring those ideas and practices back with us.

-    Help out at places that deal with poverty and tell others how they can help people in need.

-    Our church could expand the programs we are already running, ask for food and furniture donations, mimic UCOM in looking for creative ways to acumulate food and furniture.

-   Our church has a weekday breakfast program but we could expand that program to give out food, clothing and other services – we need people and storage but anything is possible!

-    Find a program in our area to donate extra belongings to.

-    I’ve been given renewed energy – new ideas we can use at home in our community.  The trip also exposed our youth to poverty, hunger, and what our response should be – making them better citizens in the world.

-    We can join or volunteer at similar organizations or individually try to help by gathering supplies and spreading the word.

-    Hopefully we can get more people and companies to donate to organizations like UCOM.

 

‘Nuff said, except for your comments which are always welcome. Click here to see a few pictures of the group in action or visit our facebook album.

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