This article is a continuation of my article from a few weeks ago (Lessons From My Mission Trip To Pine Ridge Indian Reservation: Part 1). I am exploring the many lessons that I learned on my eye-opening mission trip with my youth group to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation this past summer, and I found it impossible to fit everything into one article! Last time, I talked about the importance of giving thanks, having hope, and acting like a kid sometimes! Below are a few more bits of wisdom that I gained on the trip:
- We are meant to worship with abandon.
Every night on the mission trip, all of the students, chaperones, and staff gathered together to worship the Lord. This was probably my favorite part of the week because there are very few things that I enjoy more than praising God. The music was absolutely fantastic, and therefore, my youth group worshipped with even more enthusiasm than usual (and we are usually pretty crazy)! We lifted our hands high during “The Stand” by Michael W. Smith, we stomped our feet and clapped our hands during a jamming version of “I Saw the Light” by David Crowder, and we do-si-doed during “Build Your Kingdom Here” by REND Collective. It was a blast! When I tried to let go of everything and simply worshipped, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace and joy, as if everything was as it should be in that moment. God used my feelings to show me that we are meant to worship with abandon, and He fully convinced me of this fact one evening when we were at an organization called Lakota Hope. There, we praised alongside many of the Lakota people, and one Native American man was particularly into the music. In fact, I don’t believe I have ever seen another person worship like him before. He was bowing, running around, dancing, raising his hands, playing an air guitar, and jumping, and He didn’t seem at all worried about what others thought about him. As I watched him, I remember wishing that I could worship as he did, able to completely focus on and surrender to the Lord. Even during the best worship sessions of my life (many of which were during this mission trip), I have struggled to do this. As I grow in my relationship with Christ, I pray that I will start worshiping more like the man at Lakota Hope. I simply need to let my walls down a little more every time that I praise God so that His love may flood my soul.
- It is good to step outside of your comfort zone and try new things.
On my worksite for the week, we were building an addition onto a family’s trailer house. Since this was probably the largest and most involved construction project that I have ever been a part of, I had the opportunity to experiment with new tools and construction skills everyday. I learned how to put siding on a house, how to build a wall frame, how to install insulation, and even how to use a circular saw! Even though I often felt uncomfortable and made mistakes when I first tried each of these skills, I eventually improved with practice. In fact, by the end of the week, I felt quite accomplished because I was able to make a difference by performing tasks that had been unfamiliar to me just 5 days before. I learned that while it is scary to step out of my comfort zone, it can also be exciting and rewarding. This lesson was only reinforced by the theme of the entire week: Break Out of the Box. We watched videos by the spoken word artist, Propaganda, every night about what this is supposed to look like. I felt like God was clearly telling me all week that I needed to “break out of my box” more in my everyday life. I can do so by trusting fully in Him, no matter where He leads me or what I am facing.
- God brings certain people into your life for a reason.
When talking about this mission trip, I find it necessary to mention one person in particular that I got to know throughout the week. His name was Kevin, and he was the worship leader and my crew leader for the trip. I truly believe that I met Kevin for a reason. He praised the Lord with limitless passion, and because of this passion, he had decided to devote his life to music ministry. When I saw the joy and peace that his decision brought him, I realized that I needed to make a similar decision in my life. God was using Kevin to call me to ministry, and His voice was so clear that for the first time, I couldn’t ignore it. I have always been hesitant of going into ministry of any kind because I don’t feel qualified, I am afraid of where God will lead me in the field, and I worry about whether I will be able to find a job that can support me and my future family. In the past, whenever God has tried to tug my heart towards ministry, I have resisted, using the reasons above as justification for my stubbornness. Now, however, I am starting to give in and listen, and as I do so, the call is becoming louder and clearer. Since the mission trip, numerous people have told me that I should go into the ministry, and I am starting to believe them. If God hadn’t brought Kevin into my life though, I don’t think that I would have taken that first step towards acceptance. I would still be in denial. Because I recognize that God used a single person (who I only knew for 5 days) to change my life, I now strive to be His hands and feet in the lives of others. I pray that He will use me to impact someone else as much as Kevin impacted me.
- Laughter makes difficult circumstances bearable.
Temperatures over 100 degrees and a lack of sleep combined to cause a lot of discomfort throughout the trip. However, I often didn’t even notice the discomfort because I was having so much fun with the people around me! My youth group loves to joke around and laugh. We danced freely in the stifling worship room (we were quite good at the Macarena), sang “Colors of the Wind” from Pocahontas at the top of our lungs on our way to the worksite, came up with elaborate backstories for our tape measures, watched our youth leader act like a velociraptor, entertained the idea of floating around on our air mattresses if the basement just happened to flood, and teased each other endlessly (all in good fun). Whenever I am in experiencing difficult circumstances in the future, I simply need to remember the power of laughter. It can change one’s focus from the negative to the positive, and this can greatly increase the enjoyment of life.
As you can see, I learned quite a lot during the week of my mission trip! I will try to remember all of these lessons as I go throughout my everyday life because each one will bring me joy and understanding its own way. I would like to encourage everyone, whether young or old, to go on a mission trip at some point in their lives. It may take a leap of faith, but I promise that you won't regret it. Just as I did, you will learn so much about yourself, your faith, your world, and your relationships! It is an experience that will truly enrich your life!