In the summer between fifth and sixth grade, I went on my first mission trip with my youth group. We went to Philadelphia for a week to serve in various places and spread God's love to those in the city (shoutout to all my M-Fuge peeps).
NO, we did not "force" our religion on those we talked to. But we did bring up God and church if they asked and through various activities we may have done. I don't quite remember the feelings I had during that initial week, but I remember leaving extremely happy and ready to tell more people about God.
Since that trip, I have gone to multiple other cities with my youth group every year and established so many relationships with those I met. In fact, there are still a few people I met from other churches during my trips with whom I still am friends on Facebook and Instagram.
Besides meeting people who also helped those in the community, I also met a handful of people who completely changed my outlook on life. There were some years I would go into the week not wanting to be there or upset about a tiny situation at home. Then during the week, God would work His magic and place the right person in my life to help me realize that those issues are small in comparison to what someone else is dealing with.
Not only would God help me with that issue of mine, but He would allow our group to work and establish faith in those we encountered.
We have had the opportunities to work in food banks, homeless shelters, adult daycares, and parks in what some people may consider the "sketchy" sides of town. No matter where we were, we all were able to experience how others live their lives.
There are some days when we get so caught up in our own drama, we forget how little these problems seem in comparison to others. A minor inconvenience to you may seem like a miracle for others. Simple little acts, like playing bingo with seniors, can turn someone's whole day around.
In the summer between my junior and senior year of high school, my youth group returned to Philadelphia for another mission trip. I met these twin boys, about 11 years old, at a park we were working at. I learned on our first day there that these boys rarely were fed dinner, and lunch may have been the only time they would eat during the day. An adult who worked at the park later told me that the twins are always sent out of their house at late hours for reasons they did not know.
But despite the situation these boys were in, they came to hang out with us every day with the most infectious smiles on their faces.
I cannot confirm or deny this, but by the end of the week, the two of them may have been fighting with each other over who could "marry" me before I left. These boys established a sense of positivity in my life and impacted me on so many levels. I will never forget them.
It is so extremely important for someone to go out and do missions at least once in their life.Not only do you spread love and happiness, but you also learn a lot about the world. There is so much you can learn in a span of one week that you can never learn in your 12 years of school. The people you interact with may spark something within to help you appreciate what you have. You may find out that you love doing mission work because of the change you can see in others throughout your time there.
When I have kids, I know I will send them on mission trips so they can learn about other parts of the country, other lifestyles, and how to spread love and happiness wherever they may go.