Holy Redeemer Catholic Church
On June 26, 16 youth and three chaperones from the Bread of Life community departed for a Mission Trip to Heart Butte, Mont. Their goal: to serve the local American Indian population by cleaning up houses and running a bible camp for the children. However, after a week of work, prayer, community and unexpected challenges, every participant realized that service consists not of laborious acts alone, but in a ministry of presence and experiencing Christ in those we encounter.
Service, and life in general, takes patience. This lesson was learned first as the trip participants waited five hours (well into the early morning) for the train arriving very late. As the sun rose and they boarded the train, there was a palpable sense of exhaustion. This exhaustion, as well as the unexpected twists and turns of life, continued throughout the week. The train was many hours late arriving back to Minnesota, but through it all, the participants kept an open heart and did not let it diminish their desire to serve.
Throughout the four days of service there were many tasks to be done, all which required the participants to put aside their own desires and give of themselves. Whether it was chopping wood for five hours, cleaning a trailer full of trash, painting a house, or simply moving a swing set, each act gave them an inside perspective into what it meant to truly serve, as well as a glimpse of the American Indian culture. The students also were able to spend two days with young children teaching them bible verses, doing crafts, and just playing games as they made a true connection with these young children whom they had never met.
Every day there was praise and worship, a witness talk, devotionals, and time for group reflection and prayer. It was here that everyone on the trip truly came to see that Christ must be at the center of service, and that in order to serve, in a Christ-like way, we must keep ourselves spiritually healthy.
At night, the youth and chaperones were able to experience the local culture first-hand through a variety of recreational activities. From a picnic and hike in Glacier National Park, to an Indian drum and dance ceremony, to a barbecue with the local residents, all those who attended left with a feeling of connectedness to and understanding of the culture they had just witnessed.
The fruits of this trip are already beginning to bloom among our youth. Many of them now desire to be active in leadership roles for the coming year, and nearly all are excited to attend future trips. Because mission and service work is core to our faith, and its effect on our youth potentially tremendous, it will be a focal point of our future program. This coming summer we will be taking another Mission Trip someplace close to home - Kansas City, Standing Rock, S.D., Chicago, and Red Lake are a few of our options. Additionally, next August, World Youth Day will be in Spain, and in November the National Catholic Youth Conference will be held in Indianapolis. These are all wonderfully amazing opportunities for our youth, and will need monetary support, participants, chaperones, and most importantly, prayers. Please look for these coming events and discern if this is something that would truly benefit your family. I look forward to serving with our youth and with our parish in the coming year. Thank you and God Bless.