On the first Sunday of August, 12 middle and high school youth and two counselors will head north to Wellpinit, WA, home of the Spokane Tribe. They will work in small teams on various projects to improve the life of tribal members. Typically, projects include the construction of porches, ramps, stairs, sheds, cleaning of yards, and painting. Youth learn how to safely use power tools and ladders, stay hydrated, and use proper protective gear.
But, perhaps the most important work accomplished during the week is the internal transformation that occurs in youth and adult participants. There is something sacred about leaving one’s comfort zone, abandoning mobile devices, working hard, making new close friends, and surrounding oneself with others trying to live out Jesus’ call to “love our neighbor.” By the end of the week, all will have been touched in difficult to explain ways.
As a former youth leader and campus minister, I have been on several week-end and week-long SSP mission trips and I’ve seen transformation take place from mid-highs to college students. Each of us is gently pushed into unfamiliar places…location, culture, and social-economic. We learn about local native culture and history. We are guided safely to do new things, meet new people, and take risks. For perhaps the first time in our lives, we are reminded we are not the “center of the universe.” Youth receive positive affirmation from caring adults and their peers for an entire week and hear compelling stories of hope and renewal.
Sierra Service Project is one of the best ways I know to spend a week during the summer. Our youth will return with enthusiasm, new friends, great stories, and a strong desire to return the next year. We are extremely grateful to Pioneer UMC for funding much of the cost of the trip from our youth endowment funds. It is apparent this church cares about our youth and has made their formation a priority. We look forward to having our youth and adults share the adventure with you when we return.
Learn more about SSP by watching this video.