Into The Mission

Discuss an incident that profoundly shaped your identity.

I’ve always wanted to help people, and service has always been a huge part of my life. So when I got the call to go on a mission trip with a few people in my youth group during the summer of 2009, I couldn’t have been more excited. Imagine it, South Africa, Zambia, Israel, China; places where people truly need help! I would get to work with those poor kids you see on TV who are hungry and cold. I’d be with tribes and people who scrounge for their food. So, now imagine my excitement when I found out we were going to Alaska! Wait…what!? Alaska!? Alaska is a U.S. state. They have food; they have electricity; they are civilized!When I heard Alaska, I became somewhat reluctant. Was I really being called to help the Eskimos (which I later learned is not the correct term for all Alaskans)? However, after some pushing from the youth family, I decided why not, let’s go! I’m sure someone can use my help. Then the question arose…How do I get there?To be certain, my family didn’t have an extra $2000 lying around to ship me off the Alaska. So, I would have to raise all the money myself. My group and I began to brainstorm fundraisers and fun and creative ways we could make money. We held benefit concerts with Lucas Perry (an Australia singer with a heart for missions), sold Krispy Kreme doughnut cards, sent out letters to friends and family, and built Baggo Board sets to sell at church. It took months, and we were cutting it close on time, but after a year of planning and work, we were going to Alaska.We took a LONG plane ride, and then got on a bus that took us to a church, where we stayed for the night. When I woke up the next morning I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, and I couldn’t believe I had missed it the night before. It was the first time I realized I wasn’t in Kansas anymore. I stepped outside into the cold air (in the middle of summer) and lost every ounce of breath I had in me. We were surrounded by mountain peaks, by snow, and by ice. Never in my life had I seen such undisturbed, natural, isolated beauty. It was then that I knew for certain I was supposed to be in Alaska.We loaded back on the bus and road for nearly eight hours until we came to a small village surrounded by mountains: Mentasta, Alaska. I couldn’t believe what was happening. Here I was in the United States, but I’d never felt farther away. No cell phone service, no water where I was going to be sleeping, no showers, and little kids who sat in the dirt and roamed the village while their parents were away all day. It couldn’t be the United States. It was exactly as I had imagined… if I was in Africa. But I had never thought there would be people in such need, people so hopeless, and children so alone right in my own backyard. I was where I was meant to be.I spent the next two weeks cleaning up the town, spending time with the kids, and helping out anyone who needed me; turns out that was a lot of people. While it didn’t spiritually change me, or physically change me, or even emotionally change me, it did change my perception of the world. While before I thought I had to travel to some far off place to do real service, my eyes were opened and now I can see the world in a whole new light. I know there are places to serve and projects to do all around me, I just have to keep an eye out. Now I’ve realized, need to take care of the plank in my own eye before I worry about the sawdust in someone else’s.

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