Six years ago, Lori Ehrhard took her first group on a mission trip. There were two youth so they paired up with a church where her sister was pastor in Des Moines. Since then, the groups have grown larger and the youth from the Osceola United Methodist Church have been going as their own independant group.
On this summer’s mission trip, a group of 13 youth and four adults went to Parsons, Kansas. On these mission trips through Group Mission Trips, based in Colorado, there are different missions set up across the country or internationally. Many other youth groups go to the same places and the groups stay in schools, then split up and go to different work sites to do home improvement projects for local residents.
“It’s not neccesarily a city that’s had something bad happen to it, like a tornado or a flood. It could be a city that is just struggling financially,” said Ehrhardt.
Ehrhardt chooses where the group will go and tries to choose trips that take place after baseball and softball are over and are within driving distance. The group is gone on the mission trip for one week.
While the group was in Parsons, it were divided up into crews, consisting of youth from other churches all over the country. They had a work site to go to each day, and on the first day they got to meet their resident and begin work.
Benifits of being divided from their hometown youth group are that the experience gets them out of their comfort zones, forces them to use their people skills and become better, well-rounded individuals. The crews complete their work each day at 3:30 p.m. and do not work at all Wednesday afternoons, as that’s a time for them to have an outing with their hometown groups.
“Four times during the day they are deep into growing in their faith and learning about their faith,” said Ehrhardt.
Every morning there is a large group worship service. During lunch the crews come together for a devotion time. There is another large group worship service after their evening meal and, just before lights out, the hometown groups come together for another devotion time.
“The youth group devotions have made the biggest impact in my life because our youth group is super close and we are able to expand off each other’s thoughts and ideas which leads to eye-opening discussions. I walk away from them feeling stronger in my faith,” said Kenna DeVore, after coming back from the Parsons trip this summer.
The 2019 mission trip has already been chosen. The youth from the United Osceola Methodist Church will be going to Knoxville, Tennessee, next summer. For every five youth, there must be one adult and a mix of male and female adults to accomadate boys and girls attending. Each person must pay a $50 deposit to the church to hold their spot, then they can fundraise for the rest. Each person going on the trip must raise $464.
“Our youth are already planning ways to come up with that money,” said Ehrhardt. “The youth I take are so willing to help with any little thing. We’ve had people call us up and say ‘Will you rake my yard?’ and they [youth] show up because they know that’s going to be money to help us toward the mission trip.”
When they go on their mission trips, lunch, supper and building materials are provided, but the groups are given a list of the things they need to haul with them, which usually includes a cooler for each adult, a water jug per adult, bedding for youth and adults, ladders and building supplies.
“I keep going back on the mission trip becasue I love getting to serve the Lord while meeting people from all over to come together to repair someone’s house,” said DeVore.