Our church has been organizing a “local mission trip” called Mission to the City for 15 years. This was our second year in a row participating in a family-oriented three-day version of this “trip”, last Thursday through Saturday.
Going overseas with small children for a mission trip is often not very practical, but serving and reaching out in our community with kids along is very possible!
About 80 people participated this year, including children old enough to engage in the projects we were doing (there’s not a set minimum age — it’s at the discretion of the parents). We participated with our two older kids (Miss M — age 9 and Mr E — age 6), while Mr. K (age 4) spent a few days at Grandma’s house and Mr. J (age 1.5) spent time with a series of babysitters and occasionally joined us when no babysitting was available.
Our large group was broken down into smaller teams to accomplish various projects. Here’s a sampling of what we did each day:
Day 1 (top row of collage): In the morning, our team of several families weeded and did other landscaping work at the home of a single mother in our church. In the afternoon, we promoted a carnival we would be helping organize on Day 2 at a neighborhood Boys and Girls club. Thursday night we volunteered at a local event called “Picnic in the Park” some families (including ours) helped with carnival games, while other families served food or sold tickets.
Day 2 (middle row): We started out day 2 polishing plaques that honor ever soldier from our county who died during WWI! That’s 568 plaques, but we could only get about half done in the time allotted (we had done the other half last year). In the afternoon we ran a carnival at the Boys and Girls club, including games and serving food.
That night we did something really unique called the “Holy Spirit Experience.” We were paired up with one other family to go out for an hour and a half (with a budget of $20) to do whatever we felt the Spirit was leading us to do. Our group went on a prayer walk and then blessed a few strangers by buying them ice cream at the Dairy Queen (kind of the “pay it forward” drive through sort of thing…but at a walk-up window). Other teams handed out ice cream to firefighters and police officers, bought snacks or ice cream for random strangers, or bought flowers for someone who was in need of encouragement. One team even helped someone pay for a tow truck after a fender bender. Everyone spent a lot of time praying. It was super encouraging to come back at the end and hear everyone’s stories.
Day 3 (bottom row): On the third and final day, our team was once again doing landscaping work — this time at the home of a 92 year old widow in our church. It was awesome to not only bless her by clearing out a weedy area, but also to sit and talk with her and listen to her stories! Our afternoon plans to hand out free water at a lake (while some others were to volunteer at yet another carnival) were rained out. So we cleaned and did projects at our church building instead. We wrapped up MTTC 2013 with a cultural dinner — we ate authentic Ethiopian food and learned about Africa from two ladies who have come to the US (one from Nigeria and one from Uganda) in the past few years.
We were thrilled to have this opportunity again this year to expose our children to service and missions opportunities right here in our own city, and to have the opportunity to serve along side them!