The second and final day of the 6th grade mission trip is always a special one. You get to see students, who knew each other at a surface level only 36 hours ago, turn into a tight group of friends, bonded through cooperation, laughter and serving side-by-side. Even after such a short time together, the students we bring home are obviously not the students we left with.
Our final work day consisted of sorting through mountains of sheets and pillows donated by a couple hotel chains. They are required to change these items out at regular intervals, and often donate the used but still in very good condition items to places like City Union Mission. The Mission hands these out to anyone in need, provides sets to clients when they establish their own residence, and use them in their shelters and residential housing. We were asked to make as much headway as possible, as they had received multiple pallets of these items. In true GUMY fashion, we ran out of boxes to package things in before we ran out of steam. We weren’t supposed to get that much done; they had provided enough boxes for the average group to have worked all day. But, we’re not average.
So, once we finished filling the last few boxes after lunch, we were presented with another tedious task – cancelling the UPC codes and sorting thousands of packages of seeds. I’m not sure how many packets we sorted, but we were given approximately $12k worth of seeds (in packets that average $1 each) in five boxes, and managed to get through almost four full boxes. Again, we exceeded expectation.
Our final activity was going to Paradise Park for pizza, and escape room and mini-golf. True to form, these students worked together to solve dozens of clues and safely get us out of the room in less than an hour!
I brag on these students, because this was likely their first experience in a service environment like this. We got up early, worked hard all day, and did it again the next day. Mission trips require stamina and endurance, both physical and mental, in order to keep going and maintain a positive attitude. Looking back on these trips over the years, I don’t think we ever spent a lot of time beforehand coaching our first-time students how to do this. But, they show up in big ways every year. So, all of the youth ministers at Grace – staff and volunteer alike – have to thank the parents and families of these students for giving them such a servant-oriented outlook. Thank You!
When I look back on all the mission trips I’ve participated in over the past 10 years, I feel they are like my own kids in at least one respect – I can’t choose a favorite. I will remember every student who rose to each challenge and opportunity to share a talent or learn a new task on a 6th grade mission trip – from Lucas cleaning grease filters in an overhead vent in 2019, to Bella using a power washer in 2018, to Grace using a pickax in 2017, to Kameron building a retaining wall in 2016, to Sera cracking dozens and dozens of eggs into a 5-gal bucket in 2015, to Carlos cooking a meal for residents at Ronald McDonald House in 2014, to Kristan working the dish washing station alongside Mike, who was homeless and working at Hope Faith Ministries in order to save enough money for a bus ticket to Denver in 2013.
Thank you all for allowing me the honor of getting to know your 6th grade students this year, they are all amazing people!