Grace Church has offered a youth mission trip each summer for the past 18 years. This year, 13 teens and six adults traveled to West Bend, Wisconsin to work with Habitat for Humanity from June 2 through June 8.

Five graduating seniors were a part of this year’s trip. They presented the homilies at our 8 and 10 a.m. worship services on June 9. The following text is published with permission from its author, senior Jared Kurth.

senior - jared_optI’ve been involved with Grace Church for my entire life. I was baptized here, attended Sunday school frequently, and I’ve sung in the choir as long as I can remember. My brother and sister were the same way. I remember waving goodbye to them as they set off for their mission trips, and wondering how it would be when I was the one being hauled off in one of the enormous white vans.

My turn finally came my freshman year, and it wasn’t how I thought it would be. I was a nervous little freshman with no clue what to expect. But by the end of that week I was left with unforgettable memories and high expectations for the next summer’s trip. And that was only the first year.

My second year was equally as enjoyable, and it reinforced the constants that would take place on every one of my mission trips – constants that I hope will remain in place for future mission trips. From Jim’s favorite nightly ice cream outings, to beating Mike in poker and winning all of his Apple Jacks (Mike thinks he won, but you can’t trust his memory… it’s getting old). Wal-Mart runs happen nearly every other night to buy whatever was left at home or forgotten at the job site. And you can always count on something being broken by the end of the week no matter where you go – something that shouldn’t have been broken.

I missed my junior year mission trip to my dismay. My sister was getting married the week of the trip, but from what I’ve heard, it was a blast. These constants stayed strong through that trip to my knowledge, and the missioners enjoyed every part of it.

On this trip to West Bend, my last mission trip, I cherished those last memories with others. But I also realized another constant, a theme more or less, that I hadn’t picked up on before. Everyone involved was always so ready and willing to help in any way on and off the job site. I noticed all three years people who hadn’t so much as touched a tool in their life saw two-by-fours or hammer nails or even just dig trenches where they needed to be dug. I noticed all three years the hospitality and kindness of people opening up their homes or churches to host us for a meal after a long, hard day’s work. I noticed all three years the willingness of the future homeowners to help in any way, from providing water to helping with construction even though they weren’t required to and had already served 500+ hours for Habitat. I saw this on every mission trip, and it taught me that even the slightest bit of help can have a huge impact on everyone involved and the project as a whole.

The memories, relationships and lessons I’ve taken away from the Mission Trip program will remain with me forever, especially as I head off to college in a few months and meet scores of new, different people. All good things must come to an end, and it is over for me now, but I know the constants – the good deeds, the service and the helpfulness – will never really end for any of us. It was a pleasure to be a part of this program and I wish the best of luck to the adults and younger missioners in the coming years. Thank you.

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Read other senior missioner homilies:

Read more about the trip and see a slide show.

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