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 Meara Malottke.

senior - meara_optGood morning. My name is Meara and I have been on four mission trips.

When I was younger, I didn’t really know what it meant; I just knew that the older kids weren’t there one Sunday and bench seats from a car inhabited Albright Hall. When I finally understood, I started to look forward to my chance. Each year that I have gone on mission trip has been so much fun. I always returned tired but satisfied that we had impacted the lives of others positively. Who doesn’t like using power tools to help out?

Since this is my senior year, I needed to figure out what I wanted to say about mission trip. I read through today’s readings and it seemed to me that patience is a common theme. In the first reading, Elijah was patient with a woman who was worried about the well-being of her family as he tried to convince her that God would provide. In the epistle, I can imagine Paul sighing as he explains to others again how God works through him.

It made me think about my experiences on mission trip, and, let me tell you, patience is a necessity. The work we do often relies on other variables that are unpredictable, leaving us hurrying to get the work done, only to have to cool our jets to wait for the next job. It is the nature of the beast.

This year, it seemed to occur even more. This construction started a month late, meaning that the foundation of the house hadn’t even been poured yet. So, Our first job was to put up a silt fence to prevent dirt from going into the neighboring yards. Since it was a beautiful rock garden before we got there, there were a lot of roots and rocks to battle. It took a really long time, but we did it. Our next task was to lay concrete, repairing two slabs of sidewalk and bit of the curb. Had we been professional masons, we would have been fired. We kept accidentally stepping in the freshly poured concrete or kicking dirt in it. And we were slow. Really slow. I mean, it is a time consuming job anyway, but we managed to prolong the task. You would not believe how excited we were (or maybe it was just me) when we had just finished one slab. That task requires the greatest patience anyone can muster because it is so exact. Those poor workers. They had to put up with our mistakes and guide us in the right direction. Volunteers: can’t live with ’em, can’t live without  ‘em. After an entire work day, we finished those three little sections We just had to hope no passerby would step in it.

I was never patient when I was little… or even now at times. But if I only take away one thing from mission trip, it is a lesson in patience.

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Read other senior missioner homilies:

Read more about the trip and see a slide show.

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