Alaska Mission Trip Brings Youth Together
Our Alaska Youth Mission team returned from their trip after spending eight days serving the residents of Anchorage, Alaska with St. Mary's Episcopal Church. Our trip was a collaboration between four churches: Episcopal Church of the Ascension, Church of the Epiphany, St. Michael and All Angels and St. James Episcopal Church in Dallas. 37 students and 10 adult sponsors served on the mission team. Youth Ministers Audrey Sutton from Epiphany; Lauren Wainwright from St. Michael and All Angels; Sarah Klitzke from Ascension; and Amanda Payne from St. James Dallas spent a year of collaborating and planning to make this trip happen.
Our three main projects were building a community garden to serve neighboring families around the church, constructing a cold weather green house to serve the Thomas Senior Center and provide fresh produce for on-site food bank and lastly, we took over the F.I.S.H. emergency food bank, preparing and delivering meals to families all over Anchorage.
The students worked incredibly hard doing everything from digging a trench, setting post to create a moose-proof fence, to bringing groceries to elderly neighbors. The week was highlighted by a S'mores cook-out and Talent Show put on for the senior residents of the Thomas center and a Texas Bar-B-Que hosted by St. Mary's. After all their hard work the teams rotated throughout the week for excursions to the Native American Heritage Center, holding puppies and touring the Iditarod Headquarters, exploring downtown Anchorage on 4th street and a salmon cookout hosted by Iditarod racers at their home in Wasilla where they had hands on experience with the dogs and sleds.
There were so many great experiences on our trip, but there was something so much more impressive happening among our students. Four churches with 37 kids with very different backgrounds, cultures and personalities quickly created community together. From the first day when students were standing with their own groups progressed into a second day looking a little more blended. By the third day there was a beautiful mosaic of toothy grins and laughter. By the last day of the trip it would have been impossible to tell who was from which church. The love and community that they built, their openness to enter into relationship with others who are different than them was inspiring.
On the last night as I looked out over the dining room full of students, laughing and telling stories, I couldn't help but think, this is the dream. Churches partnering with other churches, creating community, loving and supporting each other, picking each other up when they fall.
Thank you to everyone in our church family who supported our kids either through prayer or donations, or both. We felt so supported and loved by our church family here.