GUMC youth hold mission trip in Copperas Cove
By BRITTANY FHOLER
The Grace United Methodist Church youth group typically goes on a mission trip every summer as part of the Central Texas Conference United Methodist Church’s youth missions.
While on these mission trips, thousands of youth from the Central Texas area travel to a selected area for one week to serve as the hands and feet of Christ for communities in need, completing projects such as building wheelchair ramps, painting houses and more. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, CTCUMC youth mission trips were cancelled last summer in 2020 and again for 2021.
Despite the cancellation of the official mission trips, GUMC Youth Director Doreen Vasseur wanted to make sure the youth of her church could still accomplish something this summer, so she planned a mission trip to take place right here in Copperas Cove.
“Selfishly, I could not do another year without mission trip and my kids because they have a servant’s heart, so I said let’s just do it here in Cove, for two reasons: one, to help our people in Cove and two, our church has severe damage from [Winter Storm Uri] and so I wanted them to realize that the church isn’t just the building. The building’s a mess, but we’re still serving God. I want them to know that it’s not the building, it’s the people in the church and the things that we can do and reach outside.”
Ten youth and close to 20 adults who participated in this year’s mission trip, which Vasseur said is a decrease in the usual. The youth camped out in the church’s youth group building, located on the church’s property, with four adult volunteers also staying in the building. SWEAT at Cove Fitness provided use of their showers for the mission trip volunteers as well.
The local mission trip started on Sunday and finished on Thursday. Every morning, the teams headed out to their job sites in the morning and worked into the afternoon, returning to the youth building after their showers after 4 p.m. In the evenings, the group held a worship service and focused on their Bible study as well using a curriculum made by the church’s pastor Kissa Vaughn. The theme of the curriculum is “He Loved Us First,” which Vasseur said ties in perfectly to the work that the youth have been doing and shows the love that the kids have for each other and their community.
The youth worked on projects such as yard work and tree trimming at different houses around Copperas Cove. Some of the projects they completed were requests from neighbors of the houses they initially worked on who wanted help with a yard project. The youth were all too happy to help out.
The main project during this year’s mission trip, however, was Susan Murphy’s house on South 7th Street. The youth built a brand-new wheelchair ramp on the front porch of the house. Murphy is a longtime church member at GUMC and said she has been unable to go down the steps on her front porch, but thanks to the new ramp, she will be able to now.
The youth also worked on cutting down and trimming back several trees on the property and also repainting the exterior of the house. The house was built in the late 1800s and was originally just four rooms. Murphy said she grew up in the house, which originally belonged to her parents, who bought the house in 1935.
She was overcome with emotion when asked what it meant for the youth group to be helping at her house.
“I’m very blessed that they’re doing it and that they’re doing so much,” Murphy said.
Several of the youth participating this year had gone on mission trip before, but there were also some new faces.
Isabel Pack, 16, and Clayton Schulze, 15, have gone on mission trips with Grace United Methodist Church.
Pack said she thought it was cool to be able to make a difference in her own town. Pack worked on the wheelchair ramp, cutting the wood and doing whatever else necessary to make the project come together.
“I’ve known Miss Susan my entire life of going to church and my entire life, she’s like a second grandmother to me, so I love being able to help her because a lot of the other mission trips that we do, they become our friends, but we don’t really know them so this way we can actually see the impact it has, especially since she’s such a big member of a church,” Pack said.
Schulze said he was able to get to know the community better as they worked. He said that there had been some people who stopped by while they were working, and they got to talk about what they were doing and why.
Trinity Raines, 12, was one of the new faces this year. She said that she enjoyed cutting down the trees most. This was her first time going on a mission trip with the church, but she said she would do one again in the future.
“I think it’s been nice helping and being able to help others in my community,” Raines said.