Local youth participate in missions trip
By BRITTANY FHOLER
Nearly 30 youth and adults from Copperas Cove’s Grace United Methodist Church made their way to Hobbs, New Mexico for the 2018 Central Texas Conference Youth in Mission, or CTCYM, mission trip to serve God and the local community, just weeks after school let out.
The group, which consisted of 12 junior high students and four high school students, joined four other Central Texas churches- Genesis United Methodist Church from Fort Worth, Discovery United Methodist Church from Hutto, First United Methodist Church from Killeen and Ferris Heights United Methodist from Waxahachie- to make a group of 128 staying at the Hobbs Living Center, located at the First United Methodist Church in Hobbs.
From June 17 through June 23, more than 2,500 youth and adults from 51 different churches joined together in New Mexico and West Texas “to put Christian faith into action by repairing and rebuilding homes and small facilities weathered by age, poverty or natural disaster,” according to the organization’s website.
There were 12 teams that worked on eight different locations, completing a total of 14 different projects, according to Doreen Vasseur, Grace UMC youth director and center director for the Hobbs Living Center.
The projects included removing, rebuilding and shingling a roof, pouring a concrete slab, removing and replacing siding, constructing five wheelchair ramps, replacing damaged sheetrock, building a water heater enclosure, replacing door thresholds, as well as trimming trees, doing landscaping work, planting a flowerbed, repairing a carport and painting the office of the host church’s incoming pastor, among others.
Teresa Pack, entering 10th grade this fall, was on a team that painted the incoming pastor’s house and helped move the pastor’s belongings into the house. This year’s trip was her second mission trip and she plans on going on next year’s trip, which will be to the Gulf Coast, in either Texas or Louisiana.
“It’s fun,” Pack said of why she went on the trip. “I like helping people. I get to learn how to use tools-well, more tools than I’ve already learned- and I get community service hours.”
She said her favorite part of this year’s trip was learning more about different tools and the food, cooked by volunteers from the different churches.
This trip was a combined trip for Grace UMC, with four high school students and 12 junior high students. Vasseur explained that this year was the first year where the two age groups worked together on the same project, something she hoped to continue at next year’s trip.
“What we found is that the senior high helps the junior high,” Vasseur said. The junior high students aspire to be like the high school students and strive to be better, she added.
Vasseur said that this year, which was her 17th year attending, was one of the best CTCYM mission trips she had been on.
“The churches really blended together really well, there were really no major issues,” Vasseur said. “The church that hosted us was amazing even though they found out at the last minute we were coming.”
The host church, First United Methodist Church in Hobbs, provided a place for the group to sleep, procured extra dumpsters, ice and bottled water as well as bought pizza for the group’s last dinner in New Mexico.
Vasseur said her favorite part of the mission trip is hearing the kid’s stories as they do their work and seeing them grow in their faith.
She shared of a story of one of the youth who collected $126 during one of the weekday evening activities and donated the money along with bottled water and clothes to the local homeless shelter in Hobbs. Another student got the courage to stand up in front of the whole group and share how God worked through him, she said.
“These kids, you know, sleep on air mattresses, sleep on cots, take one shower a day, work in 110-degree weather and they pay to do it and they do it because they are being the hands and feet of Christ and they’re so excited to do it and that’s what it’s all about,” Vasseur said.
The work provided by the youth groups is free to the homeowners, who simply fill out an application and list what work they would like done on their house, Vasseur said.
This was Jason Carpenter’s first mission trip, but definitely won’t be his last, he said.
“I started working with the youth group about a year ago when I got back from my deployment and I just fell in love with it,” Carpenter said. “I like working with the kids and what the whole purpose behind getting the youth involved with the community is.”
Carpenter said it was a humbling experience to watch the kids be so selfless. The teams didn’t know what their jobs would consist of until they arrived at their job sites and the construction team handed out assignments, he added.
“The kids just went out there and did it,” Carpenter said. “They didn’t complain, they didn’t gripe, they just went out there and worked hard because they knew it was for a bigger purpose. And I thought that was really awesome, you know, to get to see the kids just go out there and just, it was essentially just a week of Random Acts of Kindness for them.”
Carpenter’s team was all junior high students and worked with another team of all high school students, with 14 kids and five adults total on the same job site. Their work included painting a house, fixing the roof of the house, building a wheelchair ramp, planting a garden and doing other yard and tree work.
Carpenter’s wife, Jodi, was the assistant to the center director, while his son, Joseph, and nephew, Matthew King, were on teams.
“It was a good experience to have all the family there,” Carpenter said. “I got to worship with my kids and my wife. I can’t wait until my daughter’s old enough.”