Today as I write, our high school mission team sits exhausted and exhilarated on a plane home from Ecuador.  Watching their posts on Instagram and Facebook this week I was carried back to memories of my first international mission trip to Guatemala when the scales fell from my eyes and I recognized for the first time how extreme poverty constricts.  And I recalled taking my son and another high school team from our church to Nicaragua six years ago and watching their stunned faces when they saw how millions live without clean water, adequate schools, a car, a mattress, the internet.

I wonder if one of those kids will come home and see his home now as the Taj Mahal, and hug his parents and remember that being born in the US was sheer accident and a gift to be wisely tended.  I wonder if one of those kids will now consider politics or ministry or teaching as a career because she discovered the joy of making a difference. One of my dear friends came home from Guatemala 30 years ago and changed careers so that she could find meaning and purpose in her life.  To this day, when life sends me a challenge that seems insurmountable, I remember those mom’s in Latin America carrying water on their heads home to cook rice on an open fire to feed the children.

I am deeply grateful to Tyler Heston, our youth minister and the sponsors Nancy Lear and Lori Bennet who traveled with our team of 15 youth this year.  They have essentially been on a 7 day sleepover with 14-18 year olds!  And I am grateful to all of you in the congregation for making this trip possible with your prayers, your contributions to the church and your commitment to changing teenagers lives with the love of God.  I know that our kids coming home today are not the same kids we sent out.  It may seem invisible at first, but what they experienced in Ecuador was a taste of God’s reality that they had never known before.

What they have seen/heard/experienced is better than 100 Sunday school lessons combined.   It will shape their faith, influence their career choices, impact where they choose to go to college, color their choice of friends.  In short, these trips save lives, not just the life of those they served in Ecuador, but the lives of our own youth, which God also longs to save.

Thank you for being church to these kids.  Thank you for giving them hope and a glimpse of God’s majesty, wonder, compassion.  You make the gospel of Jesus real.

Grace and peace,


Click here to read more about the High School Mission Trip.