Monday, February 21, 2011

How I spent my day

Today, I spent much of my day with a group of elementary students willing to use their day off from school to help others.

We call it Destination: Home, a taste of the mission trip. Destination: Home gives students a "taste" of what we do on the "big" mission trip without leaving "home."

Today's event included service (helping at New Beginnings Thrift Store in Siloam Springs), fun (bowling) and more (pizza for lunch, and a few extras along the way).

Four years ago, when I came to Siloam Springs as the children's pastor, I started weaving missions into the ministry plan because I truly believe children of all ages can and should learn about missions.

While mission/service projects are included in a multitude of our events, the Destination trips (either single-day or multi-day trips) provide an in-depth experience for students.

I think teaching students about missions is not only Biblical (think Matthew 25) but also quite Methodist because it fits quite well into John Wesley's view of social and personal holiness.

I know many people question whether younger students can (or even should) learn about missions in this way. Well, simply take a look at the pictures below, and then decide for yourself.

But think about it this way.

Today, 13 students learned a variety of lessons about serving others, because we gave them a chance to help out at a ministry that helps families in need - including crisis pregnancies. We did this by showing them that service can include everything from washing windows, to cleaning toys with Clorox wipes.

I think amazing things happen when we empower students and give them the tools to help others.

We help them learn to think about others by learning to look outside of their "comfort zone."

Yes, sometimes taking younger students on mission trips can be a bit messy and often, things don't always go as planned. But one thing is for certain, when we give students permission to learn - and reach out to others - amazing things can and will happen.
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I think my favorite photo from today is this picture of Thomas (age 4). Thomas said at the beginning, as we talked about what would happen - he wanted to make someone happy. 

Yes, he's young, and yes we had to find things that "captured" his attention. But you know what? Thomas learned today that you can make someone happy by cleaning toys with Clorox wipes. He also learned that even though he's four-years-old, he could help others by folding blankets and hanging up clothes.

A few other pictures from the day

Learning more about New Beginnings Thrift Store from Trang Freeman.
Sorting toys (after they have been cleaned).
Tossing out the broken toys.
Washing windows.
Sorting clothes and (gasp hangers).

Hanging with friends waiting for the next task.
Sorting and folding blankets.

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