Growing up, I was very involved in my church and passionate about spreading the Word and helping people, but I felt as if there wasn’t enough being done. Then I discovered a mission project that my youth group went on every year at the beginning of June.
The name of the project was Local Mission Project. This wasn’t a usual mission trip across the country. It was local and in the same state I lived in, but four hours away.
The purpose of LMP was to help people in need while in the spirit of God and share him with other people. We traveled around Fayetteville, Arkansas and found people with disabilities or who lived in houses that were in poor condition. We built wheelchair ramps, side houses, painted houses, and did yard work.
What made the mission project different from others is three churches joined to do these tasks in one week. Each year, there were around 300 kids who participated, which is truly incredible. We spent all day from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. working, then we came back, showered and worshiped. There is something truly incredible about being in a room full of 300 young people all there for the sole purpose of worshiping God.
I went to LMP every year from the summer after seventh grade up until the summer after 11th grade. I can honestly say I made some of the best friends and memories in the short week I was there.
I vividly remember several things that happened throughout each week. We had to wear jeans every day for safety measures in 100 degree heat, which was miserable at times, but we always made the best out of it. LMP was for people entering seventh grade up to people graduating high school, so there was a pretty wide age range.
We got to do many different activities after all the serious parts were finished. The people in charge of setting everything up were older people who helped with all the youth groups.
Every day at LMP started at 6:30 a.m., which was when we would all awaken so we could get ready for our long day ahead. Afterward, we made our lunches because we only had one short week to do such big projects. We had to eat lunch rather quickly.
Then we loaded the vans to go to our work sites and begin working. We wouldn’t get a break until about noon, which is when we ate. Then we would continue working until about 4 p.m. or until we reached a stopping point and go back to the church where we showered and stayed for the week.
Showering was always a challenge because there were only three showers for the girls and three showers for the boys. So if you think about being hot and sweaty all day, then having to race back to shower so you didn’t have to wait in the line for an hour, you can imagine how chaotic that was. After we ate, we had a special event then ended he night with a worship session.
All of the little things that didn’t work out or were changed that I thought were annoying just added to the vibe the whole week. There were so many crazy things happening throughout the week, but all of those things made the experience so great.
LMP was truly one of the most humbling experiences I’ve ever had. I can remember that through the hard times of growing up, the one time I always felt genuine happiness was when I was at LMP.
If I could go back and relive those times, I would in a heartbeat. I have made so many friendships with such amazing people that I still talk to. It is amazing to be able to say that I got to experience something that truly changed who I am and made me into a better person. Being able to help other people truly does make you feel good inside. I wouldn’t trade my experience at LMP for anything in the world.