Our Marketing Intern, Elspeth Muzzin, has concluded her internship for the summer. In her final blog post below she highlights the value of our Road Trip Adventures program. Road Trip is our approach to mission trips that we offer each summer in Chicago and Detroit.
As we wrap up the summer, we mustn’t forget the incredible mission work done by our Road Trip Chicago and Detroit participants. From urban gardening to cleaning up illegal tire waste, these junior and senior high schoolers spent a week of their summer doing the Lord’s work. They worked, prayed, and toured the city together all while becoming a little Christ centered community. With enthusiasm and vigor, these young people saw the work they had to do and dove right in.
I was able to drive to Detroit to witness our largest Road Trip group beautify a neighborhood that was once an illegal dumpsite for old tires. Many participants came from an ELCA congregation in Owatonna, MN and some belonged to the United Church of Christ in Haslett, MI and others from an ELCA congregation in Hastings, MI. A great camaraderie developed between the kids in just a few days. The participants were willing and excited to help out in any way they could. I even noticed some boys cut their lunch break short to continue cutting down overgrown shrubbery. The positive attitudes of the Road Trip participants emanated through the neighborhood as it got cleaned up in a matter of hours.
But Road Trip isn’t just a mission trip. In addition to the hands-on work, it is incredibly important to Living Water Ministries that the participants also got the opportunity to build relationships with locals from the community. They did this by worshipping at Shekinah Chapel (Chicago) and Genesis Lutheran Church (Detroit). The participants were encouraged to include neighborhood children in their efforts and got to volunteer at local soup kitchens and day camps. The success of our Road Trip program is carried on through the connections we make and strengthen each year.
Lisa Jeffreys, SEMI Synod Director for Youth Ministry and Road Trip Detroit coordinator added her own thoughts on LWM’s people oriented approach: “I don’t know what’s more exciting- watching the Holy Spirit change the preconceived ideas of Road Trip Detroit participants about the city of Detroit, or watching city residents’ preconceived ideas about road-trippers change. Probably both. At any rate, service learning Road Trip experiences provided through Living Water Ministries change lives. I’m reminded of that each summer when we continue furthering the relationships built over time that challenge the way we experience community together. I believe the Spirit continually challenges us to move beyond our comfort zones to experience all that life has to offer. Detroit has so much to offer the world- culturally, historically, artistically and spiritually. And young people have much to offer too! What a perfect opportunity we have to learn, grow, listen and serve in Christ’s community. Maybe that’s eating a coney dog while walking around a fountain or securing a mural board on a vacant home in a changing neighborhood. Probably both.”
Lisa hit the nail on the head when she said Road Trip changes lives. Not only does this program call on our young people to help others, it emboldens them to continue God’s work when they go home. Road Trip also asks its participants to look inward. Road Trip asks, “How does it feel to serve others? How does it feel to do things you never thought you would, like picking up trash or moving dirty tires?” Road Trip is teaching our young people that God’s work has no purpose if it is done from a place of pride. James 4:10 explains that they and we are lifted up with God’s grace by humbling ourselves. Because of that, we know that the great work done by Road Trip participants isn’t only changing those who live in the communities we road trip to– in fact, they are changing us.