2014 Sr. High Mission Trip – Queens, NY

From July 13 to July 19, 2014, our senior high youth went to Queens, NY and worked with YouthWorks on various service projects. One of the youth participants, Ryan Hills, shares his experiences from the trip:

Ryan HillsThis year’s theme for the GPC Mission trip was: “Fear not, for if you ignite yourself with flames of passion, people will come for miles to watch you burn”. Our call for mission brought us to Queens, New York: a community struck with poverty, crime, neglect, and violence. We set out to spread the word of God and Jesus’ teaching and to help the people of this community meet fellow missionaries and community members and enjoy getting to know and interact with them. We did just that and had a lot of fun along the way.  The road trip was long but enjoyable. Many thanks to our drivers/leaders: Frank McCoy, Karen Moser, and Carrie Gray; for their patience and ability to stay attentive through the drive.

We arrived at the First Presbyterian Church of Jamaica: a community itself within the community of Queens. Our YouthWorks Program facilitators were great – mostly recent or almost college graduates. All had inspiring faith stories they shared with us through the week. They led us with kindness, empathy, and enthusiasm. Our GPC group was teamed up with youth from Cape Cod and Philadelphia. The entire group was divided into about seven work groups.

In my group, on the first and second days, we worked at an assisted living facility. The people were very excited for us to be in their company and just spend time with them. Two days a week, the assisted living home pro-vides Wii Sports time for those who want to and can be active. They really enjoyed Wii Bowling! The other groups did things like working with a local kids club, picking up trash, working at a nursing home, or working at a food bank.

On Wednesday. we all changed mission areas and my group got to work with the kids club. It was my surprise that the first day was “water day” which meant everyone getting completely soaked. During this time, these kids forgot about their family situations and just had fun being kids. Later, we were part of the community of about 400 people who enjoyed a good barbeque and danced to the music of a local DJ.

On Thursday, we finished up at the kids club, playing musical chairs, singing songs, and making crafts. Thurs-day night was the last worship. The leaders washed our feet to demonstrate what Jesus did for us. While washing each youth’s feet, the leader would say a prayer for that particular person and bless them. It was a very emotional time. A lot of us teared up because the music was inspirational and the prayers being said were heart-to-heart. We were thankful for our time together.

Friday morning, we said our goodbyes to the group and we headed to a fun-filled day in Manhattan. We took the Manhattan ferry to the city and then the subway to the 9/11 museum where we spent time reflecting on the sadness and awe of what had happened at Ground Zero. We spent the night in New Jersey at Pastor Trent’s former church before returning the next morning.

This mission trip was extremely fun and a very eye-opening experience. It was neat to experience part of the 138 cultures that make up Queens. Helping out others on a heart-to-heart level was different for us. We knew by the looks on these people’s faces that our mission was fulfilled.