Several MCH youth braved the heat this summer to serve others during the United Methodist Action Reach-Out Mission by Youth (U.M. ARMY) trip in Nacogdoches, Texas. Each year Kingwood United Methodist Church sponsors MCH youth to attend the trip and work alongside church members. This year the host church for volunteers was First United Methodist Church of Nacogdoches.
“Kingwood does an amazing job each year putting together a trip that is both memorable and engaging for students,” said Jill Sims, MCH spiritual development minister attending the trip for the second year. “This trip is an important opportunity we offer our students as it gives them a chance to go outside our campus to be the hands and feet of Christ. They also experience firsthand the love and community of one of the churches that continues to bless our ministry with their prayers and support.”
Trey Oakley, MCH president and CEO, and Le’Ann Solmonson, Board member, visited with youth during the trip.
“We are grateful to our supporters and Kingwood UMC who make this trip possible,” Oakley said. “Thanks to their kindness and generosity, our young people are able to experience the gratification that comes from giving back and helping others.”
During the mission trip, volunteers assisted families in the community with home improvement or repair projects. The families receiving assistance are found through local churches or community services for senior citizens. Projects this year included repairing roofs, building porches and wheelchair ramps, replacing siding and flooring, painting, and other repairs. MCH youth were divided among sites. U.M. ARMY camp director Shahab Parva said having young people from MCH in their groups has been a positive experience for everyone attending the mission trip.
“They had an unbelievable year,” Parva said. “They immersed in our camp. They are a blessing and inspiration; a joy to have.”
Parva said Christina, an MCH youth, helped her team have more meaningful devotionals by challenging the members of the group to think about and answer questions. Joseph, another MCH participant, led a morning devotional for the whole camp and spoke about overcoming the “Goliaths” in life.
Sims said Joseph spoke about different leadership opportunities he had taken at MCH and how scary it was to step out in a vulnerable way in front of his peers to be used by God through music, drama, and dance. Joseph ended the devotion by admitting that getting up in front of the camp was a Goliath to him, as evidenced through his nervousness, Sims added.
“Joseph spoke with a conviction and honesty that touched the hearts of everyone in the room,” Sims said. “Adult leaders and students were talking about the power of the devotional throughout the rest of the week and the pastor even alluded to it in one of his later messages.”
Nikkie, a junior at MCH, expressed anxiousness about being around people she did not know, but she ended up bonding with her team and making new friends. She said her team pulled her in and helped her feel comfortable. She led the group in prayer one night before dinner and before leaving on the last day of the trip. She had a positive experience and feels like she is growing as a leader and in her faith.
“I feel like I’m a whole different person,” Nikkie said. “God told me I didn’t have to worry about pain or struggle while I was there. I felt like God had changed me when I came back to MCH.”
Sims was grateful for the opportunity to experience the memorable trip with the young people from MCH.
“Our students were phenomenal,” she said. “From their eagerness to jump in and serve, to their respectful and positive attitudes, they brought joy to so many in attendance. They were consistent leaders, volunteering to lead devotionals, pray, help out with tasks that needed to be done and offer support and encouragement to each other. I am so proud of them!”