This summer our Student Ministries Team went on a mission trip to Upper Darby Neighborhood of Philadelphia. One of the students shared with us about his experience on the trip:
“One of the first things we did when we arrived was that we walked around the neighborhood to familiarize ourselves with it. It was much more diverse than our own. The culture was also much different. We finished the walk and began meeting the people that would be working with us on the trip. One of the pastors was really nice to us and he had a piece of wisdom for us that really proved true throughout the week: The same God that it is Minnesota is here in Philadelphia as well. It is the same God that we experience; he is everywhere we go.
The next day we woke up bright and early to begin with some service projects! They started us off small. Then as we got more comfortable with Upper Darby, we did more social projects that required us to interact with people and get out of our comfort zone. We began on service projects around the church: cutting down a tree, weeding, tending to flowers, and Masonry. While we were cutting down the tree, it was cool to see how God spoke to us through that. He can speak through anything and everything, and that day he chose a tree.
One of the days, we got to spend time with an immigrant family from Angola from the church. They had moved from their home to America for safety. We got to listen to their story and ask questions. What surprised us most was their answer to this question: “If you could change one thing about America for incoming immigrants, what would it be?” Their answer was: our mindset. They said that they wished that the people of America were more welcoming, that they knew that people weren’t coming here just because they could, but because they had to andbecause their homeland was unsafe. Being able to talk to them was such an eye-opening experience and really made us more compassionate towards others, but also made us think about how fortunate we ourselves were back home. What really hit us hard was that through it all, they had put their faith in God to provide for them, and he did. To see how they stuck with their faith through such hard times was a real encouragement to all of us.
One of the nights, we decided to go into our own prayer session to dive into the Holy Spirit and God’s perfect plan for us. We spent three hours praying for each other individually and watching as the Holy Spirit used all of us to help each other through his power, prophecy, words of encouragement, and guidance. We decided to do prayer time together again the next night. That session was even longer and more powerful than the last nights. It lasted three and a half hours. Again, we all got to connect with the Spirit in different and crazy ways. Many of us spoke in tongues or our hands started shaking.
We did not know what a day would bring on the trip, but God did, so we trusted in him. The idea of this trip was to get ourselves out of our comfort zones and to help the people of Upper Darby Neighborhood. Though many things didn’t go as originally planned, and some things did not happen at all, had this trip been planned solely on human ideas and strength, I am confident that we would’ve missed out on a life-changing experience. However, we held everything openhandedly and gave it to Jesus. In the end, none of us could say that we would’ve wanted it to turn out any other way.”