Fast forward about four months from that, and Jordan Spitzley from St. Mary’s in Westphalia and myself were leading a caravan of 25 students down to North Carolina to serve the New Bern, North Carolina Habitat for Humanity. I was very excited, but kind of nervous since I personally and professionally haven’t done a trip like this. So we stepped out in faith and let the Lord lead what we had taken a lot of time and effort to plan!
In reflection of the whole week, I observed a lot of things the Lord was putting in place for our program. I was in total gratitude of the group of kids that I had come this year. They were a test group for this trip and stepped out in a lot of faith to go and serve in this way. Not only did they step out in faith, but this group of kids absolutely dove into everything that we did. The work that we did the whole week was work that we didn’t have a lot of skills in! We worked on three different sites the whole week, and the work that we did included; putting together external walls for a house, putting up those external walls, building a shed, shingling, installing appliances, landscaping, painting, etc etc. We had to learn how to do all these things from trained volunteers, hone those skills, and then do all of that physical labor! So we worked for six hours a day for four days straight and accomplished so much! The trained volunteers complimented us by saying that we were more efficient than any of the college groups that they had come to work there, and they said that they were very impressed on how much we improved throughout the week! I couldn’t help but to be proud of our total group and see how much they had invested in the total four days!
Not only did we work hard but we prayed hard as well! We were able to work with the Catholic Church that we were staying in to have a couple of nights where we had access to the church, and where the local priest and deacon provided adoration and confession for us! It was amazing to be welcomed into this community through Habitat for Humanity and through this Catholic Church as well! The Lord was really present, and in our times of prayer, in this welcoming atmosphere, I could feel that the Lord was taking us deeper. He was making Himself present for the kids to encounter him, but also pointing them outward and saying that the love and grace that we receive from God is supposed to overflow into the world. That the way God transforms us, should also help transform the things around us too. The kids on this trip ate up this message too! I could feel that so many of them desired the mission Jesus calls us to and they all have so much eagerness to say yes to the Lord taking them to change the world! I see this as where the Lord is taking our Youth Ministry Program in MHT. That not only through our retreats can we bring God into the lives of our young people, but that we as a parish can facilitate their growth in those encounters and have them transformed and on mission.
I want to take this chance especially to thank all of you for being so supportive. Parents and parishioners alike have done so much in praying, giving monetary support, and just sharing in the excitement of these times to serve. It was really fun to post daily updates on Facebook and see the instant reactions of joy and excitement! Without that foundational encouragement and the generosity we receive, our youth ministry program and trips like this wouldn't be possible!