Broadening perspectives

Teens learn valuable skills through a summer mission trip


Brielle Wilson, Staff Reporter

While many teens choose to spend their summer soaking up the sun or diving into a pool, some chose to devote their vacation to helping others. Representing the Water’s Edge Church, teens and adults arrived in Alexandria, Minnesota, with one sole purpose: helping those less fortunate than them. 

On July 11, 2021, over 80 kids and adults squeezed into six vans and drove seven hours to reach their mission site. After rising at the crack of dawn, the students parted ways. From there, they would spend the entire day hammering and painting. The work would be long and difficult, but the result would leave both teens and adults alike feeling accomplished.

“At first I was hesitant to go on the mission trip,” sophomore Elyza Mckenny said. “It was my first time participating in one, and I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. But once I was there I realized that it was a really good learning opportunity and a productive way to spend my summer.”

Although each work group had a different assignment, they all focused on one thing; fixing an aspect of their assigned house. From painting a roof to building a porch, each member of the group had their own part to play. 

“My assignment was to repair an elderly resident’s storm windows,” junior Ava Saunders said. After finishing that, I painted her front and back porch. Overall, it was a lot of outdoor labor. Although It was a lot of hard work, I felt so accomplished after finishing the job.”

When they weren’t working at a resident’s house, the teens stayed at a public middle school. Here, they would sleep, eat and have prayer group in the evenings. In their free time, they would play games, talk with friends, or even take short naps.

Aside from the work aspect of the trip, many of the teens and adults formed bonds with the residents of the houses. Through this bond, they learned all about the homeowners’ lives. On the last day, many teary faces were visible as residents and teens said their goodbyes. 

“My resident’s name was Rose,” Mckenny said. “Each day on our lunch break, she came outside and sat with us. “We learned so much about Rose’s life. She had gone through so many things, but still managed to be a positive person. I felt like I had known Rose my entire life, and I was sad that I would never see her again. It felt like losing a friend.”

As well as the mission trip affecting the teens, the adults’ changed as well. Some leaders felt that the mission trip was an important learning experience. For others, it broadened their perspective.

“I believe going on a mission trip is something that everyone should experience at some point in their lives,” leader Justin Nech said.” It changes the way you view the world. This week has been such an eye-opening experience for me as a leader, and for the kids as well.”

In the end, whether it was the teen’s first mission trip or fifth, all of them left feeling accomplished after a week of giving back to the community. Not only had they learned valuable skills that would help them in the future, but how they viewed the world had changed. 

Through their communication with the residents, the teens realized that not everyone was as fortunate as them. They started to appreciate the smaller things more. Following a week full of learning, only the question of when they could go back remained.