August 1–9, 2015, Taylorsville, North Carolina
WHERE ARE YOU GOING?
We are traveling to Taylorsville, North Carolina, a small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Although it is not immediately obvious, Taylorsville has a 21% poverty rate and an average household income of only $25,000. Like many small towns, Taylorsville is home to many people struggling to provide for their families and to maintain their homes.
WHEN IS THE TRIP?
We will leave from San Jose on Saturday, August 1st and return on Sunday, August 9th. On Sunday, August 2nd, we will join our service organization. We will then spend Monday through Friday doing our service work, ending our trip with a retreat day to reflect on our experiences before traveling home on August 9th.
WHO IS INVOLVED WITH THIS TRIP?
All youth currently in 8th-12th grade are eligible for the trip. We currently have 18 youth participating in the trip.
We will be working with YouthWorks, a non-profit organization that facilitates youth service trips. They will be coordinating the service work and we will be joining other youth from around the country.
WHAT WILL YOU BE DOING ON THE TRIP?
Our service work will include many aspects, but the main work will be two-fold. Our initial work will be with a Kid’s Club offered by a local church. This Club offers local kids a place to come for games, classes, meals, etc. Depending on the needs of the town, we will also be doing maintenance work on the homes of elderly and in-need families of Taylorsville. This work may include gardening, painting, repairs, and more.
WHY A SERVICE TRIP?
Over the past 20 years or so, the idea of these trips has become a bit complicated as churches have begun to realize that they often do more harm than good on their one-week expeditions into an area dealing with poverty, illness, or the aftermath of a natural disaster. Taking untrained, unskilled workers into an area with the idea that they will “fix” the problems results in a Band-Aid solution for both the afflicted community and the teens who are serving. We enter this trip knowing that we are not going to be able to address all the problems that this community may face, but we are going to hear their stories and share an experience of working together to help where we can.
This trip is not just about one facet of a youth trip experience. It is about creating an once-in-a-lifetime growth opportunity with three key missions: service, faith formation, and authentic relationships.
Thousands of youth from Christian churches all over the U.S. attend mission or service trips each year, come back with great stories of how affected they were by the work they did, and then never do another act of service work. Once down from “the mountaintop experience” many people find it hard to translate the lessons and feelings from their trip into their everyday lives.
Our goal for the youth on this trip is to develop a habit of service. Through the combination of group discussion and personal reflections before, during, and after the trip as well as trip debriefs after our return, we hope to help each youth develop a deep desire to do service in their community. It is our hope that with this foundation, each youth may find a way to give back and help others.
Faith formation is one of the elements of youth ministry that is the hardest to pinpoint and measure and yet it is also one of the elements that create the longest lasting effect. Youth aged 13-19 are in the expansion part of their mental and emotional growth. At age 11 and 12 they begin to set their moral code and personal beliefs. As their minds and worldviews begin expanding in their teen years the things they witness and experience begin to challenge their moral code and open them up to a more in-depth analysis of their beliefs.
Trips like this one provide teens with an opportunity to challenge their own beliefs and worldviews. Youth will have the chance to reflect on journal questions each day as they interact with those they are serving and will meet with our adult leaders each evening to debrief the day. They will also have an extended reflection at the end of the week to process through each experience. It is our goal to make this a foundation that will take them into the next year in their lives.
The impact and importance of friendships in the life of teenagers cannot be overstated. Childhood friendships are where most people develop their foundational understanding of: conflict resolution, communication, loyalty, and companionship. It is also where many teens find the most stress relief and stability. Research shows that teens that develop strong friendships within a group dynamic have more confidence, better communication skills, and a stronger sense of personal identity. Youth who feel confident in their friendships with other youth at their school or in their church also have stronger faith formation.
On this trip youth will have a chance to form relationships on a variety of levels.
- One-on-One: Youth will have many chances to get to know more about one another individually and form strong, lasting bonds.
- Small Group: During different parts of the trip, the group will be split into smaller groups for activities and discussions.
- Larger Group: Each day the group will participate in a devotional time where the youth hear from one another about their reflections on the day.
How Can I Help?
A trip like this costs a fair amount of money. It is our mission as a church family to support our youth in their experiences and so we believe that finances should never be a reason why a youth cannot attend an event. Your donations help us to live up to that mission by funding the trip and our scholarship program. Any amount helps! You can donate online or participate in one of the many church fundraisers.
In addition to financial donations, we would ask for prayers as we work toward our goal and as we travel to North Carolina.
WHERE DOES THE MONEY GO?
All money raised — including any above our goal amount — will go into the Youth Outreach and Scholarship Fund. This fund supports service trips and spiritual retreats as well as supplying scholarships for these events to any youth in financial need.
The money raised pays for transportation costs (plane tickets, rental vans, tolls, etc.), housing (we stay at free locations whenever possible, but cannot always find a place to house us), YouthWorks registration fees, food, and any other needed supplies. We attempt to be good stewards of our resources and strive to find ways in which we can save money each year. All money that is unused at the end of the year rolls over to become seed money for the following year.
WHAT IS A DONATION TEAM?
We have three Donation Teams. Each team consists of 6 participating youth. Each team is attempting to raise $3000 toward our total goal. The youth on the team are responsible for adding information and media to their team’s page, promoting their team, and updating the campaign.
If you have visited our page because of a specific youth, please be sure to make a donation on their page so that it counts toward their goal.
The Service Organization: YOUTHWORKS
This year we will be working with YouthWorks, an organization that plans and runs service trips for youth across the country. Here is a little about them (from their website.)
Providing life-changing Christ-centered mission trips is our way of serving God’s multidenominational Church. We want to help empower every teenager to know God and be like Jesus in the ways they love and serve others, and our desire is the same for churches, families, staff and communities. We aim to create experiences that broaden perspectives, ignite passions, expose possibilities, and inspire pursuits.
As we live out our purpose and vision, we strive for these six priorities to shape the way we work and those we work alongside. These core values hinge on our aspiration to love teenagers, work alongside communities, and serve God’s Church:
The energy and passion, vision and potential of teenagers is not just the future of the church – it is a vibrant part of the church today. In the process of inviting students to love and be loved by Christ, we will unapologetically laugh, play, serve, and engage alongside them. Recognizing the incredible value of teenagers, we see these years as both formative for the future and vital for God’s work today.
Our passions are wrapped up in the places we serve. Communities are our partners, our friends and our contexts for ministry. We value the privilege of entering, working alongside and learning from these places filled with heritage and history, strengths and struggles. We are continually pursuing ways to better listen to, respond to and love communities.
It is our honor to serve people that God calls “sons” and “daughters.” Recognizing that effective service does not always seem efficient, we strive to listen closely, speak carefully, serve humbly, and participate gratefully in what God is already doing in individuals, churches, and communities. In our efforts to meet the unique needs of each person and place, we desire to follow Jesus’ example of servant-leadership.
We prioritize people. It’s why we pursue intentional interactions, restored relationships and ongoing friendships – because meaningful service stems from seeking each other out. Just as Jesus’ ministry underscores the importance of presence, we desire that programs, projects and plans would never trump people. Rather, we will continue to create experiences that encourage authentic connections with others and with Christ.
We desire to continually deepen our understanding and appreciation for the incredible creativity of Christ’s Church. As we value different styles of worship, stories of faith, stages of life, sets of resources, tones of skin and expressions of culture, we invite others to do the same. Through leaving comfort zones to listen and learn from each other, we can more deeply include, interact with and express the diverse beauty of God’s Kingdom.
We have seen God’s life-changing work in people’s stories and recognize our invitation to participate. That is why we seek to grow alongside others in deepening understanding, determining direction, restoring relationships and strengthening faith. As we encounter all kinds of people, we will continue to work together, challenge comfort zones, see potential, be inspired and eagerly ask, “What’s next?!”
The Service Work: Taylorsville
Here is some information about our service site from the YOUTHWORKS webpage.
Small, friendly towns dot the terrain of the Blue Ridge Mountains, a section of the Appalachians stretching from Georgia to Pennsylvania. Nestled within the foothills of this scenic territory lies Taylorsville, North Carolina. Not immediately apparent, the town faces a 21% poverty rate with an average household income of around $25,000 per year. Like many small towns, there are some residents in Taylorsville who struggle to provide for their families and maintain basic upkeep on their homes.
You will experience the great beauty of both the people and nature in the scenic small town of Taylorsville, North Carolina. By doing work projects on people’s homes, running a Kids Club, partnering with Habitat for Humanity, helping at a local nutrition program and supporting a few other ministries, you will make connections with the friendly and welcoming people of the area while addressing some significant needs. In the evenings your group will visit a “cowboy church,” experience the thrill of a homemade water park, hike to the top of Lowe’s Lookout and partake in a community cookout.
Service On Site
During half the week, your students will lead Bible lessons, games, reading time or crafts with community children. During the other half of the week you will serve through simple work projects such as yard work, painting or cleaning. Depending on the need, some students may stay with Kids Club for the entire week. Additionally, you will partner with local organizations which meet different needs within the community; you may serve all or part of the week at a food shelf, clothing distribution center, soup kitchen, children’s ministry, or elderly care facilities.
In 2006 we were invited to Taylorsville by Pastor Andrew and his church after they came on a YouthWorks mission trip. They’ve been graciously hosting us at their church ever since and we are grateful for the partnership and kindness of the community.
HOW DO I GET MORE INFORMATION?
Contact Marlie using the form below with any questions or comments.