Wisconsin Lutheran College (WLC) sent out its first Mission Journeys team in January 2019 to assist Grace Lutheran Church in Sahuarita, AZ, with community outreach, English as a Second Language classes, and church property clean-up. David Wilson (pictured third from left), a junior at WLC and member at St. John’s, Pardeeville, WI, was a member of the team and shares his experience:
Q: Why did you decide to volunteer for this Mission Journeys trip? What did you hope to gain?
I thought it would be a fun way to get out of my comfort zone and meet other WELS members outside of Wisconsin. I was looking for a different perspective by visiting a relatively young WELS church and also create closer relationships with the other participants.
Q: Have you been involved in outreach programs like this in the past?
I have been involved with other canvassing and mission efforts locally, but this was my first mission trip.
Q: What were some of the things you did on the trip? What was your favorite part?
The majority of the time was spent canvassing and interviewing residents to gain insight into the community. Our main goal was to inform people that the church was opening a new location with childcare, which is a large need in that community. We also had one day that involved doing work at the church. It was good ole’ manual labor to get the outside looking pretty. Besides working, we also had time to do a lot of hiking and to explore Tucson and the surrounding area.
Q: What lessons did you learn from your experience?
While it may be uncomfortable at first to approach someone at the door, that feeling of discomfort is only temporary. The results of my actions could impact someone eternally! We don’t get to see results right away, but that doesn’t mean our actions aren’t effective.
. . . I also learned that Arizona is an unforgiving place where many of the plants and animals can kill or hurt you. I’ve decided I would rather see a black bear in Wisconsin than a black widow spider in Arizona.
Q: How will you use what you learned on your trip in your own life?
I plan on taking this experience and utilizing what I learned to interact more with those I know who don’t understand the joy we have in Christ. While I know they will be difficult conversations, they will be more than worthwhile in the end.
Q: Would you go again? What would you say to someone who might be considering taking a trip like this in the future?
I would go again in a heartbeat. While we did do a lot of work in our short time in Arizona, we had a blast doing it. We also got to have fun exploring in the off-time. Personally, I thought the best part of the trip was getting to know the pastor and his family as well as the other church members. They really made us feel welcome and at-home during our stay. It was not easy to leave.
Q: Do you feel it is important for high school and college students to take time to do short-term outreach trips like these? Why or why not?
I would recommend this type of trip to any young person. Not only is it an awesome faith-strengthening experience, but these trips also give you an opportunity to bond with friends. It’s a cost-effective way to travel and expand your horizons.
Q: Anything else you want to add about your experience with Mission Journeys?
Coming from an older congregation, it was super fun to be involved with a younger congregation. I think that some of the ideas and programs I learned about would do well at my home congregation as well as others in the area. I hope these trips can serve as a way to increase the flow of ideas for outreach and programming for participants to take back to their home congregation.
To learn more about the WELS Mission Journeys program and how you and your congregation or school can get involved, visit wels.net/missionjourneys.
Learn about the ministry work of WELS Missions.
Support the ministry work of WELS Missions.