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. Liz O’Connor (pictured third from left), a sophomore at WLC and member at St. John’s, Lomira, WI, was a member of the team and shares her experience:
Q: Why did you decide to volunteer for this Mission Journeys trip? What did you hope to gain?
I love traveling to new places to spread the good news of Jesus and help out churches in a variety of ways. Through this trip I hoped to strengthen my faith and connect with the people of Sahuarita.
Q: Have you been involved in outreach programs like this in the past?
Yes! In high school I went to Victory of the Lamb Lutheran Church in Katy, TX, with a group of students from Redeemer Lutheran in Fond du Lac, WI. Last spring break I took a trip to Illumine Church in Rock Hill, SC. There were four girls from WLC that traveled there to help out.
Q: What were some of the things you did on the trip? What was your favorite part?
We canvassed the neighborhoods of Sahuarita to further understand if more people need a church home and childcare (the answer was yes!). We helped the ladies at Mission to the Children by packing bags and organizing supplies for their next trip to Mexico. Lastly, we helped out with English as a Second Language (ESL) classes at Grace in Tucson, which was my favorite part of the trip. In our free time we went hiking and visited attractions in the Tucson area, like the Arizona Desert Museum and Colossal Cave Mountain Park.
Q: What lessons did you learn from your experience?
I learned that it often takes more than one encounter to engage others when it comes to speaking about church or Jesus. It is difficult for some people to talk about, so maybe the door in the face one time can lead to listening ears the next time. Who knows what God can work after that! There is nothing wrong with baby steps. God will take care of it.
Q: How will you use what you learned on your trip in your own life?
I can apply this lesson to my life in any conversation about Jesus, whether it is at WLC, work, or wherever. When the opportunity arises, I can do just what I’ve practiced on previous mission trips – spread the love of Jesus!
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 on this trip again in a heartbeat. For those of you considering a mission trip, I strongly encourage you to go. There is nothing like it! You don’t have to worry that you are too young, too inexperienced, too nervous, etc. God will use you!
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?
It’s SO important – These trips teach you how to engage with others, and they instill a heart of service. There are some experiences in life that you won’t have unless you go on a mission trip, and you can apply the lessons learned in your own church and community.
Q: Anything else you want to add about your experience with Mission Journeys?
One of the coolest parts about going on a mission trip is meeting people that share the same faith as you all over the country and the world!
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