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More than vacations: Mission trips make huge impacts

Senior+Jennifer+Lechowski+weeds+a+garden+during+her+mission+trip+in+Shawano%2C+Wisconsin.++
Senior Jennifer Lechowski weeds a garden during her mission trip in Shawano, Wisconsin.

Senior Jennifer Lechowski weeds a garden during her mission trip in Shawano, Wisconsin.

•courtesy of Jennifer Lechowski

•courtesy of Jennifer Lechowski

Senior Jennifer Lechowski weeds a garden during her mission trip in Shawano, Wisconsin.

Jennifer Lechowski

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Summer is a time for relaxing, hanging with friends and just taking a break from all the stress in the world. This all sounds nice, but I wanted to do more than that. I wanted to do something for others and give back. At the start of this summer, I told myself to make it one to remember. I didn’t know how I would make it memorable but I knew it may consist of me going out of my comfort zone. This constant reminder to make it special in my brain led me to signing up for my first mission trip.

I signed up for a mission trip in Shawano, Wisconsin about 225 miles north from here. Before I left, I read on the itinerary that we would do daily service work for local people in need. Helping others soon became something that would affect me in way that I didn’t know was possible.

I was apart of a group that consisted of 28 high school missionaries, lead missionaries and our core team that ran the whole trip. When I signed up for this mission trip, I knew I was taking a risk. I was going to be joined with people I had never met and would have to live with them for a week. Even though this moment was out of my comfort zone, I believe something inside of me led me to this group in small town Shawano, Wisconsin. If it weren’t for my courageousness, I wouldn’t have done anything like this. This is why it’s important for people to take on new challenges and try new things. Some decisions won’t always be easy but trying and believing can make totally worth it.

This mission trip made it so easy to make friends. Everyone was open to meeting each other and wanted to make a difference in someone else’s life. I felt like I belonged right away and this made the week go by a lot smoother.  Everyone had an open mind about meeting new people and about the tasks they were given, making the trip easy.  We didn’t judge each other or think the jobs we had to do were hard. Being open-minded allows each person to have the willingness to try new things and listen to what everyone has to say before making assumptions. This trait helped my group come together by hearing out all our ideas when we were working throughout the week.

Each day was like it’s own mini adventure. My small car group of five would be assigned a destination or two where we would do the tasks of what the people wanted. Most of our jobs were done for the elderly and local friends. We would weed and lay mulch. These tasks were not always easy as the blazing sun would beat down on us for six hours straight. But being surrounded by people who lift each other up and watching the little things we do light up in their eyes somehow changes our mindsets into something positive. People of all ages can participate in mission trips. It’s a great way to be surrounded by so much positivity and love. Throughout the school year students are constantly stressed and burnt out. Weeks like these are something to look forward to and a place that feels like their safe haven.

Mission trips aren’t all work though. My core team planned plenty of activities for us do do such as swimming, going to watch a water ski show, nine-square, free-play and much more. They definitely made sure we were hydrated and enjoying ourselves throughout the week.

I couldn’t believe how in less than a week a group of strangers would feel like my family. We bonded day in and day out and supported each other through the ups and downs. We definitely worked hard while weeding and painting but what made it fun was that we were doing it as a team. Students shouldn’t let the fear of being too much work stop them from attending a mission trip. Being open minded and believing in oneself are the keys to success.

I would 100% recommend mission trips to anyone who likes to help others and be surrounded by encouraging people.  It’s also just a great way to get outside and give back to the community.

I left Shawano, Wisconsin feeling overjoyed by my experiences and all the wonderful friends I made. Sometimes it’s hard to find those friends who always stick by your side and have the same mindsets, but this mission trip showed me that this is possible. I’m even more glad that I had the opportunity to be surrounded by dozens of them in one place.

I’m forever grateful that my parents allowed me to go four hours away to a town I’ve never been to with people I’ve never met. It was a risk I was willing to take because I don’t like that feeling of ‘what if.’ These experiences give me courage to try new things and not be scared to put myself out there. I left my mission trip a different person. I learned how little acts of kindness can make a big difference in someone elses life. Mission trips allow this life-changing experience to be more than anyone can imagine.

My mission trip leader even organized a reunion for all missionaries from all five weeks of mission trips in early August. This was an awesome opportunity to see all the high schoolers I worked with from my trip and re-connect post mission. After the reunion, my bond with my new friends is only stronger and will continue to grow for years to come. We may not see each other for long periods of time but it’s one of those relationships that will pick up like no time ever passed. I now have friends from all over Wisconsin and I can tell that these people will be my friends forever. Anyone and everyone who has the opportunity to attend a mission trip should absolutely try it. Trust me on this, students will not regret it. The only way to really understand what a mission trip is all about is to go on one. The impact it had on me is truly something I will always hold near and dear to my heart.

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More than vacations: Mission trips make huge impacts