A Child-Friendly Mission Experience

Kids on a mission trip? Really?

Well, yes, indeed, when it’s the Mars Hill Mission Experience, which welcomes family participation. Many of you may be wondering what a mission trip as a family would look like. I found these pictures from eight years ago, and the memories came back like a flood!

I remember working at this client’s mobile home putting down a laminate floor, as her wheelchair had been knocked off balance too many times due to uneven carpeting. Our team was comprised of all women, from three different churches, to install her new floor. Our client, Marjorie, voiced her disappointment at the all-female team, because she enjoyed Todd’s good looks on past trips, and really wanted to see him again! All week she kept saying, “Why don’t you get Todd over here to double check that?” Oh, did we have fun laughing with her! This client remains one of our treasured relationships from fifteen years in Mars Hill, and we visit her every year.

The exterior of Marjorie’s mobile home was drab, and she loved flowers. We pooled some funds, and visited the local nursery. We purchased some mulch and flowers and suggested the children come and weed the area, then plant and mulch. As you can see, the joy the children bring to a work site is contagious — and a bit messy when they decide to “swim” in the mulch!

Our daughter Nadia (now 11) has been to Mars Hill every year, beginning at the age of 14 months! Dhini, who joined our family when she was 3, also has enjoyed eight years of this amazing trip. I can say it is one of their favorite weeks for many reasons. Witnessing the teamwork among many churches reinforces what they learn about God’s kingdom. They see us rise early, break bread together (albeit college cafeteria style), leave to serve others, and return dirty and tired. They hear about all of the work sites each evening, impending challenges, sketching out solutions, and purchasing supplies. They sit with us in worship every night, witnessing that church can happen in a college dormitory. They gather with children of all ages and learn from volunteers, and Christian Education directors from many churches. They rejoice in seeing completed projects, and they learn to trust that next week’s volunteers will continue unfinished projects. They see God’s children, who live in a place that looks so different than Pittsburgh and many other places they have seen. They see us nominate each other, including the youth, for silly awards and for working extra hard. They see us solve problems, and walk alongside our brothers and sisters in Christ. They prepare snacks, and sidewalk art for our return, and catch a glimpse of what a college looks like! They grow to know our youth, so when they reach middle school, these big kids are not strangers. They have friends in a new town to whom they can send Christmas cards and letters. Our upper elementary school children learn to teach and care for the youngest among them, holding the hands of toddlers and calming infants.

They witness us all being the hands and feet of Jesus!

Contributed by Linda G. Leach

Are you interested in learning more about our annual Mars Hill Mission Experience? An informational meeting occurs on Sunday, April 29, at 12:30 p.m. in the Hulme Room. If you are unable to attend, please contact the Reverend Todd E. Leach, Associate Pastor for Missions.