This past week, August 8-13, I had the amazing opportunity to go on a missions trip to the U.P. It was a college trip, and five girls, including myself, and our chaperone (our youth pastor's mother :)) went. We stayed at a hotel in Newberry, where we helped out at a church basketball camp in the afternoon; in the morning, we ran a soccer camp at a church in Shingleton (forty-five minutes west of Newberry).

The camps were two completely opposite experiences. The pastor in Newberry had the whole basketball camp very organized, with different age groups at different times during the afternoon, drills and games planned out, Bible lessons (with Powerpoint ...wow!), etc., and our group was mainly just helping out where needed. The people in Newberry were pretty "normal", just like the town itself - just a small town, with a main street, stores, etc. Shingleton was another story. We were in charge of everything, and I mean everything, so after a somewhat rough first day of not really knowing what to plan for, we took on the challenge of getting organized - for the rest of the week, I coached the older kids with soccer drills and games, and another missions teammate led the younger group; we also had to teach Bible lessons every day. Shingleton was a really small "town", very poor, and a pretty rough area; the kids were all thin, bedraggled, and hungry for love and attention.

It was so cool to have the opportunity to go on this trip. From the beginning, God really provided for the trip, from a church attendee letting us stay in her hotel and having the churches provide us with lunch and dinners the whole week, to our Calvary church family supporting us with seven-hundred dollars when the missions trip was mentioned one Sunday night. He worked through us in the two completely different roles we had at the two churches. In Shingleton, four people - three boys and a woman who brought her kids and stayed for the camp every day - accepted Christ, and two elementary-aged girls accepted Christ at the basketball camp in Newberry. I am so excited to have seen God changing these people's hearts and that they got saved! Our God is an awesome God!

Here is the testimony of my experience that I gave during church this evening:
I am so excited that I had the opportunity to go on this trip to the U.P.! It was actually my first time going on a missions trip that was not a work project, so I wasn't really sure what to expect... But it was an awesome trip! I saw God change kids' hearts and lives throughout the week, and it was so neat to be part of that.

The aspect of the trip that impacted me the most was the soccer camp, in general. It was definitely a growing experience - I'm not naturally leader, or at least I don't like to be, ...and I was in charge of coaching the older kids during the week. It really made me step out of my comfort zone, but also reminded me to depend on God and trust Him. It was amazing to see how God worked through us, even though we didn't always have everything together.

It was also a great opportunity to share Christ's love with all the kids, who were starving for attention and love. It was hard seeing so many broken families and broken lives, but it was great to spend lots of time with the kids and just love on them ...and watch them soak it all in and have fun.

One last thing that really was so neat for me was to see three boys in my group, two about fourteen years old and another one younger, whose attitudes were pretty rough the first day or so, - to watch their attitudes slowly improve each day, as God really worked in their hearts, and then, on the last morning, to have them raise their hands to accept Christ into their hearts!

I'll admit the week was tiring, and at a few times somewhat frustrating. But God really worked in my heart to help me focus on Him; and He gave our whole team the strength to shine brightly for Him. God worked through us and changed lives this past week! It was an awesome trip, and God was glorified!

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