As part of the mission component of the Eastern District 2016 Synod, 17 youth from around the District joined Synod delegates on their experiences in their communities. Responding to Facebook invitations and flyers in their congregations, these young people appeared as a “Mission Mob” on the Thursday morning of Synod to be a part of the gathering’s outreach.
Mission Mob members Chelsey Mancuso from New York and Collin Beil from Nazareth share their thoughts:
Chelsey Mancuso: When asked by Rev. Cynthia Rader Geyer to participate in Mission Mob 2016, it was a no-brainer to accept her invitation. Meeting Cynthia at Camp Hope last summer changed my life (I’m not even sure she realizes that just yet). I could tell that through this Mission Mob she was planning, something extraordinary was coming and I had to be a part of that.
As a turbulent adolescent, faith was something I struggled with tremendously. I was sure I believed in God, but how exactly to nurture that belief always seemed to escape me. While being raised in a Catholic home was wonderful, especially since my parents always supported my growth in life and in faith, something still was not exactly right for me.
Finally, I found my safe-haven at Camp Hope, which is where I finally realized I had true brothers and sisters in Christ.
While I consider myself an “adopted-Moravian,” Cynthia reminded me the true meaning of being Moravian. She stood steadfast and strong as she found numerous ways to connect and to pique the interest of the anxious, excited and sometimes underestimated teens who attended Camp Hope last summer. Mission Mob was a marvelous way to extend an all-inclusive hand to encourage us all, especially the youth in faith, to step up and stand beside each other to make a difference.
Arriving at Synod and meeting more Moravians, outside of my Camp Hope family, was a truly awesome experience. I was welcomed with open arms to share in this glorious experience. It was refreshing to know that we were all out to achieve the same goal—to leave our community a little better today than we left it yesterday—and that was all that mattered. What better way to serve, than beside my brothers and sisters in Christ, to provide for our community.
Upon arrival, I had no expectations for where my placement would be or what type of services I would be able to provide. Being part of the team that was assigned to the Phoebe Senior Care Facility was an absolute joy.
From setup to cleanup, the entire day was a blessing. The members of my team became absorbed in the experience, sitting amongst the seniors as they laughed with their visiting families and shared great stories with their friends. It was a blessing to bond over a meal with men and women of a wiser generation than my own. As the picnic was coming to a close, one woman approached to give her thanks for having us around to help. This woman explained, that while she was having trouble with her hearing aides and was practically deaf, she knew she needed to be at the picnic. While explaining that her first love in life is to talk to anyone and everyone that crosses her path, she held tight to her balloon and smiled from ear to ear.
This woman reminded me that it is the people around us that make life so beautiful. It is experiences such as this Mission Mob that allow God to shine in all of his glory. The entire day was a whirlwind of busyness and laughter. After this experience I am definitely a changed woman. I was reminded that young is a state of mind. Young is my journey, young is my joy, young is my faith. There is a lifetime ahead of each of us and it is through sharing beautiful experiences such as this that we learn to appreciate our youth and the youth that will follow in our footsteps.
I want to extend my utmost gratitude to the Moravian Church for accepting me as I am and allowing me to share in this journey of faith. An experience such as this was once in a lifetime. I went into the Mission Mob with an open heart and I left completely fulfilled.
Collin Beil: When I was told about the Mission Mob, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had never been on a mission before, and I had just turned 20. I felt like this was the perfect opportunity for me to begin my journey as the hands and feet of God.
I heard about the mission mob through the staff at Camp Hope. Our assistant administrator, Sue Dreydoppel, told us all about this opportunity, and we all agreed that it would be a great idea to go together as a staff.
My task was to help senior citizens with a game day at Gracedale Nursing home in Nazareth. I was a little apprehensive; I thought to myself, “How is this going to really change the world?” and “How can I make a task of seemingly little importance something that can impact my area?” I felt the task I was given wasn’t important: I wasn’t building a roof, or serving food at a soup kitchen, or helping give clothes to the homeless. Rather, I was helping run a senior game day. My attitude about it not being important did not stay that way for long.
Upon reaching the game area, I was approached by close to 100 residents that day. To hear them laughing, to have them thank me, and to see the smiles on their faces when they succeeded at a game was awe-inspiring. I quickly realized that this mission was about interaction. I could get to know the residents, play games with them, and make their day. I realized that if I could make every single resident feel joy, I would have succeeded in my mission. I tried my very best to be polite and friendly, and with each smile I saw, I felt God’s presence.
There was one moment in particular that I will never forget. One woman came up to my game (which was a mini golf-style putting game) in a rather large wheelchair. Her name was Mildred, and she was completely unable to stand. Her arms and legs were propped up, and when I handed her the club, she could not reach the ground with it or see the ball from her seated position. She kept swinging the club, but could not reach the ball. After failing to make contact with the ball a few times, I told her to wait so I could reposition it. After pretending to move the ball, I told her to try again. As she began swinging for the ball, I discretely kicked it towards the hole. God must have been watching us then, because the ball rolled all the way down the green, and into the hole. The look of excitement and sheer surprise on her face was priceless. That reaction alone was more than worth the time I spent at Gracedale. I later pushed her back to her room, and we talked all the way back. She thanked me for my time, and I congratulated her on her job well done. I would never have imagined an experience like the one that I had with the mission mob, and I am so grateful that I took part in this activity.
The time that I spent at Synod with the Mission Mob changed my life. This experience showed me that I could make a difference in God’s name. Whether it be building homes or just showing folks in a nursing home a great time, I could be part of the change I wanted to see in the world. I decided that regardless of the task I am assigned and regardless of what God has called me to do in my life, I will embrace it with open arms. We are not always ready for Gods plans for us, but whatever we are called to do, we must do it in His name. The Mission Mob was an amazing experience, and I cannot wait for my next mission opportunity. n