Some of my memorable ministry experiences working with youth and adults have come from short term mission trips. As I began my position as the Director of Youth, College and Young Adult Ministries in the Southern Province, I wanted to see if there was any interest among our college students for a Spring Break trip to Staten Island to help victims of Hurricane Sandy and to see New York City. Two trips were offered the first two weeks of March, and thirteen college age young adults answered the call to serve. Here are some of their experiences:
My experience with the Moravian College Age Mission Trip was enlightening and will be something I woní’t readily forget. For three full days we worked in homes on Staten Island affected by Hurricane Sandy. The work was cold and rough, taking apart the insides of seawater soaked homes, but not entirely different from what you might expect working on a mission trip. Instead, it was the stories, the people, and the gratitude that stuck with you.
On the first day of work, we met Ralph, a retired firefighter in at least his seventies. He had more energy than half our group combined. However, it wasn’t his house we were repairing. He was a local resident working with the relief efforts to help his neighbors. He cared about them and he cared about us. Ralph was part of a much larger effort. Workers were there from multiple states and countries. It all went to show that with caring and cooperation, nearly anything could be done.
One cannot easily forget the residents of Staten Island. Each person was unique and memorable and each had a story of rising surge waters that could be sold to Hollywood. It was frightening as these people simply were not ready for something like Sandy. The storm demolished their old lives and so the help provided to bring back just some of that was met with such great gratitude. If the characters we met or the trips to New York City on off days were not enough to sell this mission trip, then the gratitude would be. When you’re all done with work you just feel good, and that’s reason enough to help out. — Andrew Lyda, King Moravian, recent graduate of Wright State University
I had an awesome time on the trip to Staten Island. It was amazing to see how many homes had still not been worked on four months after the storm hit. The damage was incredible and hearing the stories from the people we worked for was heartbreaking. Some people lost everything they owned and were only receiving help from gracious volunteers in the community. The work we did was tedious and tiring, but seeing all the work we did and the smiling faces from those we helped made it so worthwhile. It was incredible the amount of love that I felt from the people on Staten Island. — Sarah Barber, New Philadelphia Moravian, Cabarrus Community College
Our Mission Trip to Staten Island was a great way to spend Spring Break. We worked on five different houses as we dug up floors, took down walls, and sprayed for mold. At each worksite we got the chance to hear stories about Hurricane Sandy’s arrival and what was left. Knowing that our group was a part of helping each homeowner get back on their feet was so rewarding. I hope the work we did, the conversations we had with the people, and the prayers we prayed provided hope for the homeowners on Staten Island. — Anna Fulton, Clemmons Moravian, University of North Carolina at Wilmington
The trip was a blessing in itself. It was very eye-opening going to homes of Hurricane Sandy victims and hearing their stories about the storm and how it affected them and continues to affect them. Everyone we worked for was so appreciative, and it warmed my heart. If I had to use one word to describe this trip, I would say “humbling.” This trip reminded me of how blessed I am. I think we continuously take the small things in life, like a warm bed, heat in our homes, and good weather for granted. I could have spent my Spring Break in several different places, but I’m so happy that God called me to Staten Island. The people I met, the people I worked with, and the trip in general was the most humbling experience I’ve had in my life. — Caitlin Sheppard, Olivet Moravian, North Carolina State University
This trip has been an incredible experience. We were able to form relationships with the people and help them in any way we could. They were so grateful, and it made all the hard work completely worthwhile. — Meghan Peddycord, Calvary Moravian, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
For these mission trips it was my joy and privilege to be part of two wonderful, hardworking groups who were great representatives of their churches, our province, and our denomination, and who were great witnesses for God. I believe the Lord used these two groups to help bless some of the people of Staten Island and from their experiences you can see how God blessed those who went.
Douglas Rights is director of Youth, College and Young Adult Ministries for the Southern Province Board of Cooperative Ministries.
From the May 2013 Moravian Magazine