In January 2009, 12 youth ministers from around the United States met for the first time in the Managua, Nicaragua airport. Each had a combination of excitement, fear and confusion on their faces. We were there as a group of strangers in a foreign country for the 2nd annual Life Teen Youth Ministers Immersion Trip. Each had their own reasons for coming on the trip, for some it was a love of mission work, for others it was a desire to experience mission first-hand before leading teens on a trip, and still others had no idea why they were there.
The week was spent at Hogar Belen (Bethlehem House), an apostolate of Mustard Seed Communities. Mustard Seed is a Catholic organization that cares for mentally and physically handicap children who have been abandoned. It was founded in 1978 and currently has orphanages in 5 countries. The goal of this mission trip was to give youth ministers a hands-on experience of mission work along with practical training on how to lead a teen mission trip.
The week was spent clearing brush, cutting and twisting rebar, digging holes, mixing concrete, cutting the lawn with a machete and picking up trash. More than the work we did, the week was about the work God did in us. He showed up in handicapped children, caretakers and families living in the city dump. He called us to Himself in the poor, in prayer and in each other. He reminded us of the mission of our baptism and the call to be a missionary regardless of location or surroundings.
In the evenings, we would gather to process what we had experienced, talk about leading teen mission trips and pray. Very quickly we were no longer 12 strangers, but rather a group of missionaries ready and willing to work, laugh, cry and pray together.
The mission trip was more blessed than I could have imagined. I am more convicted than ever about the need of youth ministers to experience mission work first hand and bring that missionary spirituality back to their teens. I am happy to announce that we have scheduled the third annual Youth Ministers Immersion Trip for January 25-29, 2010. We will be returning to Managua, Nicaragua and serving Mustard Seed Communities there.
If you have heard the call to take teens on a mission trip and don’t know where to begin – this could be that starting place. If your parish has been running mission trip for a long time but you want to strengthen and deepen the experience for your young people – this could be a chance to reevaluate the current structure. If you feel called to this trip and have no idea why – step forward in faith.
Below is the basic information about the Immersion Trip. Please take time to pray and see if God is calling you to Nicaragua. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.
- What – Life Teen Youth Minister Immersion Trip
- When – January 25-29, 2010
- Where – Mustard Seed Communities in Managua, Nicaragua (www.mustardseed.com)
- Why – a weeklong mission trip experience for youth ministers plus training on how to lead a teen mission trip.
- How – contact Lisa Epperson to register or for more information 404.252.8815 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Spaces are limited and registration will be on a first-come first-serve basis.
- How Much – $300 plus airfare