Twelve vans of 65 high school students, 33 middle school students, and 30 adult volunteers and staff headed to Oklahoma City on June 12 for a week of serving others as participants in St. Andrew United Methodist Church’s 2022 Mission Trip. Students were divided into groups that served through three organizations: Mission OKC, Reaching Our City (ROC), and Habitat for Humanity.
“All of the students felt a strong connection to this year’s theme, ‘The Rebuild,’” said Michael Agnew, director of student ministry, St. Andrew UMC. “The theme was tied to the story of Nehemiah who was tasked with rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem. He gathered his people together, equipped them, and led them in rebuilding the city walls while ensuring all understood God’s Law. Our students came together in this same spirit of rebuilding not only with the physical building and tasks they completed but also with mental and spiritual rebuilding – reconnecting their lives in community while serving our neighbors in need. The pandemic impacted everyone, and after three years of not having mission trip, it felt so good to be together and watch the life-changing impact of this special week not only on those we served but also on our students.”
At Mission OKC, which provides hope to children and families living in poverty areas across Oklahoma City, students made 300 lunches a day for inner-city children and personally delivered the lunches while inviting the children to join them in the afternoon for Vacation Bible School and activities. The students returned in the afternoons to help pick up the children and take them to Mission OKC. On average, 150 children participated each day.
“We had seven groups working with Mission OKC,” added Agnew. “Our students were blown away at the thought that these children were willing to get on a bus with people they did not know because they knew it was their best option for a meal that day. It was quite a reality check for the students. As the week progressed and the students returned to the neighborhoods going door to door, the parents started coming out, hugging, and thanking the students. Our kids could not quit talking about how cool that was, and they went all in to make sure the kids had an amazing time each day. They set up the activities for the children, led them in worship, and played and connected with them.”
“We packed tons of lunches, played basketball hoops, had a snow cone machine, and basically just spent each afternoon from 2 – 4 p.m. loving on these kids and having a blast,” said Blake Rossley, 20, a college intern on Mission Trip.
“My favorite part of the Mission Trip was making friends with two of the campers, Christian and Dimari,” said William Wonsmos, age 11. “I noticed that one of them wore the same shirt to camp every day, so on the last day, I gave him one of my St. Andrew shirts. It felt really good to help people and spread God’s love."
At Reaching Our City, a nonprofit that provides resources for impoverished and homeless communities, the students participated in landscaping, laying a gravel driveaway, painting, carpeting, repairing a fence, and laying epoxy on floor. They also worked in a local resale shop helping organize the retail space.
“On the day our students were tasked with laying a gravel driveway, ROC staff thought it would take them an entire day,” added Agnew. “They were done in a couple of hours, which amazed the organizers. These kids worked hard and made an impact everywhere they worked.”
At the two Habitat sites, the older kids worked on construction tasks, including weatherproofing, roofing, and putting up boards.
“You know when people think of mission trips, building projects like this are what they think of,” said Cody Meyers, 18. “But at night and in the mornings, when you get to sit and worship, sing songs, and hear a message, you get closer to God by serving others. There is nothing better than that.”
During mission trip, the group awakens at 6:45 a.m. and begins the day with a devotional at 7:15 a.m. and breakfast at 7:45 a.m. Everyone heads to their worksites at 8:15 a.m. and returns around 5 p.m. for dinner and worship.
“Starting and ending each day with a time of worship really helped set the tone for our group to put Jesus at the forefront of all we were doing,” said Jeff Wonsmos, who volunteered with his son William. “It was really inspiring to watch our kids step out of their comfort zones and befriend the children in the community we were serving.”
"I have always known and loved God, but by serving on the mission trip, I really felt connected to Him,” added William Wonsmos. “Since this was my first mission trip, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I had the best week and can't wait to go back next summer.”
“Making earth as it is in Heaven is what we aim to do every day,” said St. Andrew Senior Pastor Arthur Jones. “These kids got a taste of that this week. One mother of a student shared with me that her child discovered on mission trip that there is a better way to live, and they want to feel on most weeks like they did on the trip. On mission trip, the students discover that there is hope and possibility, and we can change the world.”
St. Andrew mission trip participants share their thoughts about the 2022 trip in this video link:
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St. Andrew United Methodist Church began in 1986 in the spirit of its namesake, a disciple of Jesus. The life of the Apostle Andrew embodies the church's mission, which is to invite the Christian-ish and the unchurched to become passionate servants of Christ. The congregation of St. Andrew follows Jesus, lives in relationship, serves others, and takes risks in faith. Worship includes four services each weekend on a 21.2-acre campus at the corner of Plano Parkway and Mira Vista in Plano, Texas, where more than 2,000 people gather each weekend. Recent renovation allows the Sanctuary to host worship in both Traditional style, with the classic pipe organ, and Contemporary style, with a new LED center screen and lighting technology. Small groups and Bible studies gather on campus and throughout the region every day of the week. Mission opportunities serve our local area, neighboring regions, and global communities. The church has been repeatedly selected as a "Best Place to Worship in Plano” by the readers of the Plano Star Courier. St. Andrew United Methodist Church is located at 5801 W. Plano Parkway, Plano, Texas 75093. Visit www.standrewumc.org; call 972-380-8001.