Mission trips are a tradition for the youth of Christ Lutheran Church, Sunflower Drive, DuBois. Following a year of restrictions because of COVID-19, they were excited to head to Logan, W.Va.
Fourteen youths and four adults from Christ Lutheran made the June 6-11 trip, arranged through Minnesota-based YouthWorks, an organization whose purpose is to connect middle and high school students to God, each other and communities through meaningful Christ-centered mission trips.
The theme for the 2021 mission trip was “Neighbors. Not where, but who. Not if, but how.” The theme originates from Luke 10:25-37, the parable of the Good Samaritan.
“We learned what it means to be a neighbor, practice it, and come home to be a neighbor,” said the Rev. Amy Godshall-Miller, co-pastor of Christ Lutheran, with her husband, the Rev. John Miller.
Logan, located in the southwest corner of West Virginia was once a thriving mining town. Over the last 50 years, 50 percent of the population has left. An above-average poverty level and many social issues followed the decline.
Youth participating included: Addy Witherite, Avery Fontaine, Cole Philips, Carter Wilson, Devon London, Derek London, Ella Wilson, Kamryn Fontaine, Alexas Pfeufer, Amber Eberly, Madison Rusnica, Gabby Horner, Madee Finalle and Lauren Hoover. The accompanying adults were Pastor Amy Godshall-Miller, Deb Finalle, Ted Horner and Steve Fontaine.
This was the seventh time in eight years Godshall-Miller has led an out-of-town mission trip. Past trips ranged from New York City to Virginia’s Eastern Shore to rural Vermont.
COVID disrupted the 2020 trip and instead of traveling the youth completed mission work at their own church. COVID also influenced the Logan visit.
“Usually there are several groups from various churches at a location,” explained Godshall-Miller. “Because of COVID, there was only one other group, a Catholic parish from Louisville, Ky. The groups were not allowed to interact and had to keep social distance even at meals.”
New Covenant Church, a mission started by a couple in a former high school building, hosted the mission trip and provided housing that included bunk beds, air conditioning and showers on site.
Each day started with devotions and ended with church family time. “That is when we processed the day and talked about what God had taught us,” said Godshall-Miller.
During the week, the youth worked in the church’s clothing closet, recruited young people for a Kid’s Club, completed yard work and garbage removal for a couple, and painted the interior, kitchen, hallway, two bathrooms and the woodwork in the gymnasium at West Logan Church.
“We did good work,” said Godshall-Miller. “Much of it allowed us to be together forming greater friendships.”
Evenings were free and allowed for swimming and hiking at Chief Logan State Park, a visit to the Chief Logan Museum, a picnic, an evening of bowling and worship at West Logan Church.
“Many of the youth said the highlight of the mission was the guest speaker at West Logan Church,” said Godshall-Miller.
“She was a basketball coach and nurse, quite dynamic, helping her listeners to understand God. She was very personable, an example of a Good Samaritan to her own community.”
Christ Lutheran’s congregation supported the trip from an “Adopt-A-Mile” fundraiser, which totaled $3,648.50.
Congregation members were asked to donate $7.50 per mile for the 300-mile one-way drive to Logan. The total exceeded the goal of $2,250.
This amount was combined with $1,779 envelope fundraiser for the 2020 mission trip that was cancelled by COVID-19, to pay for gas, van rental and incidentals for the trip.
The mission trip participants will present a full report to those attending the Christ Lutheran’s annual picnic on Aug. 29 at the church.