I just returned from my final youth group trip. And, boy did I pick a doozy to be the last chapter in my tenure as youth minister. It was a mission trip…that was the longest trip we’ve done…and, it had some interesting challenges to it.
Here’s the thing – it’s a mission trip. If you don’t know what being on “mission” means, you need to do some research before you commit to going. I am not saying I don’t know – I’ve been on mission before. But, in case you haven’t, here are some things you should expect.
-Uncomfortable housing arrangements (floors, crowds, etc.)
-Subpar showering facilities (ours weren’t even in a building…well, they were, sort of…)
-Showering less often then you do normally while being more smelly than you normally are
-Less than optimal food options for all of your meals
-Heat and humidity that leads to an overabundance of teenage B.O. (generally from the boys) and smelly feet (equally from boys and girls)
-Low amounts of sleep you haven’t experienced since college
Circumstances were, as to be expected, less than ideal. But, circumstances were clearly much better than they could’ve been. Opportunities to be grumpy and bitter (thanks to tiredness, hunger, aggravations, etc.) abounded. But, the chance to grow in holiness, be appreciative of the blessed life you have at home, and to receive extra graces were even greater.
I didn’t want to be away from my husband and baby for 6 days. I knew that, at 4 months pregnant, I was going to be uncomfortable and extremely tired. I didn’t know if I still had it in me to keep up with the energy levels, late nights, and needs of a bunch of teens.
But, God gave me what I needed to make it through the week. And, when Sunday rolled around, I was sad for the trip to be ending.
The joys of the trip outweighed the suffering. The blessings of the trip overflowed in my heart. The new friendships I had established were (and are) refreshing and wonderful. The love I have for serving alongside, guiding, sharing with, and growing in faith with the young Church pulsed in my heart in a greater way than it maybe ever has thanks to the experience we shared.
I am ready to transition into this new phase of my life, taking care of my babies, home, and husband. But, this well-timed trip will be sending me off from my life of the past 7 years with nothing but thanksgiving for having been chosen by Christ to serve His Church in such a unique way.
I can honestly say that I won’t miss sleeping on floors, cold showers, being awoken in the middle of the night by sick teens, or existing in a cloud of teenage B.O. for days at a time.
I may not miss those things, but I’ll definitely miss my regular interactions with young people, their zeal for serving the poor, and sharing deep and unique experiences of Christ with them.
Yes, I will miss being a youth minister.