Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, Aug. 6, 2001

Holy Trinity youth on a mission

By Patrice Waldron

A group of 15 youth, and four advisors from Holy Trinity Catholic Church recently spent a week in Manderson, S.D. on a mission trip.

This was the second year that a group from Holy Trinity has gone on such a trip.

Last year a group travelled to the Appalachian mountains in West Virginia to do a painting and repair project, work with the youth in that area, and take part in group Bible studies.

Ten of the youth who travelled to West Virginia also participated in this year's mission trip.The work project for the mission trip to Manderson also involved painting a house.

The group from Holy Trinity went on the trip and coordinated its efforts through a Christian organization called Youthworks!

Information from a YouthWorks! news release revealed:

Youthworks! is based in Minneapolis, and was founded in 1994.

The organization directs the efforts of church youth groups from across North America. Currently, there are 47 sites in the United States and Canada, where Youthworks! has staff set up to direct the efforts of high school youth.

Youthworks! coordinates all the details of a well-rounded mission trip, including scouting mission sites, making lodging arrangements, arranging mission projects and buying food and supplies. YouthWorks! organizes mission opportunities with the abilities and interests of youth in mind.

It is hoped that participating in a mission trip with YouthWorks! will provide life changing, Christ-centered experiences.

The Youthworks! staff stays on site at each mission location. The counselors have everything organized and ready, so that once a new group arrives, everything from daily work schedules, church schedules, time spent with those at the mission, all of it is ready to go.

Once you arrive, they take over, said Lavon Kielkucki, group advisor from Holy Trinity.

A few days after the group returned to Winsted, a few stopped by the Journal office to talk about their experiences. Justin Dahl, Jennifer Helmbrecht, Aaron Cochran, and Ryan Gueningsman, were four of the youth who participated; Kielkucki and Bob Gueningsman were two of the advisors.

The group travelled to Manderson to work on a painting project, learn about another culture through a hands on experience, and participate in Bible studies.

Families interested in receiving the help of Youthworks! staff and church youth groups must go through an application screening process, and be found eligible for assistance.

Although the physical work, such as the painting project, is important, it's not the only reason the youth are there. As part of the mission experience, time is also spent interacting with the children who live in the area communities.

Kids club was the name of the time youth spent with the children who live in area.

Either way, it's a very physical trip.

"The kids always want piggy back rides, and then they yell- run, run, run," Jennifer said.

When last year's advisor, religion teacher, Marie Molva left Holy Trinity, Lavon was asked to take over this year's trip.

There is a pretty big time commitment, explained Lavon. They must coordinate with YouthWorks! register the participants, and pick where the group will go.

The youth conducted fund-raisers throughout the year to help cover some of their expenses.

"You work, to go to work," Lavon said. There's a lot of sharing between the area children and those on site to help at the mission.

The little ones are unspoiled, and only want to be played with.

"Sometimes we get more out of it than them," Lavon said.

There was a consensus that the Trinity youth and their advisors enjoyed meeting people from another culture. The group found the Native American culture interesting.

"Watch the interaction between the Indian kids and our kids. There's an openness there, you see God at work," said Lavon.

"When we were there, it was a time to shut out the world, and see our true selves come out," Lavon said.

Living conditions were much better this year than on last year's trip. Where there were bugs, and cramped quarters last year, this year's group stayed in the Manderson public school. Everyone slept in sleeping bags, on air mattresses, and with little concern for insects!

Part of the planned interaction between the youth and the town of Manderson was the government meal provided to the town. The food was good, it was convenient, and it was a good time to meet the Manderson residents.

The Youthworks! staff also had worship time planned at different times during the day.

After breakfast, time was set aside to relax, read the Bible, and learn what the topic of the day way. The topic of the day was discussed and then implemented into the day's activities. Several topics were courage, obedience, and passion.

The Youthworks! staff worked to provide a varied, productive experience for all who participated.

After painting in nearly 100 degree heat, the HT youth and advisors were ready for a break. YouthWorks! planned an evening outing each day. They visited: Camel's Back ridge, a sacred Indian ground; Su Ann's, an alcohol- free recreation center, built in memory of a young woman who died in a car crash; Wounded Knee; and the Crazy Horse Boys! music.

The outings provided a break from the physically draining work, and also gave the youth a different way of looking at each place. The Native American legacy was explained at each site.

"One sad part of the trip was the kids themselves," Bob commented. There are very few opportunities available to those who live in the area. Jobs are scarce, and there are very few ways to escape the poverty, Bob explained.

Although they enthusiastically talked about their mission trip experience, it's a tiring time.

There is a lot involved in one of these trips, but for those who participate, the time and work are worth it, in the experience of giving something to others.

The youth learn about hard work, a different culture, and see God's work through people. Some pretty far-reaching lessons for spending a week painting in the sun.

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