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  • Writer's picturePastor Paul Harris

Reminiscing on the 2024 Youth Mission Trip

Greetings Friends,

I hope you are enjoying this season of early summer. For me, it is a season of conferencing with colleagues, work camping with our youth, and adventuring with grand nieces and nephews. All in all, much love has been and will be shared. Sharing the love of Christ in visible and tangible words and deeds is one of the strongest connections of the United Methodist Church. It can be what transforms our families, our communities, and our churches.

The postcard shown in the image with this journal note shows several groups of youth and adults including our Manchaca UMC Youth group and leaders. As they ventured out in love to serve God and neighbor building and painting access ramps and helping local non-profits with much needed chores, this UMARMY camp with eleven church youth groups from across the state gathered in San Angelo, Texas for a great week. Our youth represented us well as the hands and feet of the Body of Christ.

A tropical storm brought some relief in the form of cooler temperatures while in San Angelo this past week. Expected temperatures near 100 degrees moderated by mid week and a cooler easterly breeze provided much needed relief to the outdoor work. Our youth were mixed with youth from other churches as they developed small communities of connectional power. It was visible to me. I was fortunate to serve as the camp safety coordinator which allowed me to visit with and listen to all of the groups while they were at basecamp and while they were on site across the city. While on site, the teams worked together to accomplish a common goal - helping neighbors with access to and from their homes. Many of the homeowners needed a way to come and go from their homes using wheelchairs or walkers. Stairs no longer usable due to age or health concerns were bypassed with the addition or replacement of an access ramp.

Daniel Oates coordinated the site projects in partnership with the Texas Ramp Project San Angelo chapter of volunteers. This group had a warehouse where ramp modules were pre-assembled for delivery to worksites. This partnership allowed the youth and site adult leaders to maximize their work time and complete many ramp projects during the week. The final report was that the UMARMY camp had completed 42 site projects. Amazing love in action!

Rebecca Oates coordinated the Administrative Table keeping tabs on student health needs and communicating with groups throughout the week in the coming and going of a busy camp. I am grateful to her for helping me accomplish my work assignment as she provided worksite addresses and leader phone numbers. Most importantly, Rebecca was a peaceful presence for all who came to her desk with a question, comment, or need.

Speaking of peace, I now have a new nickname. I invited the campers to call me POP. Also, I delivered frozen pickle pops as a way of helping students with muscle cramps. Being the safety coordinator, I became known as Safety Pop and then as Safety Pickle Pop. Whatever works right? I loved visiting with students and sharing peace with them.

Finally to Pastor Chansin, I must say as always she does an awesome job with our youth and their assemblies. It was my pleasure to be along with the group to assist, drive the van, and to be present with a listening ear. Many stories may be shared from this week of service with our youth. Who knows, you may even hear a few in the sermons I share this summer.

Much love and many blessings,


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