The youth and their adult sponsors have just returned from a week’s adventure in Pawhuska, Oklahoma for our annual mission trip. This year’s trip did not take us far from home in distance, but it was much different than our home here in Prairie Village, Kansas. Pawhuska is a town of 3500 people in northern Oklahoma and part of the Osage Nation. There is a high Native American population, but it is a town and not a reservation. What we discovered is a small town of generational poverty. The Osage tribe has money because of the oil and mineral rights of the land, but the people of the town do not.
We were one of five churches traveling with Youthworks to Pawhuska last week. Upon arrival all the groups were split up into work crews and work crews were sent to different assignments throughout the week. One group worked at the high school, moving desks, pulling up carpet, and painting. Another spent the mornings at an elementary summer school and the afternoons at the local nursing home. Two other groups spent two days doing work projects for local citizens and around the community and two days helping with an afternoon kid’s camp.
We discovered a very different life from what we know in Johnson County. Children who tested boundaries, but really wanted to be noticed and valued for who they are. A town that has lost pride and the new maintenance director for the district wanting to restore that by partnering with youthworks to repaint and freshen up the high school. A community familiar with groups coming in the summer and thankful for their presence and their labor.
It was a challenging trip both theologically and personally not just for me but for most of the group. It was different from other trips the group has taken in the past, but it is one I think we all walked away having learned something new about ourselves and our faith. I invite you to read the blog posts from several of the youth about the trip and talk to the youth and adults who went. We are all grateful to Southminster for the continuing support of the youth group and of the mission trips each year. It is thanks to this congregation that the annual mission trip happens and allows the youth to have these experiences each summer.
Grace, Mercy and Peace,
Youth Blog Site – https://southminsteryouth.wordpress.com/