The joy of the Lord is your strength
Missions trip transforms Catalyst teen group

– by Isaiah, junior –

Have you ever been on a trip that was entirely different from what you expected? The flight is delayed. The itinerary changes drastically within hours. You even miss a whole day. No trip like that could be fun, or can it? 

On Friday, July 21, the Teen Mission Group to Vancouver, Canada, experienced a trip which had completely gone off the rails. The plan was simple: leave Dulles International Airport at 3:00 p.m. for Toronto on Air Canada, eat dinner during the two-hour layover, take a connecting flight to Vancouver, and arrive at their Airbnb at midnight. None of that happened. 

Instead, their flight to Toronto left three hours later at 6:00 p.m. Although the group arrived in time for their connecting flight to Vancouver, Mr. Jay Bradford, the team leader, was notified that their flight had been changed to the next evening at 7:00 p.m. 

This change to their schedule left them stranded for twenty-four hours with no change of clothes, and only what they brought in their carry-on bags. Fortunately, Air Canada put them in a Marriott Hotel, and they splurged on  a midnight dinner at Church’s Texas Chicken.  

Wondering what to do without luggage the next morning, they had two choices: either walk around the airport all day or tour Toronto. They chose to see Toronto. 

The travelers took the subway to China Town in the heart of Toronto, passing by Scotiabank Arena, the home of the Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leaves, and Rogers Centre, which is the home of the Toronto Blue Jays. The most exciting attraction was the CN Tower, a 1,500-foot concrete-tower that could be seen swaying with the wind. After a full day of touring, the group made their late evening flight to Vancouver, landing at midnight, Pacific Time. 

The team, no longer tourists but missionaries, attended Harvest Baptist Church (HBC), which was different from what many members of the group were used to. It had a gravel parking lot and small auditorium, but the Christians in the church were on fire for God. They sang with gusto and had smiles on their faces. 

“I think the mishaps and conflicts at the beginning of the trip served to make us more grateful for the people and the church once we finally made it to Vancouver,” Gabrielle, FBTA graduate, said. “Their enthusiasm
encouraged me to be more excited about ministry. Also, I learned that no matter where you go, you can find fellowship with other believers.” 

Sunday afternoon the teens helped with the church’s Keepers of the Kingdom VBS. They assisted the local helpers by working in crafts, leading games, and providing crowd control. 

Over the next four days, the group saw countless smiles from both kids and adults that were excited about Jesus. The best part of the week was when four kids trusted Jesus Christ as their Savior.  

Most of the group had made friends with the kids in the VBS, which  made leaving them on Wednesday particularly difficult.  

“The mission trip was fun because we got to help young kids become closer to God,” AJ, senior, said. “I got so close to some of the kids and teens, it was hard saying goodbye.”

Despite the unexpected detours and sad goodbyes, the trip impacted the group just as much as they impacted HBC. Many teens were given their first chance to break out of their shell, work with children, and serve Jesus in a way that benefits younger generations. 

“On the Vancouver trip this summer, I was so encouraged to see the teens jumping right in with the VBS work, even when things didn’t go to plan,” Miss Mueller, Spanish teacher, said. “It was such a blessing to fellowship with the friends we made at Harvest Baptist Church, but my favorite parts were seeing our teens getting involved and seeing firsthand the joy in serving Jesus. I hope and pray the excitement carries over to this next school year here at home.” 

The trip reinforced that setting aside apparent problems and choosing to help with a smile, will bring the joy of the Lord. (Nehemiah 8:10)