This year's mission trip was to work in a community garden in Alabama.
Nineteen students spent part of their summer planting seeds of hope in Sylacauga, Alabama, for a mission trip with Palm Coast Community Church.
The PC3 youth, ages 11 to 17, traveled with seven adult leaders to the small town outside of Talladega to grow in their own faith, tell others about God and work in a community garden.
“That was important to me — that we get as far away from home as well can, because when we do that, they tend to experience a lot of out-of-their-comfort-zone changes and then have to rely on each other and their faith more than ever,” PC3 Kids and Youth Director Stacey Doolin said.
Doolin said that this was the largest youth group the church on Palm Coast Parkway had taken on a mission trip. It was the fifth trip she’s run; seeing students’ lives transformed never gets old for her.
This was the second mission trip Isa Gordon, 15, had attended. The upcoming Matanzas High School sophomore said she wasn’t nervous at all to talk to locals in Sylacauga about her faith.
The students worked for at least three hours a day in the community garden that was outside of the federal housing project, on Monday, June 24, to Wednesday, June 26. It was hard work to tend to the vegetables and mow the lawn around the nearly 4-acre garden, Isa said, but it felt good to help people.
“When we were walking around, we were handing out glasses and stickers and we were telling them about Jesus and our church, but we also got some stories back about miracles in their lives,” Isa said.
Isa remembers her interaction with one woman specifically: Ms. Bonnie.
“When she was little, she was born premature, so the doctor told her mom not to even bother taking her home because she wouldn’t make it,” Isa said. “Her mom did leave, but God told her to come back, so she did. And her mom took good care of her and kept a close eye on her, and now she’s spreading the word of Jesus, and I think that’s amazing.”
About half of the students who attended hadn’t been on a mission trip before, so Isa often took a step to encourage the new students to speak up to the locals as they meandered around town.
While the trip was only five days and four nights long, Doolin hopes the experiences will encourage the students to continue serving back home in Palm Coast.
“It’s a reminder to just say, ‘Remember what you did in the garden, and you didn’t know what you were doing and you didn’t really like it but you did it anyway because it was the right thing to do? Go do that at home, go do that at school when school starts,’” she said.
Upon their return to PC3, a handful of students shared anecdotes and lessons from the trip during the church and child services on Sunday, June 30.
“I learned that sometimes it’s going to take a little bit to get along with people, even if they are your friends, but if you really try you can all get together and have a peaceful environment,” Isa said.
The students had to work to be able to even go on the trip — to do more work.
Each student was responsible for raising $500 to attend the mission trip, Doolin said. Some students exceeded their fundraising goals, and others didn’t hit the mark, so the funds were shared.
Isa and her mother, who also attended the trip, cleaned inside and outside of houses and apartments around town, as well as did baby-sitting, to pay for the trip.
But it was all worth it to Isa, who said wants to continue going on mission trips to share her faith.
“Hopefully this planted a little seed,” Isa said.