Mission trip brings change for both served and serving

A group of 21 young adults is gearing up for a trip that could change their lives.

It isn’t far in geographical terms — just a short jaunt to the Mustard Seed Community in Kingston, Jamaica — but spiritually speaking, it is worlds away.

It’s the chance for these men and women, all college students or young professionals, to see the Gospel played out in real life, said Valerie Soop, associate director of the diocesan office of youth and young adults ministry.

Being able to see Jesus, alive and present in the most vulnerable members of our world, is the best part of a mission trip, Soop said. People come back changed, she continued. They learn to see Christ in others, to serve Him by helping people in their own community, locally and globally.

Soop chose the Mustard Seed community for her premiere because it isn’t too far or too expensive and is organized by a trustworthy, Catholic non-profit.

Mission trips are a great way for young people to be involved with their faith. Soop noted that not everyone wants to participate in Bible study, but traveling to a locale outside one’s comfort zone to help those in need can be an appealing, hands-on option.

Another group of diocesan young adults is currently serving a Mustard Seed community in Nicaragua. The 21 going to Jamaica will be there from July 14-21.

Each person will bring a backpack with their personal belongings and one carry-on bag full of supplies. Soop said there was a whole wish list to choose from, including flip-flops, medical items, vitamins and food.

The group is also committed to raising $21,000 for the community.

“The week we’re there we’ll get to see all their different apostleships, but we’ll spend most of our time with the children,” Soop said.

Mustard Seed has a variety of programs, including one for pregnant teens. The diocesan contingent will focus on the ministry for children who have been orphaned or abandoned. Some are handicapped, others have AIDS; and all of them need love.