It’s a self-centered world we live in. It’s all about recognizing the individual — seeking personal attention, praise, admiration of others.
The trouble with this self-centered world is that we weren’t created for ourselves. We were created in love by God — Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Our God is a community of persons, and we were created in His image, created to be in community, to make ourselves a gift to others. Because we have turned inward, we hunger to be in communion. We hunger to serve.
In July, the teens of St. Mary of Nazareth’s youth group set out to Joplin, Mo., to respond to this hunger. We mudded, shingled, painted, demoed and more. It was exhausting work in hot, humid Missouri weather, but it was all joy. It was time spent in service to another, giving everyone the chance to step back from the noise of everyday life to serve. Throughout the week, the teens came to a new appreciation for their faith and for service. But don’t take my word for it. Here’s what they had to say about it:
“The biggest lesson I learned from the mission trip was how to really, truly serve others. We are called to put others first, no matter the personal cost. In Joplin, doing so became much easier because the town needed our help on a scale so different from anything you can find in Des Moines. The experience made me look beyond myself and my comfort to the needs of others, which is something I’m striving to carry with me constantly.”
-Abby Dockum, 12th grade, JHS
“The trip allowed me to grow in my faith and get to know God while helping out someone in need. I feel like God touched everyone on the trip, myself included!”
-Erik Francois, 10th grade, JHS
“It really made me stop all the business in my life and focus on others. So often I feel like we don’t even see what is going on around us. This trip not only helped me meet some great people and have an amazing time, but I was also able to help those who were truly in need and so grateful for our help.”
-Bekah Akers, 11th grade, DCHS
“I realize that if not but the grace of God, I could also be in the same situation as the citizens of Joplin. I’m so grateful I was able to go help them, just as Jesus said in Matthew 25:40: ‘The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ ’’
-Mallorie Goodale, 12th grade, JHS.
St. Mary of Nazareth Catholic Church
4600 Meredith Drive, Des Moines
Saturday: 5 p.m.
Sunday: 9 a.m., 11 a.m.
Tuesday, Friday: 8 a.m.
Wednesday, Thursday: 6:45 a.m.