by Jessica Cassel
There are lots of things to do during summer vacation—swimming, camping, bike riding, playing with friends, and going to the amusement park. But last summer I decided to give that up to go on a summer mission trip.
The trip I chose was a five-week trip to New Mexico. It cost $1,200 plus spending money. I had to send support letters for the $1,200 and earn $200 spending money myself. It was weird to write letters to family members asking for money. I was glad when people sent me checks. Some of them also said they would be my prayer partners, and some people that couldn’t send any money agreed to be prayer partners also. I earned the spending money by washing the car, helping with my three-year-old sister, doing jobs around the house and yard, and saving my allowance.
After I had raised the money, it was time to pack. We would wash all our own laundry in buckets. I packed work outfits, my camera, jacket, work gloves, a bucket, clothesline, other things I would need, and my work boots. They were the only shoes we were allowed except for water shoes. We even wore work boots with dresses for church. Everything had to weigh less than 40 pounds and fit in a backpack and duffel bag.
It was a long trek by bus from southern Florida to northern New Mexico. The weather was cold in the morning and at night and hot other times, and we had some thunder storms right away. We set up tents and began our project—to lay the flooring for a 28-by-40-foot pole barn and set up footers. The ground was practically rock and we worked through heat, dust storms, and rains. Tents were our only covering. When we had a hailstorm, the tents were no good. We sang songs and prayed inside our only protection, our bus.
Besides starting the pole barn, we did presentations in churches. Our goal was to lead 100 people to Jesus during our time in New Mexico. The first person to accept Christ was one of our team members.
We didn’t get our project totally done, because of rains and the hailstorm. We were sad to pack up and leave. But our adventure wasn’t over yet. Right as we were leaving there was a rainstorm. We had to go really slowly down the muddy mountain road. The bus got stuck, and we had to get out with shovels and pickaxes to make the road passable. Then the brakes went out. We spent time sightseeing while the repairs were done.
Sometimes missionary work was really hard, but God kept us safe through storms and mechanical problems. We were able to start the barn and to lead some people to Jesus. Even through our hard times we managed to pray and sing praises to Jesus. And we always thanked God for keeping us safe.
I hope to go on a trip again next year. A verse that I am working on learning says that the things we do for God count: “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (I Corinthians 15:58, NIV).
© Jessica Cassel
Jessica Cassel wrote this article when she was in the 8th grade at Panama City Christian School in Panama City, Florida. She is now grown up.