Our young people long for service opportunities where they can explore how social and political issues, mission and faith all relate and interact.
Addressing this need, Michael has begun to plan a mission trip to Nicaragua. Our youth have expressed great interest in this project. Now Michael needs to see if there is as interest from adults who might want to go on such a mission trip.
Old First welcomes hundreds of youth and adults from across the country to service camps each year. We organize others’ introductions to the city, to urban poor folks and their needs, to a variety of programs redressing social problems, and to mission as it relates to our faith.
But, as both Old First youth and their parents pointed out, our own youth never get as much of an opportunity. Our youth programing has included service days at area social service sites. But our youth have not left home and their familiar environment to explore a different setting, to live and work in community for an extended time or to have consistent political, social and theological reflection on what such experiences mean to their faith.
Michael promised, along with First Saturday Youth Group and the second monthly fellowship or service opportunity, he’d figure out how to create some mission trip experience for Old First Youth.
Our first attempt was New York City over the Martin Luther King weekend. It was our trial run, and it worked out very well.
Now we are beginning to organize the bigger trip. Lead timing for planning and the crowded, busy schedules of our youth make timing tricky. We do not yet know if we can organize this for this coming summer or not until sometime next year. We have spoken about late June, right after Christmas or summer ’12.
But a make or break question before we go further is whether there is enough adult interest in making such a mission trip. Ideally, we’d aim for slightly more youth than adults. Right now, we are assuming that this trip will not be open to the parents of participating youth).
The trip, as it’s beginning to be considered, with the help of the Protestant Council of Nicaragua and another friend of Michael’s who is very involved in social service, has these basic outlines:
1) Fly to Managua where we would stay together, spending a few days seeing the capitol and environs and getting introduced to the country, its customs, history and culture.
2) Travel together to a rural region of the country where we would live with families and engage alongside of Nicaraguans on some mission project for approximately 5 days. It is impossible to know what specific work we might do until we have settled on specific travel dates. But examples often include building projects or agricultural work.
It is important to understand from the outset that Nicaraguan can more easily accomplish such work on their own. These mission projects represent their willingness to make room for guests and give us an opportunity we otherwise could not have.
During this service and our living with local families, we would be engaged in consistent, on-going reflection on what our experiences and perceptions mean to us.
3) After our service opportunity, we would then travel to some place for a few days of rest and relaxation, at the beach or the rain forest, for example.
It looks to be about a 10 day trip. And depending on travel costs and the specific arrangements, early estimates of the cost of such a trip run between $1,000 to $1,500 per person.
If you are interested, need more information or have comments or suggestions, please speak to Michael.