Bill Seib, a resident of Virginia Beach, traveled to the small Alaskan village of Galena with an UMVIM team. He lived in a military-style tent for two weeks while he helped residents rebuild their homes, which were damaged when the Yukon River spilled over its banks last year. Accessible only by airplane, the remoteness of Galena made Seib and the other volunteers – many of them retired construction contractors – think about how sometimes, making do with “less” can result in more time to build one's relationship with God. “The hardest part is being away from your family for two weeks,” said Seib.
Seib has been on many UMVIM mission trips, and each one has brought vastly different experiences and reflections. “Whatever my summer holds, UMVIM gives me a chance to go out and be a blessing.”
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While some volunteers can reflect on many different mission trips, some young people are just beginning their foray into a world of service with UMVIM. This past summer, mission trips changed the views of many young people – their stance on God, their career path and their philosophy of life.
Glenn Miller, youth pastor at Northside United Methodist Church in Jackson, Mississippi, traveled with a group of 16 youth and young adults to work at the Bahamas Methodist Habitat, a non-profit outreach ministry of the Bahamas Conference of the Methodist Church that focuses on being a catalyst through disaster response and the promotion of community within the Bahamas. Miller strongly encourages the young people around him to take a mission trip before the age of 20, either internationally or to a place within the U.S. that is vastly different from where they live. “Over the years, I have taken kids on mission trips, and many of them now have interesting careers, or they live abroad and they have served other people in great ways. It's cool when they call and thank me for taking them on their first mission trip.”
The voices of youth are full of passion when they reflect on what their UMVIM-related summer activities mean to them. Laura Kigweba was 19 when she first heard about UMVIM. “I sensed then I was seeing an organization that is committed to making change in the world.”
Another young person, Kylie Foley, plans to be doing some kind of mission service for the rest of her life. Yet her mission trips also made her think about her daily life as a Christian. “...I also found out what I want to do for each day, which is to be a Christian. This is perhaps the most overwhelming and simplest realization I’ve ever had in my life, and has overhauled my limited view on what it meant to be involved with missions.”
|Photos courtesy of ODIM, Genna Mansperger, Harold Powers, and Susan Kim|
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