Living a Purposeful Life: Reflections on a Youth Mission Trip

By Georgia Wellman

photo courtesy of ANOXLOU via C.C. license at Flickr Getting home from the mission trip I asked my dad, "How do you live a purposeless life?" We had just been on a trip that had given us purpose and changed our lives. I realized I had been living a purposeless life before the trip, and that I could change that because a purposeless life is like no life at all. 

On the mission trip, my crew and I worked on Navaho Peoples' houses. For this essay, I will call the family I worked with Derek and Samantha. I believed we changed their lives that week and most importantly they changed ours. Our job was to build them a roof and paint the exterior and interior of their home. The floors were covered in cat feces and the ceiling was pitch black; it was far from suitable living conditions. The first day we tried to engage them in our group devotions and lunch but they were shy. We were discouraged that the roof repair was moving along slowly -- as was our relationship with our residents. But that would all change. 

The next day Samantha came out to chat with us after lunch; she told us about her life and how her sister is diabetic and that she takes her to dialysis every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. She also shared that she loved Cheetos, so we gave them to her and her face lit up. Samantha told us that she had eleven brothers and sisters and her family had been living in this house for forever. We loved hearing her stories and learning about her culture and life. We started accomplishing more work on our house.

The next day Samantha joined us for lunch. She took out her bracelets that she and her mom had made and were selling. We all bought some. They were beautiful and made out of cedar beads she and her mom collected together. She taught us some Navajo language, like how to say "hi," and we all cracked some jokes together. That day we had finished the exterior painting and started the interior; we were almost done with the roof as well. 

On Thursday, she decided to make us fry bread. Samantha spent hours in the kitchen making us each a huge piece of fry bread out of the kindness of her heart. That day Samantha joined us for devotions and when asked what was the best part of this trip so far she went into telling us a story about her mother everyone found engrossing. She said her mother used to practice the old Navajo ways until she got sick and the devil flew out of her mouth; she and her family chased the devil away and she started practicing Christianity. Samantha opened up to us about how she held her mother's hand while she passed on in the bathtub. She said everyone was telling her to let her go but she couldn't because she was their mother. Samantha was crying and everyone put their whole heart out to Samantha as we held her hands. After work that day Samantha came back with us to the school we were staying at and sold her bracelets and necklaces to the other crews and youth groups. By the end of the day she was sold out. Her face was glowing as she was driven back to her house.  That was the point where we knew we were working on their house for a great purpose. They had been through a lot. 

Friday was the last day and we knew we had to push hard to finish painting Samantha's room. We had finished the roof and the rest of the exterior house painting the day before. We worked with Samantha on moving out her stuff from her room. She showed us her senior picture and other sentimental things that she had found. The whole ceiling was black; when we finished painting, Samantha's favorite thing about the room was that the ceiling was a bright white. 

She was so thankful for our hard work and inside probably thankful for someone to talk to, too. It was hard leaving her, her house, and all of the unique and cute pets that she had. But we knew that she was in good hands and that the Lord was taking care of her. She could live the life she wanted to now with purpose, and that's how I'm going to live my life now too, with purpose. This trip taught me how to serve, be thankful, make a difference, and share the Lord's love with everyone and anyone I meet.

 

Georgia Wellman is a ninth grader at Bainbridge High School. She loves to dance, read, and hang out with her friends. She attends the Rolling Bay Presbyterian Youth Group on Bainbridge Island. Read her dad's perspective on the mission trip here.