Reaching into the Rockies
Surrounded by the Rocky Mountains, Zach Miller returned from a recent Lutheran Youth Organization trip to Denver, not with visions of snowcapped peaks, but memories of helping people.
Miller was just one of more than 20 youths from Rugby, Wolford and Westhope who returned with a greater sense of service after the trip.
The group volunteered at a food bank, cleaned a community center, painted a house and spent a day sharing activities at a center for people with disabilities like multiple sclerosis.
“Those were probably the highlight of my trip,” Miller said. “We went to a food bank and multiple sclerosis center and painted a house. Just helping out and volunteering was the highlight of my trip.”
During the weeklong trip, sponsored by Metigoshe Ministries, did a number of projects through Denver Urban Ministries.
After packing boxes at the bank, the crew pained a house for a woman who had undergone a number of hardships.
They worked with Alzheimer’s patients for part of a day, and cleaned out a local community center.
“We were very busy everyday in Denver, but much was gained in our understanding of other people’s needs and situations,” said Liisa Foster, one of the trip’s chaperones. “I think each of us was touched, not only with a sense of helping others, but others helping us.”
The trip to the multiple sclerosis center was a highlight for a number of the travelers.
“That was my favorite thing,” said Allie Foster. “I know a lot of people enjoyed that and spent the day with them.”
The trip included youths from a number of congregations in Rugby and Wolford, including First Lutheran Church, Bethany Lutheran, Emmanuel United Church of Rugby and Wolford Lutheran.
Being able to meet and work with new friends, especially the students from Westhope, was also a highlight.
“You get a lot closer during something like this,” Allie Foster said. “You get to know people really well and to be able to work with them and do these kinds of things. It’s really amazing.”
The group also took a walking tour of downtown Denver including an area homeless district.
The tour opened the eyes of many of those on the mission of the struggles of the homeless, but also provided a sign of hope.
“We also listened to a previously homeless speaker who was able to turn his life around,” Liisa Foster said.
She said most of the kids did fundraising throughout the year to earn money to go on the trip, including by working at the Rugby Youth Basketball Tournament.
The member parishes were also very generous in helping make the trip happen, Foster said.
“We were generously supported by the congregations involved,” she said.
The trip wasn’t without some fun, as the group made a stop at the Denver zoo, and took some wild rides at Elitch Gardens, an amusement park.
Making up the group participating in the mission trip was: Ryan Peyton and Danni Askew (Metigoshe staff), Rugby and Wolford participants: Matt Johnson, Josh Michels, Ryan Michels, Clay Vannett, Alek Collier, Alex Munyer, Zach Miller, Nolan Hovland, Hunter Hager, Helen Johnson, Allie Foster, McKenzie Johnson, Darby Deckert, Madison Marchus, and Taylor Wangerin. Chaperones: Liz Deckert, Chad Hager, and Liisa Foster. Westhope participants were: Lakin Ballantyne, Sage Ballantyne, Lauren Mach, David Stead, Johnathon Heth, and Krystal Heth. Chaperones: Mindy Stead and Candy Trottier.
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