Teen Mission Adventurers Leave Footprints for God's Love In Brewster and Beyond
They descended on Brewster—almost 100 ready-to-serve Pathfinders and a couple dozen adults eager to leave a trail of kindness and plant footsteps of progress during a weeklong Teen Mission Adventure.
The 13- to 16-year-old youths, representing 20 clubs from Upper Columbia Conference, paid $95 each to spend their spring vacation "Making a Difference." Passing commentators said what a..."great bunch of kids!" "Nothing like this has happened to Brewster before!"
The big thrust centered around the sprawling former grocery store on Main Street into which the Hispanic Seventh-day Adventist congregation had moved in June. Slated to become a worship center for the growing congregation, the challenge of remodeling loomed large.
Now for a little background on Teen Mission Adventure (TMA). Steve Meharry, Waillatpu Pathfinders director in College Place, dreamed with other youth-oriented leaders of working together on special once-a-year projects to share God's love in service. The TMA became reality in l997, and Meharry, project director, is one of three leaders who have been a part of the 10 adventures to date.
(Meharry, pumped about kids and mission, affirms that the Lord inspires him to dedicate to TMA year after year because of how it inspires young people to continue a service ministry which draws them closer to Christ.)
As they checked out 2006 needs and prayed for direction, Brewster's remodeling project cried out for help.
James Montgomery and John Steward, licensed building contractors from Cle Elum, left their jobs for a week to supervise the remodeling process. Paint crews covered the exterior's gaudy green with a handsome beige, and then, with experienced brushes and leftover energy, moved to the Adventist school gym to brighten the lower interior.
Focusing on community service, Jeri and Wayne Hicks, UCC youth ministries director, discovered myriads of opportunities for the teens. They installed a new welcome sign at the entrance to nearby Bridgeport and did cleanup at the town's middle school; assisted at Adventist Community Services (ACS) and helped serve 110 families at Brewster's community food bank where they also spruced up the yard around the host Episcopalian church. Sixteen Pathfinders and three adults painted the interior of a nine-room dwelling in three hours. They shared music, prayers and encouragement and ran out of Nathan Greene paintings on postcards as they visited nursing homes. They cleaned yards for several elderly or disabled folks; offered a free car wash and a copy of Steps to Christ to drivers sporting shining clean vehicles. A small contingent joined the local Kiwanis Club at a noon meeting at the invitation of a member..."Come explain what in the world you all are doing here in our town!"
As a team adult stopped for supplies at a business across from the church, she learned shifts of visitors had been coming by and parking on the bar stools, watching the kids at work and commenting in glowing terms.
The Adventist school, four miles from the town work center, turned into a lively "home base" where chief chef Elizabeth Yeater (her six children, including two on the teen team) and helpers whipped up hearty, tasty meals—noon lunch was transported to the church parking area. The school assembly room turned into a girls' dorm and the guys stretched out sleeping bags in the gym where all met for daily worship—mornings with Brewster's recent pastor Gordon Smith and most evenings with Hispanic pastor Kessle Hodgson. Praise teams led singalongs including the theme "To Be Free," written days before by teen violinist Zachary Swena. "We have a message to share that the world needs to hear, Of a Jesus whose love is so dear..." Small groups met with leaders for prayer after evening worship talks and activity reports. The Prayer Wall reflected petitions and praise.
Sabbath was a day of joy and triumph. With the fragrance of new lumber wafting from neat stacks moved to accommodate chairs for an appreciative congregation, dozens gathered with the Adventure crew for services. A day of celebration, not only for the Sabbath, but for a new family focus—a wedding, baptisms—people and church alike, truly "a work in progress!"
Among the dedicated l9 adults and three college students who mentored the dozen teen teams was Michael Jeffery, now in charge of Camp MiVoden guest services.
"As a teenager at 16," he recalled, "I attended the very first TMA..and was glad to find it was a fun and spiritual week. Ten years later I continue to come as a staff member because I feel that allowing the teens the opportunity to reach out to our community is worth taking the time off work. I look forward to this week each and every year!"
Former "tough biker" Walt Taufen of Lewiston, Idaho, says, "What really makes this fun is watching the light come on in the kids' eyes when they see lives being changed by what they do in the Pathfinder ministry."
Kids shared feelings too.
"TMA is awesome!" related Courtney Balmes, Yakima. "You get to meet new people, have fun and share God's love...I can't believe it's almost over. So I'm looking forward to next year because of how many ways you can show God to the world."
From Zach Huff, Clarkston: "TMA has been a great experience for me as well as other fellow Pathfinders...meeting new friends, serving the people and God...certainly and undoubtedly changed many, including me."
"Frosty" Cross, Columbia Basin District Pathfinder coordinator and wife June were among enthusiastic leaders. He's helped with all 10 missions; she, seven.
Mixed emotions swept over the group as they wrapped up on Sunday morning—and left, not only footprints, but a bit of their hearts with the Brewster community. And, the words of another of God's servants echo a clarion call: "With such an army of workers as our youth, rightly trained might furnish, how soon the message of a crucified, risen, and soon-coming Saviour might be carried to the whole world!" Education, p. 271.