Every summer, IHA Campus Ministry runs a service trip in the beginning of August. It is a three-day trip full of spiritual talks, deep conversations about service and working with those who are less fortunate. The trip began by meeting in the center room and receiving our room assignments. After we got settled, we went back to the center room and got started. We played icebreaker games to learn about each other as well as took part in team-building exercises outside. We were introduced to the upperclassmen Team Leaders as well as the Senior Coordinators, Emily Ash and Erin Brockmeier. We also introduced our song for the next few days called “All In” by Matthew West. The song highlighted what it meant to live without fear and push out of your comfort zone. It was a message we wanted to carry across the whole trip, for people to put themselves out there and serve without limits.
Our first service activity was a Midnight Run, which is when we take a bus into New York City and give out clothes and food to the homeless. The most important thing we can give those people is conversation, so we talk to them about all kinds of different topics. Ranging from deep religious conversations, hearing about their lives, their favorite sports teams or their favorite color, we meet people on these runs we will never forget. The Midnight Run changes the way people look at life and no one is ever able to go into New York City the same way again. The next two days consisted of all the girls attending three different service sites depending on their ages. Most people attended Habitat for Humanity and Camp Acorn, a camp for those with learning disabilities. Girls under sixteen attended Camp Acorn and another service site called The Nurturing Place, a daycare for children of young moms in Jersey City. Each day, girls were challenged to step out of themselves and work for the betterment of those they were serving. From swimming with campers, playing tag with the children at The Nurturing Place or building a picnic table at Habitat, every girl made the utmost effort to make the most out of the service they performed and allowed it to transform them in ways they did not believe were possible.
One of the most important and unintentional themes of the trip was “Eshet Chayil,” meaning “Woman of Valor” from Proverbs 31. Mrs. Shutrop has said she did not plan on making her discussion about this reading, but it became a core aspect of the trip. We worked through that reading and fully analyzed what it meant to be a woman warrior for those causes that break your heart. Eshet chayil became something we would say to each other at the service sites when we were tired, and it was something we celebrated with after a job well done. We all learned what it meant to be women of valor and spread it to other women around us.
The mission trip has always been a success, but this year it was especially meaningful for the girls that attended. As always, it taught us valuable lessons about dedicating ourselves to service and connecting to our faith on a deeper level. Moreover, Eshet Chayil and Proverbs 31 have made their way into our everyday lives. I personally have the phrase engraved on a bracelet and other girls have it as their background on their laptops or on their phone cases; all of us cherish it in our hearts. We have learned how to be empowered women dedicated to service and living lives after Jesus. Eshet Chayil is something no girl on Mission@theheart2018 will ever forget.
By: Emily Ash’19, Co-Editor in Chief