Meet our Team

Meet our Team!

We are excited about our upcoming mission trip to the Dominican Republic (July 2017)! During the next few months we want to give you the chance to meet our amazing team of students and leaders.

Stacy K. – Interim Minister to Youth

My journey to the Dominican Republic began last summer on a Sunday in July, outside the sanctuary as I talked to Leslie and Vic Trautwein. I asked what I thought was a simple question – what do I need to know about leading short-term mission trip to the Dominican Republic? The answer has led me on a twelve month journey into first defining short-term missions, examining its pitfalls and recognizing that in order to get the most out of our mission trip, we need to intentionally move from the idea of serving to justice.

Over the past year we have learned what it means to give to others through investing our time at activities like the Garage Sale, Auction, serving at several luncheons and working countless hours around the church. We also have recognized the support and investment of time, love and prayers our congregation has shown us in return.

We have also come together to grow deeper as a team and in our individual relationships with God. This preparation time has been vital in preparing us mentally, spiritually, and relationally for our upcoming trip. Training has involved:

  • Examining scripture and adjusted our focus from “I” statements to “WE” statements. We understand that this trip is less about how we serve and more about what God has for us. Our overall goal is to glorify God by coming along side our host missionaries to assist them in whatever tasks are assigned to us.
  • Delving deeper into what God is calling us to with our work in the DR. It was a great discussion and left the group open to God’s leading. Some thoughts were:

Service can make us feel good… like we are helping those in need.
Justice means that God is working through us and using us to help those in need.

 Service is something we do for others.
Justice is something we do with others.

Service expects results immediately.
Justice hopes to see results right away but recognizes that true change takes time.

The goal of service is to help others.
The goal of justice is to find a way to remove obstacles so others can be empowered to help themselves.

Service focuses on what our ministry can accomplish.
Justice focuses on how God can use us to work with other ministries to accomplish even more.

  • Recognizing our “cultural” identity and how it’s important to not make assumptions about those who are living in the community we will serve.
  • Discussing the four types of poverty and seeing where we “fall.”
  • How our team of 21 individuals bring different strengths to contribute. And also looking at areas where perhaps we lack as a team.
  • Learning (I’m trying!!) a little Spanish but also going over other ways we communicate.
  • Sharing our hopes, fears, nerves about our upcoming mission journey.

I am personally so very encouraged by the growth of our team. They understand that this preparation time has been all about opening ourselves up to God.

As we leave on our trip please pray for each one of us on the team. We will be experiencing new and challenging things every day. As leaders, we have intentional studies that will guide the team to reflect and process the deep meaning behind our observations, thoughts and feelings. Morning devotions will focus on each of us individually and evening debrief times will be a time of team affirmation and discussion.

At every meeting with our team I share my grammatically horrible but heartfelt desire:
“it is my daily prayer that we will NOT come back UN-changed”

Pray that this experience moves us from going on a mission trip to living an intentional missional life for Christ.

Jose C. – Freshman, South Seattle College

Why do you want to participate in the mission trip to Dominican Republic?

At first I couldn’t come up with an idea for this question. I struggled to find why God wanted me to take this opportunity because I was uncertain and afraid of what I could bring to the table. But as soon as I heard that we were doing it for the orphans I knew God wanted me there to face my fear of leaving Washington and going to help these kids in the process. This was the point where I knew I had to do whatever it took to get to the DR so I could not only go make a difference in these kids’ lives but in their community and in me.

In what areas of your life would you like to grow during this trip?

I want to grow as a person. I’ve never left Washington so jumping on a plane and going to another country seems terrifying but I know that I must, so I can go fulfill the mission God has put upon me. I have been training for this trip physically by going to the gym every day to be in the best shape of my life so I can give the people there my 150% effort and energy. I’ve trained mentally by taking Spanish courses to help perfect my Spanish although I’m already fluent. I’m doing this so I can be a better asset to the team and to have the people better understand what we have to say.

What is your understanding of discipleship (being a Christ-follower) and its relationship/connection to mission?

Having God do his work through me and giving me His strength to be able to take on anything we have to do for them to see and witness God’s love through us. This is going to be my 1st mission trip but I know what is being asked and I know God wouldn’t have sent this our way as a group if we couldn’t handle it and by accepting this task we are on a path to shed the light of god in a dark area and by doing this we will also be able to embrace him by seeing how the people find a way to smile in such a dark place.

Abby K. – leader

Why do you want to participate in the mission trip to Dominican Republic?

I went to the Dominican Republic for the first time the summer after I graduated high school, summer of 2011. One of the major motivating factors for why I wanted to go at that time was to experience a different culture and become involved in missions. I was also incredibly excited to be able to engage with the children there and form relationships with them, as I have always had a love for children.

The reasons why I wanted to go to the DR the first time are still reasons why I desire to return a second time, this time as a leader, but I also am eager to return for several other reasons as well. I am excited to return and see how Kids Alive International has grown as an organization and continue to partner with them. I am also excited to go back to a country and be among the people and Dominican culture that I fell in love with. Lastly, I can’t wait to see how God is going to work in these student’s lives through our time there. When I went on this mission trip six years ago, having just graduated high school, my world was pretty much rocked (in a good way.) God opened my eyes to so many incredible things and taught me so many lessons through my experiences in the DR. I am excited to see students’ lives be changed and be able to walk alongside them in this life-changing trip. I cannot wait to go and be with the people in the DR. Go and be a part of what He is doing there and see the students encounter and experience Him in new and exciting ways.

Describe when Jesus Christ became real to you as your Lord and Savior. 

In 8th grade I took the Confirmation Class at West Side and was not only confirmed, but also baptized. My parents chose to have me dedicated when I was a baby, but decided to leave the decision of baptism up to me, to do in my own timing and when I felt ready. Even though I was confirmed and baptized in 8th grade, I don’t think Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for me truly became real until my first trip to the Dominican Republic. It was through this mission trip that Jesus opened my eyes and allowed me to grasp more fully what unconditional love looks like and learn to view other people and cultures through His eyes. God continued to build upon this experience through my time spent at Azusa Pacific University and the months I spent abroad in both Kenya and South Africa.

In what areas of your life would you like to grow during this trip?

This will be my first time going on a mission trip in a leadership role and I acknowledge that there is so much that I don’t know about how to best serve and be there for the students that I am helping lead. But that’s the wonderful thing about having a relationship with God; we get to trust Him in these things and just jump all in, ready to see where He leads and prompts us! I am eager to see how God uses my past mission trip experiences to prepare me and the students for this trip, but I am also excited to see how He continues to shape my view of missions and grow me in contexts that are unfamiliar and uncomfortable.

 

Anja V. – 9th grade

Why do you want to participate in the mission trip to the DR?

I want to participate in this upcoming year’s mission trip to the Dominican Republic because I haven’t traveled anywhere far outside of the country except for Canada when I was about 4. I have always wanted to go ever since I had ever heard of the trip as a young child. I have been going to West Side all of my life and would always look forward to the Sunday School talks lead by the DR kids. The amazing stories and experiences they came back with was astounding to me.

Describe when Jesus Christ became real to you as your Lord and Savior.

Jesus Christ officially became my Lord and Savior when I was 13, I participated in the Momentum conference with my youth group in Indiana where I truly accepted Christ as my lord and savior with some other girls in the youth group. I had such an emotional moment with those few girls and I wouldn’t have changed it for anything in the world.

In what areas of your life would you like to grow during this trip?

I would like to grow in knowledge about another culture because I have only ever really experienced one culture my whole life and haven’t really been exposed to much of anything else. I know that the Dominican Republic is a very impoverished place and I want to see how people live and deal with that. The amount of poverty stricken people will be more than I will probably expect. I also want to be able to use Spanish in a way to connect with people and create a healthy environment when doing so. I want to also go out of my comfort zone when it comes to where I am and who I’m with all the time.

Grant M. – 10th grade

Why do you want to participate in the mission trip to the DR?

I would like to participate in the DR mission trip because I want to experience the culture and the people of the Dominican Republic. I would just like to go down and see what I can learn by experiencing everything that the Dominican Republic has to offer. I look forward to this amazing experience!

Describe when Jesus Christ became real to you as your Lord and Savior.

I have attended church my whole life and I have grown up with a strong Christian background. I accepted Jesus into my life when I was eight and I only somewhat understood what it meant when people would say that Jesus would always be there for you. I did not understand what that meant and lots of other things involving God for that matter; I just accepted it. It wasn’t until 9th grade when I really began thinking about what I believe and why I believe it. That Christmas my parents got me a plaque with the verse Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  It wasn’t until the Memorial Day Retreat (MDR) when I really understood what it meant and opened myself up to Christ. When I was seven days old, I had open heart surgery. Since then I have had 5 additional surgeries with the most recent last April which was to dilate a stent in my right pulmonary artery. It was a month after I had my second stent surgery where they found that the original stent they put in seven years prior had completely fractured in half. I was worried about the stent because I did not know what could happen to it as the surgeon and my cardiologist did not have a plan for a fractured stent. The speaker at MDR talked to us about how God is always taking care of us. All I could think about during his talk was the verse Jeremiah 29:11. I realized that even when we have no control over anything in our lives, and things in the moment may be against us, God is in control of everything and He will protect me.

In what areas of your life would you like to grow during this trip?

I would like to grow in any way that I can on this trip. I am going to the Dominican Republic to experience everything that it has to offer. I’m going to be open to whatever God shows me. I do not know what I am going to get out of it, but I hope that I learn something new every day.

Lauren E. – freshman, SPU

Why do you want to participate in the mission trip to Dominican Republic?

I want to participate in the 2017 trip to the Dominican Republic because of my fabulous experience last time I went, as well as my desire to get to know the team better. My last experience with the DR was so rewarding and helped me to grow spiritually and I just fell in love with the people and beautiful scenery, I am so thrilled to have the opportunity to return.

Describe when Jesus Christ became real to you as your Lord and Savior. 

I have always seen the presence of Christ in my life, but really accepted Him to be my Lord and Savior when I went through the process of confirmation, and the dedication that I made with my baptism. These both solidified my beliefs and gave me a concrete starting place for my own personal faith

In what areas of your life would you like to grow during this trip?

I hope to grow in my patience and trust in God. Specifically trusting that everything is in his plan and things will work out even if it feels like everything is going wrong and falling apart.

Sean M. – leader

Why do you want to participate in the mission trip to Dominican Republic?

I have never been to the DR before but I have a strong feeling God is going to be moving this summer on this trip and I want to be a part of it. There is something special about the group that is going. We have been studying and focusing on the characteristics of what it means to really reach a community. God has proved sovereign in my life countless times over these past few years locally and I want to trust him in something different/uncomfortable. I really believe with all my heart that through this trip God will be glorified and to be in leadership over something like this is nothing but an honor. My prayer going into this trip to that He would prepare my heart for this missions’ field and mold me into the man of God I’m called to be.

Describe when Jesus Christ became real to you as your Lord and Savior. 

I have grown up with Jesus thanks to my parents. The AWANA program was the setting for the first time I accepted Jesus into my life. Everywhere I looked I remember thinking that there was so much love in people and I wanted to know the reason behind the smiles. The genuine joy. However, growing up in the church does come with its own set of trickery and struggles. The messages start to blend together and lose their meaningfulness. The inclination for me was to fall back onto the fact that I was a good person and just to proceed through the motions. It became about what I did and if I appeared as a good person to my family and friend’s I was doing just fine. It’s been a transition but I’m learning about how to press into Jesus each day. To answer this question, I would say He is becoming more and more real to me daily.

In what areas of your life would you like to grow during this trip?

I would love to push myself in music. To learn a confidence not founded in myself but in the fact that I’m serving Jesus Christ who is the giver of strength. I would love to grow as a public speaker (this is not at all comfortable.) But I don’t want to stay comfortable. I want to allow for God to mold me into the person I’m called to be. For my family, my friends, and my church. I would like to grow a complete appreciation for the things that God has given to me. I need to learn true contentment which is through Jesus alone. I would love to grow through conversations with other people on the trip and to stimulate thoughts and actions based in God’s plan.

What is your understanding of discipleship (being a Christ-follower) and its relationship/connection to mission?

Just the understanding that the world will Him based on the church both excites me and makes me sad. The church in a lot of ways in so inward focused. The whole idea behind the great commission baffles me. Many times, we think that the great commission has boundaries on our mission field. But His directive to His church is to tell everybody without fail. This is challenging because our world is hostile in many ways to the church. But this is a cool place to be. For me, every missions trip I have gone on has ended in me learning about myself and who God wants me to be. I’m grateful to be going on this trip and I hope that I’m able to be Jesus to as many people as I’m able while I’m there.

Sofie C. – 10th grade

Why do you want to participate in the mission trip to Dominican Republic?

I want to go to the Dominican Republic because I want to see the country and see the culture. I want to meet the people there and see how they live and their everyday lifestyle. I also want to help the people there and worship God with the work we do.

Describe when Jesus Christ became real to you as your Lord and Savior.

I was raised in the church and Jesus has always kind of been there throughout my life. I sometimes stray away from Him and I find him again. Jesus probably became real to me in 5th-6th grade because I could understand a little better who he was.

In what areas of your life would you like to grow during this trip?

I would like to grow and strengthen my faith with God. I would also like to grow as a person and become a better version of myself. I also was to have a better relationship with God and learn and teach about his word. My understanding is that we are helping and teaching people about God and how we can help them. This is a way we can grow in faith and learn new things. We also Christ sends us to do great thing ls and be children of God and show people his word.

Dea S. – 10th grade

Why do you want to participate in the mission trip to Dominican Republic?

I really think that the mission trip sounds like a very fun and life changing trip. I’ve always wanted to go around the world and do something for other people who may not be able to do it.

Describe when Jesus Christ became real to you as your Lord and Savior.

I think the Lord showed Himself to me when I was in 8th grade. I went to see the Son of God movie with my class and I couldn’t watch the movie because I was just heartbroken. I couldn’t stop crying during the crucifixion scene. I am aware of God’s presence in my life since then.

In what areas of your life would you like to grow during this trip?

I really want to change the way I act towards people and how I treat life.  I feel that I take things for granted and I realize it sometimes, but I need to change it. I just want to be able to enjoy life and have a healthy relationship with God.

Langston W. – 10th grade

Why do you want to participate in the mission trip to Dominican Republic?

I want to participate in the DR trip because I want to learn about new cultures and expand my knowledge of Christ and what He is doing in the world.

Describe when Jesus Christ became real to you as your Lord and Savior.

Jesus Christ came to me when a friend was really mad because his dad died and I let him take it out on me – I just forgave him.  Jesus does the same for me.

In what areas of your life would you like to grow during this trip?

I want to stretch myself in a new culture.  I am excited to learn and be used by God in the Dominican Republic.

Luc G. – 10th grade

Why do you want to participate in the mission trip to Dominican Republic?

I really enjoy serving, especially those in great need. I think that this trip will be awesome because I’ll be able to help people that aren’t as fortunate as me, and also hopefully be setting an example of the love of Christ, therefore spreading the word of Jesus.

Describe when Jesus Christ became real to you as your Lord and Savior.

Growing up in a Christian household, I’ve always gone to church. But I made my decision that I wanted to be baptized when I was 10 years old in the fourth grade. I remember being really effected by the worship at my church; looking around at people with their hands raised pouring their hearts, (and voices) into worship, and I thought that was really cool. After seeing how happy people seemed, I wanted a real relationship with Christ, which was my own choice.

In what areas of your life would you like to grow during this trip?

I would like to grow in my selflessness and reliance on God. As I said I really enjoy serving, but in my service for the past years I’ve been quite comfortable, and it hasn’t required much more than a little time and dedication. On this trip, I’ll need to fully rely on God, considering we’ll be working long hours in the heat, and most likely be very tired. And also rely on him for emotional strength and patience.

Scott M. – leader

Why do you want to participate in the mission trip to Dominican Republic?

I have never been to the Dominican Republic. West Side has been involved in this ministry for many years and the timing has never been right for me to go. This year the opportunity presented itself to me and the timing is right. I have watched many students return from this mission trip empowered, uplifted and changed after this life changing trip. I want to share in this same experience with our current Youth. I also see this as an opportunity to help foster this same growth among the students on the trip. The trips I attended when I was part of the youth program (Guatemala, Juarez, and Ensenada) were eye opening to me, changed my life and helped shape the person I am today. A huge contributor to those experiences were the people that went on those trips, the people that I worked alongside, and the leaders. They played a crucial role in shaping those experiences into something that I could take home with me, and incorporate into my day to day life. I want to give back in this same way. I feel a little like life is coming full circle with this trip. Steve and Ann Vander Hijde both attended the Guatemala mission trip as leaders and now one of their kids is going on this trip that I am helping to lead. I am also interested to see Kids Alive in person. This is a mission that we as West Side have supported due in part to Vick and Leslie Trautwein and their history with West Side. They helped out with the youth program back when I was in High School and I have enjoyed keeping track of the amazing work that they are doing in the Dominican Republic.

Describe when Jesus Christ became real to you as your Lord and Savior.

Jesus Christ became real to me when I was in 6th grade at a summer bible camp called Pleasant Valley Christian camp here in Washington State. At that point I accepted Jesus into my heart and that is when I started coming back to West Side to grow my faith and learn what it means to be a Christian. Without the youth program at West Side and the adults who mentored me, I could easily have let that decision end up not meaning anything.

In what areas of your life would you like to grow during this trip?

One area that I would like to grow is being more open with my faith. I want to learn more about who I am in Jesus and what it means to live a life for God. I feel like I tend to be quiet about what I believe in, and I believe that this opportunity will push me to be more open, especially as a leader. As a leader I will need to share the task of leading in times of worship and discussion. This will push me out of my comfort zone and try me, but in a good way. I would like to say I look forward to it but the truth is that it scares me. Another area of my life that I would like to grow is to be more flexible. I need to learn to roll with things and take them in stride. I know that I don’t have complete control over anything except for myself and my behavior. Traveling with such a large group is challenging and there will be many opportunities for me to learn how to be more flexible.

Grace M. – 12th grade

Why do you want to participate in the mission trip to the Dominican Republic?

I want to participate in this experience because I feel it will help me grow closer to God, I also feel that I am ready for this; mission trip in ways I wasn’t not before, both spiritually and maturity wise.

Describe when Jesus Christ became real to you as your Lord and Savior.

I cannot  tell  you  when  I first  recognized Jesus as  my  Lord and Savior.  I was born into church and I was brought up with the knowledge that Jesus was my Savior. But when I made the decision on my own it’s hard to tell. I  know  I declared  it  in  front  of  the  congregation in  7th  or  8th grade. But sometime during 9th or 10th grade I lost my way, I was doing horrible in class and I hated going to church. But some time at about the beginning of spring, I found my way back home and  I feel so  much better than  I have  ever  before.

What is your understanding of discipleship (being a Christ-follower) and its relationship/connection to mission?

The relationship and connection between discipleship and mission is sharing Jesus with others who might not know him. And showing him through our actions in everything that we do.

Emma F. – 10th grade

Why do you want to participate in the mission trip to the Dominican Republic?

The Dominican Republic trip is something that has been a staple at West Side as I grew up. My sister went on the trip, and I did nothing but expect I was to do the same. Approaching the trip now, though, I find that I want to go on this trip for many more reasons than the simple, “that’s just what the high school youth does at West Side.” First of all, I know, from prior experience, any trip I go on with the West Side youth is destined for fun. But more than that, I want to experience my faith in a setting other than the one I experience every day. I want to see my faith compared and tested in an unfamiliar environment. I’d like to see how I can help and love, and how God can help and love through me, with a culture that is not my own.

Describe when Jesus Christ became real to you as your Lord and Savior.

I remember the time, I must have been seven or eight or so, when I accepted God into my heart. I was talking with my mom in the car one day after Sunday school. I recall sitting in the backseat while she prayed for me, and I remember saying that I accepted God into my heart, but nothing much beyond that. All those years ago, my understanding of my action was incomplete; I did not fully comprehend what I was doing. When I was 11or so, I went to a camp, and again explicitly accepted God as my savior. I’ve done the same thing again and again, and I’ve found that for me, the words themselves aren’t good enough. I’m not sure exactly the moment Jesus became real for me, I can’t pinpoint a specific moment, for he’s always been in my life, but I know that, if I’m being honest with myself, his image fades in and out.

In what areas of your life would you like to grow during this trip?

I want to cement his image. I want to be able to clear out all of my doubts and gain an unbroken faith. I know that I’ll never get to that point on earth, but that’s something I need to work on. On past mission trips, there is always things I learn about me and my faith and my God, and I have no doubts that this will be any different. I want to use the trip to grow spiritually. I’d also like to grow my understanding of different cultures. I haven’t done much world travel, and out of the travel I have done, the majority has been for things, and not people. I want to travel for people.

Brian M. – freshman, WWU

Why do you want to participate in the mission trip to Dominican Republic?

I want to participate in this trip because I had an incredible experience three years ago while on the DR trip. It is definitely one of my favorite trips that I have been on with any of my churches. I just remember going to the sites to help, and seeing all the kids there in school that always wanted to say hi to us, or try to talk to us with big smiles on their faces. One of the best forms of communication that we had was sports. Even though we didn’t speak the same language, we still had tons of fun playing sports with them nearly every single day. It was just a lot of fun, and I am really exciting to see what this next trip has in store for our team.

Describe when Jesus Christ became real to you as your Lord and Savior.

A few years back, my brother Sean got into a pretty nasty car accident. He rolled his car down an embankment about 20 feet down. Looking at his car, you’d think that there is no way that the driver is walking out of this accident. It was one of his dream cars, but after the accident all it looked like was a crushed soda can. The driver’s side of the roof was smashed in, along with most of the other parts of the roof. He somehow ended up in the passenger’s seat by the time the car stopped rolling. He was able to crawl his way out the window into some thorns because he remembered he had just filled the car with gas and didn’t want there to be any fires or explosions. He was able to get out of that horrible accident with only a torn ligament in his neck and a few scratches. There was definitely a guardian angel in the car with Sean that day, and I am thankful every day for that. There are a few other situations in which I could have lost a family member that I know someone was watching over us at that time. Through those experiences, God has really become real to me because I cannot imagine losing one of my siblings. We are all so close. It would be like losing a part of me. I thank God every day that he has blessed me with the family that I have.

What is your understanding of discipleship (being a Christ-follower) and its relationship/connection to mission?

My understanding of discipleship is leading by my actions. A lot of the times people will say that it’s just going around spreading the word of Christ. And while that is 100% true, there is so much more to it. The way you act determines a lot about who you are as a person. If you are just doing the bare minimum or are not doing what you are supposed to be doing, then people will not respect you as much or think of you in a leadership role. Whereas if you are doing everything to the very best of your ability, and other people are seeing how hard you are working, then they will tend to look up to you and respect you as more of a leader. Believe that my role on this trip will be more of a leadership by action. That is my strong suite because of the way I was raised. I was always taught to do my best in everything that I do, and to not quit till I’m completely finished. If I am able to keep up my energy on this trip, hopefully people will start to look up to me as though I am in a leadership role.

Braeden S. – 10th grade

Why do you want to participate in the mission trip to the Dominican Republic?

Two years ago, I had the opportunity to go on the Momentum mission trip in Indiana, and I still find myself recalling all the great memories from that trip. During that week, I felt my relationship with God grow and my love for the people around me grow with it. I had so much fun doing service work and getting closer with the other students on the trip. Continuing to participate in the missions and youth events at Westside is very important to me. Through past participates, I’ve heard many great things about the DR Trip, and I’ve been looking forward to going on this mission trip for a few years now. I believe that experiencing different cultures and ways that people live around the world is vitally important in order to be the best person I can be. Going to the DR gives me the opportunity to have hands on experiences with people who have substantially less than I do, yet still make the best of their situations.

Describe when Jesus Christ became real to you as your Lord and Savior.

Growing up in the Christian church with a religious family created an environment where I was always learning about bible stories and what being Christian meant. In middle school, I began to question Jesus and God, because the idea of them seemed too incredible to be true, and I didn’t understand how God could be so great. After taking Pastor Paul’s confirmation class, I was finally able to better understand how Christianity logically fit into the world’s timeline, and that science didn’t contradict it, but worked coherently with it. This understanding was a vital step in my journey towards knowing Jesus, and I’ve been working on my relationship with him ever since. I think the moments that I’ve noticed God at work the most in my life have been at the times when I see people doing random acts of kindness out in the world, and coming together in times of need. It truly amazes me the way that God can work through anybody, and help those in need.

What is your understanding of discipleship (being a Christ-follower) and its relationship/connection to mission?

When Jesus recruited his disciples, he found the worst of the worst in society. The ones frowned upon and considered big sinners. This act of connecting with them showed how much Jesus was willing to work to spread the love of God to everyone. He taught these sinners the message of God and told them to spread it everywhere. This is what discipleship is. It’s spreading God’s love and word throughout the world, in order to touch as many people as possible. I think this is especially practiced during missions, because the main purpose of them is to help others who are less fortunate lead better lives, through God. This summer, we’ll be able to serve the people of the DR, and help them improve their society through building structures, and connecting with individuals.

Jada H. – 10th grade

Why do you want to participate in the mission trip to Dominican Republic?

The reason why I want to participate in this Dominican Republic Mission Trip is to get out of my comfort zone and start serving the Lord. I believe this experience will expand my knowledge of other cultures while deepening my relationship with Jesus Christ.

Describe when Jesus Christ became real to you as your Lord and Savior.

All my life I have gone to church every Sunday. I have learned more and more about Jesus with each passing year. Jesus Christ became real to me the day I decided to be baptized. I was 11 years old, but even then I knew I would belong to Him for the rest of my life and wanted to make that declaration in front of my church family.

In what areas of your life would you like to grow during this trip?

Through this mission experience I would like to grow in my relationship with and appreciation of Christ while sharing His love with others. Often I feel like I take His love for granted. Christ has given His life for me and I know that I need to serve Him. I feel like I don’t spend as much time appreciating and being thankful of Jesus’s love for me and this experience sounds like a great way to share my love of the Lord with others and to work on my relationship with Christ.

Michael S. – 10th grade

Why do you want to participate in the mission trip to Dominican Republic?

I believe the reason I would like to go to the Dominican Republic centers around attempts to make a difference. Although if I was more specific I would name reasons such as, experience, fun, a desire to meet and help new people, and to increase my awareness of the other countries in the world.

Describe when Jesus Christ became real to you as your Lord and Savior.

Jesus Christ became real to me when I went off the deep end, but came back up wearing a floaty. To be completely honest i learned mostly about Jesus when I found the people of Westside, and how much of a real family they were.

In what areas of your life would you like to grow during this trip?

The areas I would like to grow during this trip include, my experience, awareness, and empathy.

Riley M. – 12th grade

Why do you want to participate in the mission trip to Dominican Republic?

I have been on several mission trips before and enjoyed each of them. I am looking forward to spending time with the other members of West Side’s youth group. I also love volunteering and helping others. This will actually be my second time going to the Dominican Republic.  The first time I went, I had a great time, even amid horrible sickness. I am eager to see more of the DR and am glad that it will be my last mission trip in high school.

Describe when Jesus Christ became real to you as your Lord and Savior.

I have been a member of West Side my whole life. Consequently, I cannot describe an exact moment when Christ became real to me. I was raised to believe in Jesus Christ, and as I grew older, my faith grew stronger. Years of Sunday school and VBSs helped me become closer to God.

In what areas of your life would you like to grow during this trip?

I think that in recent years, my faith has diminished somewhat. Not to say that I doubt Christ died for our sins, but rather that I do not think of God nearly as much as I used to. I no longer pray before I eat or sleep, nor do I read the Bible every night. It seems especially vital to my faith that I do these things because I will be a college student soon, and may not be able to spend as much time in the company of other Christians who could help keep me focused on God. I think that this trip could encourage me to return to those habits and put me on the path to growing stronger in my faith, the path that leads to God being the most important aspect of my life.

Sarah G. – 10th grade

Why do you want to participate in the mission trip to the Dominican Republic?

I want to attend this mission trip because I think it’s a great opportunity to learn more about different cultures, meet new people, share the Word, and hopefully be of help to those in need.

Describe when Jesus Christ became real to you as your Lord and Savior.

One thing that used to be confusing to me was why God lets us go through hard things.  But recently, my family has had to go through some really tough stuff with my brother and it has brought my whole family a lot closer.  I know that when we come out of it things will ultimately be better for my brother and my family because we had to go through all of it.  So, through this experience I have seen the love God shows through people and how He always has a bigger plan for us.  He has given me peace in a stressful time.  For this, I’ve seen God in my life like I’ve never seen before.

In what areas of your life would you like to grow during this trip?

I definitely take a lot of things in my life for granted and I know this trip would put it all into perspective.  A goal I have would to be less timid about sharing my belief in God.  Also, I want to grow closer in my relationship with God.

Natalie B. – 10th grade

Why do you want to participate in the mission trip to the Dominican Republic?

One reason I want to go to the Dominican Republic is it will be a great chance to connect with people that have different cultures and backgrounds but have similar values and traits.  I’ve only been on one mission trip (last year to San Diego) which helped me realize that I really love connecting with people, even if I’ll never see them again.

Describe when Jesus Christ became real to you as your Lord and Savior.

Jesus became real to me during Confirmation class and when I became baptized.  After the San Diego mission trip, watching God move others through helping others also made me realize that God is so real and so present in everybody’s lives, even if those people don’t know it.

In what areas of your life would you like to grow during this trip?

Areas in my life that I am hoping to improve on is my relationship with my parents.  Communication is really hard in my family so I would like that to be my goal.

 

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