West Side Youth Missions | Dominican Republic 2022

Know God. Be Present. Love Others.

West Side Youth Ministry believes mission experiences are an important part of faith development, and we strive to give students a variety of opportunities to learn, serve and grow during their years in the youth program. We rotate our mission experiences every three years: an evangelism training conference, a regional trip and a cross-cultural experience to the Dominican Republic which is where we are going this summer.

“…All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor…” —Galatians 2:10

During our two-week trip (July 1-17, 2022) to Dominican Republic, we will be living and working in the town of Caraballo, a poor, mostly Haitian community located in the sugarcane fields on the north coast of the DR. This community is truly the poorest of the poor in the DR. In this impoverished setting Kids Alive is working to meet the needs of children who are growing up with very few opportunities.

Our team of 19 (15 students and 4 adults) will be working with Kids Alive International doing primarily construction on the school, which has become too small for the children it serves. Opportunities to interact with the children during the summer program and in the Barrios (neighborhoods) will also be part of our experience. This will be the seventh West Side trip to DR to work with Kids Alive and alongside West Side supported missionaries and former members, Vic & Leslie Trautwein. Our trip will conclude with a quick visit to the coastal town of Puerto Plata.

Over the next few months I will be introducing you to our team by sharing each members’ thoughts as they prepare for our upcoming mission experience.

This summer, following our mission experience, we will once again debrief and share with the congregation the impressions, learning and “ah ha moments” that we have experienced while on our mission trip. We can’t wait!  Please keep our team in your prayers over the next six months!

Stacy

Meet Our DR 2022 Team

Between now and when we leave at the beginning of July, we want to introduce you to our amazing team of students and leaders who will be going on the Dominican Republic Mission Trip.

Stacy Kutz

Leader

Why do you want to participate in the mission trip to the Dominican Republic?
I can’t wait to return to the Dominican Republic with THIS team of students! We are training, learning, bonding, serving locally and preparing to see what God has in store for us.
I can’t measure or know the long-term impact mission trips will have on our students and the world, but my role as a youth director is to do everything I can to steward the unique opportunity I have with our students because of these experiences. I am grateful I belong to a church body that is committed to youth discipleship and mission. As our DR team was selected, the students thought they were applying for 17 days of service in the Dominican Republic, when actually they were being invited into a yearlong process of learning and transformation.

I’m excited to be a member of this DR 2022 team as we continue on this journey of becoming the kind of people who are making a difference in the world for God.

What is your understanding of discipleship (being a Christ-follower) and its relationship/connection to mission?
Discipleship encompasses a variety of practices, such as catechesis (the teaching ministry of the church), spiritual formation, and mentoring other
 believers. Discipleship includes all of these aspects, but it also includes missional engagement, particularly since acts of compassion and service shape and form people as they grow in grace.

In my studies at Fuller Theological Seminary I came across the term missional discipleship being used to reflect on the role of a disciple as someone who is engaged in God’s mission in the world. Missional disciples are on a journey, becoming more like Christ, investing their lives in others, and embodying lives of love for the sake of others.

Followers of Jesus Christ are called to be disciples, know the mission of God and then participate in God’s mission. Tim Dearborn in his book Beyond Duty: A Passion for Christ, a Heart for Mission states, “the God of mission has given his church to the world. It is not the church of God that has a mission in the world, but the God of mission who has a church in the world. The church’s involvement in mission is its privileged participation in the actions of the triune God.”

If we take seriously God’s mission in the world, we simply cannot be disciples without being missionaries, or, sent ones. Missional discipleship includes both engaging in mission and being intentional about faithful discipleship.

Lachlan Swanson

11th Grade
West Seattle HS

Why do you want to participate in the mission trip to Dominican Republic?
I think it will be a very rewarding and exciting experience and will teach me a lot about my faith and relationship with the Lord. I’ve also never really experienced another culture than mine, and I think I have a lot to learn about the world from people who are different than me.






In what areas of your life would you like to grow during this trip?
I hope to learn more about myself and my faith and experience a world that I’m not used to. I think it will help me to be more empathetic and inclusive of all different people and be more comfortable in uncomfortable situations.

Isabelle Elenez

Freshman
University of Hawaii

Why do you want to participate in the mission trip to the Dominican Republic?
I would like to participate in the mission trip to the DR because I would like to learn and help serve the community. I would like to help the kids who just need a better environment. Since I work at a middle school and supervise kids, it has given me a whole different perspective and has shown me that there are many kids who need help and are in tough communities so I want to help those kids who are having a tough time. I also want to take the information I learn and bring it with me back home so I can notice that many communities may need help and help more kids in the future. I want to help as many kids that I can and I am very passionate about that. So many people work so hard to help the community and to be able to go to the DR and to help them any way I can is an honor to me.
Describe when Jesus Christ became clear to you as your Lord and Savior?
I believe he became real when I joined the church. When I started to participate with the church I was in a dark space but he saved me by bringing me to where I needed to be most and I didn’t know that for a while. Growing up I didn’t go to church nor did I have a real connection with him. I wasn’t determined until I joined West Side. West Side has really given me a safe place to share and trust that He is with me and all the decisions I’ve made is leading me to a good place or helping me to who I’ll be in the future. So when I think of when Jesus became real, I always think of West Side and how the church brought me closer to God and opening my perspective on life and others.

Owen Ronningen 

11th Grade
Homeschool

Why do you want to participate in the mission trip to the Dominican Republic?
In truth I feel like I haven’t done enough for God. I know God calls us to action for him and I feel like I have ignored that in the past, but when I was offered to go to the DR I felt that like I was supposed to go. In addition I love to help and would love to get to know members of the youth group better.

Describe when Jesus Christ became clear to you as your Lord and Savior?
I was roughly six or seven I think when I began to realize just how real God was. It was after one day I

 stayed up from the children’s session to see the adult ministry and the pastor talked an awful lot about hell. It was a very fire and brimstone type ministry that day and it frightened little six or seven year old me. Next Sunday school I went to the acceptance corner and accepted Christ as my savior. I also accepted him next week, and the week after that, and the week after that, and finally the week after that, until I think my parents told me I only needed to be accepted once. In my later years I accepted Christ privately when I had a better understanding.

Jovie Webbeking 

12th Grade
Garfield HS

Why do you want to participate in the mission trip to the Dominican Republic?
During this trip I obviously want to gain a deeper relationship with God, but I think that I want to feel this through the connections that I make with others. I want to feel God working through all of us, while we try to understand each other as a team and as children of God with the people in the DR. I want to rediscover the simplicity and joy of God’s word. Too often in the society that we live in, there is so much going on that we overlook the goodness of simplicity. But in going back to simple things, we can realize how grateful we should be for the technology and innovations we made while also seeing that sometimes we overcomplicate things. I want to see how we are all similar in some ways, being children of God, but how our differences make us just as good, creating a space where we specifically are needed to help the community.



Describe when Jesus Christ became clear to you as your Lord and Savior?
All throughout my life I have known about God and during middle school I got more comfortable with the idea. But, it wasn’t until my Freshman year of high school at Garfield that I really began to understand things more. We had a club at our school dubbed “Jesus Club” -- where Christians and pizza lovers alike met up every Thursday during lunch, to eat pizza, and talk about God. I think that there are not that many opportunities to have real talks like these, especially in high school, to really speak what’s on your mind and have the opportunity to respectfully share opinions about spirituality. To me, this was exactly what I needed to get through Friday after a long week and a long day. To talk about our struggles and how God fit into that, shifted how I thought. To me, it was a mini-weekly MDR… just without the fun, games, and songs — and somehow it was just as refreshing. This is when I truly began to see God as more than an important figure in an important book — He is in our lives and in the people we seek connections with.

Chris Koch

Leader

Why do you want to participate in the mission trip to the Dominican Republic?
I desire to participate in the mission trip primarily to encourage our students. I have been praying for our students over the past months that God would teach them through the people we meet and the work we do about who God is and God's love in Jesus Christ, and lead them into greater relationship with Him. I also desire to learn with the students about God's work in the world and have my eyes open to the larger world around us.

What is your understanding of discipleship (being a Christ-follower) and its relationship/connection to mission?
I believe that mission is main aspect of discipleship. We can only go so far as disciples of Christ if we do not begin to see ourselves as God sees us, as “His workmanship, created for good works in Jesus Christ, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). On this trip I look forward to being challenged to love more in word and action, and also to be challenged to greater humility. Often when people go on mission, they think they are doing something for other people, and
this can be true, but as we go out God is really working in us, teaching, guiding, and convicting us through those we seek to serve. So, I look forward to learning from God through the students, those we meet, and the work we do.

Describe when Jesus Christ became clear to you as your Lord and Savior?
I grew up in a nominally Catholic home, which meant we would try to attend mass on Christmas and Easter. Because of this I didn’t learn much about Jesus Christ growing up. When I was 17 I began attending a youth group with some friends and I was struck by the God the leaders were singing about and talking about. Though I knew about Jesus I never had read the Bible, so learning about Jesus’ teachings, and works, and also what the disciples wrote about Him led me to a desire to put my faith in Jesus Christ. I remember one night praying “God, I don’t know if Jesus is real, but I am going to take the leap to follow” and since then, through many false starts and twisting turns, I believe that my life has been tied up in Christ’s and my identity has been formed (and is being formed) as a beloved child of God, saved by grace, and transformed daily through the Holy Spirit.

Jacob Hammond

10th Grade
Seattle Lutheran HS

Why do you want to participate in the mission trip to the Dominican Republic?
I want to help others who have less then me. Traveling the world to see a completely different part of God's creation would be absolutely amazing, I want to have my eyes opened to what other people of the world have to deal with, and how much I can make an impact to make others lives better. I want to spread the word of God and how graceful he is through my words, and actions while on the trip.





Describe when Jesus Christ became clear to you as your Lord and Savior?
Jesus became real for me at a very young age. I have always grown up and been around Christians so the word of God is like second nature to me. Since Bible study and Sunday school, all the way up to now high school, youth group and other social events that happen with the church. All of it ties together on how Jesus Christ is all around us all the time.

Cooper Guidry

11th Grade
West Seattle HS

Why do you want to participate in the mission trip to the Dominican Republic?
In 2019 I was privileged to go on a mission trip to the Warm Springs Reservation. That mission trip brought me a lot closer to God and really got me to develop my faith. I want to serve on this mission trip because I believe through serving the people in the D.R. I will gain a new perspective on life and grow closer to God. Mission trips really humble you and shows you how much you take things in life for granted. I learned so much and saw how positive people were through challenging situations and that really inspired me to do more community service and do what I could for others. This mission trip feels like a once in a lifetime opportunity to me and I want to make the best of it by making a positive impact on the people we serve as well as the people I serve with. Hopefully I will have more chances to go on mission trips in the future but nothing in life is definite and for that reason I want to participate in the mission trip to the Dominican Republic.
Describe when Jesus Christ became clear to you as your Lord and Savior?
I had not fully understood what religion was and who Jesus was till I started middle school. My parents didn’t want to force any beliefs on me and for that reason I never went to church as a kid. I was introduced to Jesus when I got invited to go to Christian summer camps and after that to church, but for me going to those places was more to have fun with my friends than to develop a relationship with God. Over a year or so I started going to multiple church youth groups and helping with community service at things like Westside Wednesdays and the garage sale. I felt welcome and found happiness through going to church events and because of this I decided to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior when I chose to get baptized. For me God presented himself through people and how generous plus accepting people were to me.

Brooke Swanson

11th Grade
Raisbeck Aviation HS

Why do you want to participate in the mission trip to the Dominican Republic?
I’m eager to participate in the DR mission trip this summer to grow my faith, serve underprivileged families and experience a new culture. I’ve never been on a mission trip, nor have I left the country for more than a week in my life! I heard countless stories from past members about how much faith and joy these kids show while living with just a fraction of what we take for granted in our society. As my faith and love for Christ will grow, I’m also excited to maintain and develop new relationships with my fellow team members. Can’t wait for July!

Describe when Jesus Christ became real to you as your Lord and Savior. 
Similar to others’ stories, I’ve been blessed to grow up attending church services and Sunday school. While my family is all Christian, I didn’t think much of this whole God thing until I was a little older and 
attending youth group. I can remember going to West Side’s MDR my 6th grade year and absolutely loving it. I felt so loved and joyous as Jesus filled our worship circles and small groups. I’m not quite sure what my pinnacle “accepting Jesus” moment was; however, I’m so glad to have grown in my faith over the course of middle school and high school. MDR trips are notorious for leaving people high for Jesus!

In what areas of your life would you like to grow during this trip? 
I would like to explore how God works through others in a different capacity than what I see day to day. I think the culture and societal changes will change my perspectives and I’ll see God work in different ways than I do here in Seattle. I anticipate seeing a severely impoverished society yet ebullient community that believes in God so much based on stories I’ve heard. I’m thrilled to serve such a faithful community in the DR and grow as a human.

Riley Montemayor

Leader

Why do you want to participate in the mission trip to the Dominican Republic?  
I’ve been on a number of different mission trips over the years, including two previous trips to the Dominican Republic.  When I was asked to be a leader for this year’s mission trip, I saw an opportunity not just to serve others and to grow in faith – though I do want those things – but also to connect with and try to be a role model for the students going on this trip.  I’ve been a leader for West Side’s youth group for years, and I’ve known many of these students since they were middle schoolers, so I was excited at the opportunity to come alongside them on this trip.  My hope for this trip is to help provide an avenue for spiritual and personal growth in the students, and then to stand back so that God can move in their lives.

What is your understanding of discipleship (being a Christ-follower) and its relationship/connection to mission?
I think it would be a mistake to talk about discipleship and not recognize what Jesus clearly told us in Matthew 16, saying “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”  What he’s referencing here is giving your life up for him – just as Jesus carried his cross to his own crucifixion for our sake, so must we be willing to give our lives for God’s sake.  Most of us will likely never need to die for our faith, but I think 
it’s clear that the command in this passage is not  only to be willing to literally give out lives for Christ, but also to dedicate and commit our whole lives to following Jesus.  Like Simon Peter and Andrew leaving their nets at the lake, missionaries like Vic and Leslie Trautwein leave their whole lives behind to follow Christ, living in a foreign country and working to protect and provide for orphans and at-risk children.  We are not all missionaries in foreign countries, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not possible for us to dedicate our lives to God.  I see the commitment to going on this mission trip as a clear indication of these students’ giving their lives to Christ.  Stacy, our Youth Director, has been very upfront with the Mission Team that this trip is different from a weekend youth retreat, and, having been on two of these trips to the Dominican Republic myself, I can say with confidence that a trip like this is not all fun and games.  It’s not comfortable.  It’s not easy.  It’s two weeks of various manual labor with none of the comforts of home, in a country that speaks a language you don’t understand.  The emphasis is on spiritual growth and personal development, not fun and games.  We go on high school youth mission trips like this as part of the commitment of our lives to Christ.  Our goal in this mission is not just to help others, but to grow closer to Christ, to become more Christ-like, and to better understand what it means to dedicate our lives to following Christ.

Jayden Elenez

12th Grade
West Seattle HS

Why do you want to participate in the mission trip to the Dominican Republic?  
I’d Like to participate in this year’s mission trip because it’s a great experience to grow as a person. It allows me to see the world in a different perspective and see how God affects others in places across the world. Allows me to see the communities that have little to nothing but still show their love/faith in Jesus Christ. I also just want to give back; I’ve received a lot of love/generosity in my life which made me the man I am today and being able to give back some of what I have received would be amazing.
Describe when Jesus Christ became real to you as your lord and savior?
Growing up I didn’t grow up in a church like most Christians, I was baptized catholic but never really went to church on Sundays. Jesus Christ became real once I saw the impact, he made in my life without me knowing. Realizing how he already made plans for me. Coming to Westside Presbyterian church was by accident because I needed community service and it so happened that my sister was doing community service there. Which later turned into something greater like going for Youth Group and MDR, Lake Chelan and mission trips and more. Once I finally accepted that Jesus Christ has a plan for me is when everything became much more real.

Joshua Yi

11th Grade
University Prep

Why do you want to participate in the mission trip to the Dominican Republic?
I want to participate in the mission trip because it will grow my faith. I feel like there is a lot to learn from the people of the Dominican Republic. My sister, Madi, went to the DR freshman year, and she has always told me how strong the Dominicans' faith is even when they have so little compared to the average American. Additionally, I think it's great that we go to the DR to help a community in need. It’s really cool how our church habitually goes to the DR to build and maintain a relationship with their community. When I heard was eligible to go on his mission trip in my freshman year of high school, I was really excited but Covid hit and I thought my DR experience wouldn’t happen. I’m really thankful for this opportunity as a Junior to finally go to the DR this summer.  
Describe when Jesus Christ became real to you as your Lord and Savior.
I can’t pinpoint an exact moment when Jesus Christ became my Lord and savior. I grew up in the church my whole life and my grandpa was a pastor in Tacoma. When I was younger, I didn’t think much of being a Christian; it was just a part of my identity. However, my relationship became more intimate and authentic as I got older. Growing up comes with many challenges and stresses you don’t experience when you’re a little kid. During these difficult times, I was able to lean on God for support and wisdom, ultimately growing my faith. I believe that going on this mission trip will be a significant moment in my life and a time where I can grow my relationship with God.

Nathan Muller

10th Grade
West Seattle HS

Describe when Jesus Christ became real to you as your Lord and Savior.
This is an interesting question, because I actually didn’t know until recently.  I always looked back and thought that I’d accepted Jesus at a Christian summer camp I went to in middle school, which is partly true; that whole experience was almost like a spiritual high with all the singing, praying, and just having fun together, and Jesus did become very real to me during those couple of weeks, but I think the actual moment that I fully accepted him was a just few days after my second year at the summer camp.  The spiritual high was wearing off, and I didn’t want to lose the realness of God like I had after the first year of the summer camp.  I ended up praying on my own time, sometimes for a couple hours a day, and at some point, during that few months of prayer, Jesus stuck.  There have still been ups and downs from that point to now, but ever since then Jesus has continued to feel like a real person in my life.

What is your understanding of discipleship and its relationship/connection to the mission?
I think ultimately, practicing discipleship is really about both helping others and bringing them to
 Jesus, basically helping them with both their physical and spiritual needs.  We recently talked about this with the team, where we discussed that the way in which we go about helping others is very important.  It would be counterproductive and damaging to come in with all the answers; “right now we’re fixing your house, also Jesus loves you,” but more beneficial to work with them.  Learn what their situation is and assist with what they know is helpful.  Provide your own input while also listening to theirs so you can gain a better understanding of what’s actually needed.  Use resources they already have so that they can continue and be independent once you leave.  This is also how helping them spiritually should look; less so of us teaching them or telling them who God is but having an exchange of ideas in which both parties can take away some new insight.  I realized that this is how God treats saving us as well.  He doesn’t just come in with all the answers at once, suddenly saving us and the Earth, he works through and with the people on Earth, having one on one exchanges with individuals all around the globe, slowly revealing more and more to them and gradually shaping the Earth into a better place for everyone.

Bryce Hammond

Why do you want to participate in the mission trip to the Dominican Republic?
I want to participate in the mission trip to the Dominican Republic because I have always felt good about being able to help other people out. I also enjoy being around other people who are trying to strengthen their faith with God. I believe this trip will help me on my journey of stronger faith. I also believe that this will be an amazing opportunity to showcase how hard working I am, as well as gaining cultural experience that I can bring back with me to my family and friends. I have never had a bad time on any church trip and I am very excited to see how this one plays out and affects my journey to a stronger and clearer path of enlightenment.

Describe when Jesus Christ became real to you as your Lord and Savior.
Jesus Christ became real to me as my Lord and Savior at a young age. I was baptized at West Side
Pres but did not take my faith very seriously until I was a young adult. When I was graduating from my military academy in 2017, I was scared to go back to the life I had previously lived. I knew that focusing on God and His creation was going to be my best chance at living a happy, healthy life. So I really started paying attention to His Word, and saw dramatic change. I have ups and downs in my faith just like the rest of us, but at the end of the day I am always striving to achieve a better understanding of His love. The grace of God has saved me from death multiple times in my life, and I will forever be grateful. I am now enrolled in the Rooted program at the church which is another awesome way to take some time out of my very busy life to think about God and His Word. This question is a bit of a double edged sword for me because I was baptized as a baby and have always seen God as my Lord and Savior, but I never really took into account what that truly meant until I was old enough to understand it.

Kayley Thom

11th Grade
West Seattle HS

Why do you want to participate in the mission trip to the Dominican Republic?
I want to go on the mission trip to the DR for many reasons.  I have never been on a mission trip before, and I think this is a great opportunity to experience the love of God in a way that I haven’t seen before. Recently in my faith I feel like I’ve been on a plateau and I think that this trip will really open my eyes to a new perspective and to help me be more grateful for what I have. I feel incredibly privileged to have this opportunity to go on this trip and to experience what life is like elsewhere and to help in any way that I can. I am super grateful to have such a great group to go with and to experience the DR with.

Describe when Jesus Christ became real to you as your Lord and Savior.
I have always known that God is real and a part of my life, but it was not in an active way. I have grown up Catholic and gone to Church all my life but I didn’t realize the role that Jesus has in my life. It wasn’t until
the end of Freshman year when we were all going through hard times, I felt really alone and I didn’t know what to do. That's when I started to give it all to God and I felt so much more free.  That’s when I really felt that Jesus truly became my Lord and Savior. I realized that I was not alone and that He has always been with me,  

In what areas of your life would you like to grow during this trip?
I would like to expand my perspective during this trip and grow my faith. Being with people who have had vastly different experiences than me but have such incredible faith is something I am really looking forward to. I hope this trip opens my eyes to who I am and where my place is with God along with other people. I want to allow God to increase in my life and for myself to decrease. I know this trip will challenge me in many ways and I hope that I can grow from those challenges and follow that path that God has set out for me.

Solveig DeFant

11th Grade
Chief Sealth Int'l HS

Describe when Jesus Christ became real to you as your Lord and Savior.
This question always stumps me, I feel like it was not an exact moment but it was over the course of time throughout my middle school to early high school years where I felt very confused and constantly anxious. I was pretty confused how to control things in my life and I remember one way I could get away to think and really explain how I was feeling was through prayer. It was also the love of my West Side community by giving me a place to share my thoughts about the Bible and ask questions about scripture. It was (and still is) very fulfilling and caused me to really realize I wasn’t alone in my head. All the people in my life whether they play a big role in it or are just a passing stranger have helped weave the way to the moments where I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.
In what areas of your life would you like to grow during this trip?
A few areas in my life I want to grow during this trip is one, my faith. I think this is a great opportunity to grow my relationship with God. I believe by serving alongside people who share the love for God’s grace with me will help me grow into a new and different type of relationship with the Lord. Second i want to listen to what the people in the DR have to say whether it’s church related or not I love to learn new things about people. Third, I want to grow my heart and mind. I think taking a trip for two + weeks out of the country (which I have never done before) will test my boundaries and help me realize I can do things if I believe and I am capable. I hope to learn more about myself and I hope I can apply what I learn to my life to then share it with everyone around me.

Joseph Lee

11th Grade
West Seattle HS

Why do you want to participate in the mission trip to Dominican Republic?
Being able to go on this mission trip is a privilege, and I’m very blessed to be able to participate. I feel what I think is a divine calling or pull to be a part of this mission. This calling has manifested itself in a lot of ways, and it took me from not even considering the trip to turning in my application in a matter of days. My hope is that God can enact change in my heart, and I can be a servant for his purpose in a way that will probably be challenging and uncomfortable. I am also blessed to be able to go on this trip
with a youth group that I know and love and with excellent leaders like Stacy.  

Describe when Jesus Christ became real to you as your Lord and Savior.  
Jesus Christ has been real to me my entire life. I’ve grown up in the church and have always recognized him as my Lord and Savior for as long as I can remember. My relationship with Him is always changing and growing (as I am not saying that I have 
it all figured out), but it has always been present for me. With that being said, Jesus has really become real to me during my ongoing struggle with patterns of sin in my life, as I’ve had to rely completely on him for forgiveness and ways out that the world couldn’t possibly provide. Only through Jesus is there salvation from a life of sin.

In what areas of your life would you like to grow during this trip?
I’d like to grow in my perspective and view of God’s creation, along with being able to serve those less fortunate for God’s purpose. I’d also like to grow closer to my fellow team members and leaders during the trip and grow in my capacity to work with others and towards a common goal. I hope that I am also able to grow through participating in something that is admittedly out of my comfort zone in many ways. Overall, I pray that God can use this trip to allow me to help impact other’s lives positively along with enacting change within me.

Nathaniel Olson

12th grade,
West Seattle HS

Why do you want to participate in the mission trip to Dominican Republic?
I want to participate in the Dominican Republic (DR) Mission Trip for a multitude of reasons. One of them being that I love being around people from our youth group. I have participated in a mission trip before and I think that this trip will be another incredible experience. I also want to be able to give back and this is a great opportunity to do so. I am looking forward to going somewhere new and helping people out who are from a different culture and country. I would like to see aspects of life that are significantly different from the U.S. in the DR because I have never been to a different country in the Americas. Additionally, I want to see what worshiping is like in other countries, and through this, learn more about God and my peers. While I have been to other places aside from just Seattle, I have never had the opportunity to worship in a different country. Being able to apply the Spanish that I have learned would also be fantastic.
Describe when Jesus Christ became real to you as your Lord and Savior.
Jesus Christ became real to me as my Lord and Savior during middle school. I don’t feel as though I had one specific moment, I felt the truth over a longer period of time. I went to UPC up until partway through seventh grade, which was when I began attending West Side. In both of the youth groups there were people whom I respected and cared about. Hearing similar content from people in different places in their lives opened my eyes to reality. Somewhere within that time I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.

In what areas of your life would you like to grow during this trip?
I would like to be more aware of how others praise and worship God. I want to be able to have a better understanding of how God works through everyone in their own individual ways. I would also like to learn what I can do to strengthen the relationships that I have now with friends and God. I am hoping that seeing how those who are severely impoverished are still able to love Jesus will bring me a greater appreciation for what I have in Seattle.

Katie Batts

Leader

Why do you want to participate in the mission trip to the DR?
I am excited to go back to the DR! I was blessed to go on mission trips to the Dominican Republic twice as a student. The first time I went to the DR was also the first time I flew on a commercial airplane. My world expanded in so many ways through that trip. From seeing how people live differently, exploring the waterfalls and hiking areas, to serving with the community. It was interesting to see different group dynamics and respond to the different needs on each trip, whether it was hard labor or playing with kids at VBS. I have lifelong memories that I look forward to building upon. Since those trips to the DR, I have also helped to lead a few local/national mission trips as well as work with the West Side youth throughout the years. This will be my first international mission trip as an adult, and I am excited for this new perspective.
I enjoy seeing our youth grow and rise to challenges as we serve. I have been encouraged and inspired by our group already! I look forward to helping students grow in their faith as we serve others.

In what areas of your life would you like to grow during this trip?
I can get wrapped up in the day-to-day work, and I often don't take enough time to pause, reflect, and listen. Especially during the covid-19 pandemic, I had prioritized work and rest above building relationships at church and with the youth. I would like to shift my priorities so that God comes first. I want to be open to how God can use me on this trip, and how he will call me to continue serving him at home. I look forward to working with this team so I can grow closer in relationship with God, team members, and have the opportunity to share God's love with the people of the DR. 

Photos from DR 2017

Here I am. Send me. — Isaiah 6:8