For most high school seniors, a spring trip means a trip with friends, the beach, the sun and great memories.
The senior class at Elyria Christian School had all of this, plus a week-long experience of assisting the New Orleans Salvation Army. Activities included painting, cleaning bathrooms, washing trucks, praying with and distributing food and water to homeless men and women, and growing closer as a class.
Eleven seniors, plus three parents and sponsors spent March 9 to 17 at the Operation Nehemiah Ministry, a service organization that facilitates groups of teens and allows them to serve in a capacity that makes a difference to the population they work with.
“I couldn't be more proud of the work the seniors did in New Orleans,” Heather Fields, Elyria teacher and senior class sponsor, said. “There’s nothing like mission’s work and getting to see what a person’s really made of. You are tested physically, emotionally and spiritually. The seniors’ hearts for the hurting came through loud and clear. They were able to put aside their own needs and work their tails off.”
This was made evident by the students’ commitment to long work hours and trying new cultural experiences.
“They all tried what was presented, never complained and enjoyed what God put in front of them to do,” Fields said.
“To me, seeing the different culture and the effects that (Hurricane) Katrina had on the area was really eye-opening,” senior Josh Nichols. “I saw that although many disaster relief teams have come to help, there is still a lot to be done and rebuilt. It is up to us, the people, to help relieve these areas of pain brought by disasters in our country.
Nichols and the other students spent much time working at the Salvation Army.
“Working at the SA rehabilitation center, I learned that although we had had an easier upbringing, it doesn’t make us any different from the men who are there,” Nichols said. “They are just normal guys, like us. Because of the SA, and God, you can see that the men have been transformed in many ways.”
This group of seniors is accustomed to serving as a class. Service projects are built into the curriculum at Elyria, starting in the elementary grades, so that by the time the students are seniors, they are excited and willing to spend their annual spring trip giving back to society in various locations.
Elyria Christian School, 1644 Comanche Road, is going on its 30th year of Christian education. For more information about the senior mission trip, call the school at 620 241-2994.