Thinking back quickly about all the mission trips that Pastoral Associate Tim Selby, of the United Methodist Church of Steamboat Springs, has gone on, one woman stood out in his mind.
A few years ago, the church's youth mission trip was to Juarez, Mexico, where the group helped rebuild a woman's house. The woman received food once a month from a food bank, but she fed the 14 high school students every day for a week until they were stuffed.
"You knew that she was going to be scarce on food, but you couldn't talk her out of it -- she was loving it, and loved to give and to share," Selby said.
On mission trips, students and adults set out with the mindset that they are going to help someone in need, but they end up learning and receiving, Selby said.
They also experience the importance of serving others and using their lives for a greater good.
"I think it's the best kind of thing that we do," Selby said. "They walk away with an enhanced knowledge of the world and greater understanding of how people live.
"They walk away with a sense of realizing that even people in communities of poverty, and people in great need, are also often very joyful, happy people, and I think they realize that there's more meaning in life than just things and stuff and money and entertainment -- that there's more important things that give life its fulfillment."
This year, the church's summer mission trip is to Brooklyn, N.Y., where youths will work in shelters and various inner-city ministries. The cost is $900 per student, including plane tickets, van rentals and other needs, Selby said. Each student pays or raises $400, and the church does fund-raising for the remaining cost.
"What these kids are doing, to me, really shows the best aspects of our young people, in terms of working hard in order to go and be of service and to learn about the world," Selby said. "When they are aspiring to do great things (it's important) that we get behind them and support them in doing that."
On Monday night, the community will have a chance to do just that. A dessert talent show will be held at the United Methodist Church, featuring talents from children, teens and adults, and some students will talk about why they are motivated to go on a mission trip. There is no cost, but donations are accepted.
Selby encouraged anyone to come, even if they didn't plan to make a donation, as their presence shows support for the 20 teenagers who are signed up for the trip this year.
Kayla Murphy, a senior at Steamboat Springs High School, is one of those students. She has gone on a youth mission trip through the church every summer since she was in eighth grade.
In Puerto Rico, the group helped at a drug rehabilitation center, and as part of their work, they could talk with some of the recovering addicts. Their stories were inspiring, and the former addicts wanted to encourage the students, she said.
"They didn't care how big or small the problems were, they wanted to help us as much as we were helping them," Murphy said.
Although the trips refresh her and help her refocus on God, Murphy said she and the other students aren't there to convert everyone they meet or "proclaim the word of God, or whatever you want to call it, but just (to) spend time with people. It makes them happy."
And there's no question that the trips have changed her, she said, though there hasn't been any sort of a "lightning bolt" change.
"These trips have certainly, certainly made a huge change in who I am," she said.
The dessert talent show is at 7 p.m. Monday at the United Methodist Church of Steamboat Springs. Call 879-1290.
-- To reach Susan Cunningham, call 871-4203 or e-mail email@example.com