Every year, Willamette Christian Church runs a program in which high school students can travel to other countries or states for a mission trip to make a difference. Last year WCC took 80 students to Montana and 35 students to impoverished towns in Nicaragua, returning with positive feedback. On June 30 to July 6 this summer, the church has decided to take its trip a little closer to home: San Francisco, Calif.
“I’m really looking forward to experiencing a new type of lifestyle that is something that many people are used to that I’ve ever seen before,” Paige Crozier, junior, said. “I’m looking forward to how local it is but how different the culture will be.
Chris Nye, high school pastor, Andrew Martin, middle school pastor, and Todd Bateman, associate youth pastor, will lead this year’s mission trip. Every week, Nye runs the popular Wednesday night program for high school students. He looks forward to this trip and making a difference across state lines.
“We’ve done one every year and we change it up every year. In San Francisco, we’re gonna work with an organization called City Impact, a non profit that works in this tiny part of the city, right in downtown, called the Tenderloin District,” Nye said. “It’s basically the population of West Linn in one city block. There’s a lot of ethnicities and it has a long history but its super impoverished.”
City Impact exists to serve in various areas and give people food, clothing, water, support, medical care when they need it. Both Martin and Bateman are from San Francisco and have visited the Tenderloin District before. These 50 or so students will be accompanied by approximately 15 or 20 leaders, working alongside City Impact to help the impoverished in the district, according to Nye.
Before hitting the road, however, the students must also undergo light training. “We will talk about what San Francisco is like, and what our role is there and what it isn’t,” Nye said. “Sometimes thats more important, knowing what its not. Our role isn’t to be these amazing people who try to save the city. [City Impact] has been doing this for 20 plus years and we are just excited to join them in what they do.”
During their stay, members of program will serve food, operate a thrift shop, and participate in actual ministry. And by no means is it all work and no play. Students will also be to watch a spectacular firework show over the Golden Gate Bridge for the fourth of July.
“I think in our generation we like to be entertained together, like we go to movies and thats fun. But we underestimate that when we work together, it bonds a group,” Nye said. “When we go on missions, we work hard together. And when we work hard, relationships kind of happen along the way of that. It’s almost unexpected the people we become friends with.”
Being her third mission trip, Crozier also looks forward to new experiences. “[The Nicaragua mission trip] was really eye opening yet overwhelming,” Crozier said. “But we got the chance to help so many people and just see the way people live and see how grateful people with so little can because that’s what they’re so accustomed to.
Though poverty cannot be overcome in day, these students and leaders aspire to help those who are impoverished case by case. In hopes of making a difference in each person they encounter, this mission trip is anticipating the adventures awaiting in San Francisco.