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Youth discover service, potential in mission


7:00 A.M. EDT July 6, 2011

Karla Kiefer (center), of Sedgewickville, Mo., helps repair a tornado-damaged house in Big Rock, Tenn. A UMNS web-only image.
Karla Kiefer (center), of Sedgewickville, Mo., helps repair a tornado-damaged house in Big Rock, Tenn. A UMNS web-only image.

Beverly Boehmer has been on mission trips since 1964. Now she helps teens experience the same joy of service she discovered as a youth. “I believe that mission trips really do change lives,” Boehmer said. “It has changed my life.”

Boehmer is the conference coordinator of Youth and College Ministries for the Missouri Annual (regional) Conference. Her committee selects the locations and dates for the service projects each year and notifies churches in the conference.

Boehmer said she coordinates the teams, helps youth to take leadership and ensures they have what they need. She said she acts as a support system and troubleshoots issues. Boehmer acts more as an organizer than a builder. “I really know very little about construction,” she said. “I probably don’t even know the names of the tools.”

Abbey Chaloupka of Carney, Mo., is a summer intern for Youth and College Ministries. She traveled with a group of about 170 students to Clarksville, Tenn., to do flood and tornado relief work.

“It’s amazing what the kids can do,” Chaloupka said. “It’s really cool to be able to see that the young kids can do just as much as the older kids.” But, it wasn’t just the kids on this trip when it came to the Kiefers who made the trip a family affair. The Kiefers, of Sedgewickville United Methodist Church, helped to work on a home owned by Harold Wayne Eagle of Big Rock.

“Our annual mission trips are also family vacations” explained Mom Karla. “My husband…I call the workaholic…when it comes to vacation, he is more comfortable doing a vacation such as a mission trip than to go out and spend money at vacation resorts and other things.”

Dad Wayne agreed.

“It works out pretty good. My wife says that’s the only way she can get me to leave home…’cause I work all the time,” he said. “We’ve got a small farm. So it’s one way to get away to help get something done for other people and be as a family together.”

Tate, 11, and Trent, 18, also enjoy the trips.

“Normally we get a lot of time to talk to each other while we work or have fun,” Tate said.

Eagle is glad the Kiefers were there.

“These folks took the time to look at what they were doing and to be considerate about my house and my belongings. And, it makes a world of difference,” he said.

“I think one of the things we see is that it takes everyone to be able to serve,” Boehmer said. “And, we all have our own gifts and ways we can serve, regardless of what they are.”

Boehmer said the teams of youth separate into smaller groups each week and serve different sites around the city where they are working. Chaloupka said the groups have worked on roofs, installed wheelchair ramps and performed various other projects.

“The one thing that we really want is for the youth to feel like they have really gained something from this,” Boehmer said.

The trips are for students in grades six through 12. The total trip expenses are $130, which, Boehmer said, is affordable for most youth or for churches that might sponsor the youth. She said that price includes “everything from the time they arrive to the time they leave.”

“I feel like that every local church should do anything they can to make sure that every youth attends a mission trip sometime during those years,” Boehmer said, “because I believe it’s so formative in what they do and how they see themselves as they get older. They tend to be more serving as adults.”

Chaloupka, one of four interns, has gone on 11 mission trips since 2008 and will go on six of the eight mission Youth and College Ministries trips this summer. “It’s just a wonderful experience to be able to do this work,” she said.

“Mission experience has really helped me to kind of step out of my comfort zone,” Chaloupka said. “It helps you leave your comfort zone, maybe talk to people more about God, and just do things that maybe other people aren’t willing to do.”

As an intern, Chaloupka said, she works with the leadership team, planning worship and evening activities, making sure groups have what they need and taking pictures. “We’re just the go-to people for all the teams that come in, and we take care of what they need.”

Boehmer said young people tend to live up to what others expect of them, so she tries to be affirming. “I think we just really need to encourage them and to help them see what their capabilities are,” she said.

“Seeing these kids, it really shows that we, as youth, are not only the future of the church, but we are a part of ‘now’ church,” Chaloupka said. “We have so much that we can offer, and mission trips are such a great way to help get kids involved. It helps them see what they are capable of doing on their own and that they have the potential to do great things.

“Mission trips have really changed my life,” she said. “I don’t know what I would do without them. It’s just the best thing that’s happened to me.”

*Snell is an intern at United Methodist Communications, Nashville, Tenn. She is a senior at Lipscomb University. Lydia Johnson is also an intern at United Methodist Communications. Johnson is a recent graduate of the University of the Pacific.

News media contact: Maggie Hillery, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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Showing 2 comments

  • barbarajphifer 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    Bev Boehmer is one of the treasures of our Connection!  She is making a difference for Christ and the world every day.  My youth just came back from five days of serving in Colorado.  It was a wonderful experience for everyone, and they learned incredible amounts about our ecosystem in the U.S.
    show more show less
  • Gregory Forrester 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    To find out how to locate mission sites and lead mission teams - contact your UMVIM Jurisdictional coordinator!
    You can find their contact info at:  http://new.gbgm-umc.org/about/...
    They can help guide you to insure that you have a qualified site and appropriate service environments for your team!
    show more show less


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