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Church teens benefit from helping less fortunate

Published: Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT
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(Photo provided)
Sean and Jackie, members of the Immaculate Conception high school youth group taking part in this summer's mission trip to Kentucky, use a power saw to cut down lumber for one of the many project the local teenagers completed during their trip.
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Monica, foreground, and Valerie, at rear, work with another volunteer to install windows on a home during the Immaculate Conception high school youth group's annual mission trip to Kentucky this summer.
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Bridget and Jackie pause to refer to directions while putting a cabinet together for installation in a Nada, Ky., home during the Immaculate Conception high school youth group's annual summer mission trip.

Many people think Kentucky is only Bluegrass music and mountains, but through my experiences there I have found there is much more than meets the eye.

In this breathtaking state, I have learned that everything happens for a reason, to be grateful for what I have, to see beauty in everything, to be patient and to see the face of God in everyone.

Every summer for the past four years, I have been blessed to be able to go to Kentucky with the Immaculate Conception high school youth group to help the less fortunate.

This summer a group of 25 teens and adults went to Nada, Ky., to try to make a few more houses warmer, safer and drier. Not only were we building houses, but we were also building our character, human compassion and our faith.

My work crew was assigned to work on Donna’s trailer, installing new kitchen cabinets, replacing a couple of floors, and doing other little jobs, such as putting together bed frames for mattresses that were just sitting on the floor and securing a toilet seat on the toilet.

The people we help in Kentucky are always so grateful, and they are always willing to help us in any way that they can. The homeowners almost always offer what little they have to us, such as water and snacks. It is truly heartwarming to see a person with so little, be so generous and cheerful.

These trips have forever changed my view on life. The whole week I was in Kentucky, I kept thinking about what it would be like to not have cabinets in my kitchen, a bed frame under my mattress or a sink in my bathroom. I am lucky to live the luxurious life that I do and I will forever be grateful for what I have after seeing the conditions that some people live in.

I will never forget installing a door in the door frame of a young boy’s bedroom. He was so excited to have a bedroom door that the moment it was up – with tears in his eyes – he put posters on it.

During these annual trips, I have learned more than I thought I would ever learn about carpentry, problem solving and most importantly, myself.

Since early childhood, I have wanted to be a teacher. This dream has not changed, but rather, altered because of my experiences on these mission trips. I have discovered my passion is helping others. Now, when I grow up, I still want to be a teacher, but I do not necessarily in a formal classroom. I want to teach in a place of extreme poverty and help build better lives for people and the generations to come.

Through the last four years on these mission trips, my mind has been opened to bigger ideas and desires to help others in any way possible. With my newly found compassion, better character and stronger faith, I plan to continue along that path that God has put me on.

• Jackie DesLauriers, a member of the Immaculate Conception high school youth group, shares her first-person account, as well as her thoughts and feelings, about participating in the Morris church’s annual mission trip to Kentucky.

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