Students travel to Pine Ridge to build and rebuild community

By Chris Steinbach · Wednesday, August 22, 2012
A group of local students gave up everyday luxuries for a week earlier this month in order to serve others.

The 14 West Liberty Community Youth Group members and six chaperones traveled to Pine Ridge, S.D., where they worked with Next Step Ministries to build roofs, new floors and decks at the homes of Pine Ridge Indian Reservation members. The students will tell stories and show photos from the trip during a presentation for the community at 5:30 p.m. Sunday at First Church United.

“It was 110 degrees … There was no air conditioning and we slept on the floor with 120 other people. We were roughing it,” said Jodi Kelly, 48, a leader of the CYG’s Junior High Girls small group, which is called a cube by its members.

“But it also brought us closer together,” Kelly said of the experience.

Students who joined the mission trip had to choose it over sports camps and other activities. But all of them said they would have stayed for a second week if they could have taken a hot shower and washed their dirty clothes, Kelly said.

“I thought that was pretty cool,” said Kelly, whose son, Matt, a West Liberty High School sophomore, joined the trip. “It says a lot about what CYG is doing in our community.”

In its 12th year, the ecumenical group is sponsored by all of the churches in West Liberty. Meetings will be held from 5-7 p.m. on Sundays beginning in mid-September for students in the sixth through 12th grades. The meetings are usually held at First Church United or the West Liberty Christian Fellowship.

The trip to South Dakota was the group’s 11th mission.  “We go when the school tells us there is a free week. We try to accommodate the kids’ sporting events,” Kelly said. “This year, we left at 5 a.m. on Sunday, July 29. We arrived back at 9 p.m. on Saturday Aug. 4.”

It was the first time for some of the students to travel to another state. “We really saw a different culture, a whole different lifestyle,” said Kelly, who has been active in CYG since its inception and serves on its board.

“This is a step in their faith journey,” she said of the students. “Our goal is to serve God while serving others.”
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