A Life Changing Summer.

By Bethany Aydinalp, Normandale Youth

Over the summer I was blessed with many opportunities to not only travel to many places I had never been, but to meet new people, grow stronger in my faith, and see God in others. I was able to do this because of your gifts as a congregation, and with the support you have for youth and all of our adventures. There was the Choir Tour to New York City, Camp Wapo, a mission trip to Austin, Texas, and even the 9th grade retreat where we helped at Normandale House. Everyone who participated was touched in their own way which made us closer as a group, and helped us make a difference thanks to your gifts as a congregation.

In the 10 days we spent as a Youth Choir going to different states, cities, and churches, we spread the gospel through music. We experienced a form of being close to God that isn’t your basic worship service. Through our concerts we were blessed to have the experience of seeing people be touched by our music, we met amazing people through staying with host families, and we made memories I hope none of us forget.

Two weeks later a group of TIM (Teens in Mission) Teamers and campers, made their way to Amery, WI for a week of games, arts and crafts, singing, praying, and meeting new friends. As Teens In Mission, we help counselors enrich campers’ relationships with God; and also take time as teens to work on strategies to keep our faith strong even though we deal with obstacles like school, sports, friends, and growing up.  Camp Wapo is a great place to make new friends and grow in your own faith while having fun!

Another two weeks goes by and a small group of teens and I (plus some really awesome chaperons) head to Austin, Texas for a mission trip through Group Mission Trips. After a long two-day drive, we meet some Texans and get ready to spend four hot but wonderful days doing service around the Austin area. My group and I did basic yard work and around the house tasks for subsidized housing in a small community called “Stonehaven”. We also played some pretty intense Skip-Bo games at the elderly community center, which occasionally brought out the inner competitor in not only the teens, but even in some cute old ladies! It was so rewarding to know the impact we made and to have had the opportunity to meet such wonderful people who say “y’all”.

Finally after all of that; the youth finished with the 9th grade confirmation retreat helping at Normandale House and going to Pine City to have fun at Molly Haeg’s cabin. In my opinion this was the most life changing five days of my summer. Seeing what we can do as a congregation to help the lives of some incredible people on Elliot Avenue and Normandale House was amazing and so humbling. The appreciation they showed toward us for building a path, planting flowers, and helping at National Night Out, was so humbling. After conversations with the people who live on Elliot Avenue and at Normandale House, the message they want sent to us as a church is we’ve helped change their lives, and helped them through tough times with our love and support.

All in all, this summer was life changing for me, and everyone involved. As youth, we couldn’t have made this summer possible without your many forms of support and interest in making all of our opportunities possible. I think when we have so much involvement not just as youth; but from the entire congregation, it helps us continue to grow stronger as a community. Because of your gifts, I was able to have the best summer yet. 

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