Michael, 14 years old

My name is Michael. I am a graduate of Saint Monica School in Methuen, MA and currently a freshman at Presentation of Mary Academy, also in Methuen, MA.

I want to tell you about a mission trip that I went on this past summer with my Mom. The mission was run by a group called Beyond Sunday Missions. The founder of Beyond Sunday Missions is Mrs. Valerie Shippen. Mrs. Shippen used to bring kids down to West Virginia for mission trips for many years, but that was through her church in Ipswich, MA. When the parish was no longer able to support the mission trips and they had to be canceled, Mrs. Shippen did not give up on them. For two years, she worked on creating her own privately funded mission trips. I had the privilege to be part of the first one.

On the first day of the trip, 14 kids from the Ipswich area and I, along with 8 adult chaperones, left Ipswich in vans and began our 3 hour trip to Mexico, Maine. We arrived at the homestead where we would be staying and picked our sites and groups for the week.

For the first two days, my group stayed and worked on the homestead’s dining area which was in disrepair. We ripped off the old wallpaper, fixed the roof and ceiling and put in a new door.

On Wednesday, we were given a day off from work and we went on a tour of the area. We took a hike up nearby Tumbledown Mountain and ended up in Coos Canyon where there was a lake. We all got to swim and relax and had loads of fun. That evening we went to a local restaurant for Chinese food and arm wrestling! So many friendships were made this week through laughter and hard work.

On Thursday, my group went to a local food bank in the area and assisted with the packaging of bags of food to be given out to those in need, of which there were many.

On Friday, we painted the library of the local grammar school, so the children of the area would have something new and fresh to enjoy when they returned to school in September.

Finally, on Saturday, we went to help a local lady, Arlene, fix up her house. Her heating system is partly outside and last winter, animals got into the area and chewed the wires, leaving her without heat for much of the long, cold Maine winter. Arlene’s son is in the military and is unable to help her around the house, so we also cleaned up the yard and did other chores for her, things she couldn’t do for herself.

Each night we shared faith experiences with each other and wrote in our journals about our experiences of the day. I made many new friends, learned how to help those less fortunate than I am and became closer to God all in one week. I can’t wait to go back next year!!