Students give and receive during winter break on B.C. coast

by James Morgan

2011 student mission team from Concordia University College of Alberta

Reading week for many students means hanging out at home with friends, or heading somewhere southern and sunny, and for some, it even means studying!

However, that wasn’t the case for 23 students from Concordia University College of Alberta (CUCA) who spent February 17 to 27 working with the B.C. Mission Boat Society. This was the ninth annual mission trip for CUCA students. Divided into three teams, the students travelled to the remote aboriginal communities of Bella Bella, Klemtu, and Ehattesaht on the B.C. coast. According to Mission Boat Society Executive Director Marcus Huff, the students were there to “share God’s love” through a Kid’s Club program, home visits, youth nights, and music ministry.

Poster advertising the Kid's Cub at Ehattesat

Student Jessica Pixner, on her second annual trip, served as the Mission and Service Director and Ehattesaht Team leader this year. This was her third visit to the community with which she has developed a close bond. “It was great to continue building relationships, grow closer with those I’d met previously and even meet the newborn of a couple of friends!” she says, also commenting how “not only were we able to serve and show God’s love in some unique ways to others while in Ehattesaht, but God changed me during the trip for the better as well.”

At Klemtu, Kaitlin Schmitz served as team leader. She recalls a home visit with a woman named Peggy and her sister Esther, who were selling crafts that included small plastic and canvas crosses. She wanted to buy one but didn’t have the money, so one of the women paid for it. “Peggy paid for a cross that I could not afford. This is like Jesus Christ giving up His life to pay for my sins,” she observes.

Alyx Quinlan, team leader for the group in Bella Bella says one of the biggest ways her team saw God’s love during the week was a parallel to St. Luke’s Gospel, where Jesus is eating at the Pharisee’s home and He notices everyone taking seats of honour. “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honour, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited.” Quinlan says they were continually being invited to memorial services, funerals, and banquets while in Bella Bella. “We always entered humbly, not knowing if we were welcomed and every time the people from the community asked us to take places of honour, whether than meant sharing music, standing up to be thanked, or sitting with the chiefs at the head table, during the banquet,” she comments.

Children made sheep masks to remind them that Jesus is the Good Shepherd

The mission trip brings a bit of light into the isolated atmosphere in the communities when it is needed the most. “The winter season can be dark and gloomy there,” says Marcus Huff, adding that having youth take part in the mission makes it easier to connect with youth who live in the communities. He notes that mission trips where groups stay in one community for a period of time and focus on the people there have become the preferred option for volunteers with the Mission Boat Society. The society carry out its summer 2011 activities using this format, rather than following the past practice of having one boat travelling to various communities and spending only a short period of time. He stresses that only the approach is changing, the focus of the ministry will remain the same.

The focus shows through with the experiences the CUCA students shared about their winter break. “Throughout the week, our team was reminded that God was in the community before we arrived and He will continue to be in the community when we are gone.  He is working in mighty ways and we were grateful to be part of something that is so much bigger than us,” says Jordan Mayer, who spent the week in Ehattesaht.

Marcus Huff says the students benefitted greatly from the experience.  “In the process of sharing God’s love in the community, they were embraced by God’s love.”


Posted By: Matthew Block
Posted On: March 31, 2011
Posted In: Education News, Headline,

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