Mission trip all fun and games, until somebody throws broccoli
After much washing of cars and selling of doughnuts, the youth of Madison Christian Church went to Mississippi, where they ended up in a food fight with three-week-old boxes of broccoli.
No, this wasnâ€™t an ordinary mission trip.
It began with a decision on the part of the youth and their ministers â€" to go and help others. Enlisting the help of S.O.A.R. (Serving Others And Rejoicing) Ministries, Inc., an agency that organizes mission trips, the group began raising funds.
First, there was a car wash in the old Wal-Mart parking lot in Madison. Between the hot dogs sold and the cars washed, the youth were able to raise between $250 and $300, with one generous donor giving $100 to have his truck washed.
â€œThat got the kids going,â€� Madison Christian Church Youth Minister Kevin Stephens said.
Then came the Krispy Kremes.
â€œOne weekend, the kids went around and sold doughnuts,â€� Stephens said. â€œThey went to businesses and sold orders. The next weekend, we filled orders. We bought extra and sold the rest at Wal-Mart.â€�
Selling about 250 boxes at $2 a box, the group made about $500 that weekend.
The group then elected to sell candy bars, taking the items to school, selling them to friends and family. That fund-raiser made about $250.
Finally, there was one last car wash â€" one very profitable car wash.
The group held the final fund-raiser at Advanced Auto in Madison, and made $600.
â€œPeople came by and we had hot dogs, Cokes and cookies,â€� Stephens said. â€œAt 9:30 (a.m.), cars were being washed. We stayed packed until about 4 (p.m.) and at 5 (p.m.) we did the last pick-up truck. That last guy that came looked like heâ€™d been mud-bogging that night. We had a lot of people come back (that came to the first car wash). There were a lot of donations. I believe we did at least 100 carsâ€¦We (the adults) had an all-day water battle with some of the kids. It was fun, it really was.â€�
After raising the $600 from that car wash, a couple in the church informed the group they would match what they raised, giving the youth a total of $1,200 for their efforts.
After all was said and done, the group raised over $4,000 through fund-raisers and donations, an amount that allowed them to go on their trip.
The group left on a Sunday after church at 2 p.m. and arrived at Sunbelt Christian Youth Ranch in Lake, Miss., outside Jackson, between 8 and 9 p.m. that night.
That trip was the longest ever taken in the church bus, a donated 1988 model with a new transmission, according to Madison Christian Church Pastor Dwight Webster.
The youth were put straight to work the next day.
Sunbelt Christian Youth Ranch is a working ranch that takes in and puts troubled kids, from six to 16 years old, to work, according to Stephens. They are responsible for milking the cows and cooking lunch and dinner, among other things. They plow and grow their own food, and slaughter their own cows and pigs.
The Madison Christian youth jumped right in to their new working environment â€" helping the ranch by picking all kinds of produce, including blueberries, tomatoes, bell peppers, banana peppers, squash and cantaloupes.
Stephens and a member of the youth group were able to fix two of the ranchâ€™s tractors, which didnâ€™t work and prevented the youth on the ranch from being able to till the land.
The youth pulled nails out of boards â€" two by fours and plywood â€" and were able to build a storage shed.
â€œThe manager said it would probably take four days to pull the nails out,â€� Webster said. â€œIt took a day and a half.â€�
And then, there was broccoli, lots and lots of three-week-old broccoli.
â€œI guess a tractor-trailer donated broccoli (to the ranch),â€� Stephens said. â€œThey canned all they could (but the rest was left out). It had been three weeks. The boxes were soggy and the smell was pretty bad.â€�
â€œThere were hundreds of cases of broccoli,â€� Webster said. â€œThey were so wet from broccoli juice, ultimately the kids got in a broccoli fight. The smell was pretty bad, but they made the best of it.â€�
Eventually, the broccoli made it down to the pigs for their dinner, or was tilled into the garden.
The Madison Christian Church youth worked all week, and left the ranch on Friday morning, making an overnight stop in Bessemer, Ala., outside Birmingham, to play at a water park, Alabama Adventures, for the day. They arrived back home in Morgan County on a Saturday morning.
Stephens considers the trip a success, and thinks that his youth gained even more from the experience than learning to help others, which, on its own, is a valuable lesson.
â€œThese kids of ours, everyone had their own views and stuff,â€� Stephens said. â€œThis brought them all together, taught them how to work together for someone other than themselves. There were four boys and four girls, all between the ages of 12 and 17. They learned to work together, which will help them in the long run, working together in the church.â€�
Currently, the youth are planning for their next trip. While the idea of going to another country was brought up, the group wants to do what they can at home, in their own backyard.
â€œNow weâ€™re getting ready to start fund-raisers for the mission trip next year,â€� Stephens said. â€œWe donâ€™t know where weâ€™re going yet. Thereâ€™s a lot of trips to Mexico or overseas. We decided to stay here at home. We have young kids and wanted to be sure they were going to be able to handle the mission trip. We wanted them to get a taste of doing it. They handled it very, very well. They told us they canâ€™t wait for the next one.â€�
The group is talking about selling doughnuts and holding a car wash again, perhaps towards the end of August.
And so, with the planning of another mission trip comes another chance at learning to work together to help othersâ€¦and another chance to get into a really messy food fight.