In Matt. 25:40, Jesus says, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.” This year during spring break, almost 100 teen Pathfinders and their staff put this verse into action as they gave of their time and talents to help those in the greater Spokane, Wash., community.
Teen Pathfinder Mission Adventure (TPMA) is a mission opportunity for teens to make a difference locally. Instead of traveling overseas to participate in a foreign mission trip, teens have the opportunity to work serving others in their own community.
The main focus of this year’s TPMA was to clean up Takesa Village, a mobile home park in Mead, Wash., in need of service. Projects requested by the residents and management included raking, removing household trash, clearing overgrown lots, stocking firewood and building porches. Residents were so thrilled to see energetic teenagers enthusiastically making a difference in their community that one even called the local news station to come and do a story on the group.
Judy Bitton, a staff member from the Colville (Wash.) Cougars Pathfinders, says, “A high point for me was seeing the people in the community react to the work we were doing for them.”
Friday, as the group of teens prepared to return to base camp, the head coordinator of Takesa Village boarded the bus to personally thank the teens. She excitedly shared that because of the news story highlighting their work, she had received more than 500 calls and texts from people interested in occupying all 65 vacant lots. Elated, she explained that her next three weeks were booked to move new residents into the community. She continued to express her appreciation for the work accomplished, stating that, because the maintenance staff are older, they find it difficult to keep up with the work that needs to be done. Having the teens working really helped ease their burden, she said.
Other projects tackled during the week included painting the Fairfield (Wash.) Church basement, replacing a local resident’s shed roof, moving and rebuilding Upper Columbia Academy’s greenhouse in Spangle, Wash., helping Cat Tales Zoological Park in Spokane prepare for a new season, doing several small projects around the house of a conference employee, and cleaning and organizing for a local women’s shelter.
Each evening, Eric Haeger’s thought-provoking yet interactive worship talks centered on creation and proving we have a purpose in this world. His desire was that “teens would come away from this week seeing that it is reasonable to believe in God and that He created us with a purpose. My hope is that everyone now understands that the Christian walk and salvation is easy and simple, and will give us fulfillment for the short time we are in this world.”
Anthony Jones, a first-time attendee from the Coulee Reclaimers Pathfinder Club, says, “I learned from Haeger that each one of us is incredibly complex. We show in the way our bodies are made that there has to be a creator who cares for us individually. We didn’t happen by chance.”
After evening worship, teams convened together in a quiet space for Team Time, during which teams recapped the day’s experiences and shared praises and prayer requests to be prayed over as a team. Bonds were established as teens shared personal stories and struggles with their teammates. Hannah Thornton, a Libby (Mont.) Kootenai Eagles Pathfinder, shared that her favorite part was having such a close bond with her team.
During the Friday night agape feast, teens and staff were invited to share stories of their experiences over the week. Over and over experiences were shared testifying to the power of teamwork, compassion, perseverance and, most of all, prayer. Laughter and applause echoed through the cafeteria as testimonies ranged from amazing to hilarious.
When asked what she enjoys about TPMA, Stacey McCormick, Deer Park (Wash.) Mountaineers, says, “I like being a part of something that is bigger than myself. I like feeling that I am being the hands and feet of Jesus. Putting others first feels really good.”
As the week drew to a close, Richie Brower, Upper Columbia Conference associate director of youth and family life, challenged the teens to meet with God each day, go where He leads and tell their story of what God has done for them.
TPMA ended Sunday with a goodbye line, where old and new friends parted with handshakes, hugs and admonishments to return next year.
Megan McCormick, Deer Park Mountaineers Pathfinder
See Local News Coverage from Spokane.