Service. Friendships. Hope.

 

 

What does Voice of Truth mean to me? What does a “typical” day look like? These are such difficult questions to answer. Years upon years of memories and lessons and relationships. A playground. Yard work. Nonstop laughing. Emptying out an old building. Moving a pile of dirt. Bible Studies. Filling water jugs. Devotions. Water balloon fights. Pokemon Go!

Voice of Truth (V.O.T.) Mission Trip had its first year in 2008, lead by Michele Dober. It was modeled after a trip called LifeChangers in Detroit, and Pontiac was chosen as our destination because it is so close to home, and St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Pontiac was undergoing a revival by God through Missionary (now Pastor) Dietrick Gladden and his family. Over the years hundreds of people have come on the Voice of Truth Mission Trip. While middle school and high school youth tend to be the target of the trip, adults and young adults are vital parts of the trip as well, assisting both with serving as well as with having fun.

Each day starts with wonderful volunteers making breakfast, and we all get ready for the day. The kids and leaders are broken up into groups and each group has a work site for the morning. This year, one of our two sites was Ferry Farms playground, which Voice of Truth built in 2010 with the leadership of LeAnne Schmidt from Calvary Lutheran Church as well as help from Habitat for Humanity, Thrivent Financial, and other organizations, and V.O.T. has continued to expand and work on upkeep each year since. This year we worked on weeding the area, building flower beds, planting flowers, and placing stones with bible verses in the orchard. Our other site was with an organization called Micah 6, a nonprofit started by a group of friends who decided to move into Pontiac and make a difference by forming relationships. They have community gardens, bible studies, a bike riding club, and a church. Their fresh produce store and coffee shop are opening soon. They recently acquired an old school that they have a 4-year-plan to turn into a community center. We cleaned out sections of the school, worked in the gardens, and played with neighborhood children during Kid’s Club.

In the evenings, there are many bonding activities. A lot of fun games are played to get to know each other better, have fun, and get energy out. Whether they’re organized games like Alaskan Baseball or Ships and Shores, or smaller games of Egyptian Ratscrew or Monopoly during free time, the laughing almost never stops.

The amazing volunteers who cook dinner are so appreciated. We eat really well on this trip and it is all thanks to those who donate and organize our meals and snacks!!

Most importantly we grow in our faith on this trip. We sing praises to God through worship songs. One of our favorites is “Voice of Truth” by Casting Crowns, a theme song for our trip. We also have a devotional time where we have a speaker who talks about different aspects of life and how to keep God at the focal point. Finally, we have church group devotions where we have an opportunity to talk more intimately in smaller groups about the topics that we discussed.

Being able to form life long friendships that are based on serving others and loving God is one of my favorite things about Voice of Truth. Over the years, I have learned so much about myself and my relationship with God. I have also formed and strengthened some of my most cherished friendships through this trip. The hope for the world that I see through this trip, through the hearts of gold of the organizers, to the kids who give up a week of their summer to do service, to the little girl that rides her bike to the playground and helps us weed, to the organizations doing wonderful things in Pontiac, to the love shared through devotions, I see the hope that comes from Jesus. Even though there is always hope in Jesus, sometimes, it’s a little easier to see, and this week is one of those times.
 
Written by Rachel Dober
 
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