Spreading Joy to Others

Students, parents reflect on benefits of mission trips

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As a Mormon girl attending the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sophomore Emily Hathaway aspires to attend a religious mission trip once she turns 19 years old.
“I want to go on a mission trip because I think it’s a great experience for me. If I can help some people hear the gospel and be better people, I think that would be such a great feeling and can help other peoples’ lives be better,” Emily said. “I just (want to) help people in that way.”Emily’s father Jon Hathaway said mission trips consist of three parts: the first is to teach other people about Jesus Christ and how to become happier, the second is to teach others how to love themselves and the third is for the missionaries “to grow and to mature and to experience things that they will never get to experience if (the missionary) stayed wherever they came from.”

Submitted Photo || Emma Cappella
Junior Emma Cappella fixes the roof of a house on her mission trip in Memphis, Tenn.

Emily said she is excited to go on her first mission trip soon. One reason she said she wanted to go was due to her father, her two older brothers and sister-in-law’s experiences with their mission trips; Emily has another older brother who is currently on his mission trip.
“My brothers have said that (going on mission trips) has really strengthened their testimony and beliefs because they have a bunch of spiritual experiences (during it),” Emily said. “Even though I believe in (my beliefs, going on mission trips) will just make (my beliefs even) stronger and (are) also a way to help people because the gospel makes me happy. I have joy in what I believe in and so being able to go help out other people and achieve joy in their lives, I think, is a way to (help strengthen my relationship with God).”
For Christian and junior Lauren Lee, she has already been on a mission trip where she helped those “less fortunate” in Indianapolis. She said the trip only deepened and strengthened her beliefs and faith in God.
“It’s a way for Christians to go out to areas where people either don’t know the gospel or are in need of help,” Lee said. “We do things like community service, construction projects and things like that.”Although Lee’s experience with mission trips has been limited to east Indianapolis, she said she strengthened her belief greatly from that one experience over the summer.
“The children (in east Indianapolis) don’t get a lot of attention from their families or they don’t have the proper nutrition needs being met at home, so there’s this community center down there and I helped lead a class with a certain grade,” Lee said. “I helped them with regular school activities like reading and math but also we would talk a little by the lessons. We would eat and do fun activities with the kids.”
The term “mission trips” has different meanings for different people, and for Lee, it was an eye-opening one. Lee said she hopes to be able to go on another trip again.

Submitted Photo || Lauren Lee
Junior Lauren Lee works with others to tie-dye a shirt for her mission trip in Indianapolis.

“For me, (going on mission trips is) a way to grow personally in my relationship with God but also it’s a really good experience just to see how different someone else’s life from mine can be, even if they’re only 40 minutes away,” Lee said. “It’s gratifying to see someone being helped by what you do.”
Emma Cappella, non-denominational Christian and junior, said her mission trip was a notable experience.
“I like to go on mission trips because it’s an experience,” Cappella said. “It lets me see how other people in our country and in other countries are living, makes me more grateful for what I have and makes me want to serve others and help them with their current stage (in life).”

Jon also said he learned something valuable from his mission trip to Los Angeles.
“(From my mission trip), I learned that some people live day-to-day. They wake up in the morning and they do not know how their day is going to go while I’m such a planner,” Jon said. “(I met people) who didn’t know if they were going to be alive the next day; these were people that I would have never interacted with in my entire life.”
Before applying to go on her mission trip, Lee said she did not feel any pressure from others; rather, she said she felt personally motivated.
“It’s just something that I feel like I want to do, but I’ve never felt like there was this pressure to,” Lee said.
In contrast, Cappella said she felt a bit pressured to go on the mission trip.
“I have (felt pressured to go on mission trips) before but not because of what you would think,” Cappella said. “I felt pressured to go before because my friends have really wanted me to go and they have gone before so it made me think, ‘Oh, maybe I should go.’”
Other than the pressure, Emily said one of her fears when going on her first mission trip was getting along with other people that will accompany her.

Speak-Ups, Photos || Laasya Mamidipalli

“I’m afraid I won’t get along with my companions because being friends with someone is different than living with someone,” Emily said. “I’m afraid of not getting along with the people I have to live with because that creates animosity between us and makes it harder to preach to other people about love if you’re not getting along with the person you have to get along with.”

Although Emily’s fear of mission trips comes from getting along with companions, Lee said her fears were different from what Emily said.
“Things I was nervous about were mainly like, ‘Would I actually be able to help anyone?’ as well as personal reasons like, ‘Would it help my relationship with God?’ I was expecting to grow somewhat,” Lee said.

Despite Emily’s worries, she said she’s going to be a part of something new since her church recently lowered the age requirement for women to go on mission trips from 19 years old to 21 years old.
“I’m kind of part of the new trend (among women at my church), going on a mission when I’m 19,” Emily said.
She also said even though she will be taking a gap year after her first year in college, she said she knows she will be able to gain a different kind of life experience for her to mature and grow as a Mormon and as a citizen.
“I think it’s important to know that there are life experiences that you cannot learn in the classroom,” Jon said. “I would encourage everyone, at some point (of time) before they finish college, to either take a gap year between high school and college or to take a gap year in college and spend that year doing something worthwhile to help the human race.”

Nathan Huang