High School Mission Trip
High School Mission Trip by 2012 Team Member Katie Zimmerman
This past month I had the blessing of being on the High School Mission Trip Team. We traveled to St. Augustine, Florida, where we learned a variety of different skills and life-lessons. The team was in Florida for eight days, but after getting sick I had to go down a couple days later. I still had time to help out and enjoy time with everybody.

On the trip, the team worked at three main institutions. First they worked at St. Photios Shrine, a Greek Orthodox shrine that is right off of St. George Street. They melted all of the wax off the floor in order for the shrine to raise funds to seal the floor properly. On Wednesday, we hopped in the cars and drove to St. Francis Homeless Shelter. The team split up and took on various tasks throughout the day to help out around the Shelter. We all agreed that our favorite part of the day was actually sitting down with the residents and learning their individual stories. The next two days we worked at the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC). We helped with two bulk mailings and did some house cleaning. On Saturday we had a free day, so after our Moleben at St. Photios, we headed to the beach! We had a wonderful time watching Greg try to catch seagulls. Sunday morning we attended St. Justin the Martyr, which is an OCA church in Jacksonville. Sunday afternoon we headed to the airport to say our goodbyes and travel home. I was the last one to leave, so I had the privilege of seeing everybody off!

I really enjoyed the trip and I would have definitely done it again if I was not going to college. One of my favorite parts of the trip was actually being able to stay at OCMC, or as we called it, Home-cmc. The staff was very nice to us and treated us like we were their own.

It was very hard to say goodbye to all the wonderful people that we met, and even though most of the team knew each other, we had a special connection and really became a family, which was our #1 rule. In the end, the entire team wanted to stay, but we all returned home to hopefully spread the light about how wonderful mission work really is.

High School Mission Trip Reflection by Andrea Linck

Going on the UOL High School Mission Trip has had a dramatic impact on my life. I have a new appreciation of how fortunate I am and I now understand the plight of my fellow man. Seeing all the homeless, I realized how fortunate I am and I am truly grateful to my parents, my immediate family and my church family for all the support they give me.

The most moving part of my week was seeing the look on Polexeni Maouris Hillier (Polly), the Director of the St. Photios Greek Orthodox National Shrine, face after she saw the cleaned floor in the shrine. We worked so hard to get the wax off the floor. It took many hours and was very tedious. I felt so miserable after doing all the work, but the minute she walked in, the look on her face was so warm and full of thanks my heart was filled with the love she sent. I was much moved and at that moment felt that what I was doing was absolutely the right thing.

I want to thank everyone involved in the planning and running of this trip, especially Ms. Natalie Kapeluck Nixon and Fr. Deacon John Charest. And I would like to thank everyone who supported me spiritually, emotionally and financially.
Andrea's Reflection
2012 High School Mission Team Returns from Successful Trip to St. Augustine, FL


Katie's Reflection


2012 High School Mission Team Returns from Successful Trip to St. Augustine, FL


Greg
's Reflection
I wasn't sure what to expect when we landed in Florida way back in August. After hearing Fr. Rucker speak at the Lenten retreat I was filled with wonder. Exactly what was missionary work and why would anyone choose to leave all the comforts of home and travel to remote third world countries. I was surprised to find out that missionaries can be found close to home as well as far away. While we were at the OCMC in St Augustine, Florida, I learned about their amazing mission and found real satisfaction in helping them with their work. We had the opportunity to participate in the mission work done in the local community.

We worked at St. Photios Shrine helping to remove wax that had dripped from the candles onto the floor. We got to view relics from many of the saints and took the time to talk and pray with the caretakers of the Shrine. We had time to reflect as we silently moved along a prayer walk until we were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to sing out loud our praises to God. Needless to say, we turned a few heads.

My favorite part of the trip was the time we spent working at St. Francis Homeless Shelter. I've worked at local food banks here in my hometown of Pittsburgh and I have always come away reminding myself not to take for granted all the gifts God has given me. We often take a warm bed, clean clothes, hot meals and the feeling of belonging for grant it. Spending time with the people at St. Francis reminded me just how fortunate I am.

I was able to participate in the High School Mission Trip through the generosity and support of my family as well as my parish family. When I came home, I put together a slide show of the trip which I shared with everyone at coffee hour. I highly recommend the High School Mission Trip for those teens who are wondering if it is something they would want to do. Believe me, you won't be sorry.