My Easter Break in Utah, Part 3
During Azusa Pacific University’s Easter Vacation, a unique "summer" mission team ventured two states over to serve God in Utah. The following is the final part of three day-by-day encounters of Utah mission team members Heidi Lynn '05 and Sean Fitzpatrick '04.
Friday, April 18
With toothbrush in hand, I am off to the bathroom to finish getting ready for the day. Today is free day, a day that we can spend with people we have met earlier in the week or going to a place of our choice to minister.
Today is our free day, and our team is going back to BYU and then to a nearby mall. Some of our team members made new friends at BYU and they want to spend some more time with them. It should be a good day to take a break and reflect on our trip.
Saturday, April 19
I’m not sure where much of my team is at the moment in this crowd of high school kids in St. George. I am linked arm-in-arm with Annette Pedroncelli ’06, followed by two of our male teammates for protection. We walk up and down this empty street that fills with teenagers from all over the state coming to spend their spring break hooking up with the opposite sex. We stop a group of girls dressed for the heat of an August afternoon rather than the chill of an April night: "Do you girls know how beautiful you are, inside and out? Don’t let these guys disrespect you. God loves you more than they ever could." Our attempts to let these girls know they are loved were actually met, most of the time, with much gratitude. On the other hand, it was hard to find words to get through to the male population. We found the rest of our team parked on the sidewalk outside of a motel, beginning to sing worship songs led by Tyler Bettge ’06, on his guitar. This is another one of my favorite events of the trip. These girls are exactly where I was in high school. If I lived in Utah back then, I would be doing just what they are now. But I don’t want to see them make the same mistakes I did. This evening God has been teaching me to truly love these kids. And I do.
I have never experienced persecution as real as what I experienced tonight. Maybe I was a little too forward when proclaiming the Gospel to people, but I really saw the intense need to share Jesus' love with the people in St. George. I was in shock at the willingness of so many young women to give favors, and of young men to take advantage of them. It was frustrating to share my passion and my love only to have it fall on deaf ears. After being told to shut up and ignored or run away from, I wondered why I was there. It was a real challenge to my faith, and I hurt for the people who do not know the love of the God like I do.
Sunday, April 20
We just got out of an Easter service at Calvary Chapel, St. George, and are off to the park for a picnic. After that, we head to our secret location for the night to debrief about all the happenings of our trip, before we head home tomorrow. I am sad that our outreach in Utah is coming to a close, but I know that outreach is never restricted to a certain place or time. God used us during this week to reach the Latter Day Saints (LDS) in Utah, and He also used this week to teach us valuable lessons in ministering to different religious groups. Our purpose was to learn, serve, and love in Utah, and our purpose is the same at home.
Man, I am tired, but what a great day! Church at the Calvary Chapel in St. George was awesome. Their worship band rocked, and I learned a lot from the Easter message. We drove to Las Vegas, and were surprised to learn that we were going to stay at the Stratosphere Hotel! We ate a delicious dinner, and then went back to the hotel to debrief for a while. Some of the more crazy people on the team decided to go on top of the Stratosphere and ride the rides. I bought a ticket for the roller coaster, and I was so scared, but it ended up being one of the most thrilling things I’ve ever done! It was so good to relax a little today, especially after the challenge of last night. We all needed time to comprehend what happened.
Monday, April 21
As I sadly left the parking lot, my heart already ached to be back in Utah. I left my Utah family behind me, very well knowing that we would never all be together again. The question that burns in my mind is, okay, now what? Even after all the debriefing we did today, I am still faced with confusion about what to do now that I am back at school. All I know is that I am excited about what God is doing in Utah. I will miss my Utah family, my new friends I met when I was there, and Utah in general. It will be so hard to not be there, but I know that God will use me in Azusa as long as it is my time to be here.
Posted: June 11, 2003