A Lot Can Happen In a Year

My name is Alyssa Minear and I am so honored to tell you about the recent mission trips and share my story.

On June 19, 2022, eight high school students, who didn’t really know each other, headed to Oklahoma City very early in the morning. As awkward as it started, with the love we share for God and maybe a lot of games (shout-out to Liz), we learned so much about each other’s stories. In fact, we built those relationships while scraping paint off of a house. Let me tell you, scraping paint can be so cool but so frustrating at the same time. We not only scraped paint but we did a little bit of insulation. Which was chaos with our new buddy Ryder.  

Ryder was one of the VBS kids who lived in the neighborhood we were serving. When VBS was not in session, Ryder would help us in the house. He would tell us stories and things he learned at VBS and continued to ride his bike away and then back to us. He liked to play around with the groups working by him. Ryder was a great reminder of why we were there.

A few weeks later on July 10 it was a big day for middle schoolers who went on their mission trip in San Augustine, Texas. I was incredibly blessed to be a leader on this trip and I can not thank the Student Ministry Associates Dan and Liz enough for this opportunity.  

The students did absolutely amazing! They were thrown so many projects and were determined to get them all (and I mean all of them) done. Between our two groups, we did demo work, painted and replaced soffit, installed vents, and completed trim, flooring and even roofing.

While these may seem time consuming there was plenty of time to build relationships and connect with the community of San Augustine and with our own team. We also made connections with the homeowners and the grandkids throughout the week. They would join us for our evening routine that consisted of dinner, worship, small group and free time leading to lights out.  

So many students and leaders felt a connection with God when we heard the community’s stories and saw how God was truly there for them in their time of need. These mission trips were a great way to open our eyes. Although we may have different backgrounds and stories, we still love others the way God loves us. 

Now a little bit about me and how I came to make Grace my church family…my best friend, Aaron Mendiola, told me he was dancing at VBS and said I had to come watch. Now I have danced all my life so I was kind of curious but what really pulled me in was when a tutu was mentioned. So I signed up as a VBS crew leader. I went to the trainings and got to finally meet the Ms. Traci Baudin who kept sending me emails. 

I was overwhelmed when I stepped into Grace. It wasn’t because I had no clue where I was going, I just had never seen such a welcoming community and I did not know how to react. It was so strange to me to see a church this welcoming, to someone they have never seen before. Every VBS morning, a staff member or even other volunteers like me were saying “Good Morning!” or a simple “Hello!”. VBS week quickly became the best week ever. When VBS Sunday came, I decided to go to the morning service and Sunday school. Within one week, I knew Grace Presbyterian would be my second home. 

The first time Jesus really showed up for me was when my mom was diagnosed with Stage 4 Breast Cancer and about four months later my grandmother passed due to illness in 2020. I lost hope in what could possibly be good in the world since everything bad was happening at once. Aaron showed me that this was the time where I needed to turn to Jesus. I looked for reasons this all could be happening and realized maybe he can’t tell me exactly why these bad things were happening, but God could help guide me through this mountain I was experiencing. 

  Now I know you may be wondering: how is my relationship with Jesus now? Well I could tell you it is perfect, that I read the Bible every day, or that I turn to Him constantly but that wouldn’t be true. I am human, when things don't happen the way I planned, I don’t immediately think, “What would Jesus do?” I am continuously learning from Jesus and get put to the test when things go unplanned and I might fail that test sometimes yes. But, I’m not perfect and I can’t pass every test. Being here at Grace has helped me learn more and pass more of what I like to call “Life-Tests”. I have found a community here and I love to help out as much as I can, especially because I get to be around people that show God is working through them. I have been at Grace for a little over a year now but I feel like I have been here longer. I am so grateful for this wonderful community who I know I can lean on and have learned so much from, who constantly supports me, and who loves me for who I am. 

My single year here at Grace has been life changing which will make my leaving for college so much harder. Thank you for the relationships that I created and want to continue creating, for helping me grow, and for allowing me to share my story.