The mission trip was simple enough for a group of Summit Christian Academy seniors.
Pack up Aug. 8, head to Moore, Okla. and do what they could to help uplift the citizens of the tornado-ravaged town.
But, nothing is easy when you are talking about the scene of a devastating EF5 tornado.
A group of 42 seniors and a few adult chaperons embarked on a nine-day journey to Moore, where they spent five days working to clear debris and recover salvageable belongings of those affected by the tornado that struck in May.
“These guys were really burden lifters,” said Emir Esparza, SCA’s secondary principal. Esparza also made the trip. “The people of that community had an incredible burden in front of them. When we went to one, two, three houses, you would look at the burden the homeowners had to do on their own. One house had to remove all the bricks. Well, this guy was about 75-plus and his wife as well. How are they going to do that by themselves?
“I’m sure that they had a few kids help here and there, but life moves on after two months. We had 42-plus students – and with 45 teachers or whatever – help out with the house to get it done for them. That was incredible being able to do that for a couple of different houses in the field and other places.”
For seniors like Taylor Shippy, the trip was the proverbial eye-opening experience.
“We take so much stuff for granted,” Shippy said of what he took from the trip. “We take our houses for granted, our cars for granted. Just seeing the devastation and; that something like that can happen just like that, and you can lose everything you have, it was pretty eye-opening for me.”
Another senior, Olivia Blumer, said her family took a trip to Joplin to help with relieve efforts there after a tornado touched down a couple of years ago and destroyed that city. The trip to Moore was another lesson in the frailty of life, Blumer said.
“I agree with Taylor, it was really eye-opening,” she said. “Seeing how blessed we are. You never know when that kind of stuff can happen; natural disasters and stuff. It was really sad seeing all of the different devastation. I guess I didn’t realize it was that bad.”
Added Joseph Lambert, another SCA senior who took the trip: “I felt like it was a good experience to get to know people in our own class and get to help people that don’t have the manpower to do stuff on their own. For us to go down there and be one of the largest groups down there at the time was really helpful.”
The trip was organized by Wayne Stam, a secondary Bible teacher at SCA who also founded and directs SPLAT, a Christian organization that focuses on challenging 13 to 18-year-old students through mission trips.
This year marked the 10th year the senior class at SCA had taken a mission trip, but the grueling nature of clearing debris from a 200-yard-by-300-yard field proved to be daunting for the group.
“We usually accomplish a task,” Esparza said of previous mission trips. “But, this task was so huge it was like trying to climb Mt. Everest. But, everything that was put in front of us got done. I will say the field kind of beat us a little bit. It was very overwhelming. It was a 200-yard-by-300-yard field of debris and the lady who owned the field was going to get a citation by the city if she didn’t get it mowed.
“So not only are we picking up debris, we’re picking up debris where grass is sometimes two to three-feet high. It was an amazing journey for us as a school.”