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Team Jeffrey & Jessica: North America Jeffrey Caviness • Jessica Robbins • Charlie Gessner • Hannah Love Jay Clark Rhiannon Combs Michael Zona

YHM 2021

University of Mobile’s Youth Hostels Mission 20’/21’ Trip began Monday, May 10th at 1PM. Originally, we planned to travel through Europe last May, but had to change our plans due to the pandemic. After months of seeking God’s wisdom and direction, our leaders made the decision to send our team of seven on the first stateside YHM trip. We will be traveling over to our neighbors on the West Coast. Over the last year and a half, many faithful supporters have been praying for our preparation to share the Gospel with those who the Lord would have us meet in four National Parks: Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Zion, and Bryce Canyon.

DAY 1: Going on a Trip

When going on a trip like this, there is almost always a guarantee of “travel woes.” Our team has surely faced some… between delayed flights, cancelled Ubers, and a lack of coffee. We were originally scheduled to be in Phoenix, Arizona by 11:45 PM, Monday night. We did not get to Phoenix until 2:15 PM, Tuesday. HOWEVER, there is an overwhelming sense of thankfulness within our team. Over the past year and a half, we have adapted our trip many times. The trip we were “supposed” to take and the trip we are taking are completely different from one another. Despite all of the changes and adaptations that we were forced to make, we recognize how blessed we are to even be going on this trip at all. The Lord’s hand over our trip has been extremely evident. Even though our plans have changed, HIS PLAN HAS NOT! We praise Him as the master of our schedule and the Lord over our lives.

The various changes we have faced have challenged us not give into anger or show impatience. Rather, we have been filled with gratitude for the testing of our faith. In fact, we were able to get a head start on talking to people in and through the airports as an introduction to the ministry we will be doing. For example, in Dallas, we were privileged to meet a fellow brother in Christ who was able to deliver us to our destination at three in the morning. He took time to care for us, making sure we were safe and where we needed to be. These beginning experiences have emphasized the importance of virtues like patience and Christ-like servanthood as we go out to share the Gospel.

Please pray that we would continue to recognize God’s beautiful plan. Pray that we would travel with wisdom, that our eyes would be open to whatever Kingdom-work the Lord has prepared for us, and that The Spirit would soften the hearts of people that cross our (hiking) paths.

“Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.”2 Timothy 2:21

Charlie, Rhiannon, Hannah

DAY 2: Grand Canyon to Yosemite

After a spectacular time at the Grand Canyon, our group travelled to California’s Yosemite National Park. The two parks could not be more different. The Grand Canyon had hot temperatures, cacti everywhere, and the only body of water that can be found is the Colorado River at the end of a draining hike to the bottom of the canyon. To contrast that, Yosemite National Park had some pretty cold temperatures, massive trees, and some of the most amazing waterfalls on this earth. Whether it be canyons, massive trees, or the stars above, all that any of us could say as we looked upon God’s magnificent creations is “Wow!” Psalm 18:1 says, “the heavens declare the Glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” The beauty of God’s creation is breathtaking and illuminating. He is the ultimate creator and illustrator. It seems impossible to look at creation and not contemplate the greatness of our God. Amidst hardships, frustrations, doubt, uncertainty, and worry, our team has recognized our God is in control. His presence is nothing short of miraculous. Spending precious times in these national parks has definitely reminded us that God is greater than all.

Backpacking

A few people in our team had the great opportunity to go backpacking in Yosemite’s backcountry, getting the great opportunity to spend the night at a remote campsite. We were blessed with absolutely jaw dropping views of the Yosemite Valley and the famed Half Dome. While hiking to our campsite, we met two older men who told us many stories of places they have traveled and hiked. They encouraged us to travel and see as many things as we can while we still have the time. Once we were in the campsite, we sat around the community firepit with a group of older adults who all work in the medical field out in the Bay Area of California. The conversations we had that night and early the next morning are probably some of the best conversations we have had up to this point! We got to share the purpose of the trip, our beliefs, and learn that there are faithful believers in parts of the country that we do not always associate with being “Christian”. We hiked out the next morning with feelings of fulfillment and encouragement, passing cascading waterfalls while talking to people about our hike the day before. Once we were back down in the Valley, we were excited to meet up with the rest of the team and tell them all of our stories. The backpacking experience fulfilled our expectations for the trip and left us in absolute awe of God’s creation and power! It is an experience we will never forget!

Group growth

We have seen God working not only in His creation and our travel experiences, but also in the growth as a team. While this YHM has been in the making for a long time, there were still many changes and challenges to face for our group. However, through our ten days of traveling and living together in an itty-bitty tiny living space, our group has been able to adapt to these challenges and be there for one another. As we continue to travel, we may face more challenges of either being physically or spiritually drained, our group is becoming more aware of each other’s needs. Our walls are breaking down and we are becoming more personal with one another. We are noticing each other’s strengths and weaknesses more and because of these things, our communication is growing. Recently, we had a debriefing to calibrate where everyone was at spiritually, mentally, and physically. Through that meeting, we were able to find a line of communication we needed. It takes trust to say “I need a day to rest” because you do not want to disappoint the team. We are building community, refining our relationships by working through miscommunication, and working towards being a constant encouragement to one another to where we can push one another to continue serving the Lord daily by doing our best to glorify Him and sharing His perfect Gospel.