Members of Byron Area Youth Ministry and their chaperones embarked on a youth mission trip to South Dakota July 28 through Aug. 2.
Back row from left to right: Stephen Nelson, Anders Long, Isaac Jestus (being held in middle), Brennen Strain, Evan Vick, Trent Pederson, Santos DeLeon Front row from left to right: Justine Schneider, Emma Long, Jordyn Fairchild, Maddie Palmer, Shelby Strain, Brittany Turany (Middle), Paige Nelson, Dorothy Norman (adult leader on end). Photos submitted
By David Richards
A group of 13 Byron youth and two chaperones embarked on a mission trip July 28 through Aug. 2 to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.
During the course of their stay, the teens, from both the Byron United Methodist Church and Christ Lutheran Church, did everything from activities with local elementary students to picking up trash alongside ditches.
The youth from Byron even moved fence in preparation for a new housing unit.
"It was pretty intense stuff," said Dorothy Norman, who didn't hesitate to volunteer as a chaperone at the age of 79. "It wasn't like we were twiddling our thumbs."
The Byron group, know as Byron Area Youth Ministry, went on the mission as part of Youth Works, a non-profit international organization based out of the Twin Cities that helps organize mission trips.
Mission trips are a big part of what BAYM does. One year it went to Chicago, while next year the group is looking to head south.
Steve Nelson, co-leader of BAYM, also didn't rule out a return trip to South Dakota in the near future.
"With the relationships we built over there, we would definitely like to go back," he said.
Norman said her favorite part was getting to know the youth group members from both churches and added that the mission trip was an opportunity to do something different.
"I like adventures, I like to learn new things and this incorporated both," she said.
Over the course of the trip, Norman said she was impressed by the youth from Byron, and at the variety of activities that were planned.
She even tasted Indian Fry Bread for the first time. "I loved it," she said. "It was so good."
Norman said the trip enabled the youth group members to find out something new about a culture they're not used to, and to carry out their mission as Christians.
When asked if she would chaperone again, Norman was quick to respond.
"People have asked me 'if I would go again,' " she said. "I would, but maybe someone else should have the experience. Maybe that's what they should do, pass it around."
For more information on BAYM, visit www.byronyouthministry.com.