Hudson -- Two groups of local students spent a portion of their summer break lending a hand to people in need, while spreading the gospel of goodness they learned at Hudson Presbyterian Church, 201 W. Streetsboro St.
The student missionaries were all in grades six through 12, according to the Rev. Rob Sparr.
The church took part in the missionary trips for two reasons, a calling and discipleship, Sparr said.
"The Lord calls us to go into this world and proclaim the love of Jesus Christ, not just with our words, but by serving others." Sparr said. "And our feeling is if you want to go see Jesus at work, you go and serve."
The first group of nine missionaries, all sixth to eighth graders, travelled to inner city Green Bay, Wis. from June 9 to 14.
The students helped worked at a battered women's shelter, watching the children while the mothers worked on getting housing, counseling and a variety of other tasks, according to Vince Latz, the church youth pastor.
Joel Sparr, an eighth-grader at CVCA, was one of the students on the Green Bay mission trip. Joel spent some time playing with one of the 5-year-olds at the shelter.
"He enjoyed putting stickers all over my shirt and face," Joel said. "This really kept him occupied for a few minutes and it was good to know that we were giving his mom some time to get prepared for their future."
"Every one of us, at one time, spent some time there," Latz said.
The group also spent time at a center for kids with cerebral palsy, Latz said.
"Our students spent the day interacting with the kids of the facility and playing games and working on crafts and Bible lessons," Latz added.
The group also took part in a variety of other activities, including chapel services at night, Joel said.
"It was amazing knowing that God had placed us there to serve in His name and to shine as a light of God to other people in the Green Bay area," Joel said. "The time we spent in Green Bay was phenomenal and showed us how we can serve Jesus everywhere, from Green Bay to right here in Hudson, Ohio."
Melanie Critzer, a ninth-grader who also attends CVCA "saw God at work in so many incredible ways," she said. Melanie added that the trip also helped changed her relationship with God.
"Not only were the lives of those we served impacted, but our own lives were changed," Melanie said. "The way I view my life and my relationship with Christ was changed."
Melanie said the group learned about "His love for us and then enabled us to go and share that love with others."
Some of the problems faced were language barriers, Melanie said.
"Being able to serve God so much drew me much closer to Him, and taught me that a bunch of junior high kids can really make a difference and impact His kingdom," Melanie said.
Another group of 16, which included ninth to 12th graders, visited Taylorsville, N.C., in the Blue Ridge Mountain area, from July 21 through 27, Latz said.
"A lot of our stuff there was more labor focused," Latz said.
Many of those helped were widows, in their 90s, who live alone and needed a variety of work done, including gutters checked and homes painted.
The group also worked at a pregnancy center and thrift shop, Latz said.
The nearest store to the town is about 45 minutes away, Latz said.
"Their back warehouse was about four people high," Latz said. "So we helped get it organized."
Georgia Lindner, a senior at Hudson High School, said she was "very blessed to see God obviously at work every single day" in Taylorsville.
"One way I saw the Lord was the compassion that the residents of Taylorsville showed to us while we were there," Georgia said. "Another way Jesus worked through the week was the relationships I made with the youth from other churches from Georgia, Delaware, Illinois and Florida. Lastly, and probably most importantly, I saw Christ in every conversation I had with the various people we were helping."
Georgia also made several friends at a nutritional program for the elderly, she said.
"I made friends with Ellouise, Jean and Toe and had a few conversations that impacted me," Georgia said. "Also, while fixing up a garden for another widow, Jean, I learned about her family and life. When it was time for us to go, I prayed over Jean and her family, and have kept them in my prayers since returning to Hudson."
Georgia said it was hard to leave her new friends, she is has found "peace knowing that the Lord worked through me and for me while I created memories that will last for a lifetime."
Christian Baker, an 11th-grader from Cuyahoga Falls High School, also accompanied the group to North Carolina.
"I saw God in so many ways. I worked at a kid's club and an elderly center for the week we were there," Christian said. "I could see God's love move through the children and the elderly that I worked with."
The children "had such a good time talking to us, playing with us, and spreading the word of Christ with us," Christian said.
"Every single person I met and worked with through the mission trip loved to spread the gospel to anyone they saw," Christian added. "I saw God working through all the people I met on the mission trip."
The church has been taking mission trips for more than 10 years, according to Sparr. "The kids were out there to show Christ's love to people and to kind of speak about Him," Latz said. "The main focus was to show Christ in a tangible way."
The students accomplished their mission, Latz said.
For more information on the trips as well as one by adult members of the church to El Salvador visit http://hudsonpc.org.