The last post I wrote was after our full day at Deans Community High School. The following morning we were at Deans for our last assembly, presenting the cardboard testimonies to another group of students. Afterward, our students hung out with several of the Deans students they’d attended classes with the day before. We finally broke up the party and trekked the students to the train station. The attendant didn’t make it to our car till about 50 minutes into our trip to Glasgow. When he entered, Dave and I motioned to him and he walked past the rows of students to get to us. “They’re all with us,” Dave told him. He looked back at the kids, each one either asleep or zoned out, and then turned back to us. “What’d you do, drug them?” he asked.
The students livened up a bit after we got off the train, and they had some free time at Buchanan Galleries (one of the major shopping districts) before we went to the People’s Palace, a museum that celebrates the lives of ordinary people in Glasgow. We returned to Livingston North in the late afternoon and went straight to a church in Linlithgow. We had a chance to hold a debrief meeting before the church’s youth—the same kids we’d danced with at the ceilidh the Friday before—arrived for a joint youth gathering.
This meeting unveiled so much. We knew our students were tired, and after more than 10 days of the trip, with a lot of late nights/early mornings, and miles upon miles of walking, this was understandable. But Dave and I had guessed that for many of them, the fatigue was also tied to the day before, the day spent entirely at Deans. The debrief bore this out. Many talked about the nervousness they’d felt about being in a public school, about being questioned about their faith, about spending the day with peers they didn’t know. But they also shared how powerful the day had actually been for them. We asked each student to share a “takeaway,” and I’d like to record here (without names) some of their comments.
-This was my first missions trip. I’ve known for much of my life that I was interested in working in missions in one way or another, but now—on this trip—I’ve seen God’s power at work as we’ve shared about Him, and I want to do this.
-It was refreshing to see the Holy Spirit at work and cool to see apologetics in action—outside the WA “bubble.”
-I’ve always been so nervous about talking about my faith, and that was a huge weight that was lifted off because I actually shared. It was great preparation for going to a secular college.
-This was different than other mission trips I’ve been on because we actually got to interact with other teens who don’t know Christ.
-I’ve been inspired to have more courage.
-This was very stretching.
-I haven’t had a lot of chances to be with non-Christians, and on this trip, I was—and we talked about faith.
-Going on other missions trips has never stretched me like this trip did. I want to look for other Gospel-sharing opportunities.
-We are spiritually and physically rich in Wheaton. I’ve been to places that are physically poor, but Scotland is spiritually poor. I had to pray for courage like I haven’t before, and God clearly answered.
-We had to trust that the Holy Spirit would work—and we saw Him do it.
-I’ve been in Christian schools my whole life, and meeting kids face-to-face who worship other things/gods was shocking. It makes me want to grow deeper in the Word so I can give answers.
-That was huge to have someone ask me about my faith.
-I learned that when I am truly genuine and vulnerable—when I take off the mask and really show my struggles—it builds connections.
-I was tested and couldn’t fall back on my friends.
-To share my cardboard testimony was terrifying, but in doing that, I saw the clear transformation that has been worked in me—I’m a “new me.”
-The spiritual warfare here is huge, and apathy is dangerous.
-It was hard for me to share my testimony with all of you, my teammates on this trip.
-This trip was hard for me. I’ve never gotten homesick before, and I thought we’d be doing more missions, and I thought that would pull me out of homesickness. But even when we were “doing mission work,” it didn’t make me feel good. As I’ve been thinking about that, God’s been showing me that it’s not about me, about my “feeling good.”
Every single student shared. The Scottish youth group arrived just before we finished, and Lorna, their youth leader, split the kids into small groups (with a mix of U.S. and Scottish teens), and led them in a wonderful time of discussion and prayer. It was incredible. They were sharing deep things with each other, and the time was rich.
It was late before we finished, and the kids still had to return to their host families and pack up. We left for the airport the next morning and arrived safely in Chicago with no lost luggage—or students!—the same evening.
We’re now four days post-trip. We were very, very glad to get back to our kids, but Dave and I are still discussing and thinking about this trip. We want to bring the lessons learned during it into everyday life, and we want to continue to pray fervently for Scotland. That’s our prayer for the students as well.