Dear Supporters of the Champion Christian School Mission Trip to Toronto,
Thank you from the CCHS Mission team! We want to take time to thank everyone who helped make our trip to Toronto possible. It was an amazing and life changing time. The various perspectives of the students have been combined in the following letter to help give you a glimpse into the trip and the many different activities in which we participated.
Travel and Niagara Falls:
The trip to Canada was very long and we got caught in a snowstorm and a lot of traffic. The ride pushed some beyond their comfort zone and required much patience on many levels. However, some new friendships were formed on the bus. Niagara Falls was very cold and icy, and we got to see the giant ice formation in the falls that is only there in the winter. We also saw interesting sights when we traveled in the city of Toronto. The skyscrapers and buildings were very different from the ones in America. We also soon realized that Toronto is very multi-cultural. While there, we wanted to understand these multi-cultural ideas, and view them from a distinctly Christian perspective.
Work at Grace Church:
We brought sleeping bags and our own equipment to be able to stay in one of the churches in Toronto. On Thursday morning, we cleaned the Grace Reformed Church. We washed their many windows which was somewhat tiring, but rewarding once we had finished. Some of us also washed all the toys in the nursery in order for the little ones not to get sick. That morning we took the time to put gift bags together that were given out to the kids at the Children’s Church on Saturday. This church housed many different congregations and activities in Toronto.
The Daily Bread Food Bank:
On that same day, we went to a food bank and we did a lot of work. This is the largest food bank in Canada and they coordinate many other food distribution services because of the large need for food in the city. They split us up into three groups; two of the groups sorted food and other products and the other group filled bags of rice. I was in the group that bagged rice, and I really enjoyed it. For me to think that the food I was bagging was going to someone that truly needed it was such a fulfilling experience. It was a great opportunity to serve God and others.
St. Felix Centre:
During the mission trip we visited the St. Felix Centre which is a place for kids and adults that have low incomes. It provides three meals a day and has educational programs for the children. Additionally, it has a clothing ministry that provides clothing, shoes and bedding to those in need. We were excited to donate handmade blankets made by an elderly lady in our community. This was an organization that really needed a great deal of help, and they were excited for us to be there. There were three major projects needed done by us, and even Mr. Skinner didn’t think we could get it all done!
When we were there we cleaned out the upstairs where the kids have their programs. We cleaned closets, cabinets, floors and surfaces. By the time we were done cleaning we had made a lot of progress and had everything organized. I think it gave us satisfaction knowing we had just helped the St. Felix Centre. Now the kids can find what they want or need easier and can play and learn in a cleaner environment. We were working for a good cause and I think we are all proud. Several distinctly Christian groups use this area to have programs that share the Gospel with children in these areas throughout the week.
Another group painted the office area at the St. Felix Centre. It hadn’t been painted in a long time and it had many doors and windows. We spent a great deal of time taping and painting the trim around everything before painting the walls. Everyone learned a lot about painting and we were glad to see how nice everything looked when we were finished.
A final group worked on the industrial size dishwasher at the St. Felix Centre. We took out their old broken one and worked on installing the new one. It was a great learning experience because some of us had never worked with plumbing before. Some of us also went down to Jacob’s Hardware Store and met a colorful character named Winny Windex. He made sure that we had all of the right parts for the dishwasher. We weren’t able to get the dishwasher completely installed, but we saved the St. Felix Centre a great deal of money on plumbing costs. It was a very rewarding experience to be able to do that kind of work for the Centre and it was great to have our work appreciated the way it was. We made some connections with the kids and staff at the St. Felix Centre that will last for a long time.
On Friday night we went bowling and then to McDonald’s with the All Nations Church youth group. It was a great time together and I thought that it was really good that we spent that evening with them before going to their church Saturday night and Sunday morning. It helped us to get to know that group of people better. Once again there were kids from many different cultures that belonged to these groups.
Walk through the low income government housing:
Even though the weather was very cold, it was joyful to walk around to gather the children for the Children’s Church on Saturday. My heart started to beat fast when each child put on his or her coat and came out to go to the Centre with us. They were so excited to see our group, and they really enjoyed our skits and worship songs. We had so much fun, and worshiping God with the little children was the best part of this whole mission trip!
On Saturday we led a Children’s Church at the St. Felix Centre. We had been practicing our skits and felt we were ready. However, our worship team hadn’t gotten much time to practice and we were kind of nervous. About half of our group went to pick up the kids while the worship team frantically tried to finish practicing and others prepared snacks for the children. I had been sick the entire week and was having a lot of trouble breathing. I had prayed for days that I would be able to breathe and sing, to lead these kids in worship, but I wasn’t getting any better. After a little while all of the children arrived and were happy to see us. They started by teaching us a song that they do every Saturday. When we started singing, I prayed one last prayer that I would be able to breathe and sing. Half way through our first song everything came together; I could breathe and my cough was gone. The kids loved the music and had so much fun. During the worship we had a few of the children come up and sing with us. The kids loved that we got them involved in the service, and I feel that we really touched their lives. I really liked when kids came onto the stage because I felt that we were communicating with each other and with God. Hopefully I will be able to do this again on the next mission trip.
After we did all of this, we did our skits and talked about them. Our skits all had something to do with making choices; whether choosing to come to Christ and knowing He is the only way to God, choosing between right and wrong, or letting God make the decisions. When everything was finished we had prepared small gift bags for the children and handed them out to them. The kids were so happy for these small gifts and we saw some of the kids still carrying the gifts the next day. This had to be my favorite part of the trip.
As an international student at CCS, I was very surprised to hear that we were planning to go to eat Korean food. During this time of year, a couple of months before I go back to my country, it is always hard not to think of Korean foods. When we got into the restaurant, they were shocked that there were 28 of us. However, it worked out well and everyone enjoyed the food and had a great time. One of the international students at Champion thought that Toronto was a lot like Seoul and a lot like America. It was an interesting mix of people groups.
All Nations Church:
Saturday evening we visited a coffee house at a church, and when I went there I thought I wouldn’t have to do anything. This all changed, though, when some of the band members asked our worship team to play for them and asked me to play bongo drums for both the coffee house and Sunday morning service. At first I didn’t think I could play those bongo drums because I had never tried them before during a church service. However, it turned out very nice and I felt a touch of God in it as well. We enjoyed being with the All Nations Church on Sunday morning. The worship was wonderful; it was fun to sing songs that we knew with our Canadian brothers and sisters. We especially enjoyed seeing a lot of the children that we had known participating in the service. Afterward the church family shared a pot luck dinner with our team. Since there were church members from many different ethnic backgrounds, the food was very diverse and delicious. We enjoyed talking to people who grew up in the Philippines, the Ukraine, Vietnam and many other nations.
On Sunday after church we did our afternoon of sightseeing. We got a different perspective of Toronto from the top of the tower! We went by subway and trolley car to the center of Toronto and went up the CN Tower. Being 1815 feet up, we could see Toronto from all directions. We had a great view of Lake Ontario and the neighborhoods of Toronto.
Grace Church Youth Group:
On Sunday night we had a chance to meet up with the youth group of the church where we stayed. There was a group of about 15 kids who had just come back from their own mission trip to the Dominican Republic for 10 days. They shared their experiences in the D.R. and we shared our experiences of Toronto. It was amazing to see that a church youth group could plan an international mission trip when their preparation time was much more limited than it was for us.
We had a lot of fun in Toronto, and we all thought it was a great experience for everyone. We especially enjoyed the St. Felix Center and working at the church and loved how everyone accepted each other no matter how they looked. A great side-benefit was that we had a lot of fun getting to know people from our school better also as we got to know more things about some of the people we just walk by everyday and don’t know much about. It was an overall great experience and we enjoyed it very much.
Thank you again for all of your prayers and support. God bless you for being a part of our mission team and helping to make it possible for us to learn and serve Him in new and unique ways!
CCHS Mission Team