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Venture Program Learning & Service Trip to Florida: Juniors & seniors experience challenges and growth

Tuning in to God’s Heart

By: Juliana Umble, Venture Program grade 11 

Last month, the Venture Program juniors, along with Mr. Denlinger and Mrs. Hurst, had the opportunity to travel to St. Augustine, Florida for a service and learning trip. We were hosted by Alan and Deane Bushel, YWAM missionaries who lead Discipleship Training School programs in St. Augustine, as well as host school groups such as ourselves. During the week we spent with them, we had many opportunities to learn and grow in our walk with the Lord; through daily morning quiet times, Alan’s teachings, and prayer outreach, as well as grow closer as a group; through service projects and free time spent together. 

The most important spiritual lesson I learned from the trip was how important it is to have our hearts in tune with the voice of God. I appreciated Alan’s teaching on hearing the voice of God, during which everyone was given time to write a letter to God, about anything on their mind, and then write down God’s response. This was a new experience for me, and I was encouraged by the reminder that our Father always wants to speak to us. While He loves hearing what we want to share with Him, sometimes when we are too busy searching for the right things to say or worrying about how to pray, we end up missing what He wants to speak to us. 

One of the ways we got to put this into practice was by doing a treasure hunt of sorts. We had a time of listening prayer, during which we asked God to give us a picture, a word, a place, or a person to look for. After sharing the pictures we had gotten, (some examples from our group were a purple hat, an elephant, and a blue vase) we went to the busy downtown area of St. Augustine and split up into smaller groups to look for our “treasure”. The fear of talking to strangers, of being rejected, or of not finding anyone made it hard to have faith, but in the end, we found someone who was wearing a shirt with an elephant on it and was wearing a purple hat, AND was standing next to two big vases! She was happy to receive prayer, and it felt so encouraging to be able to bless someone else, as well as be encouraged by God’s faithfulness in directing us to the right people!

Another way our group was able to be the body of Christ was through service projects. We volunteered at a local thrift shop; sorting through donated books and organizing them on shelves, as well as doing yard work for a young lady Alan and Deane knew. Autumn has a toddler she is raising on her own, as well as one on the way, and due to health complications from the pregnancy, the yard was left in shambles, with overgrown weeds, untrimmed grass, bushes, and unraked leaves everywhere. Seeing how much better the yard looked after we were done working felt really good, but even better than that was seeing how much it blessed Autumn, and getting to pray with her afterward.

Free time was spent in a variety of places, and our entire group enjoyed many different activities. Some of these included: playing games, walking around the shops downtown, spending time at the beach, and just hanging out together. We also got to go on a dolphin boat tour during the fun day that Mrs. Hurst and Mr. Denlinger had planned for us, which we all enjoyed.

I am so thankful for the Venture teachers and the work they did to make the trip happen and for all of us to have had this opportunity. Through this trip, I learned more about myself, my classmates and teachers, and God, and I grew in my relationship with God. For some, the idea of going on a trip like this can cause a lot of stress and anxiety, but I’m so glad that we were all able to have these new experiences together, being stretched and pushed out of our comfort zone as a group, and seeing how God is working in another part of the world. 

Photos by Mr. Brian Denlinger & HMS students