Making an Impact (One Young Person's Testimony)
By Francesca Dino
Living in the Denver area, I am blessed with a small but close congregation at my mission. I always feel safe coming every Sunday morning to see the same friendly faces. Over the years, our small mission has been fortunate to have many visitors.
Last year, Brother Dwayne and Sister Elaine from Tse Bonito, New Mexico came and visited our group. They were a pleasure to have around, and it was even better to sit down with them and watch a slide show on Vacation Bible School from around the church.
Sister Elaine mentioned how their branch was hosting its own VBS and could always use some more help. As soon as we heard this, talk began in the group to send some people to help out the following summer.
As a child, I had attended VBS but had never actually been a part of the crew. When I was told that our family and Brother Walt and Sister Carrie Jankowski were going to the reservation that summer, I was a little nervous. Going to a place completely different from what I have always been used to and walking in blind with no knowledge of the people was a scary thought. I was hesitant at first, and as the date grew closer, I began to worry more and more about what would happen.
The day finally came early this June when we all piled in the car and headed off on the eight-hour drive to New Mexico. By the time we arrived on the reservation, the sun had set and we were all ready to collapse. We stopped at the church and were pleasantly surprised with the warm atmosphere inside. Friendly faces were seated around tables eating dinner, taking a break from cleaning and preparation. We were introduced to everyone and later taken to the home where we were staying.
The next morning, we busied ourselves transforming the church into a castle, fitting perfectly with the year's VBS theme, Kingdom Rock. Over the next few days, I grew very close to the people there. Brother Dwayne took the young people on bonding activities in the morning, which allowed me to make new friends and see the history and beauty of the land. The evenings were spent working with the Native American children and teaching them about the love of God during VBS.
The kids' smiling faces and cheerful attitudes touched my heart, especially knowing that some of them had troubled home lives. By the end of the week, I felt like I made many friends — some of which I still keep in contact with today — and I realized just how much hard work the brothers and sisters do trying to spread the gospel to the Native Americans on the reservation. I have nothing but respect and admiration for them.
Most importantly, I felt that I was able to touch the lives of some young children who don't feel as safe as I do back in my little mission in Colorado, and I had my own heart touched in the process. I loved the trip so much. I took many photos and created a video with them to share our experience with the church. I hope that I get the opportunity to help out the branch again one day and see my newfound church family.