By Laura Yale, Special to the Independent
This spring break, 37 Laguna Beach High School students and eight adult leaders traveled to the small island of Molokai, Hawaii, for Laguna Presbyterian Church’s annual Molokai Mission Trip. The islanders are some of the poorest people in the nation.
Rev. Dr. Steve Sweet, senior associate pastor and youth pastor at Laguna Presbyterian Church, led the trip for a 14th consecutive year.
The trip largely consisted of work projects but also included outings around the island and nightly Bible study to create a significant and lasting experience for the students. This year, the students broke into four work groups, which included repainting Molokai Church of the Nazarene, transplanting palm trees for the Molokai Agricultural Society, constructing artificial nests for Hawaii’s endangered birds, and painting and refurbishing the local skate park.
The group traveled to the east end of the island to the Halawa Valley, an area highly sacred to native Hawaiians. The students received the opportunity to work on a Taro farm, the plant used to make poi, before hiking to the 250-foot Mooula Falls.
Graham Peleaux, a sophomore, said of his first time on the trip, “While in Molokai, I was able to build upon friendships, expand my faith, and understand the meaning and importance of generosity and humility.”
Marykate Quellmalz, a sophomore on her second trip, said “Sometimes you just need to take some time with some amazing people in a beautiful place to discover yourself and the kind of person you want to be.”
Through hard work and play, the students return home with an understanding of Molokai’s culture, a greater appreciation for their home communities, newly formed friendships with their peers, and a desire to share Christ’s love with others.
Submission by Youth Ministry Director Laura Yale who accompanied Pastor Sweet and the group.