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Most teenagers dream about a summer trip to New York. They imagine the plane touching down at JFK International Airport, spotting the Statue of Liberty for the first time, visiting all the TV studios, attending a Broadway musical â€” the list of entertainment could go on and on. For a group of 26 Sweetwater teens, a trip to New York is on the summer calendar, but itâ€™s going to be a very different kind of trip.
From June 7-17, the youth ministry of Emmanuel Fellowship Church of Sweetwater will be sponsoring a mission trip to â€śThe Rockaways,â€ť an area hardest hit in New York from Superstorm Sandy this past October. They wonâ€™t be flying, either. Instead, it will be a 27-hour ride in a yellow dog bus. Once there, the teens, along with four adult sponsors, will be working with a mission organization called Next Step Ministries to work on remodeling jobs, such as flooring, drywall, painting, siding and roofing. All of the teenagers will be raising their own funds to pay for the trip cost and to help with needed supplies.
To that end, Emmanuel Fellowship Church is hosting a benefit Valentineâ€™s Banquet to help raise the mission trip funds. The banquet, â€śLove Worth Celebrating,â€ť will feature an Italian dinner, door prizes, entertainment, photo booth and a special DVD presentation of Mark Gungorâ€™s â€śLaugh Your Way to a Better Marriage.â€ť The banquet is also part of EFCâ€™s month-long investment into family building, with a variety of church events focused on marriage and parenting.
Emmanuel Fellowship Church Youth Pastor, Loran Rule, who is organizing the mission trip to New York says, â€śThis one Valentineâ€™s event is going to have double the impact. Itâ€™s going to be an investment into the marriages of the people who attend, and itâ€™s going to help rebuild the lives of people who lost so much in the Superstorm Sandy devastation.â€ť
The 26 teens who are preparing to drive to New York will be selling tickets to the banquet, enlisting food and dĂ©cor donations, cooking for the event and serving the food, as well as assisting with childcare for the evening. Before the 27-hour ride back to Sweetwater in the bus this June, they hope to talk their youth pastor into visiting the Statue of Liberty.
The â€śLove Worth Celebratingâ€ť banquet will be held Wednesday, Feb. 13, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 per couple and can be purchased in the Emmanuel Fellowship Church offices, or by calling 236-9200.