Mission Trips

Totino-Grace High School's mission trip program encompasses the core values of the Lasallian mission while providing students with unique opportunities to learn about different cultures and poverty issues locally and internationally. Partnering with Lasallian communities, schools, and ministries allows us to do this most effectively. Our students have truly enjoyed these learning opportunities with the Christian Brothers, Lasallian Volunteers and other various ministries. More than 100 students have had the opportunity to travel with Totino-Grace this year, living out the Gospel as Jesus calls us to do.

  
2016-2017 Mission Trips 

Listed below are the mission trip dates and locations for the 2016-2017 school year. Following each mission trip, photos, along with reflections from some of the student participants, will be posted.

 

Urban Experience: October 20-21


The Urban Experience mission trip is a two day, fast paced, intense learning experience right here in Minneapolis. Students learn about homelessness and poverty in the Twin Cities by walking a day in the life of someone experiencing homelessness. Throughout the day, they will visit with and explore different resource centers (such as Catholic Charities and Salvation Army) in the area. Students also have the ability to serve those who are suffering from homelessness by providing a meal and volunteering time at a local food bank.

Alexander Ulate's Reflection
I felt xcited and a little nervous because I have never been on an experience like this before. We followed someone who had/has been experiencing  homelessness, and we helped pack food for shelters. I found going from following someone to packing food challenging, because it made me feel guilty that we are able to jump from one world to another, while others can't. The greatest lesson from the trip was to not take things for granted and make no assumptions. Following this experience I will look into ways that I can help the groups that I saw made the most impact on the people and help find a way to help those let down by the Salvation Army.

Anika Garey's Reflection
At some points during the mission trip I felt uncomfortable. Many times I noticed people staring at me with confusion. 'Why are you here?" or "Why do you want to learn about homelessness so much?" I also felt very excited to see another side of the city and go to different places to help people experiencing homelessness. We went to a park and talked with a lady who had experienced homelessness. She told us her story and it was really sad. She became addicted to alcohol at the age of 10 living on the streets. At one point she had to marry a man 20 years older than her. He ending up dying of a heart problem and she and her 3 children were put back on the streets. Finding out and seeing that there were many more people in the Twin Cities experiencing homelessness made me feel sort of upset. People out there are actually experiencing homelessness and this situation isn't something to joke about. This situation is something that we should try to prevent and stop from happening. I think I will take all the information I had learned from the mission trip and tell the people I know that this isn't a joke, this is very serious. It is very important that we do something about it.

Winona, Minnesota: October 20-22


The Winona mission trip is a three day Habitat for Humanity trip. Students work with a local chapter of Habitat for Humanity in Winona. During the trip students participate in a variety of Habitat projects such as painting, siding, or yard clean up to help provide a home for a family in need. Students also have the opportunity to visit St. Mary’s University and explore all that Winona has to offer.

Nicole Sperling's Reflection
I was excited but also nervous as it was my first mission trip. We cleaned up the yards of people who were unable to do so by themselves. We took down trees, cut branches, raked, and overall just made yards easier to function with. When we were not on the work sites, we spent a lot of time together as a group. The only thing I found challenging was that we didn't have enough time there. I felt as though I wanted to do more for the people who we were helping. I kept thinking there were so many other homes and people we could be helping if we just had the time to do it. One of my favorite parts of this trip was getting to know my group better. We had to cook for ourselves, and one thing that I really took away from this is how willing these people were to do things for the good of others. We took turns cooking and cleaning. We were not forced to do this, it's just how it worked out and no one complained about it. In fact, I think it even made us closer as a group. The lesson I learned was that I am very lucky. I am lucky to be able to go to TG, and I'm lucky to be healthy enough to function day-to-day activities. I hope that I will never take what I have for granted, because things could be way harder. 

Connor Samson's Reflection
I was pretty relaxed going into this mission trip because I knew that my group had chill people in it. We cleaned up and re landscaped people's yards and found some of the tasks challenging. On this trip I learned you don't always have to build something to be making a difference, I found this out through doing restoration. I look forward to continuing to work with Habitat for Humanity and branching out to meet new people. 

Sydney Weierke's Reflection
I was feeling very excited and anxious because this was my first mission trip and I was really excited to be with a new group of people.  I was also nervous because I didn't know some of the other students or the teachers prior to the trip. Some of the memorable experiences from the mission trip were the rides on the short bus, apple orchard, working at 3 house sites, grocery shopping trip, making dinner together, playing games, making caramel apples, playing soccer games before bed, going to the farm and watching the animals, playing volleyball games next to the lake by the bluffs, sight seeing at Garvin Heights, and touring St. Mary's University. We were able to offer our support by helping with yardwork for those in need of assistance. I hope to keep a close relationship with the others from the trip and will remember how much fun just hanging out simply, without phones, in a fun church space, can be.

Browning, Montana: November 5-13


The Browning mission trip is a nine day experience in which students travel by train to the Blackfeet Reservation. Students work with and learn about the culture of the Blackfeet Indians. The week is spent tutoring students a De La Salle Blackfeet Middle School and each evening students have the opportunity to learn about the Blackfeet culture, history, and traditions from those who live there. Students also have the opportunity to visit the sacred land of the Blackfeet in Glacier National Park.  

Luke Lindsay's Reflection
I was really excited to go and immerse myself in a community for nine days and learn as much as I could. I was a little nervous that I wouldn't be able to connect with the kids. We learned about the history and culture of the Blackfeet Nation. We also learned about their current day struggles.  It was hard hearing about a past full of oppression and the poverty and addiction that plagues their people today. Also about how fragmented families are on the reservation. I came home from this trip with a greater appreciation for the life that I live and all of the opportunities that are available to me. I can now spread the story of the Blackfeet people and help educate my peers on the problems in their society. 

Isabelle Jordan's Reflection
I was anxious to go on this trip but I also had a little anxiety with not knowing the people on this trip or being very close with them. We got to go on a tour around Glacier National park. We also got to go to the De La Salle school to tutor the children. Then we got to clean up the ranch, talk to many people in the culture and hang out with each other while playing cards. I found listening to the speakers challenging because they told us the truth about their culture and it was sad to hear about what they go through. The most memorable moment was being able to connect with the people on the trip by telling each other our struggles because it made me feel closer to each one of the people. The greatest take away from the trip was be thankful for what you have and what you are given because there are people who are suffering that don't have what you have, but yet are happy and content and thankful for what they have. I will keep telling people about what I did on my trip and what I experienced. I feel responsible to tell people and continue to provide love and kindness for their community and other communities through service.

Collin Matzoll's Reflection
I did not really know anything about where I was going so was a little nervous just to see what the change would be. Also, I was excited because I liked the people on my mission trip and knew it was going to be fun. We got to learn a ton about the Blackfeet and their language, history, and culture. Also, we got to teach children who were willing to learn and were very nice. Also, we got to experience nature by going to Glacier and just hiking near our house. The hardest challenge for me was trying to not have favorites in the classroom and trying to become friends with all of them. Also, it was hard to leave the kids even though we got to see them for 3.5 days. My hope is to do more mission work near home and go on the mission trip through my church. I know that this experience changed my perspective on life.

Kansas City, Missouri: November 8-13


The Kansas City mission trip is a six day experience where students live and work at Jerusalem Farm. Jerusalem Farm is a Catholic Intentional community built on the four cornerstones of Prayer, Community, Service and Simplicity. Each day students experience sustainable living and help the greater community through restoring homes.


Anna Bieurance's Reflection
My favorite part about going on this mission trip to Jerusalem Farm was helping someone fix their lawn. Even though it was a lot of hard work, I loved knowing that I was helping someone and that I was making someone happy by doing it. Doing service over this trip made me feel happy that I was able to help those in need. The most difficult part of this trip was living a simple life. Even though living a simple life was difficult, it taught me to conserve more water. On the trip, we had to use little water by using bucket showers, not flushing the toilets etc. and it made me realize how much water I use/waste in my everyday life. The daily prayers impacted me because they were different from how I usually pray. At Jerusalem Farm, we did many different things at prayer such as dancing, singing, and sharing experiences in our own lives. I liked how they lead prayer because they kept me engaged all the time.

Charlie Jacob's Reflection

To be honest, I was a little hesitant to venture to KC with a group of people I barely knew. The only person I remotely knew was Jack O’dea, and I didn’t even know him that well. We left TG on election day, the one day I wanted to be at home for. I was not in the best mood before the trip, but that quickly changed. The car rides to/from KC were great, the crew immediately bonded. I had no idea that people so different from me could be so much fun to be around. We got to Jerusalem Farm, not without judgement. The people, the way of life...It was all a bit of a shock at first. It was not what any of us were used to. We got to know the people of Jerusalem Farm very quickly, and it was refreshing to be around such down to Earth people. The work throughout the week was demanding but satisfying. The week was filled with constant laughter and the creation of new relationships. The trip came with its challenges (i.e. vegetarian diet, limited amount of showers, etc), but we conquered them as a group which made it easy. I still talk to the group members on a daily basis and it is easy for me to say that the KC mission trip has been the highlight of my TG experience thus far.

Megan Kern's Reflection
Upon coming back from my mission trip to Kansas City, I have been reflecting a lot about my impact on the world. The amount of time that my shower takes matters. The food I decide to buy matters. How I get rid of waste materials matters. What I say and what I do matters; it affects other people in both small and large fashions. I did previously know this somewhere in my being, but spending a week constantly looking at my impact on the world has made me recognize just how much I truly am impacting the world in my regular day life here in Fridley, Minnesota. I really loved my experience in Kansas city beginning at the surprise hugs and including every event that followed - the bucket showers, the building of the retaining wall, the cinnamon roll hugs, the homemade peanut butter eating, the daily work hugs, the morning and evening community prayers, the goodbye hugs - we experienced many hugs! I especially loved the community prayers at the opening and closing of each day. These prayers were very unique. They comprised not only of reflection and speaking but also of singing, dancing, playing of many different instruments, and silence. What I loved so much about these prayers was that it did not consist of one person saying a few words and closing up with an “amen” and it was never quite the same as the day before. Prayer was led each day by a different person with a different theme and different nature of going about the prayer and including the whole community. I also liked that prayer was not just a minute or two. It was often a thirty minute or longer experience. For me, it made prayer with God seem less rushed and more like an encounter with God. I could truly feel him around me in those moments.

Chicago, Illinois: November 15-20


The Chicago mission trip is a 5 day trip in which students take part in a unique learning and immersion opportunity that explore issues of social justice (such as poverty, the Chicago education system, food insecurity, or mass incarceration) through the lens of Christian social teachings of peace, justice and respect for human dignity and the environment. The group works with elementary students, shelters, and other organizations that provide for those less fortunate.

Ellen Hiestand's Reflection
Prior to this trip, I was feeling excited for the learning and work, but nervous about the group I was going with. On the trip, I learned a lot about social justice. As a group, we talked to and helped homeless people in two different places: St. James and Cornerstone. We learned about the prison system and mass incarceration in the US, and heard two stories of the experiences of men named Oliver and Tyrone. We went to an immigration vigil Friday morning at a deportation center where we saw families coming to say goodbye to their loved ones, and stood in solidarity with them through our prayer and singing. That afternoon, we tutored at an after school program through Port Ministries. The next day, we went to mass and learned about sustainable farming at "The Plant". It was hard to see the families torn apart at the detention center where people were being deported. It was hard to know what to do or say to them, or any of the homeless people we talked to. Because of the mission trip I plan on continuing in service. I hope to start a clothing drive for those being deported, and to talk to a campus minister about making an immigration vigil an option for a "field trip" or something similar so more people can learn about it. I will keep what I learned in mind in my daily experiences: be positive, don't waste food, always look another person in the eye to show my respect. I will also keep these social justice issues in mind when I am able to vote.

Matthew Hagen's Reflection
I didn't know many people going into the mission trip so I was a little nervous but at the same time I was really excited to experience new things. During the mission trip we visited homeless shelters and heard the personal stories of some people who have gone through a lot in their lives. My greatest takeaway was recognizing that the world needs change and if I do my part in a community and tell others than we will be one step closer to equality and happiness for all. I am planning on going to sharing and caring hands every Tuesday with some of my fellow mission trip members so I can help our local communities.

Sydney Florell's Reflection
I was very excited prior to the trip but, I was also a little nervous because I did not know very many people on the trip. We drove down to Chicago in a short bus, talked with some men experiencing homelessness, helped at a food shelter, listened to stories of formerly incarcerated men, tutored and played with young kids, prayed at a deportation center, and learned about social justice and sustainability. The most challenging thing on my trip was listening to the stories of the lives' of the formerly incarcerated men because, it was very emotional but also slightly frightening. My greatest takeaway from the trip is probably that I need to focus more on how to create social justice rather than just charity. I want to find a way to become more involved with looking at what our society can work on to try to solve issues related to poverty, the education/achievement gap, food insecurity, and gang violence.

Urban Experience: November 17-18


The Urban Experience Mission Trip is a two day, fast paced, intense learning experience right here in Minneapolis. Students learn about homelessness and poverty in the Twin Cities by walking a day in the life of someone experiencing homelessness. Throughout the day, they will visit with and explore different resource centers (such as Catholic Charities and Salvation Army) in the area. Students also have the ability to serve those who are suffering from homelessness by providing a meal and volunteering time at a local food bank. 

Juliana Eisch's Reflection
I was excited and nervous because I didn't really know what to expect from a mission trip and the environment I was going to be in. We experienced A Day in the Life, we ate with those in poverty at soup kitchens (ex. Salvation Army), and served at Second Harvest Heartland. I found it challenging to not try and find the differences between my group and the people we met on the trip, but I tried to focus more on the similarities. People just want to be recognized as humans and even though money will help those in poverty sometimes all they want to do is have a conversation with someone. 

Quinnton Germann's Reflection
I was excited to do something out of my comfort zone and to help in the community. We went to different agencies around the Twin Cities and learned about what they do. The next day we made breakfast for the shelter guests and served at Second Harvest Heartland. It was hard to see these people struggle with no way out. It was also hard to ask questions without offending. My most memorable moment was making breakfast for the shelter because people were so grateful for the hot breakfast. My greatest takeaway was that giving to those who experience homelessness is good, but the best thing you can do is acknowledge them and listen to them because they feel that they are alienated from society. 

El Paso, Texas: January 15-19

Urban Experience: February 9-10

Chicago, Illinois: February 19-23

Urban Experience: February 23-24

Anniston, Alabama: March 19-24

New York City, New York: March 19-23

Urban Experience: April 6-7

Totino-Grace High School

1350 Gardena Avenue NE, Fridley, MN 55432
Main: 763-571-9116 | Fax: 763-571-9118
website@totinograce.org

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