Mitto: youth learning that small actions can change lives

Rachel TenisonBy Rachel Tenison Special Contributor Mitto 2013 impacted my life in so many important ways. Named after the Latin word for “mission,” Mitto is a five-day mission outreach by the Arkansas Conference Council on Youth Ministries. This year, we helped the community in the Pine Bluff area, and participated in worship, fellowship and being Jesus’ hands and feet in the world. We spent countless hours learning how to serve others in everything we do. Throughout the week we used our theme, “The Least of These…” and the verse, Matthew 25:37-40, to inspire youth to go beyond what we think we are capable of as teenagers.  As co-chair of this year’s Mitto task force, I know that almost six months of planning went into this event. Part of Mitto that changed me and my views was “Life in a Bag,” an activity that started when we woke up on Dec. 31 and lasted all the way into the new year. We began by splitting the 26 youth into different sized family groups. Each family received a real-life scenario of a family today, ranging from a homeless family of three to a family of five that can’t afford their child’s medical bills. These families lived off of SNAP (often called “food stamps”), which adds up to $1.75 per person, per meal. As a group, we took a trip to Walmart to shop for our meals for that night. Each family group was to cook a dinner on only their food stamp money. Trying to feed a family of three on $5.25 wasn’t as easy as I thought. There were a lot of foods that we weren’t able to buy. It gave me a new way to appreciate all the things I have. Our task force wanted to invite each of the youth to see the new year as a time for change. We decided to celebrate Communion as our first meal of 2014. Our worship started at 11 p.m. on Dec. 31 and lasted till 1 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2014. I have been going to Conference Council on Youth Ministry events since I was in sixth grade, and never once had worship hit me so hard. We spent time in silence, thinking about our year, letting go of what happened in the past and welcoming the new events. The time I got to spend with God that night was overwhelming. I could feel his presence in everyone who was there. I let some things go that night that lifted the weights right off my shoulders. But the way we did Communion was the most moving. We were to take a piece of bread, lift it up God, say what we were letting go of, and place it back on the tray. Then we proceeded through the line again, taking someone else’s piece from the tray for our Communion meal. When I think of all the things we did at this event, I realize that actions we may think are small really can change lives. Tenison, a senior high student, is a member of Sequoyah UMC Fayetteville. To learn more about Mitto and other ACCYM events, visit www.accym.org.