For the third year in a row, Ucluelet spent a week basking in Redlands, California love.
In what has become an annual happening, Ucluelet’s Christ Community Church welcomed students from Redlands’ Trinity Church last week.
The group of about 30 students ranging from grades 8-12 got their hands dirty with work projects throughout the community and also ran a Vacation Bible School for local youth.
“We’re here to glorify God with our hands the best we can,” said group counselor David Hood.
Trinity sent its first delegation to Ucluelet in 2012, thanks to a solid relationship struck between Trinity’s then-Pastor Shawn Brennan and Christ Community Church’s Pastor Miles White.
Although Brennan moved on to a new congregation last year, White said the relationship with Trinity didn’t skip a beat and talks are already underway for the group’s return next year.
“Everybody wants to come back,” Hood said adding about 75 per cent of this year’s group was visiting Ucluelet for the first time. It was the third Ucluelet experience for 19 year-old Caleb Wilson who was stoked to return to the community.
“I’ve done this twice before and I wanted to come back because I just love Ucluelet, honestly it’s
probably one of my favourite places in the world,” he said. “Coming from a bigger area, it’s definitely really neat to see the small community style and I really love the people here.”
Redlands has a population of roughly 75,000 and is located between Los Angeles and Palm Springs.
Wilson said sharing God’s word with local kids during the VBS had an enormous impact on both himself and the kids and he touted his time spent with the Ucluelet First Nation as the highlight of his experience.
“Interacting with everybody and getting to just talk with them is probably one of the coolest things because everyone just seems super genuine,” he said.
Another Redlands youth taking in a third Ucluelet experience was 17 year-old Eliana Finley, who was thrilled to see familiar young faces at the VBS.
“I just love these kids, some of them have come every year so I’ve gotten to build relationships with them and it’s just so fun to see them every year and see how excited they are,” she said.
Both students were excited to provide a comfortable and fun way to connect local youth to the church.
“Nobody really wants to just be preached at. People are just going to shut down right there so the important thing is to make everyone comfortable and kids are most comfortable playing, kind of like me, so if you can integrate everything and let everyone have a fun time, people are going to listen to you,” Wilson said.
“If you show them love too, right from the beginning, they’re going to show love back.”
Finley agreed and added the group’s work beautifying the community helps illustrate their love to locals.
“Actions are a lot more important than words and before people can hear what we have to say and actually believe it and understand it they have to know that we’re genuine and that we actually have this great love for this community and for the Lord,” she said.
Like Wilson, Finley had a loveat-first-sight experience with Ucluelet.
“The first time I came here I fell in love with this place it is so amazing,” she said. “The community is so fun; everybody knows each other.”
Tthe group stays at Christ Community Church and Finley said she is grateful for, and inspired by, the love shown by Pastor Miles White.
“He’s really made a difference the past four years that he’s been here,” she said.
As the group packed for home on Wednesday morning, they put the finishing touches on a gazebo and pathway they had built in Christ Community Church’s front yard.