Story by: Becca Spilka, Lacee Getter, Hayley Younginer

For the typical student, summer vacation means lying on the beach, visiting family, or just watching Netflix, but for senior Ben Wolverton, summer is far from average.

For a week in July, Ben traveled to Toronto, Canada with his church to do missionary work. The goal of the trip was to help a brand new church establish a solid community, as well as expand by inviting new people.

“We made a bunch of food like chicken kebabs, hot dogs and hamburgers for a beach picnic that they were having to help make connections and also have something fun for the community to do,” Ben said. “We also helped make carnival games for a big block party that the city of Toronto was having and had invited the church to help out with.”

Since the church was new and just developing, they needed all the help they could get to create and foster a strong community.

“We went to help out this church because they do not have a whole lot of volunteers that are able to help,” Ben said. “And we wanted to serve as a light for Christ in the city of Toronto.”

Ben personally felt drawn to go on the trip because he wanted to help people who did not have that many resources with the massive task they had ahead of them.

“Just helping other churches and brothers and sisters in Christ is what we as Christians are called to do, so being able to do this was really a blessing. Also, Toronto is an awesome city, so thats a bonus!” Ben said.

Ben found himself incredibly inspired by the kind and devoted people he met that helped build the church in Toronto.

“Their commitment to leave everything they were used to here in America and move their families up to Toronto in order to help spread the love of God was very cool and inspiring,” Ben said.

Aside from the work he did to help the community, Ben said he had a wonderful time experiencing life outside the U.S.

“I loved helping the Church out, but seeing and walking around the city for a week was incredibly awesome too! It is always fun to go to a big city whenever you are living in Irmo,” Ben said.

The different environment and new people taught Ben a great deal about being flexible and adjusting to unfamiliar situations. He also personally grew from the experience and learned the importance of partaking in missionary work all around the world.

“I learned the power of prayer and that my ultimate goal in life is to advance the Kingdom of God wherever I go, whether it is school, my job or somewhere far away like Toronto,” Ben said.

In the end, Ben had an incredible time helping out a community in need and experiencing what life was like in Toronto.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, learned so many new things and also got to sight-see in a new place too,” Ben said. “The combo of events made it a really awesome trip and I cannot wait for the next adventure!”