Student Trips

Pittsburgh 2017

A team of youth from The Compass Church spent a week serving in Pittsburgh this summer. They partnered with a local church to do outreach and run a VBS in the community, and they took prayer walks through the city. The team also partnered with two other local service agencies, a homeless shelter and a soup kitchen. Emma, one of the students on the trip, shares her reflections on what she learned. 

Hello people of the Compass Church! Today (or whenever you’re reading this), I am here to tell you a little bit about my recent mission trip to the beautiful (and hilly) city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. First detail to note, I was completely unfamiliar with literally every single one of my teammates prior to the trip, which honestly ended up very well. I had such a great time getting to know the  amazing other students and leaders on the trip, and I am happy to say that I walked away with sixteen new friends. Serving with these amazing people made everything ten times easier, and at least ten times more fun. Second thing to note, despite my previous involvement with junior high work camps, this week was my first long-term mission trip, and boy I had little idea what I was walking into. Now, this is not to say that I couldn’t handle it, because I did, I’m just saying that there were definitely some unexpected, crazy cool, God-inspired moments.

Pittsburgh picture 1

If you were to ask me which one of these moments stood out to me the most, or what the highlight of my trip was, I would probably tell you, “Eating the mile high sandwich with french fries on it, or that really good piece of almond cake,” (two delicacies Pittsburgh happens to be known for.) But if I were to tell you that,  I would probably tell you after that I was kidding, and that my big moment was on the morning of June 29th, our second to last day in such an incredible city.

That morning we were going to be serving at a ministry that serves meals to impoverished families and individuals on the north side of the city, a task I was not especially excited about in all honesty. Growing up in an affluent neighborhood of the western suburbs of Chicago, there’s always been some kind of stigma that follows the homeless. That you should turn your cheek because they are just looking for money to feed dangerous habits, that you should ignore every sign or request for help and just keep walking.

I got to prepare a Chicago classic, Portillo’s Italian beef with salad and all kinds of good stuff. But the coolest part was getting the chance to sit down with some of the men and women there that day. What really hit me deep down though, was how plainly human they all were. I got to make connections with two little girls, and have some really great conversations with my teammates and some of the men we were serving. Was it a little nerve wracking? For sure. But by the end of our time, it was like talking to a good friend about sports, and different neighborhoods, and school, and responsibility, and all kinds of things. It was truly awesome to be able to hear about them and about their lives and see my peers talking with them, laughing with them, and even praying with them.

Pittsburgh picture 2.jpgWhat often happens, I’ve noticed, is that those who are homeless are often dehumanized by those who have the means to help them. But in reality, they’re people too, they have their own stories, lives, families. So what I think I took away was that what I personally need to do better, and what I think a lot of people could improve upon, is not turning our noses up to the hurt in this world, but embracing it and treating it with love. The lesson Elsa and I taught for the VBS kids that week was all about going out into the world and loving people the way Jesus loves. And in our experience that morning, we were living that out, and it was incredible to be a part of.

Utah 2017: Day 6 & 7

A group of  students from The Compass Church is currently serving in Utah alongside our partners Ritch and Laura. We will be posting reflections from the students during the course of their trip.

In the mornings this week, our team helped The Mission Church run a Kids Camp. Through our Spy Camp theme, we’ve been teaching the kids that God created everything. He wrote His law on our hearts, but we broke that law and are subject to punishment for doing so. Jesus took that punishment for us so that we can be forgiven and have a relationship with God. In the afternoons, we have been doing work projects, spending time at Temple Square, and going on hikes. Here are some reflections from some of our team members:

Yesterday, Wednesday, after our water day for kids we went out to a barn to help move things around and clean. Caleb, Josh, and I got to climb into a dumpster and smash and break things inside to make as much room as possible. Wood, boxes, coolers, metal, and so much more came into the dumpster. Early on in the smashing some street sign poles were tossed in and that became my weapon of choice. After all the work was we went back to the church for a little rest but later came back to the barn house for a cookout with the owners of the house and the Sandfords. It was fun just hanging out and being a big family. Today came for the kids camp and that is where I had the most exciting thing happen. All week one of my kids, Ethan, had been shy and kind of slumped over but today he was talking a lot and at the game today he was all over the place and had a great big smile on his face. I had to chase down kids for our game and when I caught one, he was laughing and having fun. I just pray that tomorrow being the last day will be the absolute best day for all of my kids that show up.


Today, Thursday was an awesome day, kids camp was an amazing experience. My kids had so much fun all day and at the end of the day one gave me a hug since it was her last day. After the amazing experience at kids camp our team followed Ritch to go on a short hike to see a beautiful waterfall. When we got up to the waterfall there was a ledge that you could climb to get higher into the waterfall, having a fear of heights I wasn’t real eager to do it. After much convincing from Chris, Molly and Allea, I decided to take a chance and scale up the side to get on top for a good picture. After getting up and getting cool group pictures, came the fun of climbing down the side. When I eventually made it down it felt good to face my fear of heights in order to climb up the waterfall and see how beautiful it was. All of this was amazing but the best part of the day was surprising Scott’s car with a Moana flash mob to How Far I’ll Go. Overall today was an amazing, God-filled experience and I can’t wait to take on the last day of our trip


Utah 2017: Day 3

A group of  students from The Compass Church is currently serving in Utah alongside our partners Ritch and Laura. We will be posting reflections from the students during the course of their trip.

I went into today thinking I wanted to save writing a blog post for when we visited Temple Square and did street evangelism. In past years, the first day of kids camp was hectic, but relatively uneventful. However today was anything but uneventful for me.

Bit of a backstory:

Last year, I wrote a post about one of the girls in my kids camp small group. She came into the week hating VBS and swearing at her mother for making her come. At first, I was mentally preparing for a rough week with her, but as I got to know her, she transformed into a loveable, giggly, helpful 12-year-old whose love for the Lord became more and more evident throughout the week.

Separately, yesterday I had the chance to meet up with my aunt and cousins who live out here in Utah. This is my 4th time on this trip and but the first time I have been able to see them while here.

Today at the end of kids camp, I ran up to the mother of the girl from last year and asked if she was coming to camp. Unfortunately, she was not, as she was out of town until Sunday. Bummed, I began telling her mother how much I loved her daughter and told her to give her a big hug for me. Her mother was very kind and wrote down my email so she could reach out to me. As she started to leave, she mentioned she worked at a church out here. It turned out that it was the same church my aunt attends and when I told her my aunt’s name, she goes, “No way! She’s one of my closest friends! I just texted her yesterday!” She then continues to tell me about how my aunt led her husband to Christ, which in turn, eventually led their entire family to Christ. Woah.

When she left, I cried, amazed at how God worked through that circle of people.

In all, God was so prevalent today in so many little ways and I was so blessed to be a part of it.

– Kayt

Utah 2017: Day 1

A group of  students from The Compass Church is currently serving in Utah alongside our partners Ritch and Laura.We will be posting reflections from the students during the course of their trip. 

We arrived in Utah safety and connected with Ritch. Shortly after,we went straight to a hiking site. Ritch lead us up a path that was definitely a work out. He brought two of his adorable kids Their relationship is such an example of how our relationship with our heavenly father should be like. His love for his kids is so evident. His daughter’s big beautiful eyes just explode with joy when she sees him. He knows the paths like the back of his hand. He knows the slippery parts and he knows where it leads. When we got to the top we saw a beautiful water fountain that just dripped God’s glory.

Utah Day 1 picture




On the way down, he held his son so tight. There was one point when the rocks underneath him slipped. But he held his son so tightly that he was safe with his daddy. Today I was reminded the reasons we go through trials. These past few months have been rough. My Mom and Grandpa were both diagnosed with Cancer. I never was mad at God but I definitely wondered why my family had to go through that. But as Ritch loved and protected his son, I was reminded that going up that mountain has a glorious ending. Right now, I may not see that waterfall, but God knows the path like the back of his hand. He knows all the slippery parts and he knows the final destination, and wow is it worth it.

After the hike, we played games and ate some spaghetti. Please pray for the kids camp that starts Monday and for God to give us the words to say to the people of Utah. Also shout-out to my parents and grandparents! Love you! Give Bentley a huge hug for me!


Utah Final Day

Today’s post was written by students on the Utah Missions Trip

Kids Camp Final Day

Hey all, Sorry we didn’t have a post for yesterday. We were out street evangelizing at Temple Square and didn’t get back until late at night. What an amazing experience that was. Almost every one of our team had the opportunity to have a great conversation with someone. It was stretching and challenging but definitely worth it. Everyone walked away having grown in their own relationship with Jesus. Make sure you ask one of our team members about their time there. They all have their own unique story to tell about the experience!

Today was our last day in Utah. We finished up our kids camp with a bang today. After four days, the kids were excited as ever. They were running around screaming and having a blast as well as learning valuable life lessons. Once the camp finished, everyone was sad and wished the camp to continue. Once we got back from the camp we went to the much anticipated In and Out Burger. After our adventure at the wonderful burger house of the west we headed out to the mountains to take a round trip of about three miles through the scenic route, we took plenty of photos of our beautiful faces and the even more beautiful mountains. We caught some pictures of the beautiful west sunset as we made our way back down the mountain. When we finally finished it was definitely worth it, as we finished up our last night in Utah we said goodbye to close friends including Ritch and Laura. We got the chance to pray over the city as well as Ritch and Laura and to bless the work that they do every day. Tears were shed as we bid goodbye, we loaded up and went back to the church to pack and eat Krispy Kreme Donuts. Overall, the trip has been a great blessing to us as well as the city and an unforgettable experience. Thanks for praying for us and reading about our time in Utah. This is the 2016 Utah Team signing off.

Cya y’all soon Naperville!

Vince E, Mary M, Holly W


Utah Day 5

Today’s post was written by students on the Utah Missions Trip

Story Time

Today was moist. Unlike a normal mission trip day, slip n slide kick ball and a swimming pool were involved. The past two days have been very high energy, but today there was more energy. While the kids radiated energy from the start, today they were overflowing. For games we played slip n slide kick ball at kids’ camp. The kids were thrilled. We were running around splashing water on one another. Almost everyone was soaked! The water games fit naturally with our Bible story of the day: Jonah.

Tony- Working with three to four year olds is like herding tiny cattle. Its been really cool to see God work through them in even the littlest ways. Three out of the four kids assigned to me started camp out crying and clinging to their moms, it hasn’t taken long for them to bust out and really go crazy. After kids camp an intense game of slip n slide kick ball broke out. Then later we went to a pool because we were supposed to meet a team from Colorado but kick ball took priority. Today was yet another eventful day and I look forward to see what else God in store.

Rachel K.- I had the pleasure of working with 5-7 year olds this week. It has been very exhausting but such a blessing. I have gotten to know so many of the kids, not just in my group but all the 5-7 year olds at camp. Today after we finished snacks early there were three boys hanging on me. They tried to take me to “jail” for being on the opponent team. I kept trying to escape, but they were strong! There were girls who wanted piggy back rides where I had to run around. I was exhausted before we even had games! Seeing their smiles and how happy I had made them was defiantly worth the heavy breathing. Games were amazing today. We played slip n slide kick ball, which I have always wanted to do since I heard about it. There was water being thrown around. Buckets of water being tossed on children’s heads. One girl kept getting me wet and made Vince dump a bucket of water on my head. At the end of the day everyone was smiling even though we were completely soaked. It was defiantly an amazing day at camp!

We can’t wait for the final two days of kids camp and what God has in store for us. All the kids are amazing and it will be hard to leave them on Saturday. This trip truly has been a blessing and although we don’t want to leave we can’t wait to tell you all our stories!

-Rachel K and Tony C

(P.S. Mom, I haven’t fallen on an escalator…yet.)

Jonah Selfie

Utah Day 4

Today’s post was written by students on the Utah Missions Trip

Kids Camp Day 2

Today was an awesome day out here in Utah, even better than the last. The morning went like usual, the setup team went about their business and the rest of us got up did devotions and breakfast. In the setup team, the car ride there was really nice, no one played music and we all just talked. As setup began everyone began their parts of work to help setup, Caleb and Tyler got working on the lights, Evan and I(Chris) helped with the projector and started on putting the time machine together. Back at the church, (this is Micah) we got up at our normal time and ate our breakfast. We had some awesome laughs and hilarious jokes, so we were really prepared for the day. When we started our first camp song we could all tell that the kids were ready to have a blast, but they were surprisingly more focused. A lot of the kids were looking around as some of us like me (Chris) were getting so into the dance movements it was a little strange. Then we all broke into our separate age groups. We had lessons with Queen Esther, snacks making a scepters with pretzel sticks and fruit snacks, craft time making picture frames for our group photo with the time machine, and water balloon toss along with sponge dodgeball for games. We all noticed a super improvement in how the kids were listening and paying attention to the story. When we returned to Provo, we did work projects around the church we are staying out. After dinner, we were able to reflect on our day. We all gathered downstairs and the leaders gave shout outs to those who they elected were doing an outstanding job over the days. We had some really quality time to talk with each other; for once the guys talked longer than the girls. Once we all gathered back downstairs for our final next day plans and quick dessert, everything just went straight downhill. Kyle sat on a broken chair and completely smashed it, and for about a good straight ten minutes we couldn’t stop laughing about all sorts of jokes. Then we finally dispersed and went to bed.

From: Chris and Micah

-Micah, “Hi mom and dad! I didn’t die yet and the food is great! Didn’t see any rabbits yet though… see you soon!”


Utah Day 3

Today’s post was written by students on the Utah Missions Trip

Kids Camp

Josh: Hello Naperville. Today was a great first day of activities in Salt Lake. In the morning we started a week long summer camp for kids. Usually I’m not the greatest with kids and as Saturday and Sunday went by I prayed to God that I could relate to the kids and be the light of Christ to them. As the kids camp started I had small conversations with the kids in my group. But as the morning went on and a few more kids came along into my group I started to relate to them. As snack time came along and we had to ask small group questions to the kids I was able to have great conversations with them about the story of Moses which was the story of today. I asked them the questions and we were able to have good conversations about Moses and Jesus. As the day ended I was happy that I was able to connect with my kids. I can’t wait to hang with them tomorrow and spread the love of Christ to them even more!

Kayt: Yesterday when we were assigned age groups, I had a strong urge to switch from 8-10 year olds to 3-4 year olds. Despite my urge, I had a weird feeling that God wanted me there so I stayed. However, when I arrived today, it seemed like I was doomed. One of my girls switched out of my group then a little girl, ushered in by her mother, was holding back tears looking furious. She sat down and I saw her mouth some not-so-nice words as she crossed her arms and huffed angrily. Oh no, I thought, one of my kids switched out of my group and another one hates that she’s here. I focused my attention on her and attempted to sympathize. “Your mom forced you to come?” I said and I sat nodding as she explained her mom dropping her off to countless different camps throughout the summer. Thankful she didn’t have something specifically against this camp, I told her she can just hang out with me and doesn’t have to participate if she didn’t want to. At first, she stubbornly refused to engage in game time but thankfully, my fears only lasted until snack time. As we chowed down on our frosted graham crackers, she was fully engaged in conversation, laughing, and telling me about her life. Later at craft time, she turned to me and said, “Kayt, we have to be the best group.” On the outside I smiled and agreed, but on the inside I was praising God for keeping me in this age group. In addition to her remarkable switch in attitude, I received a goodbye hug by the one boy in my group, and the other girl bragged to her friend that I was the most amazing leader. Please pray as we continue this week that I will be able to pour myself into these three kids to help make a difference in their lives.

Jorah: Utah is beautiful. It’s even filled with beautiful people. Everywhere you turn creation punches you in the gut, knocks the wind out of you, leaves you breathless. But honestly, this trip has exceeded my expectations many ways other than the natural beauty. This morning after watching the sun rise over the mountains, a couple of our team members and I went to the local park in South Jordan to set up for our first day of Kid’s Camp. I find it interesting and frankly kind of rad that no matter where you go on earth, kids never change. The culturally distinguishing factors that brand us as we grow older, are virtually nonexistent to children. I have found this to be the case no matter where I have traveled. Kids have a way at looking past the cultural blinders. They just care about you and who you are and why you are here and what your favorite ice cream flavor is. This blew me away as I asked questions to the eight-year-old girl who was more stunning than any Hollywood celebrity, yet completely unaware of her blinding beauty. Because of her unawareness she was friends with everyone, not taking a second glance at how they looked. I was struck again with their “abilities” as the boy with the baseball cap and shy eyes was smiling and playing with his peers in a matter of just three hours. He didn’t care if they were girls or boys or older or younger or had different beliefs than him. He was where he was. Why wouldn’t he embrace it? I am not a super astounding kid person. Typically, kids run from me because I ask the wrong question or don’t necessarily enjoy cuddles and hand holding. But today, by the power of God, I connected with my kids in my group. We talked openly about Bible stories. We talked about what those stories told us about God. We asked how these stories can affect the way we interact with our friends, parents, and siblings. Tomorrow, I will head back to that community playground at the crack of dawn, and invest in the precious six kids I get to hang out with all week. I just pray God will use me ways I couldn’t even dream of if I tried. Please be praying for our team as a whole. Pray that God would open doors, that conversations will be had, that we would become increasingly and exceedingly sure in our faith so that we might defend it well and true. Your prayers so far have meant the world to us. I can speak for all of our team and assure you we would not be seeing the success and growth we have so far without your support. Thank you.

Moses Selfie

Utah Day 2

Day 2 started like a normal Sunday for most of us but instead of going to The Compass Church, we got to attend The Mission Church! The Mission Church is the church that Ritch and Laura Sandford planted. It’s been amazing to see the growth and how God is using the Sandfords to advance His kingdom. Our team loved meeting and spending time with the people of The Mission Church.

After church and a quick lunch, we started to prepare for the kids camp we will be helping with. After dinner, we heard the testimony of a husband and wife who grew up in polygamous households. They left that environment to join the mainstream Mormon church. Being a part of the Mormon church did little to satisfy that longing in their heart that only Jesus could satisfy. A little over a year ago, they both surrendered their lives to Christ and soon started attending The Mission Church. And just last week they were baptized! Praise God!

As our team listened to this couple share their story and pour out their hearts, I kept thinking, “How can someone grow up in an environment like this?” The couple said that from an early age, it’s all they know. You can’t help but go along with it because you don’t know any different. As they shared this, a verse came to mind. It’s 2 Corinthians 4:4. Paul writes, “Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.” The Good News is so clear to us as Jesus followers, but the rest of the world literally can’t see it. They’ve been blinded. They can’t see the amazing gift Jesus holds out to them. They can’t see that there is another way. And this should break our hearts. Not because we feel sorry for them or that we are better than them – it could just as easily be us. Our hearts break because they are missing out on someone who loves them so incredibly much. So as we start kids camp tomorrow, pray for the people we will interact with. Pray that God opens up their eyes to His love and grace and the amazing life He offers as His child!


Utah Day 1: The Compass Church Arrives

Today’s post was written by students on the Utah Missions Trip


We made it! It was a tiring but great day! We met at 3:30am to head to the airport. After landing in Salt Lake City, we grabbed lunch at Café Rio – an awesome Mexican restaurant that needs to make its way to Naperville! The rest of our day was filled with a hike and getting settled at the church we are staying at.

After being up for almost 20 hours, we are headed to bed! We have an awesome day planned and it starts with attending The Mission Church – the church planted by Ritch and Laura Sandford. Stay tuned for more updates from our time in Utah…

Holly: Today was a great way to start off the Utah trip, although it was a long, tiring day there were many things that we did that I really enjoyed such as taking a one mile hike. It did take me awhile to get up to the lake but when we did it was awesomely beautiful.

Kyle: Today started off kind of tiring, yeah you know with the whole waking up at two in the morning for a 3 hour plane ride. But after we landed it was great. We went to a pretty sweet Mexican restaurant for lunch. Then went on a long hike up a mountain to look at a lake and that was pretty awesome. After that we got settled into the church (which has the greatest shower of all time) and I got to help paint the time machine. I think today was a great way to start off a trip.