As news of the trip spread, interest from students outside the class began to grow. So, it was a natural decision the next year to open this trip to all LHS students. By 2003, there was so much interest that the need for a second annual Mexico trip arose. Then, in 2005, a generous local donor, The Giving University, provided enough money to purchase three large circus tents, seemingly countless shovels, pick-axes, hammers, and enough cooking equipment to feed a small army. From the program’s inception in 2000, Missions has traveled to Mexico 18 times, where close to 750 students and chaperones have built 42 houses and a church.
In 2005, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, God’s call was clear to help bring relief to the hurting and broken in New Orleans. After 8 trips to New Orleans over 4 years, the program transitioned to Galveston, Texas to do Hurricane Ike relief work. These trips have begun the fulfillment of Mr. Maietta’s vision for the LHS Mission Program to have disaster relief teams, ready at any moment, to jump on a plane and go minister in areas ravaged by natural disasters.
The Mission Club organically originated as students came back to school after trips and found themselves missing the community and relational bonds that they experienced with their team on the mission field. Without any initiative from Mr. Maietta, several students decided to host a regular lunch meeting at school for trip participants to re-connect with other each. And, as so often happens when there is genuine and true community, the students could not help but reach out to others. Not only were other students who hadn't gone on trips drawn to this community, but different outreach events and programs began - Cell Phones for Soldiers, Sports Equipment for Others, Promise Child, Recycling, Change for Change, Dumpster Divers and Eyeglasses for Ethiopia.
In order to keep up with the Mission events on campus, and to deepen further our understanding and knowledge of missions (including cross-cultural ministry, social justice, the history of Missions, and evangelism), we decided to start the Mission Class on campus in 2010. Over the years, the class has proven incredibly important for brainstorming, planning, and promoting Mission events, along with providing students (and staff!) very helpful theoretical and practical insights about missions. An added benefit and blessing of the class is the continued connections between mission-minded students and between the students and Mission staff. The ministry and mentorship happening, even just within the class, has been a joy to see and experience.
Finally, as the Mission Program has expanded, we have been able not only to send out more teams, but also to send teams to across the world. In 2007, the Mission Program sent a team to its first international location: Malawi, Africa. This Summer trip lasted 4 weeks (far longer than any previous trip). Since then, Summer trips have included the Crow Nation in Montana, Belize, Romania, India, Argentina, China, Ethiopia and the Dominican Republic. Each of these trips had a unique feature with different lengths, ministry opportunities, team sizes, and interactions with the nationals. Despite the differences though, God's touch was clearly seen in each instance, both in terms of the ministry and also in the lives of the trip participants. We have also expanded our trips during the school year, adding a spring break trip that alternates between Vietnam and another location in Asia each year. In between trips to China in 2010 and 2012, we sent a team to South Korea in 2011, and another team to Taiwan in 2013. In 2009, we also began an annual Fall trip to Appalachia (specifically, Bear Branch, Kentucky), the poorest region in our country. Finally, in the Fall of 2012, we began a new ministry in Bishop, CA working with the Paiute Native Americans. Since the first trip, the ministry has expanded to working with local churches and assisted living facilities in the area. The Bishop trip, creatively title NART (Native American Reservation Trip) by one of our students, occurs twice each year in September and March.