Project Y2J | Bonnie How, MDiv, junior

Bonnie How, a junior MDiv/ Dual Degree student, took a group of ten youths and five adults from Cedar Park First United Methodist Church, where she serves as the Youth Minister, on a short-term mission trip to Japan over spring break in March. The congregation was originally invited through a church member connection to send a group to Japan in Summer 2011 to participate in tsunami disaster relief, but was unable to do so due to fundraising shortfalls.

One year after the devastating tsunami and earthquakes, Project Y2J (Project Youth2Japan) raised the $2500 per person and traveled to Ishinomaki, Sendai, and Tokyo, where they participated in worship services, disaster relief, and began to build new and– what she hopes will be– long-term, meaningful relationships with the people in Japan.

Bonnie explained, given the amount required to send the group, many people had difficulty understanding why the church couldn’t just send a check instead. After witnessing the transformation that occurred within each participant, she better appreciates “the very incarnational aspect of going and doing mission.”

Some of the youth who went on the trip had little prior exposure to church. Bonnie smiled as she spoke of one girl in particular who was not a member of the church but she has witnessed grow in faith as a result of the trip. “It’s changed her life,” Bonnie said.

More than just this, the experience provided an opportunity for a weaving of perspectives for everyone involved, through exposure to a new culture and trying new foods.

This experience has impacted her church as a whole as well. It was the first international mission trip in the history of the small, 120-person, traditional congregation. Bonnie knows that this mission only happened through the grace of God.

“I can put ten kids in a van and take them to Joplin (for tornado cleanup) or Bastrop, and I don’t need faith to get them there. I can’t get ten kids to Japan without God,” she said. “It’s not financially feasible for our church to send them.” As the youth minister, she witnessed the growth of the kids, even as they were commissioned to go. It highlighted the very identity and mission at work in our baptism.

The trip has also been affected Bonnie’s own family in positive ways. Her husband, daughter, and son went on the mission trip together. It allowed her 17-year-old daughter to begin to think about her post-high school future. “It has opened our eyes to mission,” she said.


Read more about Project Y2J and their mission trip to Japan in their mission blog.

Click here to read more.