2022 Utah Missions Trip Recap
written by Pastor Bob DeAngelo
“Trip of a lifetime. The sights were great, but helping a great church and family was even better.”
This was a summary from one of the team members after experiencing the younger adult missions trip to Salina, Utah, in the summer of 2022.
This summer, our team of fifteen from Friendship Baptist Church enjoyed serving together in Utah.
The Murphree Family
Matt and Karlene Murphree have lived in Salina, Utah, for the past twelve or so years, where Matt has served as the pastor of Faith Baptist Church.
Matt supplements his income as an employee for the state government, and Karlene (who may be the best teacher in the state of Utah – you think I’m kidding) homeschools their nine children. The Murphree children range from age 18 down to age 3. They do everything together, including eating (a lot of food prep!), running a lawn care business where they mow forty yards each week, and playing and singing beautiful music at the local care center and church.
Our team landed in Salt Lake City on a Tuesday afternoon and arrived in Salina (a two-hour drive plus a few Maverik gas station stops) that evening. We met the rest of the Murphree family that night. After a long day of travel, only Karlene’s unfathomable enthusiasm kept us awake long enough to begin to understand the science experiments we would be overseeing the following morning.
Starting on Wednesday morning, our team helped the Murphrees run a 3-day science camp. Around twenty-five children came each morning, all of them from homeschool families. We enjoyed explosive (I mean it) demonstrations, interactive experiments (met by a lot of “WHOA’s!!!), and clear Bible presentations of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The kids listened attentively, as did the precious moms and dads who stayed to enjoy the science camp with their children.
Some of the highlights of the camp:
– Two-liter bottles exploded in the parking lot (I died laughing when one of the neighbor ladies came out to her porch to see what in the world was going on).
– Benjamin’s hair got caught in the middle of a white smoke explosion that apparently was not supposed to happen that way.
– The puppets, Elliott and Henry (pronounced “Hen-wy”), received time travel visits from famous scientists Carl Linnaeus, Francis Bacon (and eggs), and Dr. Raymond Damadian, who invented the MRI machine.
– Children and adults sang Bible truths and heard a clear presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
We also put on a 3-day soccer camp for the community beginning Wednesday night. We began the week with zero prospects, and on the first night, it appeared that we might not have any kids. We were preparing to put the equipment away when a van showed up with three sisters who came from Richfield. They were new to the area, had heard about the camp on social media, and had come to learn a little bit more about the game of soccer.
One of the sisters appeared to have a miserable time … until the night ended. Then, she came to me after the camp had come to a close and asked me, “Do you want to play soccer?” Of course, I agreed, and for the next forty-five minutes, we ran sprints, did headers, passed the ball back and forth…until her mom just about had to wrestle her to the car to go home. She, of course, came back the next night, and by Friday, nine other kids had joined her, and we had a fun and quality camp, meeting several wonderful people, both kids and their parents.
Each night at “halftime,” we enjoyed snacks, and each night one of our team members shared a devotional from God’s Word. Our team members did a fantastic job sharing truth from the Bible with the soccer kids.
Memories and Reflections
Our team enjoyed every bit of Utah that we visited. A small group would wake up every morning and take in the sunrise from a nearby mountain. Each night, a group would stand in awe of the sunset from that same mountain. Later in the week, we hiked Bryce Canyon and then the Narrows at Zion National Park.
The team served in the church on Sunday with special music, teaching children’s Sunday School, teaching adult Sunday School, sharing testimonies of salvation, teaching children’s church, and preaching.
One of the trip’s most memorable moments involved Matt driving us from the middle of nowhere to the REAL middle of nowhere on Thursday night. We were away from all the city lights and quietly stood in awe of the heavenly lights that overwhelmed the sky. We observed shooting stars, planets, satellites, and an uncountable number of stars. Later that night, Matt drove the group to a spot that overlooked the town of Salina and surrounding communities. He challenged our team not to forget rural ministry, pointing out that each light we could see represented an eternal soul (or a family of immortal souls) that very likely needed the Gospel.
It was a lot of fun and a tremendous blessing and privilege to be a part of what God is doing in Salina, Utah, for a week. We love the Murphree family and admire the passion and energy with which they have embraced their community and continue to build redemptive relationships with the people there.
After the trip, one of our team members said this: “This trip has made a huge impact on me. Just seeing the Murphrees live out the gospel in their daily lives so that they can have opportunities to share the gospel and build relationships has hit me really hard. I am so thankful for them and for the opportunity God gave me to be on the team. God has really burdened my heart for that community through this trip and through the Murphrees. I hope that one day soon, God would allow me to go back and work with them again and help build relationships in that community.”