Though often the center of controversy and conflict, religion often has brought the best out in people through mission trips. Religious or not, the inherent idea of missionary work is noble. Traveling hundreds of miles to carry out acts of kindness while spreading the gospel is an admirable way to spend vacation time.
Mission trips are usually conducted in the more poverty-stricken regions of the world.
“My mission was in Nicaragua. When we were there, we went on prayer walks, visiting orphanages and socialized with the kids,” senior Kaylor Smith said. “On prayer walks, we visit houses and come pray for the families for whatever they’re going through at the time.”
Not only are missionaries teaching at the places they visit, but they are learning as well.
“Something new I had never done before is praying with the people there; they all pray out loud at the same time. I’m used to praying by myself in my head,” Smith said.
It is not entirely work on these mission trips. There is usually time for leisure with the locals.
“One thing I have always loved is soccer, and every kid I met there plays it so I got the chance to play with all the kids. It’s an experience I won’t ever forget. It helped me develop relationships with kids. I would say, if you ever go on a mission trip, go again, so you can see all the people you met once more,” Smith said.
The common goal of mission trips is to spread the gospel and carry out acts of selflessness.
“For the mission in Grand Goave, Haiti, we helped build houses, went on prayer walks and we did some community work by handling clothing donations,” sophomore Andrew Jones said.
The reality of poverty is unavoidable when going on a mission trip.
“After working on the houses, we were going to pass around our lunches, and some of the local Haitians saw us and started begging for our food. We would have gladly given it to them, but we didn’t have enough for everyone, and the mission leaders said not to because it could start riots and fights over the food,” Jones said. “Most of the people in the crowd gave up after we drove off, but there was this one man that followed our car for about a mile until we got back on the main road. I can’t forget his face. He had the absolute saddest look I had ever seen on his face.”
To do the work of a missionary requires some serious motivation.
“I’ve done some smaller mission trips throughout the country, but I had always wanted to go on an international trip,” Jones said. “The conditions in Haiti are just so much worse than you’d think. I wanted to be there in person and do what I can to help. I also saw it as an opportunity to grow my relationship with God.”
Senior Kristin Sawin was on the same mission trip as Jones through the Lifeline Christian Mission organization.
“We did all kinds of projects to help the community in Grand Goave. Repainting, weeding, donating clothes and baby formula, and we even helped them learn a little bit of English in their school,” Sawin said.
Rain, shine or political unrest, missionaries go everywhere.
“There has been a lot of political riots in the capital, Port-au-Prince, which is the only place in Haiti with an airport that could take us back to the U.S. so that caused some complications. We weren’t sure if we would make it back in time as scheduled,” Sawin said. “They actually had to send a Navy helicopter to pick us up from Grand Goave to take us to the airport without having to go through the protestors. Our whole group split into three so the helicopter could fit us on, and my group and another rode back to Port-au-Prince, but the last group had to wait longer for a car, which was the group Andrew Jones was in.”
Sawin’s sister persuaded her to go on this mission trip.
“After my sister went on a mission in Africa, she would tell me about how it changed her life as well as the lives of the people around her that she helped. Anyone can go on a mission trip, anyone can do the work, but it is the experience itself that changes your own life,” Sawin said.