So many of my friends have been going on missions trips this summer! It’s made me a tad bit jealous. haha This year, my good friend Susanna had the opportunity to go on a missions trip to Jamaica! When she got back, I asked her if she was interested in sharing some about the trip and she was happy to oblige. I have known Susanna all my life and it is a joy to see her serving God in such a way. So with that said, I will let her take it from here:
I was nervous about a few things before Jamaica. One—that I wouldn’t have enough money, as I needed to earn over $800 to cover the trips costs and everything in between. Two—that I didn’t know many on the trip very well and I was very nervous that I would feel and/or be all alone. I was nervous about the money because I make $40 dollars a week, and would only earn $340 in the 9 weeks I had to really prepare. My parents weren’t okay with the pay later option, either. Honestly, I was so nervous about the money that I wasn’t sure I could do it. God reminded me of all the times He has taken care of all my different money needs, however, and He totally put my mind at rest. He also reminded me that no matter how out of the loop I sometimes feel, I’m not there to have fun with friends, but to serve the people there. I had to remind myself of that over and over so that I wouldn’t get scared.
I was excited about a few things as well! I had heard amazing things come from this trip and couldn’t wait to take part in it myself. I’d heard working with these children was just a joy. After all, when is it not a joy to do so?? 😉 I’ve also heard stories from the infirmary we visit down there—that part seems to affect most. But mostly I’ve heard that this trip changes lives and I just wanted to be a part of it.
My own brother told me that if I had to rob a bank to get the money to go, “DO IT.” (Not literally, of course 😉 He said it was one of the most life changing trips he’s ever been on and that I needed to go. So with that in mind, I did everything I could do to go! God provided for me in the most amazing ways. I was going to do some work for a lady at my church and she promised $200 for me. She paid it to the church and everything. But every time I asked if she needed me to come or if she had a job for me, something always got in the way. The very last time I asked she said she had moved and didn’t need a thing done! So I finished that deal with $200 towards Jamaica and I didn’t have to do anything! She didn’t even want me to come and do any work, she just gave willingly. That was such a blessing. I also did a bottle drive to earn the last bit needed for paying the last $70-80 and the $100 I wanted for spending money. So I went door to door with my little brother and put flyers telling my name and purpose and when I would be back to pick them up in every door. I did this three times. I received checks, bills, and an amazing abundance of cans from these people.
There were two amazing instances that I don’t think I will ever forget. The first happened when I was out passing out said flyers and a man was on his front porch reading his iPad. I remember thinking that I didn’t want to talk to him because talking to strangers and not wanting them to think that I want their money is uncomfortable and I just don’t like it. But, I worked up my courage, walked up to him, and gave him my stumbling, stuttering spiel. He proceeded to tell me that he had tons of cans and I could take whatever I could carry. I gained quite a bit of confidence, because I had my little brother with me and cans are not hard to carry! So he opened that garage door and and showed us inside and I knew immediately that if we tried to carry this stuff we wouldn’t make a dent. He had about 5 cases—BIG cases of beer bottles and a few cases and bags of cans. I was shocked. Thankfully I was able to call my mom up and we loaded everything into the van. It was amazing. I probably made about $50 from that one house. The second was when we were driving around, retrieving the bags on the porches. This run had not been as successful as before, as we had only gotten a handful of bags. It started to rain and I was running out in it to collect the bags. It wasn’t really a big deal, but then it started to pour and I couldn’t really do it any longer. So we got in the van and were on our way home, checking the porches to see if there were any more. And then we saw it. My mom, brother, and I let out an astonished laugh. We could not believe it. There it was–a porch completely full of bags, paper and plastic, and cases full of bottles and cans. I earned over $70 in returns from just one porch. Just one! I earned all the money I had still needed to earn from these bottle drives.
So when we finally arrived in Jamaica, we got to work. To be honest, everything I was nervous about came to pass, and it was very difficult for me. I had to learn to be content in God’s will even though I might not necessarily have been having “fun.” I had to really take to heart Philippians 2:14-16:
“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.”
It was so important for me to realize that no matter how much I may not “fit in”, fitting in was not even close to what mattered.
Yet again, God took care of me. He always does… whether it was giving me a good attitude, sending someone to be with, or reminding me that having a really good friend was not what the trip was all about. When it came to VBS, however, there was not a thing to be wished for. It was so wonderful to spend so much time with these children. They were wonderful. You got to hold the little ones, give piggy back rides to the rest, spend time talking, and just love on them.
We do two VBS’ there; one in the morning, one in the evening. The AM VBS is definitely much easier than the PM. They know more about the Bible, they’re better behaved (although the PM kids really aren’t that bad. Nothing compared to American kids. There, they are fully expected to behave), and there’s less of them. The numbers were the biggest reason it’s easier. In the AM church, we had about 13 kids in our color group. In the PM, we had about 30. With only 4 leaders and at least one gone each day for skits, the numbers could make rounding them up very difficult at times.
A day of VBS consists of an opening session, in which we have an emcee pulling each part together, music with puppets, a verse with motions, and an opening skit—which I was given the opportunity to be apart of. There are then four stations that each color group (green, orange, yellow, and blue) rotates to. There were skits, video, crafts, and games. Skits were done by one person from each color group, with a different group coming in each day. This was so that the groups were still functional in having enough leaders each day and everyone having an opportunity to participate in both working with the children and doing a skit. These skits were focusing on four different themes each day. Monday was God’s power over nature, using the parting of the red sea and Jesus and Peter walking on water. Tuesday was God’s power over circumstances, using the story of Daniel in the Lions Den. Wednesday was God’s power over sin, teaching about the ABC’s. Thursday was letting God have power over our relationships. That day’s lesson was on Zaccheas. Friday was God’s power over my life, and we learned of Peter being freed from prison and Jesus healing the sick and raising the dead.
The children loved these skits. Hopefully they learned much about God and the bible. Sadly, none came to know Christ. However, we hopefully brought the kids into the church so they can continue to learn about Christ there.
Honestly, the biggest thing I learned in Jamaica was how to be a leader. I mean, really a leader. Not just stepping up and leading, but learning how to let others step up and lead too. I learned how important it is to listen to those above you, yet take control when needed. Above all, I learned how absolutely important it is to bring Christ into every situation. A few verses that really stuck out to me during the week were from Philippians 2:1-5:
“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus…”
Really, the biggest thing I took home was to look for Christ everywhere. That He applies in every area and walk of life. That He is to be praised, that His power is what makes life. I learned that actions are to be done because Christ did them, not because that’s the way it’s always been. When I look to Christ, things are clear. When I see His work, things fall into place. Whereas when I try to imitate the ways others have done things, I get angry and frustrated and end up sinning.
Titus 3:1-8 sums this up perfectly:
“Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good,to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone. At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs, having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.”
God is awesome, powerful, and almighty. He brings hope, joy, and life. He is worthy unlike any other. He is worth it.
The Jamaican coastline.
I’m seventeen years old and to be honest, I’m a little bit different. I love theatrics, art, music, and people. I’m going to college next year to be an artist, fine art to be exact, and couldn’t imagine doing anything else with my life. I love to work with children. They bring me joy and life. I love to serve in the church, as I can’t really see anything better that I could possibly spend my time doing. My life has been changed by the life and death of Jesus Christ and I now live in the hope of a life with Him.