Our Stories

joseph c.

2018 Mission Team Member

"Reminiscent, nostalgic, heartache, love, contentment, and faithfulness are a few words to describe what seemed as an indescribable experience. This trip taught me that happiness originates in God, Himself, and his love. Without growing in my faith this past week, this experience would not have meant as much as it did. "

Summer 2018

Apprehensive, uneasy, jittery, fearful, concerned, reconsidering my decision to go, what will happen? Will I fit in? Will I be liked? Will I be able to do it? These were all the feelings and questions that came rushing toward me as I packed and got ready for this mission. My closest friend convinced me to go on this trip and said I would love it. People around me, who I truly respect, encouraged me to give it a try. At the last minute, I was wondering what I got myself into. Going to a foreign, third world country to help orphaned and severely disabled kids made me ask myself, “Was I up for the challenge?” I really had no idea how to interact with these kids.

One special moment from the trip that really had an impact on me was when we went to the Jerusalem Mustard Seed Community for the first time. I knew I was going to be okay. When we arrived at Jerusalem, I was walking around trying to find a kid to interact with and make their day brighter. I walked around the mango tree, when all of a sudden someone came up from behind me and grabbed my hand. I looked down to see who it was.  I saw a little girl, wide eyed, looking up at me. She took my hand tight and wouldn’t let go.  She just stood there gazing at me as if she was taking measure of me. Not knowing what to say, I stared back. It brought a smile to my face, thinking that this little girl decided to come up to me and hold my hand. I finally regained my thoughts and asked her what her name was. She didn’t respond at first, but finally uttered one word “mango.” Confused, I asked her name again and I got the same response “mango.” Realizing this wasn’t her name, it dawned on me what she was asking for. She wanted a mango hanging high in the tree. I immediately began to climb the tree to get her the mango. I got down from the tree and handed her the mango and something beautiful happened. She began to smile and laugh as she ate the mango but was still too shy to speak to me. The call for the start of the special Olympics was sounded she dragged me over to the field and sat down prompting me to do the same. As we sat there, she intently watched as every kid competed. She finally got up and asked if she could get a turn. I made it my goal to get her a chance to compete. After waiting for what seemed like forever, we finally got a chance. When we got to the starting line, she began jump up and down with joy. She finally revealed her name: Amelia.

After Amelia’s race, we joined the rest of our group and she transformed into a different person. Amelia the shy, speechless girl transformed into a talkative girl and the center of attention. She arranged a circle of volunteers placing herself and I in the center. From that point on she was “queen” dictating our every move. She controlled our actions and activities starting a soccer game. By the end of the day she was beloved by all and definitely will be remembered as well. With me by her side she was able to open up, but more importantly, she gave me the gift of love.

This is the true meaning of my experience in Jamaica. It wasn’t what I brought to the orphaned kids but what they gave to me. They have the bare minimum and no parents or families that care for them but they have an immense amount love capable of being shared. They are blessed and loved by God.

Reminiscent, nostalgic, heartache, love, contentment, and faithfulness are a few words to describe what seemed as an indescribable experience. This trip taught me that happiness originates in God, Himself, and his love. Without growing in my faith this past week, this experience would not have meant as much as it did. I learned a lot on this trip, more than I could ever ask for. I guess I will just have to wait until next year to see what’s in store for me to learn.

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