Many students count the days down to Spring Break with anticipation of trips to Disney World, beaches or even staying home and getting a week’s worth of sleeping in. Not many sign up for early morning work days in locations with little to no running water, performing construction work in extreme heat and ministering to underprivileged children. But that’s exactly where our juniors and seniors ended up all week as WCA headed to Jamaica for our 2019 Missions Trip.
The Missions Team was formed based on interest earlier this year, and together with faculty leaders, the team solidified after prayer and consideration that they wanted to serve in a location that was both international and dealt directly with helping children. The trip focused on a handful of institutions in Jamaica: an orphanage for abused children, a Bible school and the Jamaica Christian School for the Deaf.
Our missions trips are cherished because of the value they hold in the process of Christian formation for our students. “It is important for our students to attend mission trips because they learn through serving in ways that they can’t learn in the classroom. Going and seeing for themselves, hearing both children and adults share their story and their struggle, having compassion for others who are clearly less fortunate are very critical,” explained Upper School Principal Beth Fletcher, who accompanied the team. “Our students are able to then make a difference in their lives, contribute positively by sharing the Gospel, encouraging, even holding a child that doesn’t get held.”
One unique program at WCA is our American Sign Language courses, and that coursework played a big part in the trip, particularly in the School for the Deaf. “The mission organization told us that so few teams that come down can sign, and felt that was a priority for our team- interacting and signing with their students,” Fletcher shared. “The team also did infrastructure work by mixing concrete and repairing the driveway into the complex for better access, but the priority was the relationship building because of those capabilities our students have. ”
Asked what her most memorable moments were on the trip, Fletcher pointed to a few events. The first was Junior Jalen Vaughan’s decision to be baptized while on the trip, which was very exciting for her to watch. Another was how the team worked together, even with members of other mission teams who also were on site (there was a total of 40 team members on site from various locations). They were able to work with and partner with those people in daily activities. Many of our team members who don’t normally interact together, spent time together and encouraged each other and really supported each other, according to Fletcher.
But perhaps the most satisfying moments came when the students embraced the role of giver, when in normal life most are receivers. “When they saw some of those children who despite having nothing are happy anyway, the realization sank in of just how blessed they are and how much they have in their lives,” shared Faculty Leader Connie Jutras about the team’s transition from those accustomed to being served to becoming servants. “It just became, initially through requirement and then by choice, not thinking about themselves for a week, putting themselves aside and focusing on others are less fortunate, and sharing and deferring to their teammates as well,” added Fletcher.
When asked whether the team might try to return to this mission field next year, Fletcher indicated that obviously next year’s team would pray and meditate on whether that is where God is calling them, but more than half of the participants already have expressed the desire to see the relationships they cultivated this year continued with the same organizations. So much so that many will be continuing contact with some of the children and sending care packages through the rest of spring and summer.
WCA would like to thank all of our students who traveled on the trip, and to all the adults that served as leaders of the group, as well as our host organizations in Jamaica, and the Faith Fellowship Church who assisted in many areas. But more than all, they would like to thank the Lord their God for the blessings that were bestowed on the team all week, as God answered their humble prayers and surpassed them in ways they could not possibly have imagined.