So I got back from this year’s mission trip on Monday night, celebrated my birthday on Tuesday, and rested Wednesday. Today I finally unpacked, am washing, and I am getting things back in order. I still have until Monday before I return to work and I am on my normal schedule.
I wanted to take time to do a full reflection on the mission trip. I was happy to connect two new people to the trip and travel with them from Tampa. This year’s team was filled with multiple first timers and the first time the team was all together was at the airport in Montego Bay. We did not have a chance to do full introductions until that evening once we arrived at camp. I must say that God put a dynamic team together! It was amazing to see how many different talents were available and how each person fit based on their gifting. Everyone pulled their weight and jumped in when needed.
I was happy that I got to teach the boys this year. It was comforting knowing that the girls were in capable hands and to be given the opportunity to return to teaching the boys. I love my girls, but it is something powerful about being able to impact the lives of young men. In in teaching the boys, God stretched me to give parts of my testimony that usually reserved only for women. The young men were so receptive and God used my testimony to address deep rooted issues that the young men struggle with. I am also grateful for all of the male counselors who supported me and backed me up when called on.
I had the pleasure of having the same junior counselor for a second year in a row. This young lady is a part of the scholarship program and has decided to change her major to Social Work. I am so proud of the growth that she has done in a year. She came to camp focused on letting God use her to impact the lives of the young ladies in our group and to learn. Many times we do not get to see how being at camp impacts the youth, but this is one transformation we have had the pleasure of witnessing. I am also grateful for my co-counselor Cherise who allowed me to spend time away from our group with the boys.
The last day of camp, I lost my voice. And it was in that moment that I realized that I gave it all. I gave it all to God and allowed him to use me in whatever way needed during that week. Once at the hotel, Ms. Gwen did a devotional called “It is finished.” She referenced Jesus dying on the cross and talked about how the work that God called us to do at camp was finished. She talked about how we have to rest in God’s assurance that what needed to happen in the lives of the youth that week was done and now the responsibility was on the youth to take what they have learned and apply to their individual lives. I will continue to pray for each youth that was at camp and I am sure I will keep in touch with some. While our work as a team is finished, I know that God’s work has just begun in each of the youth. Until next time.
Transformed Jamaica Mission Trip 2015
Can you say tired! So today was the last full day and it was full of fun. We ended on a high note playing “Steal the bacon” after exercising at 6AM. We then had a wonderful morning session. I ended up spending an hour and a half with the boys. Today I was stretched as I taught the boys. The Holy Spirit led me to give my testimony about the failed marriage. This was the first time I have given that testimony to a group of males. It was hard, but I pushed through it and the boys were receptive. A number of them came up to me and spoke about the struggles they have gone through. They also talked about wanting to treat ladies differently.
The rest of the day was pure fun! The youth engaged in Field Day, we got dressed up, had a banquet, and ended with a great dance. At times the day was bitter sweet knowing it was the last day. A few of the youth have distanced themselves in preparation for goodbye. I am proud of the lives that have been transformed!! I may be horse and exhausted, but it is all worth it!
So the storm has started and it is a good one! Today we had an alter call at the request of the youth. How awesome is that! We had youth who accepted Christ as well as youth who rededicated their life. These youth were so pumped that it happened early in the day allowing for them to absorb so much more. I had the opportunity to continue speaking to the gentlemen, and even had a open forum with them. We addressed respecting women in authority based on issues that counselors have had and we addressed issues with the ladies, in conjunction with the intended curriculum. Throughout the rest of the day, the young men showed improvement in not only how they treated all of the females, but also in expressing themselves appropriately with their emotions. Many of them took great strides towards becoming a man.
In regards to the young ladies, I had the opportunity to share part of my testimony with the young ladies in my group where most of them are haunted by the memories of their past. These young ladies are focused on learning how to move forward and are taking risks by stepping out on faith through their actions at camp.
It was beautiful to walk around campus and observe the transformations taking place. This is turning into a perfect storm leading to lives being rebuilt and changed forever!
So About Day 3…Well we are in the thick of it! Today the walls have started coming down and we are getting to the deeper issues. Today was the first day of the morning sessions. Today was also the start of the resistance to change. We were faced with attitudes and defiance throughout the day. This is when the stretching happens and shifting occurs. And in many ways this is the calm before the storm. Not a storm as in trouble, but as in when the youth start to believe that if they give their life to God and start applying the skills that they learned to their life. Many times when we think about a storm we think of it in a negative manner. But the truth is stroms serve a purpose nature and there is beauty in th midst of them and peace after them. See as these youth start to make the choice and commitment to change, they will not only be faced with the returning to the same challenges they had before, but they will be faced with new ones. But they will not face them as they have in the past. They will be armed with new armour, skills. They will be equiped to not only impact their own lives, but the lives of their communities. I am excited to see the next step in God’s plan.
So Day 2 is coming to an end. The youth arrived and we have 55 in all. Today has been filled with building relationships and establishing boundaries. We are already seeing transmformations starting to happen. My moment for today was standing in the shade with a young lady who did not want to play net ball (a cross between handball and basketball) because she was scared to try a new game. I ask her how did she learn to write and she responded in school. I pointed out that she had to practice to become efficient in writing. I discussed how if she never tries new things, how will she ever learn something new or meet her goals. She shrugged her shoulders as if to say “you got a point.” A little while later one of the yellow group’s leaders decided to play and had the girls teach her the game. I showed the young lady what was happening and it peaked her interest. Later when the teams changed guess who not only got out to play, but made some major plays!
The other intteresting thing that occured is all of the lovely hustles the youth are trying to make to win the budgeting and savings contest. See we are teaching them budgeting by giving them a certain amount of fake money. They are being charged rent, utilities, and food each day. We have a store where they can buy things, a bank where they can make deposits for savings with interest, and we are even teaching tithing. What has been so amazng is how the youth are taking to the challenge and coming up with ways to make extra money. Girls have plans to have the boys buy them things to save, while the boys are coming up with plans to buy things and try to resell them. The best one was the young lady who took the candy we gave her and tried to resell it to us. LOL This is a new venture we are trying to help them apply the lesson of budgeting. This should be interesting.
I am so amazed at how quick the connection with most of the youth are occuring and how God is already moving in some of the youth’s lives. Some of them were primed and ready to recieve what is in store. The enemy is mad evident by the migraine that is trying to creep in and how quickly some of my fellow team members are getting tired. But God! In our weakness He is giving strength.
So I know that I have been away from the blog for a while. I have been retstructuring my life, which I will discuss later this week or next. So today is the first dayy of the 2015 DBC Jamaica Mission Trip where we conducted a camp for 60 youth under the Child Development Agency and workshops for the workers. Today was filled with travel and preparation. I am happy to finally be with all of the team. I was reunited with past family and friends, and introduced to new family and friends. I am excited about what God has in store. Please continue to life up the team and safe travels for those that will be coming tomorrow.
This year’s theme is “Transformed” with the key verse being Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing andn perfect will.” Please pray that lives will be transformed and the youth and workers will leave different, better than they came.