To all our prayer pray-ers and financial backers:
You are making amazing things happen. Here is a brief description of every trip you’ve helped out with, and what came of those missions.
I was in a youth group as a student only during my senior year. My youth pastor, Brad, asked me if I wanted to go on a mission trip to West Virginia. There would be girls and adventure, so I thought that would be cool. I was working at Publix, so I tried to make the payments myself. Being 17, I was a little slow to pay most of the trip off. But Brad told me a few weeks before we left that someone in the church wanted to pay for me to go. I had no idea why someone would do that, but I was grateful. Once I was there sleeping in the abandoned school and meeting the area kids, my heart changed. I alone was able to actually start a conversation with this one kid who was angry at the world. At the end of the week, he told me he’d like to get saved. That night I clearly heard God tell me I was going to be a youth pastor. Whoever you are that paid for me to go on this trip- You helped change at least two lives forever. Thank you.
This was my first international mission trip. My team of 16 girls and four guys from Young Harris College mixed, moved, and poured the concrete foundation and built a new house for a family. These people had been living in a shack made of scrap cardboard, grocery bags, and wooden pallets. We slept in a church with dirt floors. On the last night it rained, inside and out- the inside portion landing directly on me. Those of you who supported this trip built a house for a family in need, fed hungry members of the church we were staying in, gave love & attention to the children of the village, and confirmed my hunger for international missions.
I was told I had to go on this trip as part of my employment. And I’m really glad I went- I met Jenny Socotch on this trip. The Wesley Foundation at Kennesaw State University apparently needed me (a mediocre worship leader) to come lead worship for them all week, even though no actual worship was planned. We helped meet some basic needs in an AIDS house and for a women’s ministry. If you supported this trip you provided two great ministries with a better ability to take care of people, allowed me to catch a clam via fishing pole, and introduced me to my wife. Thank you.
Andros Island, Bahamas-
Trust me, this was no luxury vacation. My team was there for a little over a week loving on the community and playing with the children. I had the pleasure of digging a 1 foot deep, 50 yards across, ditch that ran through the street to reinforce the plumbing of a church and the mission host home. I’ve never sweat so much in my life. This area was eerily lacking grown men, the only two we saw were our host and the cook, Tony, who constantly gave me advice on how to avoid getting “the sniffs”. I saw people worn down and needing hope (which we then said they could have). And I saw a blind old lady who has the biggest thankful heart I could ever imagine. She was singing/shouting praise songs to God after we visited her for a mere five minutes. Those of you who supported this trip gave future missionaries the ability to shower, loved like crazy on the kids of the island, shared Jesus with some shut-ins, and opened the eyes of the many leaders on our team to the great need in the Bahamas.
Rancho el Paraiso, Honduras
Two plane rides and a ten hour bus ride, mostly on potholed dirt roads, got me to the Ranch in Honduras. Last time I was in Honduras a bat fly-by pooped on my face while I was sleeping. My roommate was less fortunate as he was sleeping with his mouth ajar. Some of the most precious experiences I’ve had were in Honduras. I’d wake with the sunrise at 5:15 AM, read the Bible and some Bonhoeffer, and then travel to the nearest village to work side-by-side with its inhabitants. My team’s main job was to lay cement floors in all the one-room houses to help prevent disease. We also put on a sort of vacation Bible School every afternoon. Those of you who supported this trip supplied a healthier living space for everyone in a village, taught the local children about Jesus, dug a hole for and built an outhouse, and built a new room for a growing family. Thank you.
I led this mission as a Student Pastor. The youthgroups did a great job of putting their faith into action by feeding locals living in poverty, cleaning up the still-remaining damages of a long-gone hurricane, and being the muscle for the elderly or disabled. On the way there, we actually totally ran out of gas in the middle of nowhere but God kept us moving for another 39 miles. Trivia: this is where Jenny and I started having and denying new feelings for each other. And as a special bonus, I got peeped by a creepy creepster in a reststop bathroom stall. Those of you who supported this trip provided cleaner living places for people still living in mold from the hurricane, provided a safe but challenging environment for the students to discover their faith, and gave many those students their first experience with missions. Thank you.
I went there after being married for a mere two months. Dumb. I was an emotional wreck and the jet lag didn’t help. But even after overcoming those elements, this trip was the most heartbreaking thing I have ever experienced. We were working/playing with Roma orphans. We brought some watermelon to one especially poor orphanage- the kids said they hadn’t had fresh fruit in a few months. You can read my journal from this trip here: Journal One, Journal Two, Journal Three. (psst- if you only read one of them, read the second). If you supported this trip, you loved on and fed some wonderful kids who are largely forgotten by their culture. Thank you.
New Orleans/Gulf Coast
I’ve had several trips here, but Jenny spent a summer there. This is from her:
One day while rebuilding the entire first floor of a lady’s house I heard one of the volunteers wonder in frustration, “why are we even doing this if the next hurricane is just going to come and wipe out this whole city again?” I will never forget what my friend Charity said in response. “Jesus raised people from the dead, and they eventually got old and died again. Jesus fed thousands of people, and they were hungry again the next day.” It’s not about fixing things or people and feeling good about it, it’s about love. You can read a lot more from this trip here.
If you supported either of us going to New Orleans/Gulf Coast, you rebuilt so many people’s lives and made our hearts healthier for doing that good work. Thank you.