By Alyssa Martin, Features Editor—
If you ask someone who has never been on a mission trip why people go, the typical response is to make themselves look good; however, there is so much more than what meets the eye.
When I was 15 years old, between my sophomore and junior years in high school, I travelled to a fairly small orphanage in Ensenada, Mexico on a mission trip for the first time. This was not only my first trip to Mexico, but it was also my first time out of the country.
During our trip we held a Vacation Bible School for the children and were able to play with them all week. Going into this trip, we all expected to somehow change the lives of these children; obviously because we are the wealthy white Americans who have everything figured out, or so we thought.
By the end of the trip, each of us that travelled the two bus rides and one plane ride to get to this little, poor town on the coast were changed in some way. Each of us made incredibly sweet bonds with at least one child; for me, that child is Karla.
Karla is special, and when I say special, I mean she is the kindest, sweetest, most generous and funny human I have ever met, with such a heart wrenching story. When she was three years old, she requested an extra slice of bread from her father for dinner, and he hit her, causing her to fly across the room and hit her head resulting in severe brain trauma. The trauma has caused her brain to develop at a much slower rate than normal; when I first met her, she was 16 years old, yet she behaved as if she were five.
This sweet friendship has taught me so much about loving people and having “childlike faith,” which is described to be fully trusting and relying completely on God in the Bible.
Mission trips have something for everybody, and it is not always just evangelizing. Many mission trips are service, medical, or teaching based. No matter your calling, it can be used in some greater way to help others, and no matter the objective, each project and group of people you encounter can leave a lasting impact on your life.
To me, these trips teach us how important it is to look after the people we are surrounded by and to check on our neighbors, even if they are neighboring countries, to make certain they are taken good care of. No matter if it is just with a few kind words and a basket of fruit. To some people, that small act can change their entire week.
Since my first trip to Mexico, I have been privileged enough to visit two more times, strengthening so many sweet friendships that I was fortunate enough to make, and enjoying the best fish and shrimp tacos I have ever eaten. However, I haven’t been able to go back since the summer after my senior year of high school, and each year I am not able to go back, my heart longs for it more.