The Teen Perspective on the Jamaica Mission Trip

As one of the parents who traveled to Jamaica with The Crossing, I think I speak for many of us when I say that sharing the experience with my own daughters had a deep impact on me – as a mother, certainly, but also as a believer in God’s Word. I found that, taken out of our familiar surroundings, I was given a somewhat different perspective on the hearts of my children. I saw them that week with fresh eyes, as I was able to step back a little from my role as “parent” and see them from the standpoint of “fellow follower of Jesus.”

Watching all the teens take in the experience from their perspectives – interacting with Jamaicans, being confronted with the reality of the infirmary, showing vulnerability in front of each other – gave me a richer insight into how God works in the hearts of all of us. I could go on and on about this idea, but for today, I simply want to share the experience of this year’s mission trip to Jamaica one last time, through the voices of the teenagers.

Our last day on the island, we asked the kids to tell us what had the greatest impact on them. This is what they said:

I feel like there’s nothing more life changing than going to the infirmary. I faced my fears by going there because I knew that would be the hardest part for me. It was so heart-wrenching to hear people’s stories and if they didn’t have the ability to talk, to put lotion on their hands or play ball with them or sit there and hold their hands and watch them smile. Almost everyone there was so on fire for the Lord and so open about their faith it was incredible to just be a small part of their lives. It really put life into perspective because they have so little and are so happy and I have so much and am frequently unhappy. That part of the trip probably had the most effect on me.
Laurel Critchfield, Sophomore

The biggest thing Jamaica taught me was to cherish everything that I have. That sounds completely corny, but it really did. I realized that my family and friends are the most amazing things that have ever happened to me, but that isn’t all I need. The infirmary taught me that Christianity is what fulfills people to the highest degree. The Jamaicans in general taught me that life isn’t about the material possessions at all, it is about the faith you have, and the attitude you have that gets you through the day. I realized that what I have in America is far better then what they might ever have in Jamaica, and I need to stop taking things for granted. I also need to stop worrying about the material possessions and concentrate more on my faith and my walk with God. That was what I took away from Jamaica.
Hannah Early, Junior

I learned you can find joy and happiness anywhere if you have God. I also want to have the positive attitudes that the Jamaicans had because they didn’t complain about anything.
Alex Greenwood, Senior?

My experience in Jamaica was unbelievable. It’s very difficult to explain how it changed my heart so very much, but it did. My favorite part of the trip was the infirmary. It was heart-breaking to see how the people there live. It was also heart-breaking to see my lack of faith compared to the women and men at the infirmary. It shows me the reality of where God and I stand, and this trip has done so much for me. I feel as if my faith and belief in a REAL God had doubled. I plan on continuing to grow in faith and grow closer to God. If I can in Jamaica, I can in Missouri.
Claire Herndon, Freshman?

The things in Jamaica that seem out of place for a third-world country, normal things that seem like they shouldn’t have been there, continue to amaze me: ice cream, cell phones, the high-pitched voice of Justin Bieber. But these are the sorts of things that remind me the Jamaicans are, in fact, very similar to the rest of us. They do enjoy the same things I do (though I don’t have “Bieber Fever”). As such, they would sooner die than accept my pity. They don’t need or want pity in any form. But they would take my help in a heartbeat, even though they are often more proficient at the task at hand. Help, they were fine with. Because help was what they needed. What we forget is that we need help, too. In general, our physical needs are lesser than theirs, but our spiritual need is just as dire, if not more so. Americans and Jamaicans are both spiritually broken, both in need of God and His grace. In fact, most of our group learned more spiritually from the Jamaicans than any of us expected. So we were all learning things from each other.
Mary Herndon, Senior

One of the coolest experiences for me was getting to know all of you (the other kids on the trip). I really feel as if I now have strong Christian friendships, and all it took was a week in Jamaica!! I think that was part of what God was showing me, that I needed more of Him in my life, and this was part of how I got it.
Anna Howser, Junior

I’m still trying to grasp everything that I experienced (in Jamaica) but I would have to say my eyes were opened to a whole different world. I figured there would be poverty with families living in shacks and limited water, but I didn’t expect how faithful and loving the community was. It showed me how having a family and a community can really help your walk with God. It is a necessity to have a relationship with others and God. It doesn’t matter what technology and materials you have, all you need is faith! It doesn’t matter if you live in a shack or a mansion, what matters is the hearts and souls inside the shack or mansion.
Matt Kelly, Junior

My favorite experience in Jamaica was working at the infirmary. I got to meet and talk to a lot of great people. At first I didn’t think it would be very fun but once I sat down I really got to know the people. They were really just normal people on the inside and they loved to talk with other people. Most of all, the people at the infirmary loved to have the bible read to them. No matter what each person’s conditions were, every single person loved and praised the Lord. It seemed to me as if the only thing that motivated them to be happy was their faith in Christ. Although their living conditions were terrible, every single person was filled with joy and happiness, which made me realize that true happiness can only come from God.
Dalton Maggard, Sophomore

I think the biggest thing I took away from Jamaica is just how good I have it. And that sounds like a really cliche statement, but when people get mad that their microwave doesn’t work or when you run out of hot water in the shower, no one thinks about just how awful most people of the world have it. Lots (of people) don’t have microwaves or money/electricity to get them and two minute showers in cold water?! But anyway…I really did come away with a new sense of teamwork and how my way isn’t the best or easiest way and that working in teams makes things go a lot faster. A sense of unity.
Mackenzie Mayer, Junior??

Jamaica was amazing this year. I loved getting to know a lot of the younger kids on the trip. They were pretty cool and extremely encouraging to me. One thing that really hit me this year is where my hope lies. I realized that I tend to put a lot of my hope into things of this world. Seeing how strong some Jamaicans’ faith was really encouraged me. Their hope clearly lies in Jesus Christ. They don’t have as many distractions as we do, which allows them to see truth more. I want to be able to be like them. I want my hope and faith to be fully in Jesus and nothing else.
Haley Phillips, Senior??

I think that the biggest thing I took away was that no material possession in life will ever make you happy, and that you can only find happiness through God. The people in Jamaica prove that because they’re happy and content when they don’t have much, but they do have their family, friends, and most importantly, God.
Madeline Simon, Freshman

??I’d say that the littlest things here in America are the biggest things in Jamaica, and I thought that was awesome because it really put a good perspective on what is really important in my life and that I do actually have idols and I need to get rid of those and put God first in my life.
Nathan Simon, Sophomore?

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