Column: What I learned from my mission trip to Jamaica


At Westhaven, I became fast friends with a little boy named Roy.

Angela Mammel, Entertainment Editor

Over spring break, I was lucky enough to have gotten the chance to travel to Jamaica on a mission trip with my church’s youth group. After preparing for months before, we were ecstatic to finally be able to present our Bible camp to children in various schools around the Montego Bay area, as well as in an orphanage and a disabled home. We entered the mission ready to serve these people completely for their benefit, but left feeling that we got just as much out of the experience that they did. This trip was one I will never forget because it taught me firsthand the importance of helping those in need.

Every day, we would perform a different Bible story skit and lead the people we worked with in the area in praise songs. It was amazing to see the children in the schools and the orphanage, especially, have such strong faiths and be so excited by our skits and songs. They were so kind to us, and praising God with them strengthened my own faith a lot. One of the songs we sang a lot during this trip was entitled “He Reigns” by a contemporary Christian music group called The Newsboys, and in it, the ways different people worship around the world are described. It made me feel so empowered to see this kind of worship first-hand, as sometimes my view of my faith is narrowed to only me and my congregation. Also, the children we worked with at the schools were so excited to learn more every day, and that was one of the many things I experienced in Jamaica that helped me realize that I need to really appreciate what I have at home. These children took us in as our best friends and wanted to dance with us at the schools, or color and play soccer or tag with us at the orphanage, and it was so amazing to make connections with them and help them grow in their faiths while they helped us grow in ours. They were so happy to see us and greeted us with hugs and smiles, and being with them definitely made me realize why I love service so much.

Although interacting with the children at the schools was amazing, the hardest, but most incredible and rewarding, experience my team and I had was spending time at the Westhaven disabled home. Here, we befriended many people with mental and/or physical disabilities, and because the people here were in such dire circumstances but seemed to always be smiling, we developed an amazing emotional connection to the place. The people at Westhaven were so happy to see us the first day we came, and some even ran up to our bus as we pulled in to help us get out. Many hugs were given and songs were sang even in the first hour of our service at the disabled home, and the amount of love and happiness among pain here caused my faith to strengthen very much. One of the most impactful things I experienced at Westhaven was how the people there had such a strong love for God, and many wanted to sing praise songs at the top of their lungs, excitedly speak about their faiths to us, or read the Bible all the time. This is what gave them the huge amount of joy and hope they had in the middle of their circumstances, and seeing the evidence of that brought a tear to my eye. These people were even so loving that if they ever saw us crying, they would come up and hug us or wipe tears from our eyes despite their situation, which was so moving. Being able to show God’s love to them personally and bring smiles to their faces was among one of the most incredible things I’ve ever been able to do, and I absolutely can’t wait to go back.

In Jamaica, I realized fully why service is so important. There are so many people around the world that aren’t blessed with the lives we have, although we often take our blessings for granted. We need to recognize how lucky we are the next time we begin to complain about the lives we have, and try our best to help those who are less fortunate than us, even in our own neighborhoods. I promise that if you do help those in need, you’ll get so much out of the experience.