2013 Spring Break Missions Journal
The stories below are personal accounts from members of some of our 2013 Spring Break mission teams. Use the links at the bottom of page to view additional trips, and check back periodically for more updates!
A Last-Minute Blessing
Elizabeth Duke, senior
On Friday morning before spring break I sat in my dorm and prayed a prayer asking God to provide me with an evident opportunity to live more radically for Him... He definitely provided- going above and beyond my expectations. Less than five hours after that prayer, I was presented with a last minute opportunity to go serve with the Lipscomb Cozumel mission team over Spring Break. Next thing I know, 14 hours later I am walking out to meet my team and to head to the airport.
It is now Tuesday of spring break, and as I look back to that whirlwind of 14 hours of prep time, I couldn’t feel more blessed to be here. We got to meet the kids Saturday night and they were absolutely wonderful. As we walked onto their campus, the first few moments were honestly a little awkward. However, once one of the little kids grabbed my hand to go play, I quickly forgot the awkwardness and was reminded of why God brought me on this trip.
I am without a doubt supposed to be here. I could not have asked for a better team or more precious children to spend the week with. I am truly in awe of the God we serve. Gary Gardner, the founder of the orphanage, is an amazing man of God who is truly living out a life of sacrifice for God’s Kingdom. Also, after hearing some of the kids’ stories and seeing them still have joy and laughter, I am encouraged beyond words.
Though I cannot speak Spanish, it is amazing how laughing, playing, and loving communicates to any child of any language. It is only our third day with the kids, and I have already seen God move so much in my own life as well as the team’s. I am excited for what God has in store for the rest of the week. I am praying that this week not only changes my life, but changes the way I live my life.
Joined a Team, Became a Family
Sydney Shannon, freshman
When you sign up for a mission trip that you feel God is leading you to, it may be on a team of your best friends or a team of complete strangers. Either way the transformation of individuals into a true unit is one that continually blows my mind. When I first signed up for the trip to Cozumel, there were other trips I was considering and thought may be better suited for my personality or talents. After it was all said and done, Cozumel was the only spring break trip that I was interested in and none of the other trips worked with my schedule. This was when I knew there was a reason God had placed me on the team. Now that our trip is over, it is much easier to see what I was able to do and how God worked within the dynamics of our team.
The first meeting came and it was awkward, yet exciting. I was placed on a team with two of my best friends and many people I knew of. The first impressions of our team were interesting and during that first meeting I felt myself being drawn to certain people that were within my comfort zone. I gravitated toward my best friends, but knew that for the sake of the trip there was no way we could cut ourselves off from the team and still remain unified during the trip. That night I told myself that I would choose to befriend those who I wasn’t sure of and had a desire to know those team members as well as I knew my best friends. I knew that we all would come to love each other because we had the same goal and mission for Ciudad de Angeles, the walls just had to be broken between our separate lives in order for them to be united.
As we began meeting on a regular basis it was easier to remember everyone’s names and slowly we got to know each other’s stories from the team speed dates we had once a week. I felt the major breakthrough of walls when we spent a weekend together at our team retreat though. In the middle of the woods, 22 people began weaving their stories together. On the retreat the team was able to spend more than a couple of hours together, making it possible to see true personalities shine through. There were moments of serious thought and spiritual insight as well as times of laughter and fun. These two extremes caused some team members to connect on a surface level, while others connected on a deeper level. The team retreat provided a halfway point where our team felt a sense of trust and was willing to help knock down the walls of division together.
When the time finally came, all the speed dates were concluded and we were boarding a plane to Cozumel missing 3 members of our team we had spent 5 months preparing with and adding 3 members to the team we had never met. In the air the team bonded over the children we would be meeting and the interactions that would be shared between us all. Although it was strange at first, the 3 new members picked up as if they were part of the team the whole time. The original walls had already be broken down and trust was built up in its place, so welcoming in 3 new strangers was something the team was willing to experience together. Throughout the course of the week there were a multitude of opportunities to better hear each other’s stories and the stories of the children whom we were there to serve. Unexpected friendships were formed and the people I was intimidated by in the very first meeting are now some of the closest friendships I left Cozumel with. Although the team dynamics completely altered 17 hours before we left, God knew exactly what He was doing and how well the team would be able to mesh.
On any trip you take, there are almost always people who end up on the fringes of the group, doing their job and never truly interacting with the team. The miracle of this trip to Cozumel is that we didn’t have any fringes. We didn’t have anyone who disconnected from the group. We didn’t have a single person who drifted away from us during the week. It is incredible to me to see how perfectly God handpicked our team to Cozumel and how every broken story that went to Cozumel came home a little bit healed by the love and joy we were able to share and receive at Ciudad de Angeles. There is no doubt in my mind that the friendships that were able to blossom over a span of 5 months from this team will become some of my most treasured friendships. All because of a common goal and a Savior who intertwined our stories.
Jordan Taylor, sophomore
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” - Jeremiah 12:13
Before leaving for Cozumel, I prayed for God to work in and through our team to love on the kids at Ciudad de Angeles. What I didn’t think about, however, was God working through the kids we’d been called to love on, or how God would use the kids to reveal himself to us.
It was a surreal moment stepping onto Ciudad de Angeles’ campus for the first time Saturday. After meeting with our team every other week since late November, it was a beautiful moment to be able to see this place we’d been learning, thinking, and praying about the past 5 months. It was even more surreal to see the faces of the sweet kids we’d only seen in photographs. It was a little awkward, but the team and the kids both just jumped in and started getting to know each other.
Over the course of our 5 months preparation, we were given “prayer angels” to pray about, prayer cards with a picture of an angel and their story. I was given 2 of the new angels that had just arrived at Ciudad that November- sisters Cristina (2), and Conny (8). I was at SmoresFest, our first event with the kids; I was sitting down with Marce, my new sweet angel, when a little girl ran up to me. She looked up, hugged me, and asked me, “Como te llamas?” (“what’s your name?”) She then proceeded to tell me, “me llamo Conny!” I looked up and recognized her sweet face- it was the face of the angel on my prayer angel card, the sweet face I’d seen every night before going to bed and would pray over. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I had not gone looking for my prayer angel- she found me.
She knew nothing about her being my prayer angel or the fact that I already knew her name and face by heart. She just sought me out from the crowd, and latched on. She and I continually found each other over the course of the week, spending a lot of our time together. Her sweet little voice and infectious smile are etched in my brain for a lifetime. The last night she stayed glued to my side. She left for a few minutes to return with a present- a cute little necklace and bracelet that she wrapped around my neck and hand. It broke my heart to leave her and the other friends I’d made that week, but with a promise of “proximo año” (next year), I tearfully said my goodbyes.
God taught me a lot through the kids at Ciudad this week. He taught me through Marce that love and laughter transcends language, and to seek joy in everything; through Carlos that it’s okay to be silly sometimes; through our older kids that we all have a story to tell. But through Conny, most of all, he taught me that He’s constantly seeking us - His children - and that He is always right in front of us. We just have to look up and latch on.