Mission Possible: Seniors make difference, travel to Jamaica over spring break


Gabrielle Deckelman, Features Editor

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14

This scripture was used as an inspiration for seniors Francesca Crichton, Hayley Lang, Lori Schaefer, and Nikki Sobolik, who traveled to Hempstead, Jamaica over spring break, March 9 to 15, as a part of St. Peter’s Church annual senior mission trip. The trip was funded through multiple fundraisers.

“We’ve been going to the same community, not us physically but our Saint Peter’s seniors have been going to [Hempstead, Jamaica] for 19 years,” Schaefer said. “[The goal was] just to build a relationship, not only with that community but find individuals to share God’s love with. At the beginning of the trip Jeremy and I both bought two bibles to give away just to someone who was in need of encouragement.”

While in Jamaica the seniors picked up where the previous seniors left off, building a roof at the Hempstead all age school, ranging from grades one through six. The roof covers the walkway which now serves as a cover for the children as they walk from the classrooms to the kitchen. Because of the roof, the students are now able to have class outside when it is too hot in the school.

“I guess because of lack of chairs and lack of desks, they would have to bring chairs from other rooms into the main room, to the biggest class which is second grade,” Schaefer said. “I don’t know, but it just shows us how blessed we are here because their school is probably 200 kids and is probably equivalent to 3 classrooms here. It’s pretty cramped.”

During their free time away from the building construction, the seniors spent most of their time with the children who attend the school. The mornings began with storytelling and reading Bible verses. The children would then split into groups. The younger children stayed inside and worked on crafts, while the older kids played games outside, and then they would switch. According to Crichton, out of nowhere, the children would come up beside you, start talking to you, hold your hand and jump on your back.

“[The children] asked me if I had fake eyeballs because they had never seen blue eyes before,” Sobolik said. I was like ‘yeah, there are people with green eyes too,’ and they were like ‘green eyes?’ They had never seen anything like that.”

Because of the difference between American and Jamaican culture, this experience for the local children brought a change in their daily school routine.

“[My biggest impact was] just giving [the children] time and attention,” Schaefer said. “I know that… a lot of them have lots of siblings, and they have lots of kids and just being one of a lot… I can just imagine the lack of attention they must receive at home. Jamaica is known for not so good things at times, and their parents probably aren’t involved in the best things. I think just giving them that love and care and attention that they deserve so that they feel that they are loved and then also so that like just to play with them. Honestly I think they left more of an impact on us then we probably ever could on them.”

At the end of the trip, emails were exchanged between the seniors and the older children. According to Schaefer, some of the older children also had Facebook’s but she was unable to find them on the website.

“This trip was such a humbling experience and it moved me to see how these children were so content and joyful despite how little they had,” Crichton said. “To be able to experience God’s redeeming love for all of us was such a contagious feeling; I didn’t want to come home.”