Hartfield Sophomore, Hyacinth Sephton, shared about her expectations going into the trip:
“This was my first international mission trip so leading up to it, I felt a little nervous but very expectant. I was looking forward to experiencing God in a way that was not first-world comfort. Leading up to Guatemala I was nervous about the language barrier because my Spanish is not the best. I began praying for God to show me how to communicate in other ways than words, and throughout the trip, He showed me that Love is our native language. I was not scared or unsure about going – in fact, when the plane landed in Guatemala City, my heart felt so drawn to the people that at that moment I knew I was following God's calling. I had never been to Guatemala before, but as soon as we set out to our first location, I knew I wasn't going to be ready to leave.
It was a packed seven days in Guatemala as the mission team poured out every bit of their God-given energy as they lived on mission. While the days were full, Hartfield Bible teacher and Spiritual Life Assistant, Kim Stroh, couldn’t help but notice how each student’s God-given giftings were able to shine during the trip:
“It was a joy watching the students serve out of their God-given, Spirit-led abilities. We marveled at our students’ behavior multiple times on the trip because each of them was serving in ways that were true to who God made them to be – it was such a beautiful picture of how the Church should work. No one was carrying more of the load than anyone else, and everyone loved the work they were doing, whether it was holding babies, entertaining small children, or playing sports with kids. Our team worked together so well because they were working out of their spiritual giftedness.”
While some students were experiencing Guatemalan culture for the very first time, Hartfield Junior ,Regan Henderson, couldn’t wait to go back to the country for his second visit.
“I would say that this year was even better than last year. Last year I didn't know what to expect, which was exciting, but this year I had faces to look forward to seeing again and places I got to visit again. I had much more to look forward to and it made it more enjoyable to revisit a country I had missed. Last year, was more basketball oriented, which was fun but I feel like I am more in my calling when I'm with little kids, which is what we did this year. There were far less people this year too which made it feel more intentional and intimate. We grew with the Lord. My most dear memories from this trip would include: meetings at night where we worshipped together; a church service we got to be a part of; seeing one of my favorite kids named Tyler, growing in the Lord with my friends Jake, Jay, and Cruz through journaling together; and our ultimate frisbee tournament with Coach Ingram.”
Lower School Assistant Principal Deanna Elliott, who also led the trip, had her own thoughts about what God did in the lives of the students.
“These families and kids have so little earthly possessions, compared to us Americans. But in spite of that, their love for one another and for us as their new friends was obvious. Jesus' love was shown regardless of the language and culture barrier. It is so important for our students to be taken away from their daily routine and experience the love of Jesus through these kids. In a third-world environment, our students were so out of their comfort zone - from no Wi-Fi, toilet system, food we ate, to the loving kids who spoke a totally different language – what could have been uncomfortable brought our students to thrive. It’s truly an experience every person should have.”
Hyacinth also had some sage advice for those with a heart for missions:
“Remember that God calls you to love others, and I believe you love people best when you are serving them. Missions are a great way to put that calling into practice. I would also say the mission trip doesn't start when you get there and end when you leave. As a follower of Christ, you are living a lifestyle that starts at home, then flows to the community, then after that to the ends of the earth.”
Regan also had some advice to add:
“Some advice I'd give to anyone going on international missions and really just advice for life in general would be: if you want to truly get something out of an experience like this, look for God in every situation and truly live for Him and He will reveal Himself.”
Hartfield Academy greatly values service and sharing the love of God, here at home and to the nations. During Spring Break week, four teams journeyed to four locations around the Western Hemisphere to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Each team shared experiences and forged relationships that will last them a lifetime, all while serving others. If you are interested in finding out more about Hartfield Academy Missions, feel free to contact Director of Student Life, Benton Ingram, at email@example.com.