A Spring Break Missions Re-Cap

"The spirit of Christ is the spirit of missions,” said faith leader and evangelist Henry Martyn. Mission work and service are pillars of the Student Life experience at Hartfield, and Upper School students get the opportunity to witness first-hand the transformative experience of serving God in a new place through yearly Spring Break mission trips. Four mission teams from Hartfield Academy set out in obedience to serve God in Rapid City, South Dakota; Greenwood, MS; Brownsville, TX; and Austin, TX, during their week off, and their stories are surely bound to encourage. 
Rapid City, South Dakota: The seniors traveled to the other side of the country to serve right in the middle of beautiful landscapes and cold weather. An important tradition for many seniors, this trip held a special significance, as it was the first time this group would be serving in this particular area. From the start, our students were eager to serve. Each day had its own assignment and set of opportunities, from working at a local cafe serving those experiencing homelessness, to volunteering at a local Boys Club, to volunteering in several community centers benefitting the less fortunate. “Our students really stepped up to the plate while on this trip,” said trip leader and Athletics Assistant Trudy Dawkins. “Students were always willing to help do what was asked of them and even went above and beyond in a few situations.  It always puts a smile on one’s face to see someone helping a person in a less than fortunate situation.”

A particularly impactful facet of the trip was the many examples of “loving your neighbor” that have been established in the area, regardless of one’s background or employment situation. Mrs. Dawkins shares an example of this: “at the Fork Real Cafe located just across the street from the City Court House of Rapid City, one could find a group of lawyers eating lunch next to a table of homeless people. Fork Real Cafe is a pay as you can cafe.  In the above scenario, the lawyers would pay for their lunch. Since the homeless couldn't afford their own lunch, they would help clean up in the cafe after lunch hours. They would help wash dishes, sweep and mop the floors, and restock the pantry.  I feel like many times the 2 groups are separated and have little to no interactions with one another.  It was truly amazing to see everyone working together for the goodness of mankind on a daily basis. Humility was tested and learned on the trip.  It was heartwarming to see the students being humbled to serve…. Humility defeated Pride!”

Greenwood, MS: Hartfield students have a great interest in serving those living in the Mississippi Delta area. This year, 12 students and a couple adult leaders partnered with Delta Streets Academy in Greenwood for their Spring Break trip. Delta Streets Academy is an independent school working to do what they describe as “providing Christ-centered disciplined education.” They do this by promoting the highest achievement in academics, a biblical worldview, a competitive athletic environment and character development.

Hartfield students lent a much-needed helping hand with several projects at Delta Streets, including helping clear out a nearby building to be used as future classroom space, painting the exterior of a community daycare center, and prepared landscaping for a family set to move into a nearby Fuller Project house. “The biggest lesson learned for our students on this trip was to help others, even though they may not see the fruit of their labor,” shared trip leader and Middle School Assistant Principal Angela Trigg. 
 
Brownsville, TX: The group of Upper School students who signed up to serve those near the Texas-Mexico border this Spring Break proved their commitment to flexible service when safety measures required them to shift their trip from the Matamoros Children's Home in Matamoros, Mexico to the neighboring Brownsville, Texas. As soon as the team arrived in South Texas, local missions partners equipped them to serve. Starting with a food and clothing drive that would supply the needs of an estimated 600-1,000 local families, this team got to work. Day one alone was action-packed, requiring considerable energy from each student as they cleaned a warehouse previously housing farm animals to be converted to a donation center. They then went on to sort donation items before distributing those necessities the following day to more than 1,500 people. The team also worked with Border Perspective, an organization that leads service-learning trips along the South Texas border, where they were able to see the incredible work being done to meet tangible needs for individuals and families in the area.

Sophomore Emerson Harkins gave her perspective from this year's trip, having been on the Matamoros trip the year before. "(this trip) was an eye-opening experience for me and my friends," she begins. "We saw so many things down in Texas that we don't usually see here in Flowood, Mississippi, such as food drives and families struggling to survive. There were kids with little to no belongings, and they had more joy than we could imagine. I loved this trip just as much as I loved Matamoros."

The South Texas mission team certainly left their comfort at the door on their Spring Break. “One of the things that impresses me the most about the students at Hartfield Academy is their willingness to take a step outside of their comfort zone,” said 4th grade teacher and dance team Head Coach Addison Smith. “These students have so much love to give and being able to experience and witness them go in with an open heart, saying ‘Lord, I am here. Use me in whatever way you plan….’  was amazing and truly a blessing.”
 
Austin, Texas: Hard work and flexibility was the name of the game for this group of students on mission in Austin. The group served in numerous capacities and partnered with local community efforts, including a local children’s home, community center, and organization that ministers to victims of human trafficking. Students jumped in with energy and a willing spirit, and took on projects that greatly helped local community leaders.
I think we were exposed to people who were in much less fortunate situations that many of us live in and it allowed us to be thankful for what we have. But, hopefully it helped us see a spiritual reality of being lost and saved by Christ and a desire to share what Christ has done with those around us. Pack Toler, who helped lead the trip, said “We were exposed to people who live in much less fortunate situations than many of us, and it reminded each of us to be thankful for what we have. More than that, it was my hope that it helped us see a spiritual reality of being lost and saved by Christ, inspiring a deeper desire to share what Christ has done with those around us.”

The “spirit of missions” set by the example of Jesus Christ was also modeled by each of the four Spring Break mission teams this past March. This missional perspective is one that we hope our students will continually uphold as they continue to trust Him with their lives - all to the glory of God!
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Hartfield Academy is fully accredited by both the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), the MidSouth Association of Independent Schools (MAIS), the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) and the Southern Association of independent Schools (SAIS).