The Missing Headlines
KEENE, TEX. – I scanned the newspaper as I sat in the dining area of a beautiful resort in Cancun, Mexico. The front-page featured Super Bowl ads, military academies and heart disease rates. There was no headline about a plane crash somewhere between Lima and Cancun, carrying a group of American students returning from a mission trip, because thankfully, it never happened.
Our mission group, comprised mostly of students, staff and parents from Chisholm Trail Academy (CTA) in Keene, Texas, left El Alto, Bolivia, the night before. The next morning, we flew to Lima, the first of three flights on our journey home. There, we boarded our next flight only to sit on the tarmac for hours. The captain was concerned about a mechanical problem with the plane. After several hours, he finally announced that he was unwilling to fly the plane we boarded.
Travel delays are frustrating and although it would result in adding an extra 24 hours to our journey home, I was grateful for the news. I always pray for the aircraft, crew and passengers before each flight, so I accepted this as God’s will. Of course, this caused us to miss our connecting flight in Cancun, so the airline treated us to an overnight stay and meals in a beautiful resort.
The newspaper also had no headlines about this small band of short-term missionaries. While it may not have made headlines, what this group did was life-changing and made the world a better place.
Coordinated by Rosa Briones, CTA Spanish teacher, 21 students, four staff members and six adult volunteers chose to spend their winter break serving at a Maranatha Volunteers International project building a church and providing a medical/vision clinic in El Alto, Bolivia.
At 13,615 feet, El Alto is the highest major metropolis in the world, meaning we would have to do our work with the added challenge of adjusting to the low oxygen levels at such a high altitude.
With God’s blessings, we overcame our altitude sickness and powered through our daily assigned tasks. We divided our group into two teams, alternating between the construction site of the new Panaromica Seventh-day Adventist Church and the medical clinic at the Shalom Seventh-day Adventist School, just a couple of miles away.
Students assisted with interpretation, patient registration and scheduling, testing vision, distributing eyeglasses and dispensing medications. Around 240 patients were treated in the medical clinic and approximately 260 patients were fitted with new eyeglasses.
“It's a blessing to see my students working for the Lord and serving others,” Briones said. “Mission trips have the potential to change the life of young boys and girls.”
“It changed my life,” said Vicky Yan, senior CTA Chinese exchange student. “It helped me realize how blessed I am to live in the United States,” shared Ashley McClatchie, junior CTA student. “We take so much for granted.”
"The church members, students and sponsors worked really hard," Darlene Connell, CTA Science teacher, noted.
None of this news about our mission trip made headlines in any newspaper. It is certainly noteworthy, though, when young people choose to give up their winter break time and travel to a distant country to work and serve others, at their own expense. This was not a tourist excursion, even though there were a couple of days for sightseeing.
Bolivia is a country full of natural beauty, grand Andes mountain peaks, peaceful Lake Titicaca and enchanting Moon Valley, but what we will remember most is the precious Bolivian people. The experience of giving of ourselves to serve others is incomparable. And being received so warmly and appreciated with such genuine gratefulness left an impression on our hearts, reminding us that we find our greatest joy in serving others. Read the complete article with pictures at TexasAdventist.org/news.
By Nathan Krause