Vacation with a Divine Purpose
Sandia View Academy (SVA) recently sent 11 students and four sponsors on a journey of a lifetime to Kabwe, Zambia. They set out to build classrooms with Maranatha Volunteers International workers and hold health awareness seminars for children and teens. We started with a 6 a.m. wake-up call to prepare for worship services at Kabwe Adventist School (KAS). SVA students led in morning devotions and songs of praise for over 550 students. After worship, breakfast was served at the local conference office, Midlands East Zambia Conference. Afterwards the volunteers reported to the construction site where cement blocks were prepared and set in place. Parent Pedro Terrazas ensured everyone was safe and directions were followed accurately and according to foreman Margarito’s instructions. The hot sun and humidity did not stop the student volunteers from smiling for pictures. Construction ended at 12:30 p.m. for lunch.
After lunch, the team prepared for the afternoon sessions at KAS. For two days, we conducted health awareness seminars using Maranatha's Interactive Health Program. Student volunteers were assigned a specific health station that had games and fun activities, teaching important basic health concepts. We had eight stations (food, air, sunshine and sleep, trust in God, self-control, heart/exercise, water and fitness) to present to over 250 children per day. For the first day, each elementary class rotated through the stations, spending 7-8 minutes at each one. On the second day, the high school students remained in their classrooms, while the presenters took the stations to each class. KAS students were highly engaged for both days. They participated in discussions and eagerly joined the activities.
Evening time was reserved for dinner, worship and reflection. After four days of mission work, students were treated with excursions to Zimbabwe and Botswana to visit Victoria Falls and Chobe National Park, where Texico Conference Superintendent Derral Reeve enlightened us about the many different species of birds. The sights of God's handiwork will never be forgotten.
Cody Lytle, Junior: It's been something completely new for me and I was excited to do God’s mission. The students there are just full of straight positivity and happiness. I truly felt myself get closer to God.
David Lopez, Junior: It was something I didn’t expect. It’s one thing reading or watching or hearing about it but being there changes the way you think of Africa. I loved everything about it! Building the schools, being with the kids, worshiping at the churches, everything was such a blessing! The thing that impacted me the most was how happy everyone was. It’s something I’ve never seen in the United States. There was no crying, no sadness. Everyone was so happy and excited to see us. It was the best welcome I’ve ever had, and it taught me to be happy for no other reason except that God lives in us. I also learned to be happy with the things that I have. If those in Kabwe, Zambia don’t complain about the little they have, then who am I to complain? I also learned to be ready to serve on the spot and just have God take control when you run out of ideas.
Grace Delarmente, Junior: I have been blessed with this opportunity to be able to go out of the country and experience something different. This mission trip taught me something new everyday and it was filled with so many surprises and excitement. Being able to see the beautiful nature in Africa and meeting the God-loving students and church members showed me that this is a little taste of what heaven is going to be like.
Caitlyn Gonzalez, Freshman: Overall this trip was a huge blessing. I did not expect to be as impacted by the kids as much as I was. This mission trip opened my eyes to not only appreciate the things around me, but also the people. I pray that we were as much as a blessing to the kids at Kabwe Adventist School as they were to us. Seeing the smiles on their faces is something that I will truly never forget.
Siobhán Conyne, Junior: I’ve always wanted to go on a mission trip, but I’d never felt as if I had been called to one until this trip was announced. While I was there, I realized why I felt so called. It completely changed the way I think, because I was able to help others. This trip has shown me what God does for others, as well as the things He does for us. I was so blessed meeting new people, seeing the way others worship and being able to help them with even the small things.
Many thanks also to the various donors and sponsors who made this trip possible for students who otherwise could not afford to go. From the $5 donations in the offering plates to the $2,600 checks, we thank you for your prayers and actions! I would also like to thank Maranatha Volunteers for planning and organizing our way and full itinerary.
While serving God was the utmost goal of this trip, it was exposing 11 academy students to our worldwide Adventist system that was especially important to me. I wanted them to see for themselves how global our church is and how active we are in creating social change around the world. In the two Sabbaths that we were there, the students heard our Adventist hymns sung in four different languages. As we drove from country to country, people noticed our Seventh-day Adventist logo on signs announcing that an Adventist church was nearby. I think SVA students understand now that they are part of an international family of believers who value health, education and the return of Jesus Christ. My students were so inspired by this mission trip. I can't wait for the next one. Until then, I think I'll open a Mission Trip Account to keep funded all year long. These trips cost money, but it is definitely worth the investment. If you would like to invest in changing young lives, please contact Sandia View Academy at 505-898-0717 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Chanda C. Castañeda