For many, summer is a time for splashing in pools, hanging out with friends, working a summer job, or relaxing at home or the beach. However, six Christ Covenant studentschose to set aside a week of their summer to help others rather than just have have fun in the sun. Ninth graders Max Gibbs and Will Singleton, and I, 11th grade, worked in Ensenada, Mexico, building a house with other Christ’s Church members. Tenth grader Laura Stroud, eleventh grader Jackson Packard, and ninth grader Regina Lopez drove down to John’s Island, South Carolina, with other Covenant Church members—including former student Carter Rains—where they were able to draw closer as a team by providing assistance to and connecting with locals. These students were able to impact communities and invoke both internal and external change because they were willing to get dirty.
In Ensenada, the students built a house, through Yugo Ministries, for a family of three who had been living with their in-laws. “This was my very first time going on a mission trip to Mexico. I had no idea what to expect,” Gibbs said. “I thought it would be a neat experience to go to a different country and help people see God and help to build a house. It didn’t take long for me to see the rough conditions people were living in: there were broken down houses, some houses were made of cardboard, and many people didn’t have a lot. It reminded me how blessed we are to live in the United States.”
Students from Covenant worked on John’s Island, South Carolina, with Rural Mission—a nonprofit organization focused on providing carious need for the rural islands off the coast of South Carolina. “I did a lot of painting, painting walls, putting up fascia boards… I cleared off a fence that had become overgrown by vines. We put in floors. We swept a lot,” Stroud said.. “The people down there are really fun to talk to and they all have really interesting stories. It is a magical place.”
How much of an impact did these groups make? A little girl in Ensenada now has her own bed. The Batres family will carry the memories of building their “bonita casa”. Various individuals off the coast of South Carolina now have better living conditions: fresh paint, new floors, and the knowledge that others care about their wellbeing. We went expecting to make change, but we came back changed. Both of these groups grew closer together through inside jokes and the shared struggles of carrying shingles and saying goodbyes.
“Not only do you interact with new people that you’ve never met, but you also build bonds with people that you really don’t know that well. It’s amazing what a week, being there with people. You learn things that people share and [hear] testimonies that many of our members gave. I know more about them. I love them more…and I understand more of what they’re going through,” parent and trip chaperone Paul Gibbs said.
Mr. Gibbs reminisced a moment on the trip in which he experienced change: “I remember once we got the sides [of the house] up and they were painting. They could get in the grooves, but couldn’t reach all the way to the top. Well, I’m a little taller than some…I can get higher and I was through with cutting the wood and I had these gloves on and I was thinking, ‘I don’t want to get that paint all over these gloves.’ And I thought more on it and I thought I should be ashamed [because] I bought these gloves to work…and I’m sitting here thinking ‘I don’t want to get paint on these work gloves.’ I finally did it.”
How often are we put in the right position, handed the right tools, and given the perfect opportunity but ignore it because we are afraid of taking that first step? Get dirty.