Team member Sara M. from Connection Pointe Christian Church in Indiana shares a hug with two girls from the Los Verdes Learning Center.
Before I started my career with VisionTrust, I taught high school Spanish for a number of years. As an educator, it was often hard to help students understand the incredible value in learning another language. While I strived to create activities where students could use the language authentically and conversationally, I knew they would never quite understand the thrill of communicating in a second language until they could put their skills into practice outside of the classroom.
In March, I had the privilege of serving with a group of high school students from Connection Pointe Church in Indiana. Quickly, I found out that almost all of the students had or were currently taking Spanish. And their eagerness to connect with the staff and the children in their own language was incredible! This hit home over lunch one day when we decided to do introductions with the team and the local teaching staff. As we got started, I let the team members know I’d be happy to translate — and the very first one to share asked, “Can we do it in Spanish?” I shouldn’t have been surprised! As we went around the circle, the team members shared their names, their ages, details about their families and their interests and hobbies — all in Spanish! Even the student who was currently studying French gave it a whirl. As I watched the teaching staff, I could tell they were truly touched that each team member was striving to connect with them in their own language. While it may seem like an insignificant detail, I believe it speaks volumes about the character of the students on the team and their heart to connect as much as possible with those they were serving.
What the team did over PB&J and chips that day is an illustration of what short-term mission teams are all about. The students had an opportunity to put into practice what they had been learning in Spanish class. But more importantly, they were able to put into practice the words of the Apostle Paul in I Thessalonians 5:11, “So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.” Short-term missions teams are a part of the ministry of VisionTrust so that our stateside partners can do just that — encourage and build up the amazing men and women who faithfully serve in our programs around the world. Encouragement and edification can come in many forms during a short-term team. Whether it’s a simple smile, an unexpected act of kindness or a loving conversation, these moments are the building blocks for relationships that are making a significant impact in the lives of children in need, and ultimately, in the Kingdom of God.