Leave an Impact
“Leave an Impact, Come Home Changed” was the mission statement for our Youth Mission Trip to Nassau, Bahamas this summer. 37 youth and chaperones traveled to the beautiful island on Saturday, June 22. We all arrived at 4:30am for a 6:30am flight into Charlotte, NC. Our flight was delayed 3.5 hrs and due to the size of our group, the airline held our connecting flight from Charlotte to Nassau, Bahamas. We RAN to our new gate, and feared the passengers were upset with us. They were not, and we were on our way to the Caribbean!
We arrived late in the evening and met our hosts and shuttle bus drivers for the week. When we arrived to the private school providing our lodging, we found no AC, limited space and humidity that many of us had never experienced before. The student leaders and chaperones didn’t complain. They were ready to blow up their beds, set up our stations, and begin our work.
Sunday, we worshiped at New Haitian Baptist Church both at 10am and 7pm. The music was loud and wonderful, and the language spoken was Creole. With the help of a pastor/interpreter, we understood the message and were even able to share stories of our own. Five of our students shared their testimonies with the congregation. We were so proud of their bravery and leadership. The bonds of their youth group, the relationship with their family members, and the love for their church left few dry eyes among our group. We took a visit to South Beach and waded in the 100 yards of beach and knee deep water. This is where many Haitians are dropped off to walk on to the safe grounds of the Bahamas. Some survive, a lot do not. We took time to pray for them, their families and those that are about to make the journey. We also prayed for our gratitude to live in a country as wonderful as the USA.
Monday through Thursday we served our new friends at New Haitian Baptist as we cleaned up the church yard, painted pews, tiled & repainted the Sunday School room and the Pastor’s office. After a short lunch break each day, we took our buses back to the church and hosted VBS for approximately 75 infants – high school students from 3 pm - 6 pm. We sang, danced, colored, enjoyed snacks and played, played and played some more. Our teens were fantastic. They were hot, tired and hungry…but it didn’t show. They were fun, welcoming, and full of love for each of the children during our time together.
We also enjoyed other mission opportunities serving the school in which we were staying. Moving furniture, painting classrooms, hosting VBS for their students kept us very busy. We made connections with the children and teachers we saw on campus each day. We also served a nursing home; reading Bible scriptures, singing hymns and hearing their stories. One friend stands out in my mind, stating over and over and over again; “The Bible is the best book ever”!
Friday we were excited to go into downtown Nassau and stay in a hotel and enjoy some tourist sites. We shopped at the straw market, enjoyed a delicious local meal, danced and sang with the band and took an amazing trip to Blue Lagoon for snorkeling, swimming and watching the dolphin & sting ray encounters. Our final night we served as a traditional Senior Circle and were able to share stories and memories of each high school graduate. It was emotional and I was honored to share in this experience.
When our students chose “Leave an Impact, Come Home Changed”, I knew they would create memories to last a lifetime. I hadn’t considered what this trip would mean for me. I am forever touched at the impact these 29 amazing teens and 7 other adult chaperones made on each other, the Haitian families and myself. They each will have a special place in my heart forever.