A Defining Trip

When I tell people I’m going to Florida for spring break, I know most of them assume I’m going to the same place every other college student goes over spring break – Daytona Beach.

But when I tell them I’m going to Jacksonville, Florida, on a mission trip with the Indianola Light Company, their eyes get big.

Why would a college student want to “waste” her spring break on a mission trip?

Personally, I don’t see this mission trip as a waste at all. I see it as an opportunity to connect with others – both from Simpson and from the Jacksonville community.

A year ago, I, along with 15 other college students, loaded up the vans and drove a total of 24 hours to Jacksonville.

Although we’re in Florida and we’re obviously excited to enjoy the warmer weather, that’s not all we intend to do. In the mornings, we get split into groups that go to area schools and help out wherever we’re needed.

After our mornings in the schools, we spend our afternoons in “community beautification.” This requires work gloves, trash bags, weed-eaters, rakes, and (most importantly) a positive attitude. We spread out and scour the community, looking for ways we can make their homes look the best they can be, all while keeping a servant’s attitude.

My favorite part of the day comes after we complete our beautification for the day. We walk back to the church we ate lunch at and play with the kids during the last hour that they’re with the mission for the after-school program. We might be tired, dirty, and in desperate need of showers, but playing with those kids has a way of energizing each of us. They’re the real highlight of our day.

After our work, it’s really dependent upon whatever the leaders have planned for us that night. Sometimes we go get popsicles, sometimes we have a Bible study, or sometimes we’re left to ourselves to rest or explore our area (with a friend, of course. Don’t be worried, Mom).

We keep this routine for the first four days we’re in Jacksonville. The last day, Friday, we load up the van and head to the beach for a day of relaxation before driving 24 hours back home. We venture into the ocean, lay on the beach, and we even got a sand volleyball tournament going last year (S/O to my team who were the CHAMPS).

All-in-all, this trip to Jacksonville is one that was jam-packed with defining moments. There were many situations where I could have had a negative attitude, which is infectious on trips like this. One bad apple can really spoil the bunch. But, after a few days, it’s easy to keep a positive mindset. The people on the trip become like family. You grow and learn so many things together, the only choice is to become a little “Fam.” 😉

So, that being said, on Friday, March 2nd at midnight, 12 of us college students will be heading down to Jacksonville once again. Having been on this trip before, I have an idea of what to expect, but I am excited to see what defining moments we’ll encounter. Stay tuned – I might just have a few interesting stories to tell once I get back.


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