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Jamaica mission team builds strong homes and relationships

In one week, eleven Eastern students created a cement floor, built a roof and a kitchen, visited children at a disabled home and a home for girls and did street evangelism.

In other words, the Jamaica missions team worked very hard.

For junior Talitha Brown, the trip was a chance to do something she loved.

“I like jumping at the chance to help other people,” she said.

The team spent most of fall semester preparing for the trip, meeting weekly and participating in other activities and fundraisers, according to junior Sarah Dugan. When they left on January 9, they were already a solid team.

“The team worked really well together,” Dugan said.

Brown agreed.

“All of our bases were covered,” she said. “Everyone had a role to play.”

STEM International, the ministry with which the team went, organizes their trips into three parts: evangelism, mercy and construction. Although she had already been on other missions trips, Brown said that the construction was unique to her.

“The physical aspect was different,” she said.

For other students, like junior Shannon Rivera, the construction of the cement floor was the most rewarding. She said that it was “refreshing,” because the cement floor will contribute to a school for Jamaican children.

First year student Becky Rohland added that the construction became a community project.

“In Jamaica, when people start a construction project, everyone will join in,” she said.

At the same time, the relationships that they built had an impact on them.

“We had a lot of down time, talking to the people. We hung out with the youth and we saw how alike we were,” Rivera said. “It was like being at school.”

The team also had the chance to meet physically and mentally disabled children.

“The nurses [at the home] were bitter from dealing with difficult kids,” senior Justin O’Brien said.

He was also able to meet a boy named Owen, who had asthma and autism and was also very intelligent.

“Even though it may seem that you’re not getting through to the kids, all they want is love,” Rohland said.

Most of the team did not experience culture shock coming to and from Jamaica, although Dugan said that she had “condition shock. They don’t have as much as we do. And they’re content with what they have.”

“I really enjoyed it,” O’Brien said. “There’s a whole set of people who have opinions and attitudes contrasting to yours. They’re more laid-back, stress-free. They’re connected to one another.”

But O’Brien also recognized the limitations of a short term trip.

“That’s kind of the problem with short term missions-you come and go real quick,” he said.

Dugan added that the point was to fulfill the needs in Jamaica.

“It’s not to satisfy our need,” she said. “Just because we want to paint, it doesn’t mean we should.”

All of the team felt that they had fulfilled the need they had gone to fulfill.

“I felt really privileged and honored to be able to be used by God in that way,” Brown said.

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