The SMLT sponsored three domestic mission trips over spring break, taking groups to Jackson, Miss.; Panama City, Fla.; and New Orleans, La.
The Jackson trip was led by director of discipleship Frank Huebert. Partnering with the John M. Perkins Foundation and the Zachariah 8 Community, students tackled service projects with a focus on Christian community development.
Students on the Jackson trip were able to hear John Perkins speak, and discuss difficult issues such as race and culture as they pertain to faith, as well as studying the book of Acts.
The Jackson missionaries worked hard on their assigned tasks, doing everything from weeding to digging trenches.
Freshman Mikayla Roberts remembered working on a drainage ditch. It started pouring as the team was working on the trench, Roberts said. But they were determined to finish because it was their last day to work. By then, the trench had already filled up with water so they had to guess where to dig. Roberts said they did eventually finish the trench, but not before engaging in a mud war or two.
The trip to Panama City was led by assistant director of discipleship Lisa Corry. The students were part of a group of 800 who attended a conference called Big Break. The conference focused on equipping students for evangelism. Students spent two hours on the Panama City Beach sharing the gospel with passers-by.
Junior Velma Sanchez was one of the students on the trip. She said it was a life-changing experience. “For the first time I could experience the power of the Holy Spirit when sharing the Word of God to people I would never imagine I could pursue a spiritual conversation with,” she said.
The New Orleans trip was led by Bryan Cole and Austin Robertson, the resident directors of North Hall and the Townhouses, respectively. The goal was to experience and minister to the city of New Orleans. Partnering with TouchGlobal, a response ministry of the Evangelical Free Church of America, students worked to fight the still visible devastation of Hurricane Katrina.
Split into two groups of thirteen, students worked on two separate demolition projects. One was to tear down parts of a house in order to refurbish it, and the other was to complete the destruction of a condemned house.
“Even seven years later, roads are unfixed and slabs of foundations are in the overgrown grass,” said junior Rachel Brown. “I was caught up in the idea of losing everything; how does one move on?”
Most students spoke of how their lives were changed, in ways large or small.
“Everything that happened in this mission trip was God talking to us and working in our lives,” said junior Carla Penate, who went on the Panama City trip. “I am not the same,” she said.
Many students also expressed amazing interactions with the communities of their mission fields.
“The people down there have some of the greatest hearts and give all the time they can to any friend,” said Brown.
The trips were generally considered a huge success, each group accomplishing what they set out to do, as well as larger goals.
“We wanted to bring our work back and to remember what we learned,” said Huebert. And they “absolutely did.”