Reflections from Jamaica Mission Trip

February 12, 2015
Four colleagues from Oak Hill School traveled to Jamaica to participate in a mission trip in partnership with First Presbyterian Church, January 31 – February 7. Below are thoughts written by OHS Head of School Jennifer Hinote during the mission trip:

Jennifer Hinote, OHS head of school, with students in Jamaica

I am in Jamaica in the middle of the school year. It is not spring break just yet, and I’m not here to get a tan. Frankly, at this point in my life, I am more worried about age spots than I am getting a tan. I am actually on a week-long mission trip. Let me go ahead and state the obvious; I am not a camper. Yet, I find myself on a mission trip to Jamaica. Mission trips such as this are designed to take you away from your creature comforts of home. Jamaica in February sounds heavenly, and yes, the warmer weather calls my name; but,  the creature comforts I mentioned have become familiar and important to me. And did I mention that I snore? It is a bit embarrassing to sleep in bunks with your colleagues, knowing that you are keeping them from a night of good rest. 

Me and three colleagues from Oak Hill School are here to work in two schools. We brought with us computers and soccer balls (or I should say footballs?) to donate to the schools. During our trip, we are conducting a professional development session with the teachers and even carrying out a field day for the students. The school’s partnership is a relatively new one in Jamaica, but we are honored  to join the First Presbyterian Church mission team, which has been traveling here for nearly two decades. The crew representing the church is working on building projects for the schools, as well as a boys’ home in the area. The church also assembled a dental team to serve the community, setting up an office at a church site, where lines of people wait to be served each day. The days are long and the work is hard but incredibly rewarding. 

I have a Scripture verse on the wall in my office from 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, ‘Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances.’ On any given day, I turn to that verse and strive to live my life in this way. This week, I witness how Jamaican adult friends and children, who have much less in material means than I might have, embody this scripture time and time again.  I came to Jamaica knowing that I would be in service to others, but I couldn’t begin to fathom the gifts I would receive in return. I have never been an adventurous person, and the older I have become, the less likely I am to be a risk taker. However, I also know that my greatest growth spiritually, professionally and personally occurs when I am forced to get out of my comfort zone. This is a week of get-out-of-your-comfort-zone, and I am growing because of it. 

 

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