Jolene Plett, Grade 12
When I think back on my experience in Jamaica I kind of wish I was back there. The whole experience was a very good one for me. I learned a lot and I got to fulfill my life-long dream of working in orphanages, and I discovered a lot about the God we serve.
Before going on this mission trip I had a lot of fears. I’m the type of person that usually worries about everything so right from the beginning when I knew I was going on this trip I was praying for peace about it. The peace that I did receive was amazing; I kept wondering why I wasn’t very worried. Even before getting on that plane for Jamaica God had already answered so many prayers.
Being in Jamaica was nothing like I thought it would be. I could never imagine that things would go so great. The programs we did in schools were so eye-opening, the way the kids received us was incredible. They had never seen us before but they accepted us so openly and leaving them was so hard (seeing them crying because we were leaving). The realization that the hour we spent with them made such a difference to them was nothing like I or the rest of my team could have expected.
The so many fears that I did have about going to Jamaica didn’t come with me. Once I was there, I was amazed on how much Jamaica felt like home. The house we stayed in quickly became home and when we thought about going home in the evenings it wasn’t our homes in Canada – it was our home in Jamaica.
Another thing that really amazed me was the joy I felt while being in Jamaica. Doing programs at schools or playing with the kids at schools or homes I really felt like God’s joy was flowing through me. I felt like I was constantly joyful and that feeling is one I wish would never leave. Serving God by just loving the kids there filled me with a joy I had never experienced before.
Being surrounded by the kids there, it was impossible not to be affected by them. One little girl that I met changed me. She is four years old and lives in an orphanage in Jamaica. That is all I really know about her but it didn’t matter how much I knew I quickly fell in love with her. I got to spent 2 afternoons with her and I’ll never forget those afternoons. She was a very stubborn kid but after spending some time with her I found out that she is a little girl that is desperate for love. Most of the time I spent with her I just carried her around and tried to show as much love as I could in the short time I knew her. I’ll never forget that smile that didn’t come out a lot but when it did – it was so adorable. Leaving that little girl broke my heart. With tears streaming down my face I knew that the chances of seeing her again were small. But what hurt most was the thought, “What’s going to happen to her?” I knew in that moment as I walked back to the bus that I would never forget her and other kids like her.
This mission trip helped me realize that my dream of working in an orphanage was more alive then ever before and getting a glimpse into the lives of kids in Jamaica made me all the more convinced that I want to do it again. During this trip to Jamaica I realized again how important prayer is. So many people were praying for us while we were gone and those prayers were definitely answered. It was so incredible seeing God work among the people on my team and the people and kids in Jamaica. I was amazed how God seemed to prove himself over and over during my time in Jamaica. I realized that we really do serve an amazing God.
Becki Petkau, Grade 12
Participating in the Pearl Project was a really encouraging experience. I gave the necklace I made to a young Jamaican girl. Her eyes lit up when I told her that I had made it for her, and that she was a pearl. I was able to give her hope by telling her that God loves her and that he won't ever leave her. I know that both of us were blessed through one simple necklace.
Donovan and Cathy Dueck – Youth Pastors
Taking our youth to Jamaica was an amazing experience and well worth every hour of fundraising and planning! We saw the youth ask tough questions, open up about their fears, pray and fast as they prepared for the mission trip. When we got to Jamaica, we saw the youth face their fears head on as they loved on the kids, fell in love with the people of Jamaica and spent themselves completely for the Kingdom of God. Our youth learned flexibility in missions and most importantly, learned to put their complete trust in God, who continuously gave them energy to show His love to everyone they met. Now that the trip is over, we see the effects of the mission experience in their dreams/plans for the future and in their involvement in community missions. We highly recommend this mission experience!!
Stan and Tara Loewen – Heartstring’s Team Leaders
It was truly incredible to bring the youth that we love so much from our community to meet the beautiful people and precious children in Jamaica. Tears came to our eyes as we watched our Youth loving and serving children in the same orphanage yard where we first met our son 9 years ago. Day after day we witnessed them living out Isaiah 58 – truly spending themselves on behalf of the orphans they met. Through all the preparation and the trip we prayed that the Youth would truly “get” God’s heart for the poor and oppressed around the world… I believe that God is answering this prayer – we were so blessed when we attended the Morweena graduation (June 2010) and the grad’s (all but 1 of the graduates were on the Jamaica trip) chose the Starfield’s song “I Will Go” as their theme song. May we all prayerfully sing this…
"I Will Go" To the desperate eyes and reaching hands To the suffering and the lean To the ones the world has cast aside Where you want me I will be I will go, I will go, I will go, Lord send me To the world, To the lost To the poor and hungry Take everything I am I'm clay within your hands I will go, I will go, send me Let me not be blind with privilege, Give me eyes to see the pain Let the blessing You've poured out on me Not be spent on me in vain, Let this life be used for change I wanna live for you Go where you lead me I wanna follow you
We spent only two weeks in Uganda during the month of August, yet it was an incredible experience and each and every one of us went home changed. We went to many places while in Uganda including, Kampala, Jinja, Gulu and Nebi. In Kampala we spent time working with Dwelling Places, an organization that rescues children off the streets and gives then a place to call home. We very much enjoyed learning from the people there and teaching them a few things too! We spent a couple of days in Jinja, ministering in the slums and being practically mauled by hundreds of precious children! The next leg of our journey was in Gulu where we worked with Favor of God, visiting House of Hope, a community school as well as the youth and men’s prisons. Some of the ladies also had the opportunity to take part in a market place bible study which was such a blessing! While in Gulu, we traveled up to Nebi, an isolated village near the boarder of the Congo and ministered there for a few days.
I was amazed at the things God did and is continuing to do in the lives of the Ugandan people, but I’m even more amazed at what God has done and is continuing to do in my own life as a result of this trip. He has opened my eyes and my heart. As I poured out all that I had, I received so much more in return and left the Pearl of Africa truly blessed!
This Uganda Mission trip was definitely out of my comfort zone and stretched me many times. Something that God showed me was that I should appreciate the things that I have. I saw many people who have less than I do, and are happy with what they have. There were times when I missed my family, but I was reminded that there are a lot of people who don't have anyone waiting for them at home.
To say this trip was life changing would be an understatement, Looking back on all the things I did while I was out there just makes me realize even more how much God was walking with me during those times. My sanity and faith were put through many tests but as I overcame them, my relationship with God just got stronger. I believe that as much as we were over there speaking and sharing God with the hearts of the Ugandans, they did the same if not more for us.
As a Mom there is nothing like seeing your children desire God and want to do His work. So, going to Uganda with my 13 year old daughter was an incredible experience!
There are three things that remain engraved on my heart from Africa. Firstly, from the moment we arrived to the moment we left we were 'most welcome' by everyone we met! The love these Ugandan people have overflows from every part of their lives! From making sure you are fed to listening, with intense, undistracted focus, to your life story. I've fallen in love with these beautiful people…
Another thing that impacted me was how they worship! They know who they are in Christ and they let it show…all the time and everywhere! When tragedy or sickness strikes…this is their opportunity to let God shine! Not a set 'back' but a set 'up' for the furtherance of His kingdom. Let my heart, mind and spirit be so set with reckless abandon and boldness!
And lastly, and not such a good impact was this…I got to go home to my comforts, safety and know that if I get sick the medical system is there for me. None of these 'unseen' ones get to leave. A most sobering thought… My heart physically ached when we were returning home.
My daughter and I shared in this experience that neither of us will ever forget. Rumor has it that Heartstrings is planning to build an orphanage in Uganda…you can be sure we'll be there!! My daughter is ready now!! She has the spirit of 'true religion' upon her…James 1:27
I really enjoyed Africa. I even made a couple of friends. Even though I'm only 13 it was a great experience. I grew in my relationship with God.
This time my mom and I went. I love how all the people are all so welcoming and friendly. Some parts were difficult and some parts were fun. I would love to go back to Africa with my family.