Students and teachers travel to help others

Meredith Beasley, Sports Editor, The Hi-Times

Recently, Tupelo High School students and teachers have traveled far and wide to share their faith through mission trips in places ranging from Honduras to Africa to Ecuador. The works they did brought joy not only to the people they were ministering to, but also to themselves.

“God gave me a heart for Africa in 2012,” freshman English teacher Hannah Kimbrough said. She took her third trip to Africa last March, traveling to Limuru, Kenya.

Kimbrough explained that she felt called to go so that she could work with kids who do not have someone who loves them. She wants them to know that they are loved.

While in Africa, Kimbrough worked at LCC orphanage hosting Bible schools and mentoring and discipling teenagers. She also worked with Care for AIDS and Pat’s Feeding Program.

Care for AIDS is an organization that works with Kenyan churches to provide centers that physically, spiritually, economically and socially serve men and women living with HIV/AIDS. Local health workers work to meet the spiritual and physical needs of their clients. Workers share the gospel with and pray for their clients. Kimbrough said Pat’s Feeding Program is held at the Limuru Red Cross every two weeks. They feed more than 400 elderly women with HIV enough food to keep them alive for two weeks. Kimbrough encourages people to go on a mission trip if they get the chance.

“It helps others but it is also good for you,” Kimbrough said.

She said that people do not necessarily have to go to Africa to be a missionary and that everyone has their own mission fields at home.

This summer, a group from Harrisburg Baptist Church took a group of about 50 teens and adults to Ecuador. On June 6, the group flew out of Memphis to Atlanta and then to Quito, the capital of Ecuador. Among the group was THS math teacher Tracey Goggans.

“I wanted to on this trip to experience another country and to be the hands and feet of Jesus with my daughters, Avery and Anna, who also went on the trip,” Goggans said.

They stayed at Camp Chacauco, a local missionary’s camp, for the week and reached out to the nearby communities by hosting Bible school for the local children. The group also helped out with small construction projects around the camp. Goggans said the Ecuadorians’ love and happiness really stood out to her.

“The kids and adults were both so kind, happy and loving,” Goggans said.

Goggans said that one of her favorite parts of the trip was worship at night with the locals.

“It was really cool to worship the same God in a different language,” Goggans said.

First United Methodist Church also took a mission team to Honduras. The team left June 26 and returned July 5. Senior Bess Buskirk said her love for God and children motivated her to take time out of her summer to go on this trip.

Buskirk said the team built a total of 12 houses and three additional rooms that were used as classrooms and Sunday school rooms for the local Hondurans to use long after the trip ended. They also taught Bible classes to the children. Senior Ann Douglas Stone said she went on this trip to help people and tell them about God.

“I also wanted to get out of my comfort zone and meet, communicate, and lift up new people,” she explained.

Stone added that her favorite part of the trip was when they gave out clothes that had been donated from people in the United States.

“Everyone was so ecstatic when we found them a shirt or a dress that fit them,” she said. “It was neat that, even though they did not speak the same language, they were still able to interact with the local people. I started to forget that we could not speak the same language the longer I was with them.”

THS’ Spanish teacher Susan Hester also went on the FUMC trip and got to meet the child she has been sponsoring through an orphanage for the past eight years. The orphanage is named Montaña de Luz (Mountain of Light in English). It supports and helps children who are HIV positive.

Hester’s class raises money yearly through bake sales to sponsor her assigned child, a now 18-year-old named Nicol. After years of sending love and support, Hester and Nicol finally got to meet face to face this summer.

“I got to meet her and it was just really sweet,” Hester said. “We just hugged the whole time and visited.”