by freshman Callista Pascarella
When I decided to go on this mission trip I only had an idea of what I was getting into. People asked me what kind of service we were going to be doing, knowing we weren’t going to build houses or a magnificent bridge or anything like that, I responded “we are just going to be with people.” At the time, I wasn’t really satisfied with the response because I didn’t feel it was impacting for the people I was telling. I feel like too many people base serving others on the physical labor someone puts forth for someone else. The truth is, the soul needs just as much attention, if not more, than the physical environment someone is in. Today I truly understood the true value of just being with people in the presence of God.
As usual, we started off the day in our hotel with a great breakfast provided by an amazing staff, and then headed off to a local school. Once there, all language barriers disappear as every single member of our team was engaged with the school children. Surround by the happiest children I have ever witnessed in my life, I fell even more in love with the lord and my team (which I didn’t even think was possible). There was a soccer game being played on every available piece of ground, and kids were coming up to me at all angles, loving on me as they were also loving on each other. If that wasn’t a picture of heaven, I don’t know what would be.
Today I met an amazing girl named Amy. She is a 15-year-old English student that I had the privilege to meet through Sports Outreach (the ministry we are serving with) this evening. I got to have a one-on-one talk with her and it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. Never have I ever become so close with someone in a matter of minutes. We started off just getting to know a few things about each other, but then I wanted it to go deeper. I felt prompted to specifically pick her to talk to, and by the end, it became extremely evident why that was. I decided to share my story with her first to break the ice and make her feel comfortable.
When it was her turn to speak, she had me completely engaged from the beginning. This seemingly simple and beautiful girl was holding so much on her shoulders. Her father is a drunk who doesn’t support her family, and her mother works relentlessly for hours upon hours everyday to provide for her children. Amy and her mother have an incredible relationship; Amy told me that her mother told her that no matter what her father says or tries to do, that they would always have each other.
Amy’s father has kicked her out of the house more times than she can even count. A quick reminder for anyone reading this to be grateful for the house you live in no matter how small or incomparable to those around you. Through Amy’s many hardships, she expressed to me how sad she became so she began to harm herself. She was living a dark life until one day out of the blue she simply cried out to God. She told me she didn’t know what it was or why it happened, but she knew she needed God. She got involved in the Sports Outreach English classes to better her education, and also begin her journey to Jesus. In tears, Amy expressed to me how grateful she was for Sports Outreach and for Gods grace that led her out of the darkness and into the light.
I felt called to talk to Amy specifically tonight, and I wasn’t sure why at first, but now it all makes sense. It is incredible for me to hear how Sports Outreach changed Amy’s life, because it reminded me of how Lipscomb University changed my life. I truly believe that everything happens for a reason as I continue to meet people like Amy. A year ago I never would have imagined my life to be where it is now, but I could not be happier.
I believe we encounter certain people, so they can change our lives, just as we have the ability to change theirs. I went on a mission trip to serve others, only to find myself being served by the same people I was serving. Now, if someone asks me what I did on my mission trip I will say “We were serving the soul.” We are growing in our own relationships with God and our brothers and sisters as they are doing the same. We are growing together hand and hand closer to the God we all love. I can honestly say this trip has changed my life and set my heart more on fire for the Lord. God is truly amazing and is ever surprising me with his grace and awe. God is seriously the bomb.