By Caleb Elliott
“What I saw over there wasn’t something I was prepared for.”
This is what junior Brad Shue said about his first out of country mission trip. In the summer of 2019, he spent two weeks in Kenya distributing medicine and helping out with local hospitals.
Shue helped by counting pills and spending time with the kids at hospitals. “It was special to see how happy kids were to play with us,” he said.
Even though this sounds like another story of a student helping others in need, it’s not. Even for Shue it was unexpected.
“I wasn’t even planning on going on the trip,’ Shue said. “There was just a spot open, so I took the chance.”
Shue expected to see a few people in need but once he got there he quickly realized it wasn’t just another youth outing.
After working at the local hospital Shue’s group visited a place called the “Slums” which was earth-shaking for him and others. A slum is an overcrowded urban area that houses thousands of poverty stricken people.
“We got there and I was crushed to see what their living conditions were like,” Shue said. “Kids were playing in the sewage that was flowing down the streets.”
Even though this impacted most of his trip, Shue still was able to witness the many beautiful features of Kenya during a hot air balloon ride.
He is one of several Delta High School students who have been involved in going to poor countries and making a difference in those communities.
Junior Bailey Wood returned to school Jan. 11 after serving on a two-week mission trip to Liberia. Wood started her journey on Dec. 29 going to different villages and getting to know people. They helped deliver water systems to the villages depending on their size.
“Our organization Hope2Liberia is watering the thirsty both physically and spiritually,” Wood said, “Physical water is the number one physical need in the world, but spiritual water is the number one need. Period.”
Wood has been going on trips since she was in the seventh grade. On her first trip Wood imagined a fun youth outing where they would meet and help some new people. As they made their way to the first village she realized she wasn’t there for fun.
“We got there and I remembered I almost cried just seeing what they had to live like,” Wood said.
In the beginning of 2020 Wood felt called to go on another mission trip, but this time she would be going without her parents. To make matters even crazier COVID-19 was a major headache for traveling. After lots of fundraising, planning, and praying December 29 was finally here.
“It was a nightmare trying to get through protocols, staying up on Covid tests, and just getting on the plane,” she said.
“My favorite memory was when we visited the blind orphanage,” she said. “It was special because we’re in a building filled with blind children in one of the poorest countries in the world, and all those kids want to do is love you.”
After this she and her group traveled three hours to Ganta to visit a prison and a Leper Colony.
Wood said, “When we got to the prison I wasn’t nervous or worried, only hopeful. We sang and shared everything we could about Jesus and the good news to them,” said Wood. “This was probably my favorite trip because it reminded me of God’s love and that we need to share it with others.”
Returning home on Jan. 9 was an odd feeling for Wood.
“Every time we get back to Indiana it’s a surreal feeling,” she said. “I didn’t want to leave my new family behind, but I knew I would see them again.”
Both Wood and Shue agreed that one of their biggest takeaways from their trips was just how much they have, and that they’re grateful to have a roof above their head and food on the table.
According to ShortTermMissions.com there are over 2 million Americans that participate in mission trips every year and over a thousand organizations to get involved in. Hope2Liberia is an organization that was started up here in Muncie.
Shue said, “If I were to help someone consider going on a mission trip I would tell them that it will be an experience you’ll never forget. I believe it’s an experience everyone needs to have.”