Praising from a New Perspective

Praising from a New Perspective

By Tru Swoboda

Five high school students have a goal to experience God’s glory in a new light this summer. But time is ticking for each of them, as their $4,200 mission trip inches closer and closer.

A tight-knit group of friends plan to fly 5,202 miles together to one of the most poverty- stricken and least-developed countries in the world: Liberia, located in West Africa.

Since 2003, Liberia has been experiencing the mass negative effects of two back-to-back civil wars, lasting almost 14 years, and wiping out half of the country’s population, totaling up to 300,000 people. Liberia has undergone extreme efforts to repair its devastated economy with the help of other countries and organizations around the world. 

But in particular, Liberia has received the most aid through the efforts of mission workers. 

So when sophomores Marley Dowling, Elizabeth Bamidele and Anna and Ella Marcum along with junior Marcus Bright were informed of an opportunity to become involved this coming July, they took it in a heartbeat. 

”I want to gain a new perspective and experience how God works in other people’s lives besides my own,” Bamidele said. “The things that I take for granted, others might see those things as blessings.”

This won’t be Bamidele’s first time visiting West Africa, but it will be her first time flying without her parents. 

Both her mother and father are from Nigeria, so she is acquainted with visiting Africa on prior occasions. 

But this time she won’t be visiting her family’s home village, she will be serving in a community known for its poor living conditions and high crime rate.

Despite this daunting change, she goes into this trip with a positive mindset. Bamidele hopes to utilize her time in Liberia by creating faith-based relationships with the locals.

”It’s not just about helping underprivileged people, but it’s also about getting to know them and building a relationship that is authentic and real,” she said.

And although building relationships is important, some of the students see the mission as an opportunity to build character within themselves as well.

“I want to prioritize letting go of control and receiving the plan God has laid out in front of me instead of always worrying about other people,” Anna Marcum says.

With past experience in attending mission trips, Anna and her twin sister Ella have acquired knowledge regarding what it’s like to be a missionary student.

Combined, the twins have traveled on five different mission trips, spanning from the Yucatan Peninsula in 2020 to Uganda and Liberia in 2022. 

From this, the Marcum family has established deep friendships and connections with both locals and missionaries across the world.

Students in Liberia
Sophomore Anna Marcum plays with kids in Liberia during a 2022 mission trip to the African country. Anna and her twin sister Ella have been on five different mission trips combined, including one together. (Photo Provided)

“We have a friend in Uganda who is currently in the process of building an orphanage,” Ella said. 

 Both Anna and Ella agree that the relationships they have formed through missions are the most significant and memorable parts of their lives. They look forward to sharing the experience with their friends this July.

From the surface, mission trips may seem like a trouble-free opportunity to share this gospel, given the heartwarming background of the Marcum twins. But this isn’t always the case.

As it turns out, there are various obstacles and challenges related to mission work as well. One of the most substantial ones is the expense of travel. 

Each of the students must take pills before, during and after the mission trip to prevent getting malaria when they arrive in Liberia. Along with this, they must also have both their yellow fever and typhoid vaccines prior to the mission trip. 

The expenses of these requirements alone cost over $400. And this doesn’t include flights, which cost over $3,000 additionally. 

So how is a group of sophomores and juniors going to manage to pull off this difficult task?

To some of them, the first step is acquiring a job. 

Dowling received a position as a waitress at Greek’s Pizzeria four months ago, shortly after deciding to go on the mission trip. 

“A lot of people come to Greek’s to support me and give me tips because they know the money is going to a good cause, which I’m extremely grateful for,” Dowling said. 

Along with this, both Dowling and Bamidele have taken up babysitting as a way to earn some extra cash.

Dowling explained that she and Bamidele looked after 14 kids during an adult-hosted bible study.

“We found that hosting events and doing things to involve kids is a great way to earn money,” Dowling said.

Making crafts with kids
Marley Dowling and Elizabeth Bamidele make crafts with kids at Harvest Christian Church. They organize events like this to help raise money for their upcoming mission trip. (Photo Provided)

Aside from event hosting and donation taking, one student, junior Marcus Bright, has recently started a business of his own: the Marcus Bright Landscaping and Lawn Care Service. 

Bright hopes to use most of his business earnings to fund his trip to Liberia.

“I’ve had the business for about a month and have made some pretty good money so far,” Bright said.

Mowing flyer
Marcus Bright mows lawns to raise funds for the mission trip.

Despite the difficulty of preparing for the trip, each of these students is in agreement on one thing: it will all be worth it, it just takes some faith.

“My main focus when it comes to paying for the trip is just trusting in the Lord that He will provide,” Bamidele said.  “If the Lord wants me to go on this trip, then he will make that possible, and it will all be worth it.” 

And over the span of the past few months, it’s becoming more evident to these students that this trip will be full of worthwhile opportunities, as they receive more information on the services and tasks they are responsible for.

Due to the devastation left by the civil war in Liberia, there are  few functioning water networks to provide the locals with clean drinking water.

To combat this current water crisis, the students will be responsible for transporting water, filtering water and digging wells in various locations around Liberia. 

However, the students will also be involved in taking care and entertaining the local children, since there is a schoolhouse nearby the site where they will be staying. This will involve playing games, providing food and spending time with the children in general.

It’s apparent that there are many moving parts involved in attending a mission trip, especially this one. But these students are eager to take up the challenge with just one goal in mind. “It’s an opportunity to grow closer to God, but also to find a new perspective on life,” Bright said. “That’s my goal.”


April 19, 2024

About Author

Tru Swoboda

truswoboda Tru Swoboda is a sophomore at Delta High School. She enjoys spending time with friends and family, playing tennis, going to church, and watching Gilmore Girls.


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