PAA Students Take Guatemala Mission Trip

June 01, 2011 | Liesl Vistaunet

This spring Portland Adventist Academy students traveled to Guatemala where International Children's Care runs an orphanage to care for 90 children.

The mission trip focused on constructing a sidewalk and repairing the church interior and foundation. The group also led a Vacation Bible School for more than 30 children. But the physical work completed was only a small part of the experienced blessings.

On foreign mission trips, language can be a barrier to friendship. But Rita Barrett, PAA Spanish teacher, organized this trip with the confidence that her students would be able to communicate successfully. She was right.

"My Spanish was a lot better than I expected," says Aubrey Jones, PAA senior, who hadn't practiced much after completing Spanish II the school year before. "I could actually carry on complete conversations."

"I was really proud of my students," says Barrett. "One of the house mothers told us that our students were exceptional because of their ability to communicate and develop connections with the kids. The bonds formed over one week were incredible."

By the week's end, PAA students had a glimpse of what heaven might be like. Laughing, singing and working next to friends with a completely different language and culture of their own served to show that they were all a part of one big family.

"The kids loved singing 'Jesus Loves Me' with us," says Jones. "And even though we couldn't speak with them perfectly, they still gave us unconditional love. We played a lot of games and gave them a lot of hugs." And, as it turns out, hugs mean the same thing in any language.