Puerto Rico: Reflections on the Mission Trip of a Lifetime

As you can see from the following, our mission to Puerto Rico was the trip of a lifetime. One of the most beautiful aspects of this trip is that none of it would have been possible without the help of our First Baptist Greenville family. Your faithful attendance at our fundraisers, gifts, donations and prayers all carried us to Puerto Rico. Through the church’s generosity, we are able to tell stories like these.

—Will

I have been on numerous mission trips with the First Baptist Greenville Youth Group, but our most recent one to Puerto Rico has by far been my favorite. I was put out of my comfort zone the most with this mission trip, but I enjoyed that. Before going on this trip, I never really spent much time thinking about how the language barrier would affect us. I took French all through middle and high school so I knew little to no Spanish. However, I figured there would always be a translator nearby to help. I struggled in the beginning trying to get to know some of the children in the VBS because I had no idea what to say, and I did not have someone next to me to translate. As the week progressed, I learned you did not even need to speak to the kids in order to interact with them. During craft time the third day, we were creating houses out of spaghetti and Play-doh®, and I sat down next to a boy around the age of 6. Although we could not communicate, we were able to build a little house out of the materials given. Another time I noticed the language barrier was in the church services. There were certain parts of the service that were not translated because it would have disrupted the moment. Even though I had no idea what they were saying in certain parts of the service, the passion in the voices of those speaking was enough for me to understand the message. Visiting Puerto Rico was a very eye opening experience for myself, and I am very grateful for the life-changing opportunity.

—Grace Martin

Traveling to Puerto Rico was a wonderful experience for me. It amazed me that even though we didn’t share the same language with the children there, we were able to communicate through hand gestures and with the help of the teachers at the Baptist church. Spending time with children each day was the best part of the trip for me. They were so loving to us and wanted nothing more than to be loved in return. They were eager to share their handmade crafts with us and even taught us their worship songs! Once I returned home to Greenville, I realized just how blessed we are to have air conditioning, clean water, and comfortable living conditions. The chance to spend time with these amazing children has changed my life. I can honestly say that I learned just as much from them as they did from us. They shared stories with us about the hardships they faced after the hurricane. It amazed me that their outlook remained positive and upbeat. The children chose to find the positive side of their struggles. I learned from the children to look for blessing even in hard times.

—Katherine Whatley

I think the Puerto Rico mission trip was my favorite one so far. I didn’t know what to expect from this trip, but I’m happy with what I learned and what I got out of it. The people there were so welcoming and made us feel comfortable in a place most of us had never been. On our first day, my group and I went to the bible study and service of the church where we would be working. Most of us didn’t understand Spanish and weren’t exactly sure what was going on, but it was still an awesome experience for all of us. I noticed one thing about their church that I thought was really interesting. At First Baptist our services have a certain order that you can expect to follow, and we use an order of worship to help everyone follow what is going on. This church in Puerto Rico had no order of doing things, and the congregation got extremely involved with the service. Everyone there was very loud and energetic. They did their own thing which was new to us. Their congregation also only had about 15 people which is different from the big crowds we usually have at our church. Our service and theirs couldn’t have been more different, but the end of their service really surprised me. They sang the same hymn that we sing at the end of our service and all of the leaders walked down the middle of the pews to the back of the church just like we are used to. This was a really cool moment in the service, and it made me think about how even though we approach religion differently, we are the same, and we believe the same things. I will never forget this trip and the incredible experience.

—Jack Rollins

 My mission trip to Puerto Rico was the first mission trip I have ever gone on. It brought me many different feelings that I hadn’t experienced before. It gave me faith, built my character, gave me more empathy, and it made me love more deeply. It brought me love towards God, my youth group, the amazing people we helped in Puerto Rico, and towards the world. This trip gave me memories and experiences that I will never forget. This trip made me a better person and strengthened my faith in God. In Puerto Rico, I encountered Him in big ways and also in very simple, impactful ways that changed my life.

—Camp Wynn Jr.