Mission Trip – Jamaica, 2016

By Nicole Noel and Taylor Odenat

(https://thetablet.org/vbcc-mission-trip-to-jamaica/)

Early July, 25 youth and young adults journeyed with Father Dwayne Davis from the Vicariate of Black Catholic Concerns (VBCC) Youth Leadership Ambassador Program to Jamaica, West Indies. The mission sought to serve the poorest of the poor in Kingston.

After leaving the airport at 5 a.m., some were excited, some exhausted, and many concerned about cell phone service. However, we plunged right into our first international mission experience. We cared for and played with children and elderly people with disabilities. Everyone left with a new outlook on life and a new unique way of thinking.

“I came with an open heart, open mind, and with open hands,” said Sherquan Sumra of St. Matthew Church in Crown Heights. “I was blown away by the joyful hearts and humble touch of great souls.”

The VBCC Ambassador Program brings together youth from parishes between Brooklyn and Queens. Through our experiences in Jamaica we became much closer and create strong bonds with one another.

“Giving back to the Jamaican country with my peers and just helping the community in general was very inspirational for me,” said Andrew Belizaire, a member of St. Thomas Aquinas, Flatlands.

Calling it an “insightful, spiritual reality-check,” the young people said that the mission work showed them that their service was meant to help others and give Glory to God.

Abigail Agbi from Our Lady of Light, St. Albans, explained how volunteering with children in Jamaica touched her.

“You learn that some of the children in the homes do not even know their parents,” she said. “It made me realize how I sometimes take my parents for granted.”

We were blessed to work with the Missionaries of the Poor and the Mustard Seed community. Many of their selfless acts serving the vulnerable population of Jamaica on a daily basis often go unseen and unheard. The sisters opened their doors, creating a welcoming experience for all of us.

“I experienced the miracle of God’s love in the poorest of the poor, their caregivers and particularly in our young Ambassadors,” said Tessa from King-Shepherd – St. Jerome.

“Encountering and interacting with these children and adults who suffer from abandonment and lack of a family made me realize how fortunate I am and taught me to appreciate the things that I took for granted,” said Mark Enobakhare, parishioner of Our Lady of Light.

Tania Bouzy, parishioner of St. Thomas Aquinas, said the recent mission trip allowed to collaborate with a group of diverse individuals on the common goal of bringing God’s work to those who are in need.

“I have no doubt in my mind that each of us will remember this eye-opening experience, compelling us to spread good and show gratitude throughout the course of each of our lives.”

After initially not knowing what to expect, our mission trip to Jamaica turned out to be an extremely life-altering journey that none of the ambassadors would regret having.

“It’s the lessons we learn in being selfless that make our mission trips worthwhile,” said Kianna Brown of Our Lady of Light.