Family Mission Trip
When deciding where to go on her graduation trip, Jessica – a recent graduate from Vandegrift High School in Leander – wanted to leave something behind and make a difference, while still having fun with her family.
Her parents, Hilarie and George, told her that she could choose anywhere in the world to travel for a graduation trip that included the entire family. One day, the idea hit her to make the vacation into a family mission trip. She felt that if she chose a regular vacation, they would have fun, but they wouldn’t change lives.
It wasn’t long until her entire family was on board with the idea, including her two younger sisters, Emily and Madison, and they began to search for a mission opportunity. Beginning just before Christmas 2011, she and her family researched international destinations, but because of some uneasiness with the idea of flying overseas, financial constraints, and scheduling conflicts, they began to look for local places to serve. “We had to go as a family,” Jessica said, “We would figure out how to travel all together, even if it meant staying right here in the Austin area.”
They discovered Texas Baptist Children’s Home through their home church, Austin Christian Fellowship, and began inquiring about how they could help. Less than a month after graduation, Jessica, her parents, and sisters headed to TBCH to serve the residents and to see her hope for a family mission trip come true.
While at TBCH, they were able to help with landscaping projects, teach dance and exercise classes, host craft and jewelry-making classes, cook dinner in the newly remodeled Activity Center kitchen with some little helpers, and just be present in the lives of the residents … even if just for a short while.
The family quickly discovered the impact that the trip had on them and were able to better understand the impact they’d made on the children. As a family, they knew they would learn to be grateful for what they have and never take for granted the little blessings in life.
“The need is right here,” George said. “You don’t have to do much to make a difference. The little things are what matter.” Simple things like participating in crafts with the children are what enabled the kids to open up and share about their lives. That’s when the family saw true ministry – true bonding – happening.
Time spent with the residents of TBCH was unanimously a favorite part of the trip for the family. For Hilarie and George, it was special to see their girls letting their guards down and to see the kids at TBCH opening up as well.
Although Emily and Madison hardly had enough energy to keep up with the children, they were up early every morning during their trip, ready to play with the kids and they didn’t stop until the day was over. They truly immersed themselves into the lives of the residents.
For Hilarie, it was difficult to hear the children’s stories, knowing that they each deserved more. But the family expressed their gratitude for TBCH and what the organization provides the children residing on campus. “Here they get what they deserve. TBCH gives them family, a sense of normal.”
The family has given to the children at TBCH what so many others have to give – their time. If you cannot give financially or feel led to give in another way, remember that relationships also change lives, as this family has shown through Jessica’s graduation family mission trip. “Whatever God gives you,” Hilarie said, “you need to share. Don’t keep it for yourself.”