By Reece Westfall | Web Managing Editor
As the clock ticked down to the final 2:50 of the 2016-2017 school year, most students were anticipating two months of parties, concerts and sleeping in. Junior Jessica Miller, however, had very different plans for herself.
Miller kicked off her summer by packing her bags and leaving for Oceanside, New York. She joined 22 other students and missionaries from Plainfield United Methodist Church and the organization Next Step. They worked to clean up and convert a local church basement into a functioning preschool. They wanted to repay the church for their sacrifices when they served as a Red Cross relief center for victims of Hurricane Sandy.
“[The church] was built in the 1800’s, so there were obviously a lot of improvements that needed to be made to it,” Miller said.
Her second trip to San Luis Potosí, Mexico, got off to a tougher start than expected. In July, Miller went with eight people from Christ Community Church and was one of the only two students on the trip. Needless to say, her second trip was a far cry from the second and was far more daunting.
“I was so stressed out and terrified,” Miller said. “I seriously considered not going to the airport.”
After two missed flights to Dallas, a flight to Mexico City and the loss of their luggage, the eight missionaries were exhausted. They emerged from the chaos nine hours later than planned. It didn’t help that they arrived without exchanged money for food and only their small carry-ons.
“It was rough, but humbling to say the least,” Miller said. “I knew that God was with us the whole time and that everything would work out according to Him. I just had to let what was happening play out and go along with it,”
The first full day the group arrived to help with service at a local school, Miller was thankful that she didn’t give in to her fears and got on that plane to Mexico. Her apprehension gave way to hope when the community welcomed her with open arms. The week kicked off with a service at La Puerta de Salvacíon. They gathered and sang the common song, Shout to the Lord, in Spanish and poured their hearts into worship.
“[That moment] showed me how worshipping God isn’t about singing all the right notes to all the songs, or getting the words right, but rather just giving yourself to God and loving Him for who He is and what He’s done. The service on the first day showed me how I had lost sight of that,” Miller said.
Miller said that despite the taxing work and culture shock involved, she had an amazing time filled with encounters she couldn’t have dreamt of. Although she says that she won’t plan on going on two trips in one summer, she looks forward to her next opportunity to serve others. If you’d like to get involved like Miller, she encourages you to go for it.
“Taking that leap of faith and stepping out of your comfort zone is completely terrifying, but 100 percent worth it in the long run,” she said.