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Tag Archive | "mission"

Connecting across the miles


CS grad on mission with Jamaican deaf school

 

Rachel Hunt (left center), her husband, Josh (right center), and other members of the Jamaica mission team and friends.

By Judy Reed

Rachel (Reed) Hunt loves kids and they love her, too. And now, for the fourth time, the 2003 graduate of Cedar Springs High School has taken that love, along with a team of Cornerstone University students, and shared that love with deaf children in Jamaica.
Hunt graduated from Cornerstone University in 2008 with a BA in Accounting, and with an MBA in 2011. She is also staff accountant at the university.
She was in her senior year (2008) at Cornerstone when she heard there was a mission trip forming for Jamaica, in conjunction with Jamaica Link Ministries, based in Grand Rapids. She joined the team and handled their finances on the trip. The small mission team stayed at Fairhaven Ministries, and worked at the Jamaica Christian School for the Deaf for 10 days, redoing their library. “We stripped it down, catalogued books, set them up by genre, set up the computer and scanners, made it like a real library,” recalled Rachel. They also played with the kids at the school during downtime, did devotions at public schools, and visited an orphanage for the severely disabled.

Team members help mix cement for addition.

After the first trip, she was hooked. In 2009 she went with a team to Mexico, but in 2010 she co-led the next trip to Jamaica, and then headed up the trips in May 2011 and January 2012. Each time they’ve worked with the Jamaica School for the Deaf and Robin’s Nest orphanage.
Rachel said the goal was to foster a relationship and build connections with the children and people there. “A lot of teams go to the school for a day and then are gone,” she explained. “So when a team comes and stays, they get very excited. Some of the kids recognized me as soon as I got there,” she said of her most recent trip.
In 2010, Rachel and the team helped with construction on the school’s kindergarten building, by filling in the foundation, and mixing and pouring cement for the ceiling. Last spring they bought windows for the entire kindergarten building and helped with painting. On the most recent trip, they helped with the addition of a second floor to the kindergarten building by mixing and filling cinder blocks with cement. “We helped them get ready for the bigger teams that will be going there this summer,” she said.

Josh Hunt holds a sleeping Jamaican child.

The teams from Cornerstone are usually small—only 5-11 people. But the smaller size helps the relationship be more intimate. And that growing relationship is what Rachel likes best about the trips. “We have been able to make such an impact on the people in such a consistent way. Our picture from two years ago is still up on their file cabinet (at the JCSD). It’s a special connection.”
While the team sees some change in members from year to year, one special addition to the team this year was Rachel’s new husband, Josh. The two got to work together, and he got to see firsthand what she loves about the place. “Josh was the muscle of the team,” she said with a laugh. “But really, I liked showing him a place that was like a second home.”
It was Josh’s first mission trip. “I liked that it was an opportunity to connect with another culture, and that we were invited to work and help them,” said Josh. He also expressed an interest in going back.
The group did have some down time. After working they played with the children, and had their own bonding times as a group in the evening, playing cards, board games, uploading their daily blog, and sometimes swimming in the ocean, which was right across the street. They also saw some of the sights and visited the marketplace.
Rachel said one of the neatest things is to see what some of the students that were on the team in the past are now doing because of their experience. “We had one guy lead a trip from his church to Jamaica, and a girl who went on the trip in the spring and this month is going back to Jamaica this summer to live and help out at the Jamaica Christian School for the Deaf. Another went on the trip to see if she liked being out of the country, and then went to Korea for a semester to study. For those who think they might want to be a missionary, it’s a good way to see what it’s like,” she said.
Rachel said that her goal is to continue the trips, and build on the relationships they’ve established with the people. But she’s confident that can continue with others, if for some reason she can’t go in the future. She said the trips are sometimes open to others, and if other organizations are interested, they can also contact Jamaica Link at www.jamaicalink.org to set up their own trip.
For more info on Jamaica Christian School for the Deaf, visit www.jcsdeaf.org, and for Cornerstone University, visit www.cornerstone.edu.

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En-Gedi to host fundraiser


Mark your calendars now for a special event called “En-Gedi – Come Be Refreshed” on Friday, May 13 at 7 pm in the Cedar Springs High School. This event will serve as an opportunity to learn more about the En-Gedi youth center and earn much needed funding for this mission. A free Dessert Buffet/Cook-off with 15 area licensed caterers and area restaurants to be selected to provide an assortment of desserts. Attendees will vote for their favorite dessert. Local musicians are currently being interviewed for Christian music in the auditorium. The hallways will be lined with silent auction surprises. A 30-minute window will allow participants an opportunity to bid on items such as an autographed MSU basketball by Coach Tom Izzo, a guided turkey hunt by CTA’s Dan George, a one-night stay at W.W. Lodge, a spring lawn clean-up, golf packages, salon services, auto repairs, a desktop computer, and many more special items. Donations for the silent auction are still needed. No donation is too large or too small. The event will also provide an opportunity to “Support a Student” with a cash donation as well as a challenge to areas businesses to match the money earned in the silent auction. En-Gedi is hoping to raise about $10,000 and secure 25 volunteers during this first-ever event. It will be an opportunity to meet some of the young people attending En-Gedi and hear their story first hand.

Sue Wolfe will gladly pick up your donations if you call her at 696-2246, or you can mail it to 15290 Tisdel Ave, Cedar Springs. Or you can stop in and check out En-Gedi at Red Hawk Elementary on Monday through Thursday from 2:15-5 p.m. and see for yourself what is happening.

Volunteers are greatly needed one day a month or one day a week to just hang out at En-Gedi and serve as an adult who cares, while watching over the students.

En-Gedi’s website is www.En-GediYouthCenter.com or e-mail SueQ@hughes.net or EnGediYouthCenter@gmail.com.

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