At 3:30 pm on Wednesday, April 23, our Prime Timers mission trip team arrived on St Thomas USVI. Our travel started a 6:00 am when we left for the Memphis airport to catch a flight to Atlanta. In Atlanta we hustled to our departure gate and arrived with barely a minute to spare.
Our team consisted of Mike and Mary Ann; Monda and Wayne; Anita and Rob and Don and me. Marta and Terry, missionaries to St John, met us at the airport.
We rented cars, loaded our luggage and headed to the car ferry for the smaller island of St John. Because of a snafu with one of the rental cars, we were behind schedule so our planned time for grocery shopping was cut short.
Preplanning paid off. We hit the store like ants at a picnic and were in and out with our necessities in time to catch the last ferry at 7:00
Mike and Rob were our drivers and they quickly mastered the art of driving on the left side of the road. Don and Wayne were copilots and their main job was to say, “Stay left!” The ladies took the back seats with heads often bowed in prayer. This arrangement was successful throughout the week.
Marta and Terry are growing their congregation for Freshwater Church by building relationships in the community, and the projects they planned for us were community oriented.
Early Thursday morning the men began painting the exterior of the animal shelter. It was an all week project done with extravagant attention to every detail. Their diligence paid off. People stopped to visit and thank the guys for coming. One of the shelter volunteers brought donuts every morning.
The local paper came by for a picture and another picture appeared on the shelter’s Facebook page.
In the meantime the women had their own project at a local school working in the gardens.
Our contact was Dr. Dave whose personal dress code was shorts, tee-shirt and flip-flops. He immediately put us to work pulling weeds and hoeing the lower garden. We also planted several rows of corn and readied seed boxes. It was hot, sweaty work, but again diligence paid off and Dr. Dave was so pleased he scheduled another work day for Saturday.
Friday was Earth Day and St John Parks and Recreation planned a children’s event that was held in the park. Our team wore lime green tee shirts with the church’s logo on the back and popped popcorn for the nearly three hundred children who came.
Earth Day took on new meaning when spent on an island where the limited amount of resources is so obvious.
Saturday we continued work at the shelter and the school and Sunday we attended the Freshwater Church service.
In the story of our mission trip, the Sunday service was the climax. Held in a picnic pavilion facing one of the island’s gorgeous beaches, the time was a poignant reminder that even people on an island paradise need the love of Christ and a community of believers.
Monday we finished our projects and the women were surprised when Dr. Dave came to say good-bye and ask if he could pray for us. After thanking God for our help and asking for our protection while on the trip, one of the women said, “Come visit us in Tennessee sometime.”
He smiled and replied, “I don’t know about Tennessee, but I will definitely visit Freshwater Church.”
Terry and Marta are leading Freshwater Church in making a footprint for Christ on St John. Our team of Prime Timers was happy to lend a hand.
Mother wrote in her journal, “Seeking the kingdom of God means making Jesus the Lord and King of work, play and relationships.” We experienced this truth last week on St John.