The Wesleyan Mission Trip team has been serving in South Africa for years and each year the trip impacts even more people than before. This year’s team, led by Mr. Lisson, Dr. Pinkett-Smith, Mrs. Hemken, Mr. Russell and Ms. Stephenson, traveled from Atlanta to Johannesburg for a two week trip filled with service.
When they arrived in Johannesburg, they stayed at an organization called Impact Africa, which provides ministry and creates jobs for local South Africans. From the start, they knew their trip was going to be extremely beneficial both for them and the people they were serving.
The many activities and worship sessions kept the team busy for the whole trip. While in Johannesburg, the team walked through townships, shared the gospel with people, played with different groups of preschool children and run two days of Vacation Bible School. Many students’ favorite moments came from their time at VBS. Junior Sydney Stirling said, “Doing VBS for the community was definitely a high point from my trip, and I will never forget the joy I brought to them.” Lisson said, “I think the highlight for me was a worship night we had on Wednesday night. It was the first moment I realized just how far we had come in the few days we had been together.”
Both students and teachers loved getting to experience the surrounding culture and stepping out of their everyday routine. The culture and worship happening in the community shaped many of the members, including junior Annelise Onorato. She said, “We got to experience many different cultural aspects of South Africa, including the Lesedi Cultural Village and attending two church services at a church similar to Passion City Church with young adults our age.”
Both Onorato and Stirling mentioned the amazing people they got to know and the impact they made on them. For Stirling, she said, “The Impact Africa team and the interns there helped connect with all of us and helped us to connect with the people of the townships.” Impact Africa has a mission to help ignite a personal relationship with Jesus. Lisson also felt very impacted by this trip. He said, “We visited an informal settlement in Kya Sands and had the opportunity to just spend time with people and get to know them and their families. It was such a transformational experience, getting to hear their story and pray with them. It really teaches you a lot about stepping out of your comfort zone.” After Johannesburg, the team traveled to Cape Town. Onorato said, “We also spent a little over a day in Cape Town, which is probably the most beautiful place I have ever been to. We stayed in a nice hotel, took a trolley up Table Mountain, hiked around up there, went down to the coast and ate at a really cute restaurant. Then we went to a Marina that night to a nice restaurant for our last formal meal together.”
Not only did Impact Africa and others from the community help transform the mission team, but so did the teachers and the students on the trip. When asked about the teachers, Stirling said, “They were amazing at leading the trip, and I grew a stronger relationship with them.” When asked about the students, Lisson said, “This team, over the course of the trip, grew more than any team. They grew closer to each other and became more confident in their faith. They learned a lot about a different culture and learned by being open, being bold and stepping into a whole new experience.” The South Africa team grew with the help of not only God, but also each other. Everyone who was a part of the team loved getting to know new people and make more memories. Onorato said, “It was kind of a random group of people going, but by the end of it we all got incredibly close, and it ended up being one of the best two weeks of my life.”