Going to Jamaica was one of the most humbling experiences of my life. I initially wanted to go on this mission trip because I wanted to have an out-of-country experience with missions to see how I liked it because I want to eventually be a part-time missionary. I did not expect how instantaneously and deeply I would fall in love with this place and the people. I did not expect to meet people whose hearts are bigger and more genuine than any I have ever encountered.

Jamaica is a place where the people are poor, but they do not take the things God gives them for granted. Jamaica is a place of life, love and happiness. The children at all the different churches and schools we went to were a testimony to that. When we went to the very first place, the Belle Plains Basic School, I noticed as the kids kept coming in that some were dressed poorly and some didn’t even have shoes. As I thought about it, I realized that these kids were used to the conditions in which they lived. And yet they still contained the joy only some Americans possess.

All of the places we visited had a big impact on me. I will never forget when we visited the infirmary or Longwood because my heart stayed in those places along with all of the others. The life and people of Jamaica made me feel privileged to have experienced both and I cannot wait for the chance to go back to that wonderful island. God worked a great work within my heart for Jamaica and I pray He continues to bless them, and us, to continue His work there. Being able to go to Jamaica was a great opportunity and a great blessing to me and I will forever keep Jamaica in my heart.

Director’s note: Gabriella Vanlandingham is a student at Austin Peay State University. She attends Providence Baptist Church in Coopertown, TN.