August 24, 2017
For many of us, the idea of going on a foreign mission trip is daunting. Not for Jordan Markwood.
“I would have to say that mission work is in my blood. My grandparents were missionaries in Cuba for 19 years and Haiti for 28. My dad was born and raised in Cuba. I have lost count of the number of mission trips I have been on but it is somewhere around twenty,” says Galilee’s Director of Music Ministry, who is also the choral director and Fine Arts Chair at Rock Ridge High School.
“I find joy in serving others! You see God working in so many ways when you stop focusing on yourself and start helping and learning from people.
Jordan Markwood with new friends in the Dominican Republic.
Three weeks ago, Jordan traveled to the second largest city in the Dominican Republic. He joined up with Renewed Hope Missions, a Florida-based United Methodist group that works with the Iglesia Evangelica Dominicana (IED) in the city of Santiago. “This was my seventh trip to Santiago to work with this mission and the people of the IED church,” says Jordan.
“IED works with many communities, but the biggest focus in the past decade has been on the Cuesta Arena area. We helped build a cistern for clean water and also put up a two-story preschool. The children in the community were actively involved in this construction, which made a huge impact on their town.”
Jordan’s mission team with teens from IED church and Santiago.
“This summer’s trip was geared toward the teens of Cuesta Arena. Pre-adolescents have been the focus of a lot of love and attention on earlier trips. They benefit directly from the preschool. They also are not afraid to jump right in and talk to us and request game partners, so they are well-served! It’s the teenagers who needed our attention this time. When we heard reports of many types of abuse in the community, we felt it was necessary to speak with teens and give them the love and respect they need.”
“Our program for these youth was called “Soy Alguien,” meaning “I Am Someone.” We began each day we with worship and then broke into two groups (10-13 and 14-older). The groups took a topic for the day, like “Con Valor” (“Of Value”) and discussed how this concept applies to them, their bodies, and their boundaries. Students spoke about how God views them, not as objects but as valued persons. The second day was about being renewed, “Renovado,” and how God can take anything that has happened to us and renew us, making even sad or broken parts of us whole, and giving us a fresh start. The third day was about the future, “Con Futuro.” Each student spoke about what they hoped to be someday and the steps needed to get there. We had them write their ideas on a big piece of paper and illustrate their dream job, signing their name to it.”
“Aside from those serious topics, we also played a lot of volleyball! We shared stories and did other activities with the youth to show them that they are worthy of our time and our respect.”
“Soy Alguien,” or “I Am Somebody” was the theme of the mission week.
“At the end of the week we tie dyed shirts that said “Soy Alguien” as a reminder to the kids of what we had done. They also took a wall and wrote “Soy Alguien” on it and then each kid wrote a word that came to mind. Some of the words they wrote were: renewed, with a future, of value, important, unique, happy, responsible, loved, and special.”
“The best part of the trip for me was that we took one of the youth from the community, Juan, who is an orphan, and made him a part of our mission team for the week. He worked with us, ate with us, and stayed with us as a full member of the team. It was an amazing opportunity to provide him a different perspective on life, if just for a week. Juan is an amazing, devout, hard-working young man who has gone through so much in his life. I hope that by being with us, he saw new possibilities for his future that he had never thought of before.”
For Jordan, mission trips are about more than construction projects, they are about building people up. And he knows that he gets back infinitely more than he puts in.
“When I am on a mission trip,” says Jordan, “I love to to use my musical gifts to serve and that has definitely been the case when I travel with Renewed Hope Missions. Sometimes I travel to Santiago solely to work with the praise group at the church and help them with rehearsals, music training, and leading worship. The people there, especially the pastor and her family, have become my second family. I always look forward to visiting them and seeing how they are doing whenever I get the chance to go back to this other home.”