Lindsey Carroll started her day in the middle of a hot, humid Jamaican summer in the mountain town of Mandeville. The Anderson University student toiled in the home of a woman who works relentlessly each day on projects for her local church and orphanage. But this day was different. This day a group of high school students sweated next to her in a home without the cooling presence of air conditioning, painting rooms and completing other work projects around the house.
Lunchtime came, and the woman’s children wanted to show the group a place “close by.” This place was a mystery to Carroll and the rest of her exhausted group, but the smiles on the children’s faces were contagious and convinced Carroll’s group to venture over cracked streets and railroad tracks, to a place that was not, by any stretch of the imagination, close by.
Like an oasis in the desert, the children led their visitors to a small waterfall with a quaint stream cutting beautifully through surrounding mango trees. “We went from poverty to paradise,” Carroll said. Carroll and the rest of her group cooled off in the water while the children enjoyed fresh mangoes. “The kids held the fruit in the palm of their hand and bit near the top of the mango, and then they pulled down and peeled the fruit with their teeth,” Carroll said.
Stumbling from poverty to paradise is one example of the ways that things seemed to fall perfectly into place for Carroll. “I wasn’t even planning on going to Jamaica,” Carroll said. She had raised money for a mission trip to New England the summer before her freshman year at Anderson University, so taking an additional trip to Jamaica did not seem plausible. But a text message from her youth pastor changed her mind.
“Do you want to go to Jamaica?” her youth pastor asked. She replied, saying she could not go because she was preparing for her New England mission trip as well as her first year of college. Furthermore, Carroll knew this trip wasn’t free, so she had financial concerns as well. The next text from her youth pastor put her reservations to rest. “If money wasn’t an option, would you go?”
“Someone had dropped out and they needed a spot filled,” Carroll said. “They had raised all the money so everything was taken care of.” This trip, an unexpected excursion, taught Carroll an important lesson that she continues to embrace daily. “I learned about relationship as a ministry,” Carroll said. “Instead of painting and labor, I was hanging out with the kids and building relationships. It was really cool. I just had to show up and make myself available to them.”
Carroll took this lesson from the mountain region of Jamaica and continues to practice it at Anderson University. Now a sophomore education major, Carroll serves as a Discipleship Coordinator on campus. “Being in leadership here has taught me that your leadership role can flow naturally out of who you are,” Carroll said.
Carroll’s comfort in leadership led her to ask her old youth pastor about going to Jamaica again this summer. The trip at her home church has become an annual occurrence, and her pastor is excited to have her back on board.
“We’re going to Mount Olivette, an orphanage in Mandeville, and we’re going to bring a structured Vacation Bible School program with us,” Carroll said.
“Something I’ve learned from other mission trips is to go in without expectations, so you are open to how God is going to move you,” Carroll continued, with noticeable excitement. Children led her from poverty to paradise on her first trip, and now Carroll’s love for those children is taking her for a week back into poverty.
— Kyle Beckman is a senior from Auburn, Ind., double-majoring in communications arts and business/information systems and minoring in political science. Beckman is an associate with Fifth Street Communications™, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology.