Changing lives through service

Wednesday, February 1, 2017
One student’s account of a One Mission service trip to Vanuatu.

“Only ten meters to the top, just keep going!”

Something I had to tell myself regularly when I was visiting Vanuatu on a One Mission trip with a college crew. Actually, I was leading it. We were staying on the top of a mountain, with a 180 degree view of the ocean, that sat some 80 metres below. Each afternoon after working on building two large cyclone-proof classrooms, we would hike down the tiny path to the boulder beach below to cool off and shower; only to hike back up the top to where we lived.

It was one of the best things I ever did through my uni years. It taught me the importance of service – in whatever capacity – and the difference it can have on others. It taught me the importance of working hard and challenging myself to grow, and be a part of something bigger.

We stood in silence on the large concrete stage; waterlogged books now dry, broken chairs and tables strewn across the cracked platform; the ocean air clearing our clouded minds. This was where the old school stood, prior to Cyclone Pam’s devastation in early 2015. There were literally large chunks of concrete that had pulled away from their foundations. Text books were unreadable. Overturned filing cabinets were destructive weapons under the force of large winds. Thankfully, most of the people from this village had been prepared in the case of cyclones, and had run down the steep mountain to their hideaway cave, at the bottom of the large cliff edges that were just metres away from where we stood now. Many villages we learned, didn’t have that kind of preparation; leaving huge devastation.

What we were there to do – eight months on – was bigger than just build two classrooms. These buildings would become a haven in the time of storms and future devastation, and also a place of celebration, learning and community. We worked hard through sweat and tears alongside the community people to create this space. Upon completion we had an opening celebration with lots of pretty flower lays, and a gratitude that made it hard to leave this village that we had come to call home for just a couple of weeks.

One Mission’s tagline: One People, One Purpose, One Mission.

When we left the village, we had the fantastic opportunity to visit Mt Yesur, Vanuatu’s live volcano, as well as swim in the blue cave, one of Vanuatu’s prize treasures. We tried our hand at deep sea trawling with one large tuna catch, and sent an underwater post at Hideaway Island. It was an amazing overseas adventure.

From trips to Cambodia, East Timor and Vanuatu, I definitely chose to make the most of these opportunities. Not only do they offer an exciting trip of a lifetime; they pose challenges to stretch and grow us (including getting organised prior to the trip with fundraising and promotion)… These trips fatten up your resume to set you apart from the crowd.

If you have the opportunity to be involved in a mission trip, definitely take it. Take the baton with two hands and run long and hard to the finish line. Work hard to achieve your fundraising goals, make new friends, and enjoy the ride.

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Paris Lawrence

Paris graduated from Avondale College of Higher Education in 2016 with a jointly conferred degree from Charles Sturt University*. She has been part of the Avondale Marketing team, running campus events and managing social media pipes during her time at Avondale, and has a passion for service to others. *All Avondale graduates graduate with a jointly conferred degree with Charles Sturt University.