Nick Johnson figures he knows enough Spanish to get him through this week. Still, last week he reviewed words and phrases because he didn’t want to add his Spanish textbook or dictionary to the items he’s lugging to Ecuador.
Johnson, 15, is one of 13 people from Wilson Christian Academy who left Friday morning bound for Cuenca, Ecuador. The group will spend this week working with Sid Messer, a former Wilson Christian teacher and missionary.
Messer has been in Cuenca for about a year now, said Malcolm Deans, Spanish teacher and athletic director at Wilson Christian. Deans, who is coordinating the trip, was busy Friday making sure all the luggage got loaded on the school’s activity bus and that everyone had their passports. Parents and siblings gathered outside the school’s gymnasium to say goodbye and pray with the group.
This is the first time Wilson Christian has sent students on a mission trip, Deans said. School leaders hope this will become an annual event. The group raised more than $15,000 to help cover expenses.
“I’m excited to take them,” he said. “This is something we’d like to do on a yearly basis. The location may change, but we want to be able to do this every year, Lord willing.”
Deans said the students will teach Sunday school and live with local families within Messer’s church so the students can use their Spanish-speaking skills.
Deans said the majority of the students are in second- or third-year Spanish classes. However, the trip was open to students in all Spanish classes offered at Wilson Christian. Deans said they studied South American culture in class. However, he said, the best way for the students to learn about the culture is to experience it first-hand.
“This is not a remote, poor area but an area that definitely needs the Gospel spread and encouraged,” he said.
Deans said this is a life-changing opportunity for these students.
Johnson said he hopes God will show him the reason why he’s on this trip. He was looking forward to going out of the country with his friends and to the opportunity to serve God. Johnson stressed the trip is more than a vacation.
Seventeen-year-old Tyler Eason said he has always wanted to travel outside of the United States. Eason was among the students who joined in the early planning stages for the trip. But his family’s home burned and Eason thought circumstances were going to keep him from going to Ecuador.
Eason said his church family helped his family after the fire, leaving him with no excuse not to go on the trip. He considers it all a sign from God that he needed to go. Eason said Messer was one of his favorite teachers so he’s looking forward to seeing and working with him.
The group will return around midnight on Friday.
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