Youngsters help build church in Dominican Republic
Students from Bermuda Institute recently returned from a mission trip to the Dominican Republic with a “renewed commitment” and “new sense of purpose” for service.
The trip was organised by Frigga Simmons, the school’s director of development, and pastor Hector Quinnones. It was a huge undertaking for the school, students and their parents however, the community rallied to support them.
“Funding the mission trip required dedication and commitment,” Mrs Simmons said. “There was a lot of work involved. Parents were responsible for the airfare, and the rest of the funds were raised through various vehicles such as the sale of candles, codfish breakfasts, tag days, bake sales, a carwash, pledge sheets, and more.”
Various companies, such as Skyport and Orbis Investment, contributed to the initiative as well.
“We are grateful for the businesses in Hamilton and across the island who allowed our students to tag on their properties, as well as the people of Bermuda who saw value in the project and generously donated to the cause,” Mrs Simmons added.
On April 6, a cohort of 40 students accompanied by ten adult chaperones left Bermuda for the ten-day mission trip. Their aim was to build a church for a group of Christians in the Dominican Republic. Additionally, students conducted health seminars, Vacation Bible School and food and clothing drives.
“During the day the students worked diligently in the hot sun on the construction site. After lunch, a group selected by our construction superintendent, Paul Simons, remained on the site while the other two groups went on to different locations to continue the health and Vacation Bible School programmes.”
Now back in Bermuda the students are eager to also make a difference here, and to find ways to serve those in need. Some returned with newly acquired construction skills, ready to secure jobs in the field; others were excited that they had been able to improve their Spanish while in the Caribbean country.
But there were even greater lessons learnt, according to Mrs Simmons.
“Students gained a greater appreciation for what they have and were amazed at the joy the locals displayed, though they had so little. They recognise that there are more similarities than differences with the folks they met.”
Mrs Simmons has been on several mission trips during her 37-year tenure at Bermuda Institute. This one was her last, as she retires in June.
“My very first mission trip was over 20 years ago. It made a lasting impact on my life. I learnt to take the focus off of me and look for the need of others. It also inspired me to ensure that my students have that experience as well,” she said.
“More recently, in 2018, we went to Panama. In 2020, we were heading for Peru when Covid-19 appeared, and we had to postpone. This trip was different for me. It was a God-ordained trip. I cannot imagine a greater achievement in my career as a Christian educator than the opportunity and privilege this particular trip has afforded me.”
Bermuda Institute’s mission is to encourage its students to develop a personal relationship with God, challenging them to academic, physical, and social excellence, thus equipping them for heaven, service to God and their fellowmen.
The mission trip is a direct reflection of those goals, Mrs Simmons said.
“The master teacher Jesus Christ taught His students by example, that humble service is an essential element of the Christian life. Therefore, as a Christian institution, we avail our students of every opportunity that will inspire them to develop a desire to give of themselves unselfishly in an effort to meet the needs of their fellowmen – whether at home or abroad.
“Hence the mission trip forms an integral part of our curriculum. It is our goal and desire that every student who matriculates through Bermuda Institute will have the opportunity to go on a mission trip. The objective is to teach them that they are created for a higher purpose.”
Bermuda Institute students will present a report on the impact their mission trip to the Dominican Republic had on them as individuals in an 11am service at the Southampton Seventh-day Adventist Church. All are welcome.