It's spring break week and everyone is now home from their mission trips. We have been blessed in many ways through the years. I continually marvel at what God has done through our little school over the past thirteen years. Sometimes I think because we have done it for so long, we take for granted all that our students are able to do. Here are some examples of why what we are doing is so special.
Because my wife, Cindi, trains Christian school teachers, I have had numerous opportunities to visit schools across the country. As I share with administrators from other schools, no one can believe what we offer our students. Tom Cathey, the ACSI Chief of Staff in Colorado Springs, was formerly the head administrator at Calvary Christian High School in Clearwater. At headquarters, he has a broad awareness of schools all over the country. He has mentioned he knows of no other school that has a missions program as extensive as ours. We use a company called Global Travel Alliance for our summer Europe trip, our eighth grade Washington DC trip, and our fifth grade St. Augustine trip. They do trips for schools, both public and private, all over the US. They have told us that they know of no other school that does what we do. That's pretty amazing.
As I have talked with different leaders, we had a variety of small injuries and illnesses. A couple of students required some stitches. We had the normal stomach issues that can happen during travel. We even had a case of strep throat. Any of these could have happened here at home. Once again God protected the over 200 students and staff that went out. With the number at 2000 over the past 13 years, we have not had a major injury, accident, or incident, another amazing fact. I once worked in a school that wouldn't allow the students to go on mission trips because the liability was too great. It is a little scary if you dwell on the fact that 75% of the high school are all over the globe (22 countries and 10 states through the years). We are grateful for the opportunities that we have.
If you didn't have a student involved, you can catch a little of the flavor of their experiences by going to www.ircsmissions.org and reading a variety of blogs. There is also a link to it from the school's home page. You will hear from students and teachers about different aspects of their trips. There are also many photos of our kids in action. (A special thanks to Charlie Hall, our digital arts phenom, for putting this site together and giving us lessons on how to use it.) Also on this site you will find reports from our eighth grade trip to Washington DC. It wasn't a mission trip but we wanted families here at home to be able to follow the journey.
Probably the most remarkable trait of the mini-mester is the change and growth that happen in the lives of the students. They learn lessons there that they simply cannot at home. They see true poverty. They are pressed into service for the benefit of others. They learn customs and cultures that are far different from their own. Sometimes their hearts are broken, but all this in a good way. They gain a greater appreciation for what they have as American kids.
Finally, none of this would be possible without the dedication of our teachers. Some are able to travel with their spouses, but some go a week without seeing them. Some have to make arrangements for their own children to stay with someone else while they are gone. When you lead a trip like this, there is no "down" time. They are on duty 24/7 should they be needed. This program would not work without the servant's heart of our staff.
God has blessed us in a big way at Indian Rocks Christian School.