The 10th Lispcomb University’s missionary trip on Saba ended Saturday after 10 days of youth programmes and community service activities. The relationship began with Michael Thomas and Aletha Thomas arriving on Saba as newly-weds. He was a Saba University School of Medicine student and she worked as food preparation teacher at Saba Comprehensive School (SCS). “We fell in love with Saba and became attached to the children,” said Aletha, remembering how “the children reached-out and opened-up to us about their needs.” The young couple decided to help and Michael Thomas, graduate of Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee, contacted his alma mater’s missionary work programme.
Students of the small, non-denominational Christian college go on mission trips around the world, instead of going to party during their spring breaks. The first Lipscomb volunteer group of 15 students came to Saba in 2003 and started with community work, going into the schools, helping with anything that was needed from painting to cleaning trash. Over the years the group’s missionary work gained Saba’s trust and when Jonathan Johnson became SCS principal he welcomed the idea of incorporating the group’s work into the school-time programme. Each year, 20 Lipscomb volunteers arrive for 10 days of planned community activities, such as beach cleanups or working with the Saba Conservation Foundation on the cleaning and maintenance of trails, in addition to their work in the schools. They have engaged in art projects, such as many of the murals painted in the schools’ compounds in St. John’s. They also organize sporting activities. Lipscomb organizers promote the idea of Saba youth giving back to their community, so they take them to work on all such activities. They also focused on family togetherness, reinforcing parental ties and involvement. Lipscomb created mother-daughter and father-son events. “It started with mother-daughter banquets where the Lipscomb volunteers served meals,” recalled Aletha, “with everyone dressing up in their best and participating in motivational activities.” One such activity was mothers and daughters writing letters to each other. In other years the women organized motherdaughter tea parties. For the father-son events dominos tournaments were organized with catered “man-food” like barbeque or ribs. Being a Christian university, the group held daily inspirational sessions at the Government Building’s gazebo in The Bottom. This year, the Lipscomb group counted 26 members and held a kick-off night on March 17, called “Take me off to the ballgame,” at Sunny Valley Youth Centre (SVYC) and Juliana’s Sports Field. This is where the group camps-out each year. Sunday, March 18, featured an afternoon father-son sports competition and a mother-daughter tea party. On Monday evening the group organized a dodge ball mania competition at SVYC. A sports activity was organized for youths on Tuesday afternoon and a NBA Night took place at the St. John’s Gymnasium on Thursday. It all culminated with Saturday evening’s gathering at SVYC celebrating the 10th anniversary of the programme. Participants were treated to a show with performances by each grade of SHS, as well as young adults. Everyone joined in sharing a “pot-luck” community dinner with games and fun activities for everyone.
Source: “The Daily Herald ” 2012-03-26