Editor’s Note: The following is part of our daily holiday series celebrating “The Shared World.”

When my best friend Meghan asked if I wanted to go on a mission trip to Jamaica with her the summer after our freshman year of college I was a little skeptical.  As much as I don’t like to admit it, I was nervous and anxious about the trip, but I said yes anyway.

After months of fundraising, buying plane tickets, and packing our bags we were on a flight to Kingston, Jamaica.  After a layover in Miami and a bus ride from the airport we arrived in Portmore, Jamaica along with the 20 other people we would be serving with for the week.

I was completely unsure of what to expect or what would happen, but at the end I realized it was the trip of a lifetime.  It was during that week that I fell in love with mission life.  I had a real life understanding of global solidarity, and I wanted to do whatever I could to learn about mission!

I was prepared for mission to be long days working in the hot sun, moving rocks, and digging holes.  While this was a part of our mission, I quickly learned that it wasn’t the only part of our mission.  The best part of my time in Jamaica was getting to know the people there.  I was able to connect with a young girl named Christine.

I first met her grandmother, who spent the week cooking traditional Jamaican foods for our group.  Christine would spend the day at the church watching us build the new Sunday school building.  She introduced herself to me when we came for dinner and church service one night.  I could see the love and joy in her eyes.

We talked about simple things—her life and mine.  It was beautiful, and we were able to continue spending time together throughout the week.  We spent afternoons making jewelry, talking, and laughing.

Before we were about to leave to go back home, Christine came to me with tears in her eyes, smiled, gave me two mangoes from her grandmother’s yard, and said “I love you.”

It was in that moment that I realized there was more to mission than simply doing things for people, more than a great experience and an awesome story to tell.  Mission, it became clear in those moments, was entering into the lives of the people you meet and allowing them to enter into yours.  This mission trip was my first experience of “the shared world,” and it helped me realize that mission was something I wanted to dedicate my life to.

Amanda and Christine

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