Shelterwood’s trips to Haiti are transformative experiences for the teens of Shelterwood, and this summer’s expedition was no different.

At the beginning of June, a group of teens, staff and alumni traveled on the 11th Shelterwood Haiti trip. They spent their days visiting orphanages and learning what it means to really love and be loved. The heart change in students on this trip, as on all trips, was powerful. As the group gathered each evening to process their day together, comments and reflections revealed that a mindset shift was in progress.

A few days into the trip at the evening reflection, one young man shared that his perspective on life had changed. “If these kids who have nothing can persevere and overcome with love and joy, then what is keeping me from doing so as well, with all the advantages and tools that I have?” he said.

Another young woman described that before Shelterwood, she suffered from a lot of despair, but the experience of loving and being loved with the orphans in Haiti had renewed her hope. She shared, “I can give and receive unconditional love, too.”

These types of comments never get old for Shelterwood staff, in fact they’ve had this consistent response from students for 11 trips in a row. On the previous trip in 2017, seven young people were baptized. One young woman, McKenzie, a professed agnostic before the trip, experienced a heart change, put her faith in Christ, and departed from Haiti anew.

Throughout the trip in devotion and reflection time, Shelterwood staff reminded the group of Jesus’ commission in Matthew 25:40, “Whatever you do to the least of these, you do unto me.” The teens in this group responded with wisdom and perspective as they grew to understand exactly what this means when serving and loving those around them, no matter the circumstance.

This year, six students were baptized by Shelterwood CEO and trip leader, Jim Subers, in the Caribbean Sea, a tradition he began after the first Haiti trip. These teens, who had just spent a week with Haitian orphans, saw the meaning of abundant joy amidst the hardships of life. Seeing that joy, the same joy that Christ brings, transformed them. While some came new to the faith and others reaffirmed their desire to follow Jesus, all of the students were baptized as an expression of their love and devotion.

“No doubt God is at work with these teens here on this mission trip,” Jim said. “We pray that God would send us leaders for the next generation, and I am looking forward to watching what God does in and through the lives of these teens over the next twenty years.”