On July 8, 2019, high school students ranging from rising 9th graders to recent graduates of The Woodlands Christian Academy set out on a mission trip to Ecuador. Woodlands Christian strives to raise servant leaders who impact the world. This marks the eighth year Woodlands Christian has partnered with Kairos church in the small town of Puyo. Twelve of 27 students on the trip were returning members, eager to reunite with the friends and families they met in previous years.
Woodlands Christian students first landed in Quito, Ecuador before taking a long bus ride to the small town of Puyo, located in the hot and thick Amazon jungle. The remote Puyo community of 60,000 is predominantly poor, living on $1-3 a day. With spotty electricity and no indoor plumbing, most students had never come face-to-face with such poverty; some experienced culture shock.
Woodlands Christian is the only ministry team to partner with Kairos church, a small, missions-minded church that means “God’s timing,” in Greek. Woodlands Christian supports Kairos church by carrying out service projects, providing supplies and hosting vacation Bible school. Additionally, Woodlands Christian supports Kairos in reaching out to 15 other remote churches deep in the Amazon, some only accessible by dirt roads or canoe. On this trip, the missions team traveled to Pakisha, a small town of approximately 50 people. The Huaorani tribe they ministered to is the same tribe that killed missionaries Jim Elliot and Nate Saint in the 1950s.
The theme for the mission trip was “people over projects.” Students went in with the understanding that building relationships with people is more important than completing projects or accomplishing tasks on a to-do list. Students and faculty went so far as to not use their cell phones for two days in order to focus on interacting and engaging with others. Ultimately, building relationships with the people and with each other made the most impact on the high school students, more than any good work they contributed.
Leaving the comforts and convenience of home, Woodlands Christian students were stretched culturally, economically, and spiritually. Their attitudes changed from being self-serving to serving others. The trip concluded with students saying it was, “life-changing.” The hope is that these newly transformed students will take this energy and channel it into the new school year as they lead chapel and small groups.