By Isabella Dominguez, Student Journalist
(Divine Savior Academy – Doral) Last summer, two Divine Savior Academy high school student-groups, through the school’s “Operation GO” program, ventured to two vastly different locations – Alaska and Saint Lucia – with a sole purpose in mind: to serve God through tough acts of service (and pure fun).
Both destinations had different programs scheduled. In Alaska, the students along with a youth group from Wisconsin collaborated to plan and host a soccer camp for kids. They played with the children, offering piggyback rides while teaching them the basics of the sport. Bible lessons were included each day for the participants. For many of the Divine Savior students, it was their first time traveling far from home by themselves. “It’s a different environment,” Christopher Lopez, “proud member of Team Alaska,” said. “It’s a different experience leaving home and going to a place that you don’t know.”
Thousands of miles away, underneath Saint Lucia’s blazing sun, our students organized a Vacation Bible Summer Camp with Trinity Lutheran Church’s youth group. They taught Bible, science, music, and sports lessons through art, games, and play. Intense water balloon fights, Uno rounds, and spontaneous jam sessions after a long day of class were common.
Although there were countless fun and empowering moments, students found it difficult to adjust to these “different environments.” The extreme climates, lack of sleep, and adapting to cultural customs were obstacles. In Alaska, interacting with the children was awkward at first. Saint Lucia’s heat and humidity were overwhelming. “The heat hit me so hard,” Marian Castillo, Team St. Lucia member, said. “I got over it, but the first three days stressed me out.”
Despite their struggles, they learned what service looks like, even in the smallest interactions. “The satisfaction that came from having made an impact on these kids in such a short amount of time, that was when I felt like it was an accomplishment,” Castillo said.
“I think we learned a lot about ourselves,” Pastor Davisson, the director of Operation Go, said. “We’re serving Christ so we’re learning about what that looks like…through something as simple as soccer. What’s awesome about these trips is that you’re out there doing work for them [the communities] but they also serve you too. The kids and the families just appreciate it so much. Most places we ventured to are economically depressed so it broadens our perspective and it’s just an awesome way to serve Christ and your neighbor.”