Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | February 11, 2014

Rediscovering the Beauty

A highlight of the summer for me is taking our graduating seniors on their final high school mission trip before they begin the next chapter of their lives. For the past several years I have led our students to engage with the least of these in Kolkata, India. Our students have served the destitute and dying at Mother Teresa’s homes, cared for young girls rescued from the brothels of West Bengal, taught kids in a slum school, played with lost and abandoned kids rescued from railway stations, and shared the good news with the people of the Sundarbans.

On occasion I hear from students who write to tell me how their career choices were impacted by what they experienced on their trip, how they have become more sensitive to the plight of the poor, or how they are staying engaged with the nations. This past week, while I was in Cambodia, I received a nice email from Jake Gries. This young man traveled to India with our student team this past summer and served well.

One thing I learned about Jake is that he is a really good photographer. He always had his camera close by and captured some fantastic moments that show the beauty of India and her people. Jake attached a beautiful black and white photo of a woman that he had seen in a marketplace on the Sundarban islands. He snapped the shot at the perfect second.

woman on the island- basik images photography
Jake wrote, “I recently rediscovered the beauty of India. I found this picture I took while we were on the islands and decided to edit it a bit. Enjoy. I look at her face and see her waiting for her Beloved. My heart breaks for the pain we saw in India. But the words in the Holy Book give me great joy and hope for the future.” These words warm my heart because my hope is always that the students who travel with me will indeed see and appreciate the beauty of other cultures.

I am excited about leading this year’s student team to Jordan where we will work with Syrian and Palestinian refugees in the ancient land of Ruth. Our students will work in the regions of Gilead, Ammon, Moab, and Edom — areas that are woven into the Old Testament biblical narrative. Like Jake, I hope that each student will see the beauty and worth of those we meet and serve and that they will treasure the memories we make long after we return home.

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