From the start I noticed God’s hand at work. My name is Lindsey Bennett, and originally, I was not supposed to be going on the missions trip to Houston, Texas with Campbell University. Earlier in the semester I signed up to go on the Roanoke Rapids trip with Campbell, and as it turned out, I was unable to go because I just started a new job and needed to keep up a good reputation. I continually told the missions trip leader of the Roanoke Rapids missions trip that I “always wanted to go to Texas” and that I “am very interested in the Houston mission trip.” I left our meeting that day with little hope of ever going to Texas. A few weeks later I received an email saying that a spot opened for the Texas missions trip and I was the first on the wait list if I would like to take the spot. I knew that God had something amazing planned for me that I was not aware of, and I am so grateful for the opportunity.
The original plan was to leave from the Raleigh-Durham airport in North Carolina January second and stay in Houston for a week. Little did I know that when we got to our first missions team meeting that the date was moved up to the week after our final exams on December the 13th, and no one was able to get in contact with the church that we were supposed to be staying at for any further information. I believe that my email must have been mixed up with the other student that could not make the trip, but yet again, I am able to see Gods hand at work. After our mission trip team meeting, Dr. Foreman, Campbell Universities’ associate campus minister, began to reach out to some of the people he knew in Texas, and as the Lord would have it, Mr. Butch Green picked up his phone. Mr. Green picked up his phone though it was not a number he recognized. So this really was a work of the Lord that we all were able to go on this Houston mission trip and have a place to stay and someone with so much patience to guide us.
I believe that our motto for our week in Houston was simply to be flexible and to have an open heart. Upon our arrival at Willow Meadows Baptist church, Mr. Butch Green met with our team and spoke to us about what the week would have in store for us. We ended up working in the small community of Rosharon, restoring the homes of hurricane Harvey victims. For the majority of our time we worked at Mrs. Eyang’s home. Mrs. Eyang is the strongest and most considerate woman that I have ever met. A little bit about Mrs. Eyang, on top of being a Cambodian refugee, she also takes care of her grandchildren and gracious husband whom was paralyzed during a fall at work in Cambodia. She and her family fled to Texas, and were victims of hurricane Harvey making her daily life a hassle, but through it all, she smiles knowing that God will and has given her the strength to keep going. The missions trip team and I were able to speak to a few other Cambodian refugees in this community and many of them had amazing stories that they were willing to share.
I think our entire missions team was amazed at how thankful the refugees were for us coming to their homes and what little it seems that we did to help. I do not think any of us were expecting to find such a catastrophic area right outside the large city of Houston. It was inspiring to me that I was able to help in neighboring areas and that saving the world does not have to be a large event such as something in a super hero movie, but can be as simple as walking out your front door and helping your neighbor bring in their groceries or taking the time to talk to that homeless man outside of the supermarket and listen to his story. When on this missions’ trip, I realized that when someone is in the dark, the smallest light of God becomes like a lighthouse while out in a stormy sea. I believe Campbell’s mission trip team was a light for many Cambodian refugees and I know that the refugees and their outstanding faith in the Lord has impacted my life.
During the entire trip I did not meet one refugee who was not happy or grateful. Before we flew out to Houston, the team members were asked to prepare a devotional for their scheduled night. I selected Psalm 126, and come to find out that it was very relevant to my life and what God was pushing us to see while we were in Houston. Psalm 126 speaks about joy, real, pure, joy. This is what Mrs. Eyang and the Cambodian refugees possessed, what everyone on our team wanted, and what I think everyone needs to experience. Psalm 126 states that pure joy comes from restoration in the Lord. Many of the refugees’ stories began with “I prayed for” or “I thanked God for” and they either received or continued to pray and remained satisfied with whatever the Lord blessed them with. When I discovered the meaning of this scripture that I chose for devotion, I was completely blown away. God saw that this has been my absolutely hardest semester with classes, relationships, and its been straight up rough. He put the desire in my heart to go to Houston and serve, he opened up a spot for me to go, he allowed Psalm 126 to be an available devotion to choose from, he choose the most amazing people to work with, he enabled us all to bless several refugee families, he permitted us to have an experience of a lifetime, and he has lifted me up to heights that I thought I would never reach. I could go on, but to go on about how good God is would be a never ending essay. This was definitely the best way to spend the first week of winter break and I would not have wanted it any other way. I am ultimately thankful and blessed to have met everyone on this trip and to have had this opportunity.