Mission work leads to personal growth, new experiences for senior Brendan Thompson

Alexis Megdanoff, Editor In Chief

The phrase “tropical paradise” evokes images of beautiful Caribbean waters and hot sand on stunning shores. However, reality was far from this euphoric scene 20151022_065623_HDRPHOTO SUBMITTED by Brendan Thompson
for senior Brendan Thompson. An almost unbearable heat and a lack of electricity for days accompanied Thompson for two months while he helped his parents run their newly created ministry in a village just outside of Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince.

“My parents felt led by God to form a children’s ministry there,” Thompson said. “Within the first few weeks, we were able to grow our children’s ministry. We had 25 kids and then it jumped to about 45 and then 50-some. My dad and a translator would work together to teach a bible verse every month that we would repeat and memorize. Each week we would break it down a little bit of it to understand what it means.”

Thompson’s parents decided to begin their own missions after they visited Haiti to pick up his sister who had already been there for six months, also doing mission work. The news was delivered to Thompson shortly after.

“I was very upset when they told me; I didn’t want to go at all. It was very hard to skip out on school and catch up on everything and leave all my friends,” Thompson said, “but it was, ‘You have to come down with us because we’re your parents, and you’re going to do what we say.’ So, I went down there, and it turned out okay.”

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In preparation for the move, the family rented out their house, while simultaneously finding a house just outside of the capital to rent for the duration of their stay. Their car was shipped to provide transportation, and the family sold everything that was nonessential or could not fit into a small enclosed trailer the family kept. Thompson left for Haiti on Oct. 1, officially beginning his two months away from his home country.

“Being away from my friends really sucked, and there are just certain things that I missed. I’m not a huge sports fan, but I missed my last high school football game, the dances, and just little stuff that you don’t normally realize. Missing that one-on-one time with my friends was tough for me because I missed them, and they were just such a good group of guys,” Thompson said. “About three weeks in I was like, ‘Well, I’m here for the remainder of the time. There’s no getting out of it, so I might as well make it the best that I can.”

Thompson began his mission work once he was moved in, but because of the language barrier, he had to use his actions, rather than words, to communicate with the kids.20151115_102433PHOTO SUBMITTED by Brendan Thompson

“It was actually really cool because they got so much joy out of just the presence of somebody showing they cared and being with them rather than being able to talk to them. In conversing with them, you actually have to use your actions to show them what you mean rather than say it,” Thompson said. “At an orphanage we went to, there was a kid that could speak a little bit of English. He and I were buds and we would just run around and play with all of the kids there.”

The experience helped Thompson become more open to the world around him and changed his perspective by showing him how different the lives of people can be.

“When we were there, we only ate rice and beans and sometimes we only ate twice a day,” Thompson said. “I’ve grown, I guess, tougher in a sense by knowing other people have it worse than me. I don’t need to go have this pop or I don’t need this type of bed. Stuff that’s just a common thing to have in the U.S. most people don’t have, so I can live without it.”

Despite the difficulties faced, Thompson has said he will always remember to appreciate what he has in his home country while so many of the people in Haiti go without the common luxuries present in American lives.

“The most enjoyable part of the trip was just being there and offering my presence and having fun with the kids,” Thompson said. “They don’t have toys, they don’t have video games. You can just go out and play tag with them, or a simple game of marbles; that was something that they loved to play. Or hide and seek. Stuff like that is so much fun; it was really nice to do.”

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After returning to Fenton, some of his fellow church members gave Thompson a place to live while his former house is still being rented out. They are now his legal guardians, as his parents will not come back until October of 2016 and he has not yet turned 18.

“Everybody from my church is just so helpful if I need anything,” Thompson said, “and the people I’m living with are basically my family now. Everything has been smooth, and I believe since I followed what God had for me at that time, he just made it easier for me to come back and everything went according to His plan.”

Thompson is now re-enrolled for his senior year and on track for graduation. His travels to Haiti have given him the chance to consider how missionary work fits into his future.

“I know definitely now that I’m not meant to be a foreign missionary. But missionary doesn’t have to be in a different country. It can be in your own town,” Thompson said. “I want to be a state trooper, so once I am in that position and in my town, I can be an influence on the community in that way and help out where it’s needed. Hopefully I’ll be able to have a program where I can get know the community and show them that there are some ways you should do things and other ways not to. Just to help them grow up and be a safe community. Hopefully I can save some people in the process.”