Why did you want to go on this particular mission trip?
This trip really interested me because it was my first opportunity to go on an international mission trip. I had previously been on three missions inside the U.S., and really wanted to expand outside of that territory. When this trip came along, it was too perfect! It was the perfect timing for me, the right opportunity, and not to mention it was a beautiful place that I have I always dreamed of going.
What were your expectations of the trip? I definitely expected to be challenged. It was my first trip on a plane and to a foreign country. I also expected to walk a lot, which we did. But as far as missions go, I really expected that I would fall in love with the camp at Isola del gran Sasso, and I did!
Did you have any hesitations or fears about the trip? I'm not sure that I was really scared of anything, I knew that I was in good hands and that everything was taken care of. I was just really excited about the whole experience, I didn't want negative emotions to get in the way of it!
What did you learn? How did you benefit from your time there? Italy is a very different place than America, and it took some time to get use to. The culture is so different that I was always careful to ask about certain things before I did them. The benefit from going to a different country is tremendous, and I think it is something that everyone should get to experience. You really learn how to interact with other people, and language isn't always that huge of a barrier.
What did you give to the people you met? How did they benefit from knowing you? I think we made our mark on Italy without a doubt. We made our way through several missions sites and lended a hand where it was needed most. At the camp, we made so many friends with the workers there that were our age, and on the last night we made sure that we left each of them with a Campbell t-shirt or hoodie to remember us by. We also became Facebook friends, and I still keep in touch with many of them. I think the mark we left on them is as valuable as the mark they left on us. I'll never forget them or the way I felt God move for us, and I know they won't either.
Do you have a favorite memory you would like to share? I don't have one favorite, that's impossible. But the best thing that I remember is how much we laughed. It didn't take long for a group of strangers to become a family, and families laugh and play together. Everyone had the moment when they were the center of attention and everyone was laughing and joking with them, and that is something that I'll always remember.
What kind of work did you do? We worked at three different sites while in Italy. At the Missionaries of Charity we washed windows, mopped, and then helped serve dinner to the residents. At the Salvation Army, we helped to clear out a room that they wanted to turn into a store for the people there. After the room was cleared we sanded the walls down and prepared it for paint. We also had a boys v. girls contest to see who could better assemble a shelving unit. Let's just say that Dr. English lost, and was not too happy about how crooked his turned out. At the camp in Isola we did a little of everything: landscaping, painting, washing, stonework.
Anything else you would like to add? Italy was beautiful, and one day I would love to go back. I'm just extremely thankful that God allowed us to go, to be so helpful and make a difference, and to let us travel safely and work for His glory. It was such an amazing experience, and I'll never forget any of it.
A few more words from Taylor
My trip to Italy is something that will last forever. I can still see myself there, and I definitely wish that I was. But more importantly, I got to come back home and bring back everything I learned about the Italian culture and myself. One thing that has changed my life about this trip is that I left the U.S. with strangers, and returned with new friends and family. I knew only one person when I left, and that was something that was a little scary for me. I wasn't exactly friends with my team members, I barely knew their names. But now? They're my family. This mission team was assembled so well, something I have Ms. Terry Tucker to thank for. It was so amazing to come home with so many knew friends. It's hard to think that on a campus as small as Campbell's that most of us had never met, but it's true. Jumping out of your comfort zone and meeting knew people can never be a bad thing when it turns out as well as it did for me.
I'm so thankful that all of us meshed so well and were able to work together for Christ and to do His will. And now that we're back, and reality has set in, we have to go back to our normal lives as college students. But, we've all decided to stay together. We've made plans to have frequent dinners where we cook Italian food and all sit around one table and talk about our trip (and afterwards watch a Disney movie for Chris Wilson). A few of us girls are in the processes of looking for a book to follow for a Bible study that we've decided to create to keep us focused and connected while back at campus. I'm really excited that our little Italian family has decided to stay together now that we're not so Italian anymore. It's very encouraging to have a group behind you that is so wonderful and devoted to the same things that you are.
I think it's easy to say that going to Italy changed a lot of our lives. We've grown up a lot, seen a lot of knew things (that just happen to be very old), worked really hard, and bonded forever. Italy will always be a favorite memory of mine, and I hope that it never fades. But with the help of my new Italian family, I don't think that's possible. In Ecclesiastes 10:19 it says "A feast is made for laughter," and if there is anything it's the Italian's know how to do it's to feast and to laugh. And now, thanks to them, we know how too. Life is a beautiful gift, and I'll never take it for granted. It was an amazing trip that God took us on, and I'm forever grateful for it! Grazie!
Team member Emily Bratton shared a few of her photos with us. See them all on Facebook.