How a Trevecca Mission Trip Opened My Eyes to New Possibilities

| Student Life

Ribaldo Valladares directs children through a school hallway quietly.I am a junior at Trevecca, and this fall break I had the privilege of going on a TAG (Trevecca Around the Globe) trip to Inez, Kentucky, and I found that God may have a different career path for me than I originally thought.

I was incredibly nervous at the beginning of the trip, but when we got to Appalachia Reach Out, I remember feeling peace. We had orientation with Salena, one of the many wonderful people that have been called by God to serve the community of Inez.

The Saturday after we arrived, we had a worship service with women in a local recovery center. I cannot say I was not nervous about that at first too, but I went with an open heart and asked God to work through our team, so we could help get his message to the women at the center. We began singing “I Speak Jesus” and as the service went on, the tears would not stop, especially after listening to some of the women’s testimonies. This reminded me that God is there, and that he is fighting our battles and we must come to him with an open heart.

Another highlight of this mission trip was hiking God’s Promise Trail. First, we climbed up until we reached the valley which Kentuckians call a “holler.” We were greeted by the people who were hosting a festival they hold annually. The people were making cornbread, bean soup and other delicious treats to feed us. I was extremely full, but later I found out that the trail did not end there. So, Jennifer, another student, and I decided to finish. Along the way, there were Bible verses which we stopped to read. The top of the mountain was a prayer site, and I could feel the peace there. Anyone can leave prayer requests for the community there to pray about.

Those and all the other moments I experienced on the trip are significant, but the most touching to me was visiting the local elementary school. Upon arriving, I was asked to go into a first grade class. All the kids were incredibly surprised to see a male teacher, and I could tell they were just as shy as I was. I was filled with so much love. I recall the same feeling I felt at an elementary school from a previous TAG trip in Cactus, Texas. As the school day passed by, recess time approached, which meant my time at the school was ending. At recess, I played with all the kids and swung some of them on the swings. I was surprised when one of the kids who refused to talk to me all day asked me to swing him. It gave me so much joy.

It was sad when our guide came to pick us up. All the kids were asking me if I was going to come back tomorrow and did not want me to leave. As soon as I turned my back to walk to the van, I could not contain my tears any longer. I felt the same way I did when I left the school in Cactus. I think part of me has always wanted to be a teacher, and after interacting with these students, I was left with questions about the career path that I have chosen.

While I love accounting and enjoy working with numbers, I feel like God might have another purpose for me. The experiences I had at both elementary schools during TAG trips have made me more aware that God might have other plans for me, and that I need to trust His process. I have continued to pray about what my calling is. I do know that I want to finish my degree in accounting, and then if it is in God’s plan for me to pursue a career in education. If I go into teaching, I would love to teach in a setting like Inez, Kentucky.
TAG has really helped me develop a firmer relationship with God. I enjoyed every minute of it. I would encourage anyone who can go on a TAG trip to take the opportunity to do so. There are pieces of my heart roaming around in the valleys of Appalachia and the fields of Cactus.