BC's Garrett Puts Service Above Self
Service above self. It's not just a mission statement at Bluefield College; it's a way of life. And not just for students, but for faculty and staff, as well.
March 30, 2012
Bluefield College's Kristen Garrett (center) on mission to serve in Honduras.
Garrett (front right) leads a praise and worship session for children in Honduras.
Just ask Kristen Garrett, BC's director of community outreach. Typically in charge of organizing service ventures for students, Garrett recently completed her own service project, a mission to Honduras. Ask Garrett, too, what the defining moment of that mission trip was, and she'll tell you a story about a boy named Wilmer.
"Wilmer doesn't remember his mother," Garrett explained, "and after he developed an infection in his leg and had to have it amputated, his father never came back to pick him up."
As a result, Wilmer was placed in an orphanage, but now, through the help of Baptist Medical and Dental Missions International (BMDMI) and Garrett, who sponsors Wilmer with BMDMI, he won't be abandoned anymore.
Garrett met Wilmer for the first time during her recent trip to Honduras. In fact, she spent a month this past summer with Baptist Medical and Dental Missions International in the Central American country known for its struggles with drug cartels, coups, disease, and human disparity. During the first week, alone, she tackled the task of organizing children's church programs, where she shared the Gospel with Honduran youth.
"Each day we had about 250 kids," said Garrett about her work with the children's ministry. "We played games with them, sang songs, and did crafts. I also had the privilege of teaching the children Bible stories."
Among the many children Garrett met that first week was a 10-year-old girl named Darling, who Garrett said taught her a lesson about God's ability to overcome barriers.
"As soon as we met, she became my sidekick for the rest of the week," said Garrett about Darling. "Neither one of us spoke much of each other's language, but we were still able to communicate very well. On the last night of our revival, Darling and I were sitting together and the speaker was talking about how there are some people we may never see again until we get to heaven. We both started crying, because we knew we would probably never see each other again this side of heaven."
Garrett, who also serves as a residence hall director and coordinator of BC's Bonner Leaders program, said that while she only spends a short amount of time with the children in Honduras, her relationship with them lasts forever.
"It is amazing how much of a connection you can build with someone over just a few short days," said Garrett. "Before I left, I gave Darling the earrings I was wearing, and she gave me a plastic bracelet, which I have not taken off since that day. It reminds me to pray for her and her village."
During the remaining weeks of her mission, Garrett traveled with a BMDMI missionary throughout Honduras, oftentimes across impassable roads, to visit churches and to help manage day camps for children in the villages. Through her work, she has come to love the country and its people.
"Honduras feels like my home," she said, "and since I've been there, what it means to be a Christian has become real to me."
This mission is Garrett's fifth to Honduras, and while the work is a blessing, she admits it is a challenge in the midst of all the turmoil and hopelessness that surrounds the natives. But, this time around she found a renewed passion, a new sense of strength to continue to serve, thanks to that defining moment with Wilmer.
"One day I was painting with the children in one of the casitas, and I looked up and saw Wilmer outside," said Garrett with tears welling in her eyes. "He was walking and playing and just being like all the other kids. It was such an answer to prayer."
As a result of Garrett's sponsorship and the ministry of BMDMI, Wilmer was fitted with a prosthetic leg that allows him to walk and play like other children in Honduras. Seeing that was all Garrett needed to know that her service in Honduras is only just beginning.
"I'll continue to give to Honduras," she said, "as long as I can."