In November, students and faculty from San Gabriel Academy followed in the footsteps of those who went on one of SGA’s first mission trips to Holbrook Indian School over 50 years ago. In the mid-1960s, students went to help install a walk-in freezer, plant crops, and handle deferred maintenance. In 2018, 43 students, faculty, and staff members made the 551-mile trip to paint, install drywall, do electrical work, clean horse stalls, and help with needed repairs that had become overwhelming to the personnel. The biggest project for SGA’s students was digging irrigation trenches for the organic farm on the Holbrook campus. Holly Harrison, a sophomore at SGA, loved learning how to drywall, a skill that was not only helpful then but one that she can use throughout her life. The Holbrook staff marveled that there was so much laughter coming from our students, and they said that the SGA students reflected overwhelming joy in serving others.

As each day closed, the hearts and minds of SGA’s students opened to a new realization: They were making a difference in the lives of people they barely knew. Andrew Carpenter, SGA’s vice principal and mission coordinator, said, “At Holbrook, and on our other mission trips, students get a sense that we’re a global church and that the ministry of service to others is happening outside of our own communities.”

Senior Ed Langit put it this way: “When I was fixing the tiles in the kitchen, I noticed a schedule on the wall showing that another SDA academy had been there one week before. It’s easy to view each mission trip as an isolated event in our lives, but when I saw the schedule, it clicked. We are a part of a broader picture of what is happening among our schools and all over the world.”

“It was eye opening to discover how entitled we sometimes feel and how easy many of us have it,” said Freshman class president Kamila Park. “Yet, when we see the environments of others improve because God has worked through us to help them, we begin to see more clearly all of the ways in which we are blessed. It’s hard to complain about our lives when we’re helping others.”

Carrie Li, a senior international student at SGA, reflected, “The jobs we did weren’t easy. My new gloves were worn out, and my hands, shoulders, and back were sore for three more days after the trip. But I will never regret going on this mission trip, because I learned the importance of seeking God in everyday life. I will remember this trip forever.”