Swansea, SC (Angelica Iglesias) – Pelion’s Police Chief Chris Garner recently announced his retirement, but his son, William, has been putting in some work this summer. He recently went on his first mission trip the last full week in July to Miami, FL with First Baptist Church in Orangeburg.
The group worked with an organization called Touching Miami with Love (TML). William’s group worked with a community called West Homestead where they try to get a new mission group to come every week. According to their website, “the staff and volunteers are motivated by the love of Christ to brighten the lives of at-risk children and youth in the Homestead community.”
“All of the kids are there for a reason,” William said about the TML program. Children kindergarten through eighth grade that come from extreme poverty, abusive situations, or some other family issues make up the program. TML’s work in West Homestead began as disaster relief following Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Now over 20 years later, the Homestead community still struggles.
William says this was a real “eye-opener” for him. As soon as he got there, the kids ran up to him, hugged him, and wanted to know more about him. He got put in the recreation group where he played sports and other activities with the children. The kids wanted William to watch them and give them encouragement. He could tell right away that these children just wanted someone to show them some attention and care.
“What seems like a problem to us, like something not tasting good, is really just a small thing because those kids would take anything to eat and be extremely thankful for it,” William said. The trip really made him appreciate all he has and to not take it for granted.
William’s girlfriend is the one that attends First Baptist and had gone on a mission trip with them the summer before. William said he attends a much smaller church that cannot afford to be as active, so he would not have had the opportunity without her. The first time she mentioned it to him he did not take it very seriously. When it came time to start registering and paying for the trip, he still was not sure, so he prayed about it and decided to go.
“You really form a bond with these kids,” William said about something that happened his last day. One of the little girls got upset that he was leaving the next day, so he told her that he could not stay forever. She told him that he could and that he should. He could not believe after just one week how hard it was to say good-bye to those children.
William said this was an extremely humbling experience for him and recommends anyone given the opportunity to go on a mission trip should take it!