Intro & questions by John Streit. Answers by Sara White. Whether it’s through photography, the insanely creative energy of Party Missile Handplanes or the countless adventures of our friends reflect to us through social media: It’s always refreshing to take a step back and admire the passion projects of our extended family here at Surf & Adventure Co. But the most uplifting and honorable endeavors to witness are the acts of philanthropy — people helping others who are less fortunate. With our company’s history rooted in the Sandbridge Life Saving Service and manager Katie Keane’s recent stint in AmeriCorps, we never have to look too far for inspiration. The latest example comes from Sara White, the longtime girlfriend of rental grinder supreme Briar Nelson. Sara, a 2013 Kellam graduate, found her perspective forever changed after contributing to a Honduran mission trip last summer through the nonprofit Missioners for Christ, which has set up a permanent mission base in the town of Comayagua. “There is nothing more fulfilling and enriching than going on a mission and being able to reach out to a community with an open heart, just listening to the voices of people whose stories are barely heard,” said Sara, a Spanish major at the University of Mary Washington. Her next trip is set for March, when she will return to Comayagua to provide food, medical amenities, and daily programs for the impoverished community. I recently caught up with Sara to talk about her missionary experiences and her vision of a better world. S&A: It’s obvious that you have a heart for charity and helping those less fortunate than yourself. Tell me more about how you developed this ethic? Sara: Well, with the way the world is today, it is sometimes hard to find a harbor of peace amongst all the trouble. Mission work is my oasis. When you open up your heart to love people before you judge them, it creates a bond that cannot be broken. Most of those less fortunate are ashamed of their state and refuse to get help but once you show people your smile and show some compassion, their uncertainties are brushed aside and they feel comfort. Oh my goodness, I get goosebumps just talking about it! Some stray away from this way of thinking because they don’t think that what they do will impact the world as a whole, but that is just negativity and doubt clouding their dreams. I’ve gotten told many times that what I am doing is useless because I alone cannot change the world. I am well aware of that, but if you put your whole heart into it and witness change before your eyes, you can certainly feel that you’ve done something worthwhile. S&A: How did you land your first mission trip opportunity? Sara: I got my toes wet I was in middle school, my youth group at church would do a “Youth Outreach Week” where we would take a week out of our summer and serve our local community. We would go to places like the Ronald McDonald house, CHKD, Hope Haven, nursing homes, and even local farms to help “shuck” some old crop. Then my missions expanded into different cities, then on to different states, and now I’m at the exciting point in my life where I can now participate in missions out of the country. S&A: What was it like being immersed in the third world, from the perspectives of your lifestyle and from a cultural perspective as well? Sara: Just stepping out of the airport and into the city of Tegucigalpa, Honduras for the first time was a whirlwind. From serious lack of traffic control to the frequent display of firearms, I could tell that I was in for a culture shock. However, veering away from the big city and getting to the mission house in Comayagua gave us a chance to see Honduras in the raw. The lush mountains rose and fell over the landscape, varieties of animals were in pens along the dirt road, there was jubilant music streaming from small shops, and fresh fruit stands on nearly every corner. I could see that these people led very cautious, independent, and simple lives. A couple days later, I was sent off in the mountains for my mission; no English, no running water, and excitement beyond words. It was hard to get to know people in the village at first, they seemed very apprehensive of our mission team being in their community. We set up programs daily for kids, youth, and families and visited as many homes as we could a day to break the ice. Before we knew it, we were able to truly take this community in our loving arms by taking time to simply listen to them. After living in this community for an entire week, I recognized the beauty in simplicity. We stayed in mud brick homes with dirt floors, no windows, no furniture and it was wonderful. These people had all they needed; their family, friends, a roof over their head, and some good music. There is no way you can be surrounded by these people and not come back transformed. S&A: Describe how this experience has changed you. Sara: The remark itself is totally cliche but I can honestly say that Honduras changed me in so many ways. It taught me that you can’t be afraid of what you don’t know, you must accept difference and revel in it. I met such beautiful and strong people, using my mediocre Spanish I overcame a language barrier and connected with them on an entirely different level. Being there made me extremely happy and I did not want to leave. I nearly left all of my clothes there along with a pair of shoes. I cleaned out my closet at home and donated the clothes I didn’t need. I took steps day by day to strip myself of all the unnecessary things I had never noticed before. I am very thankful for my life and everything in it but I got home and realized that I’m in a place that is stuck on worldly possessions and within the heart of it lies empty satisfaction. S&A: Tell us more about your upcoming trip to Haiti. Sara: In May I’m planning on going on a mission to the town of Banica which is actually on the border of Dominican Republic and Haiti. While we’re there, we will be running programs within the villages, handing out food rations and medical supplies, providing schools with practical materials, and most important of all living among the people. With a country that is well below the poverty line, they are seeking something more than just getting by. These hard working people desire a better life for their community as a whole and for generations to come. S&A: How can somebody help you attain your goals for the next Honduras trip? Sara: I can only ask for simple prayer and encouragement. Those who are willing may contribute any unwanted clothing or shoes, toothbrushes or toothpaste, blankets, or art supplies that I could take with me for the mission. Any loose change and pocket lint is truly appreciated, every little bit helps! But most of all, I’m seeking mere support for a mission to embrace people with immeasurable compassion. To help contribute to Sara’s mission work, contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org Sara M.White University of Mary Washington UMW Box 2135 1701 College Avenue Fredericksburg, VA 22401 Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.