During spring break of 2019, a 25-member team of volunteers travelled from Dallas, Texas, to Tortola for mission engagements. The team was assembled by Go Ye Therefore (GYT) Mission and included students from the North Dallas Adventist Academy (NDAA).
The team’s focus was the rebuilding of a restaurant owned by Ms. Lucinda Smith, which was destroyed in 2017 during Hurricane Irma. In addition to being her main source of income, the restaurant provided opportunities for Ms. Smith, known to the community as Ms. Minney, to share the love of Jesus.
Stephen Gray, who led the team, shared, “God has blessed this ministry over the years, and we have appreciated the opportunity to be of service to the island of Tortola. We have been to Mexico, Belize, Panama and Jamaica, to name a few, and we are excited that we can be here to assist.”
Byron Payne, who is an engineer and a native of Tortola, assisted the academy with identifying the mission project for the students. He elaborated, “Although 25 of us are on the trip, the projects successfully completed represent the involvement and support of many other individuals and organizations.”
In 2017, hurricanes severely impacted the service industry of the British Virgin Islands (BVI). Several marinas, hotels, and businesses (including many restaurants) were damaged. Three SDA congregations are still displaced and members are recovering from personal losses while trying to cope with the increased cost associated with returning to normal.
The Coordinator of the Adventist work on the island, Pastor Howard Simon, visited the team and thanked them for their service, on behalf of the North Caribbean Conference, “These volunteers graciously gave up their spring break for an opportunity to give back to Tortola. We thank you for your willingness to help and your hard work.”
Although the team did not complete the building, its members did most of the masonry work and were able to lay the blocks up to the ring-beam so the roof can be connected during another phase. Ms. Lucinda Smith, who is an active member of the Road Town SDA Church, expressed appreciation, “We are incredibly grateful for the ministry spirit of the students that helped with this project.”
The volunteers were also engaged in other community activities. They liaised with the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) on Tortola to paint one of its buildings and the island’s community centre.
On the weekends, the mission team conducted the Sabbath School program and provided special music as well as the children’s story feature at the Belle Vue SDA Church. Stephen Gray commended his team, “Our students combine their knowledge and faith experiences and have put them into practice by serving the people of Tortola in meeting their needs. I cannot be more proud of them.”
“It was such a rewarding experience working on the project,” commented team-member Desiree WoolFolk. “It has been difficult but I have always wanted to be involved in a mission project. I have been waiting for it and I am excited to see the progress we have made and the delight on the faces of the people.”
Team-member Daniel Usoroh shared, “It was a God-experience. Knowing that the community of Tortola will learn more about who we are through what we do makes it rewarding. The atmosphere surrounding that place is one where you know Christ abides, and it was humbling.”
North Dallas Adventist Academy is committed to returning next year to continue being God’s hands to His people and exemplifying the Academy’s goal which is, to build knowledge, grow faith, and inspire service. The North Caribbean Conference is grateful to NDAA for its invaluable contribution to the BVI community.