February 21, 2023 | Colleen O'Hara
As Mustard Seed Communities USA’s Associate Director of Volunteer Engagement, Colleen O’Hara had the opportunity to join a Mission Leader Retreat that trains mission staff in all things safety, hospitality, and spirituality. Here is what she has to say about the inspirational behind-the-scenes preparation that makes Mustard Seed mission trips successful…
Mustard Seed Communities has been blessed to welcome many mission volunteers to our apostolates that house children and adults with disabilities in Jamaica. I think all of our mission volunteers would agree that their mission trip experiences have been shaped by the unbelievable people we have accompanying them during their week-long stay in Jamaica. This includes our mission representatives, security staff, drivers, administrators, cooks, and caregivers who ensure our volunteers are welcomed, safe, and feel truly like a part of the Mustard Seed family. Although they make it look easy, a lot of time, planning, and care goes into ensuring that our volunteers have the best experience possible during their time with us.
Pictured: Cordell Huie (Blessed Assurance Admin), Deleene Fitzgerald (Sophie’s Place cook and mission rep), Tamara Tucker (Missions Manager) and Nadia Williams (Mary’s Child Admin).
In December, our mission team met to reflect on our goals for the 2023 Mission trip season, discussed how we can make volunteers’ experiences even better, and spent time bonding and learning from each other. The group met at Zachariah’s House, our retreat home just outside of the stunning beach town of Ocho Rios. Father Garvin Augustine, Executive Director of MSC International, spoke to our team about the importance of the mission program to Mustard Seed’s continuing work as well as the spiritual nature of our mission trip experience. Darcy Tulloch-Williams, Executive Director of Mustard Seed Jamaica, helped the group to reflect on communication, expectations, and inclusion within our mission program.
Pictured: Tavarus Smith, a mission representative, leads a small group discussion.
Tamara Tucker-Burns, our Missions Manager, and I lead the team in discussing new protocols, responsibilities, and feedback from mission volunteers on improvements to our program. We were also joined by a representative from TPDCo, Tourism Product Development Company. The rep was able to lead a wonderful discussion with our team on working cross-culturally, orientating volunteers, and teaching people from other countries about the history and culture of Jamaica.
Just as we ask our mission teams to meet and prepare for their visit to Jamaica, our mission teams here are doing the same. We hope to see many mission volunteers to our homes in Jamaica and Dominican Republic in 2023 and know that our mission teams are eager and ready to greet you when you arrive!
We enjoyed our time together and definitely had a few laughs!