While other students chose to go on vacations or get a job for some extra cash this summer, Jessica Peek, a senior nursing major from Millbrook, decided to spend a part of her summer abroad doing mission work.
Peek said she went to Lusaka, Zambia, a small country in the south of Africa, to offer help to the community, especially the children, and to share her love for Jesus with them.
“It was an eight-day missionary trip,” Peek said. “I spent two days traveling around and the rest serving the local community.”
She said she learned about the missionary trip through one of her friends who had spent time there and fell in love with it.
Peek said the pictures and stories her friend shared with her inspired her to apply to go to Zambia.
“It looked so fun and meaningful—what she was doing,” Peek said.
Before that, she was offered the chance to go to Denver, Colorado, but she said she did not feel that it was the place for her.
“When I discovered Zambia, I absolutely wanted to go there to help people,” Peek said.
Peek said because she knew about the trip a bit late, she started her application right away. She also sent out letters to her family and friends, telling them about what she intended to do. She said she received tremendous support from them and was able to raise enough money for the trip.
In Zambia, Peek, along with seven other people, organized different activities with the children.
“We were worshipping with them, reading the Bible with them and singing songs about Jesus together,” said Peek.
Through the activities, Peek said, she learned that languages and cultural differences can’t be barriers if people want to connect with each other.
“We needed a translator for little kids because they could not understand what we were saying,” Peek said. “The teenagers, on the other hand, could communicate directly with us, which was very fun.”
“The kids in Zambia aren’t any different than ours here,” she said. “They are all so innocent, and they want to make better changes to their lives by becoming doctors or teachers or whatever they want to be.”
She also helped educate the children and their parents about the importance of regular hygiene. They also did eye screenings to determine if they needed glasses.
According to Peek, the children there are deemed unfit to learn because people think that they are not smart or that they cannot comprehend concepts in education, when in reality, they just cannot see the board because they have problems with their eyes. Peek said the lack of adequate checkups over time worsens the problem.
During her stay, she said, she was always welcomed by the locals.
“They were thankful that we came, and they were always excited to hear about what the U.S. and our daily lives were like,” Peek said. “I loved seeing our relationship grow and the two cultures blended together.”
After the trip, Peek said, she was much more aware of the other culture and how her love for Jesus can help her connect with them.
If she could, Peek said, she would definitely want to go back to Zambia and offer her much-needed help to the locals again.