Jeremiah Meliendrez, Wesley Stone, Kyle Fleming, Rebekah James, Sara Keune, Alexa Field, Taylor Johnston and Tayla Lehmann after a life-changing experience volunteering overseas.
Jeremiah Meliendrez, Wesley Stone, Kyle Fleming, Rebekah James, Sara Keune, Alexa Field, Taylor Johnston and Tayla Lehmann after a life-changing experience volunteering overseas. CLEMENTINE NORTON

Teens on mission

AT 16, Taylor Johnston is more used to sitting at a students’ desk than at the front of the classroom.

But the Bundaberg Christian College student found the tables were turned when she went to Cambodia recently to teach English at an orphanage.

“It was a real eye-opener,” Miss Johnston said.

“I came back a different person — every teenager should go.”

She said she learned to appreciate the blessings of life in Australia after the experience opened her eyes to real poverty.

The teenager was one of eight students who took part in missionary work in Cambodia, Egypt and Tonga with Teen Missions Australia International.

Tayla Lehmann said the biggest lesson she learned in her trip to Egypt was perseverance.

She and her other team members spent nearly four weeks chipping tiles off the walls of an orphanage kitchen and mixing concrete to help with renovations.

“In the end, we did make a difference — we made about five or six tonnes of concrete,” she said.

While she struggled with cultural differences about women’s roles, the friendliness of the people won her over.

“It was like stepping back in time. All the girls stayed inside the orphanage, but the guys could walk around,” Miss Lehmann said.

“The orphans were so loving, and I enjoyed sharing testimonies with them.”

The youngest of the group was 13-year-old Alexa Field, who helped make paths at a church in Tonga.

It was her first experience as a missionary, but she is already planning to go further afield.

“I would love to go again,” Miss Field said.



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