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TRA takes first foreign mission trip

By Thomas Sellers Jr.1466257_792178480800509_6127920391552614591_n 10157253_790400820978275_2104782315793004863_n 10257597_792180857466938_8690497758728885085_o 10341408_792181070800250_562878473910878390_n 10382812_790401074311583_8256523688358457552_n 10390184_790400767644947_1902830604967222303_n 10393837_792179510800406_4879718060444429538_n 10401378_790403737644650_470581630053645470_n 10403755_792178164133874_7232504148258053059_o 10435912_792177344133956_614674804887237260_n

As the plane took off from Memphis, Tipton-Rosemark Academy Upper School Assistant Principal Andrew Womack was optimist.
The destination was the Dominican Republic, a place Womack has visited before. But for 23 TRA seniors there was some uncertainty about the school’s first mission trip outside of the United States.
After visiting five villages and encountering numerous natives who greeted them with opening arms, the TRA students left the Dominican Republic June 2 with a new outlook on life.
“This year’s group had the task of actually selecting the village,” Womack noted. “We were there a week and this group visited five different villages with the sole purpose of seeing which village they felt our school could make the biggest impact in and we could relate to the best.
“We chose a village called Los Fundos,” he added. “The reason that the students chose that village was because it was the smallest village we went to. It’s approximately 60 families. With the size of TRA, it just kind of made sense. We’re a smaller school and they’re a smaller village. We feel we can have a big impact there.”
The selection of Los Fundos by the Class of 2015 means that future TRA senior groups will visit the village and continue the relationship started this past May 27-June 2.
“What caused this to come about, we started a Senior Service Project two years ago,” Womack recalled. “It’s an requirement for graduation for our seniors to do a service project within their community.”
A TRA senior must complete at least 20 hours of service and one way to obtain those hours is going on a school sanction service trip. The Class of 2014 ventured to Chicago to clean up parks and do work in the neighborhoods near the Illinois city.
“Our school decided we wanted to do an international service trip to allow our students to experience life outside not just Millington or Tipton County, Tenn.,” Womack said, “and outside of the states as well.
“We chose the Dominican Republic,” he continued. “And the whole purpose is for our school to adopt a village outside the Dominican Republic that we will build a relationship with and partner with some things along the way. Each year, we’ll send a group to that village in the Dominican to do various services and to love the kids, parents and people who are in the village.”
Part of the love will be leaving a lasting impact on Los Fundos. With 30 students already signed up, Womack said the Class of 2016 will take on the challenge of building a house in the Dominican. The cost of the home will be about $5,000.
Los Fundos is located in San Juan. The TRA students’ time in that village and the others is featured on a Youtube.com video produced by GrayWolfPictures.
The film documents the trip from beginning to the end for the Class of 2015.
“You’re a little anxious at the beginning,” Womack acknowledged. “You don’t know exactly what you’re going to experience when you get there. Taking teenage there, for most of them it was their first time out of the country, you didn’t know exactly how they were going to react to the situation.”
The films illustrates the excitement from the natives to welcome the TRA students to all the villages. By the end of the documentary, it was evident the students welcomed a piece of the natives into their hearts.
“I knew they were going to receive us with open arms having been there before,” Womack noted. “Just to see how our students were going to react, literally when the bus pulls up those kids run onto the bus and seat in the back. They try to get in the bus with you. Soon as you get off the bus, they’re grabbing for your hand and showing you everything they have. Even thought it’s not much.
“They’re just playing on you and wanting you to love on them,” Womack concluded. “I think that’s the thing that impacted our students the most. We saw everything they didn’t have, and they were still so happy and loving toward us. We take what we have for granted so much. Each and everyone of us in the States are beyond blessed more than a lot of other people in the world.”
To see the documentary, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8bZTnk50JA
The students who attended the mission trip were Josiah Anderson, Dillon Barrom, Chance Benson, Bethany Berger, Matthew Canon, Alexa Rum, Michaela Hoover, Trent Joyner, Ethan Kaiser, Emily Langford, Sarah Lassiter, Carli Long, Andrew Maners, Michelle Mangold, Steven McDaniel, Shane O’Brien, Kellie Owen, Madison Payne, Thomas Rinehart, Conner Sanders, Shelbi Sellers, Logan Stewart, Rachel Thomas, Jordyn Thornell, Nathan Whitley and James Wood. The sponsors and parents attending were Andrew Womack, Johnnie Sanfratello, Gretchen Goode, Todd Goode, Melissa Canon, C.Lyn McDaniel, Amy Payne, Jeff Payne, Jodi Sellers, Chad Stewart, Brandi Thornell and Debbie Wood.

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