Spring break in Belize

Instead of partying a week away, senior Jamie Szymkowicz will head off on a mission trip to Belize, a poverty stricken country on the northeastern coast of Central America, along with 52 others from Sheperd’s Gate Lutheran church.

Her group will travel to small villages, whose people have little to nothing to survive upon. She’ll help build homes; provide supplies, such as food and water; and lead people to spiritual guidance on her mission.

“Going on these shows me that I can help other people in the simplest of ways,” Szymkowicz said. “I didn’t think I could have such an impact on people.”

After four years and five mission trips, she’s developed a passion for helping people in need.

When she first traveled to Belize in sixth grade, she saw villages so broken and poverty ridden, her heart broke in half. She became angry and questioned why horrible things happen to such good people.

“After I saw these areas in such terrible conditions, I realized how blessed I actually am,” Szymkowicz said. “I knew I had to do whatever I could to bring hope and happiness to people who have nothing in the world.”

She met Marvin in 2010, on her second trip to Belize. He was a young man in his twenties, who lived in the country. The pair bonded instantly. They exchanged email addresses, friended each other on Facebook and kept in touch until she returned to Belize in 2012. Marvin inspired her to keep up her mission work and he’s one of the many reasons she keeps going back.

This is what she loves to do. This is why she’ll give up a week of partying and couldn’t care less about it.

These trips help her grow in her faith and inspire her to be a better person.

“Everyone deserves a chance,” she said. “Every person deserves to be loved and being able to spread that love and give hope to the hopeless is an amazing feeling.”