Sarah Master of Manila returned from a mission trip to West Africa with a renewed sense of gratitude for her family and her country.
Master is a 2002 graduate of Manila High School and a junior at Arkansas State University where she is working on a bachelor's degree in social work. She is a member of Manila First Baptist Church and the daughter of Donald and Vickie Master of Manila.
This is her second missionary trip with the ISF (International Sports Federation), a Christian based organization with the mission board. She went to Poland summer before last and worked with children and young people.
"I was not planning on going this summer because of class schedules," Master said. "I was contacted by ISF about participating in the upcoming missionary trips. My first thoughts were I don't have time. I told my dad about the call and he told me to pray about it before I made a decision. I was in revival and the speaker's subject was 'taking a leap of faith.' I felt God was speaking to me. I called about the trip and there were two spots left, one to China and one to West Africa. I had always wanted to go to Africa and decided I needed to make time."
Master got the required shots and malaria pills and started preparing for the trip.
She left July 18 and returned on Aug. 3. The group of 10 spent two days training in Atlanta before flying to Frankfort, Germany, and in to Accra, capital of Ghana. They spent two days there before a 3-1/2 hour bus trip to Cape Coast where they spent one day.
"We witnessed to and played sports with a group in Cape Coast," she said. "They were very open and friendly."
They traveled on a 15 passenger van for six hours to Kumasi where the group spent a week.
"In our itinerary we knew we would do some work and witness about HIV and aids awareness," Master said. "We assumed we would be visiting hospitals but we actually went into the areas and visited with women and their children outside of brothels. We made bracelets and witnessed and visited with the women. They were very receptive. Three women were saved. We talked to them about choices and encouraged the women to look into a different lifestyle."
Sarah's group worked with local pastors and held basketball camps and soccer camps for the children.
They stayed with a local missionary family.
"We were fortunate to have a nice place to stay with running water," Master said. "The family and their extended family members took good care of us. They prepared our meals, showed us around and were very kind to us during our stay. The children do a lot of the work. They use a small grill-type oven outside to cook the meals. Children in the United States do not have a clue how fortunate they are. The children there are so grateful just to be able to have a day of play. We went to the market and bought food so we could cook for them one night. The children thought it was a very special event."
Master said time means nothing there.
"We called it Ghana time," she said. "If we made plans to be picked up at 8 a.m., it might be closer to 10 a.m. Every one went out of their way to be good to us. We had to be careful because if we ever said we liked something, they would try to give it to us. I would have loved to bring the children home with me. We did a lot of church outreach going door to door working with the local Christians on how to reach people."
Master said she would like to go back.
"I would like to be better prepared to minister to the women," Master said. "I learned a lot by being there and God took care of us. I was not afraid. I felt like God was telling me I would be okay. I never got sick even though I ate a lot of food I was not accustomed to. It was an educational experience. I am glad I decided to go and hopefully I will be able to return someday."
Master has received several letters from the new friends she made during her trip and hopes to see them again someday.