“I’ve always wanted to get baptized,” said Kassidy, who will be a sophomore at Mapleton High School.
For her older sister, it was an impromptu decision that felt like the right thing to do.
“My brother had been baptized at a different church. It felt right in the moment. I was ready to take the next step with God,” said Kinsey Dress, who will be a freshman at North Central State College.
Knowing that baptism was “huge step” in her spirituality and faith journey, she said she wanted to make sure she had a closer relationship with God before it happened.
Also during the trip, Pastor Jeff Watson introduced her and the rest of the mission group to a “quiet time” with the Bible. Parishioners are encouraged to read part of the Scripture and then reflect on it. Dress found the experience fulfilling — much more so than other times she admittedly was “bored” while reading the Bible.
“If you put time aside purposefully every day, then it becomes a habit,” the Greenwich teenager said.
New London resident Carolyn Hamilton, who also was on the mission team, said it was great experience seeing the Dress sisters getting baptized in the Pacific Ocean.
“It was good to see them follow God’s leading,” said Hamilton, who went on the trip with her husband Tom.
Thirteen area residents, ranging in ages from 15 to 74, went to Panama. During the June 17 to 24 trip, the mission team put on skits at public schools, where Watson shared the Gospel and the team members gave their testimonies and interacted with the students, who were in kindergarten through sixth grade.
“They wanted a lot of physical attention,” said Tom Hamilton, who went on the church Puerto Rico trip last year.
Comparing the two experiences, the New London man said there was more evangelical work in Panama and noted the children were “really responsive” to hearing the Gospel. Four to five translators were available at the schools to help overcome the language barrier.
Erykah Swords, who will be a senior at New London High School, was on her first mission trip. She spent a lot of time with playing volleyball and hide-and-seek with the students, who “piled on us with hugs.”
Becky Kimball, of Monroeville, and her husband Jeff were on the mission team. The couple have been on four or five mission trips, including another one to Panama in June 2017.
“We definitely got the mission bug,” Jeff Kimball said. “It’s about God blessing us, so much that we want to go out and bless others.”
While in Panama recently, the Foundation Church team worked with missionary Roy Gonzalez and Go Ministries.
“They were so hungry to learn about God,” said Kimball, referring to the students. “I love loving on those kids. They love loving you back.”