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Frederick Student Shares Life-Changing Mission Trip Experience

Story and photos by Kate Carbaugh
Published 2/22/2012


Anibal LHansell, Parksley Spanish company’s pastor, performs a baptism.

I’m Kate Carbaugh, a 10th-grade student at Frederick Adventist School in Frederick, Md. I have a story to share with you about my favorite place in El Salvador. It is the Hogar Escuela Adventista. In 2009 my grandparents planned to go on a mission trip with the Chesapeake Conference’s Frederick Adventist Church. They really wanted me to go along with them. I was only 13 years old and was not prepared to go to a different country. Honestly, I did not want to go without my mom. When they got back, they spoke about the orphanage and the kids and how they were so sweet and how [they] loved all the missionaries that went along on the trip.

When 2010 rolled around, I decided to go to El Salvador along with my dad, my best friend, Sarah, and others from the church. The trip was from the end of December to the beginning of January. I had such a good time. Everything my grandparents said was not only true, but, even better. I met so many new people and made new friends. Since we were younger girls, my friend and I where supposed to work from nine o’clock in the morning until lunchtime. We worked to build a retaining wall.

You do have to work hard, but it pays off because when you are finished, you can go play with the younger kids. We spent lots of time playing with the kids. We would often be grabbed by the arm by a little girl and pulled across the path to the swing set. I knew a little Spanish from growing up in a Hispanic family, but there was still a huge gap. No matter. We were able to teach the little girls, aged 8 to 12 many songs in English. When the little girls went up to sing special music on Sabbath morning, to our surprise, they came and dragged me up to sing with them. I had such a wonderful experience. When I came back home, I was already planning for the next time I would go to El Salvador.

[Last month] I went back [to El Salvador] on my second mission trip [and took] another friend, McKenna Wear. McKenna and I were the only youth going on the mission trip. This time, I started planning ahead with my school to raise money for the orphanage. We were not exactly sure what we were going to do with the money, but we knew that God had a plan for it. The preK-10th grade students at Frederick Adventist School collectively raised over $1,100. Each class set a goal of $15 per student in that class. McKenna and I worked with the principal and the student council leaders to give an extra incentive. Our school wears a uniform, so we decided that if the whole class met their fundraising goal, the class would win an entire week of dress down privileges. The 3rd, 4th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th grade classes won!

With the money, we were able to take every kid at [Hogar Escuela Adventista] as well as the staff and our entire church group to a water park the Sunday before we returned to the United States. All the kids had an amazing time. I received many hugs from all the kids and a whole lot of thanks. The kids made a special thank you note for us to bring back to school.

Not only did we bring money to have fun with the orphans, we also brought many bags of clothes, shoes and toys for them. In the picture, you may think this is my messy teenage bedroom at home, but it shows you all the things we were able to bring for the children at the orphanage.

When the orphanage ran out of money to finish the wall project, we helped paint some of the houses the kids lived in. It was so much easier painting in the shade of the trees than working in the sun carrying heavy cinderblocks back and forth. At the end of the week, we finished the girls’ house and half of the boys’ house. Many of the kids actually wanted to help us paint. Wherever we went, we had a group of kids following us. I think one day we had more paint on our arms, legs, clothes and hair than [on] the wall we had been painting! The kids thought it was hilarious to see the younger missionaries covered in paint. I felt so special to be accepted by all of these kids. It’s so amazing to watch and see all these kids I met last year, grow up.

When I travelled outside the campus in El Salvador, I realized how bad off the people were outside. Outside, there was trash everywhere. People were living in rundown shacks. Inside the compound, everything was much better. The kids at the orphanage told me they were are so happy they are there. They are truly blessed that they have a safe place to call their home. It may not be as nice as our homes in the United States, but it is much better than what life is like beyond the gates of the campus.

I thank God for what I am so blessed to have. I pray that I am again able to go back to visit, work with the kids, and realize my dream of becoming a student missionary there.


McKenna Wear has fun at a local water park with a student from the orphanage. 


Because of the generosity of their fellow students at Frederick Adventist Academy, the girls were able to bring bags of clothes and food to share with the children at the orphanage. 


After painting the girls’ and boys’ homes, Kate and McKenna display their paint covered hands.