Like most families, Jamey and Desiree Ramsey enjoy their family vacations with their two sons, Joseph and Sean.
But, unlike most families that prefer to stay as far away from work as possible during their vacations, the Ramseys, active members in what is now known as Getwell Church in Southaven, have embraced doing a “working” vacation of sorts. That’s because, instead of heading to the beach, Disney World or some other attraction, they rather enjoy even more pouring into the lives of other children on what has become frequent visits to the Good Shepherd Christian Academy, or GSCA.
The school, located southeast of Tegucigalpa, the capital city of Honduras, “or 27.5 kilometers” from the capital, as Desiree pointed out, is part of a mission program started in 1974 by missionaries Charlie and Carolyn Herrington under the name of Baptist Medical and Dental Mission International, or BMDMI.
Good Shepherd Christian Academy is one of two schools operated by BMDMI. The Southaven church first started being involved in the school and its home when four members visited it in 2011.
Desiree was the first of the Ramsey family to go to Honduras in January 2012 and now helps the school in assessing the reading skills of the children who attend there.
“We have begun testing at the bilingual school for reading comprehension, fluency and now math levels,” Desiree said. “The first year we tested, their reading fluency was out the roof, they could read anything and everything. But if you ask them a question about what they read, they had no idea of what they read.”
On that first visit to Honduras, Desiree was immediately struck with the work going on there and taken by the children who were staying there.
“I called Jamey and I was so emotional,” Desiree said. “It was amazing the connection I felt with the kids and what was going on.”
However, it was not until May 2014 when Jamey saw firsthand the work being done at GSCA when he and their sons first joined his wife on a short-term trip to the Central American country.
“That coincided with the school starting a full bilingual program,” Jamey said. “Desiree comes with a particular skill set to be able to assess the sight words, fluency and comprehension, and in working with the director of the school. That was the Ramsey project.”
The Ramsey family “project” has also included Jamey assisting to chronicle the improved comprehension of the children, many of whom came to the affiliated Good Shepherd Christian Home from abused homes and were malnourished and diseased when they first arrived. The information allows school administrator and missionary Brooke Pizzati the ability to seek funds and write grants that will support the school.
As a family, the Ramseys have made four visits to Honduras in the assessment role and Desiree has also been there on other projects. But the work as a family has brought Honduras top of mind to everyone, husband, wife and children.
“For me it was really important to have the family involved,” Desiree said. “Especially when my world view started changing. We’ve always served as a family, doing different ministries, so this was taking it one step further. We’re all in.”
While the trips have up to now been short term in nature, Desiree is set to embark on a three-month extended mission to Honduras, starting in September.
About $4,500 is needed to cover the three months and Desiree is asking for support from anyone desiring to back her mission.
Donations can be made to Desiree through the mission online at the web address: community.bmdmi.org/6169.
While the work of enlightening the minds and eyes of children to the written word and the love of Jesus, Desiree said their love of Jesus reverberates back to her heart.
“There’s nothing like going to church there and singing their songs in Spanish and I know the songs in English,” Desiree said. “Some people are singing English, some people singing in Spanish, but we’re all praising God.”
And Jamey is fine with future family vacation destinations being the “27.5 kilometers” away from the capital of Honduras.
“I don’t have any interest in ‘entertainment’ vacations,” Jamey said. “It costs money to go there and I would much rather spend the money, time, resources and efforts serving and pouring into the kids.”
Bob Bakken is Staff Writer and may be reached at 662-429-6397 ext. 240.