FA missionaries return to Dominican Republic

Sixteen students and staff members from Foundation Academy had life-changing experiences through their annual mission trip taken to Puerto Plata.

The annual Foundation Academy mission trip offers students the experience of a lifetime.
The annual Foundation Academy mission trip offers students the experience of a lifetime.
Photo courtesy of Foundation Academyy
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When the annual Foundation Academy mission trip started off with a bus fire on the way to the airport, President Dave Buckles knew something momentous was about to happen.

Although all of the students and staff members were safe, Buckles said the arrangements that needed to be made for them to continue their trip were near impossible. 

But that didn’t stop him.

“As I was standing on the side of the road and waiting for our other bus to come, I was sitting there thinking we should just go home,” he said. “We’re not going to make this flight. We’re never going to get all 16 of us on another flight when only two flights go out to the area a day, and are we even going to be able to go if we can’t get another flight? But, we just kept going, and because of that … the results and the impact these students have made on the people and the Dominican Republic community has been incredible. I knew in my heart that something big was going to happen on the trip when the bus fire happened. We knew that this was the enemy trying to stop us from getting there. Now, these students are closer than they have ever been before.”

Foundation Academy students loved interacting with the local children.
Photo courtesy of Foundation Academyy


Foundation Academy has been offering the mission trip for junior and senior students in the school’s leadership group for more than 10 years.

Although the school used to travel to Haiti, they have not been able to go the past few years because of the unrest in the area. So, instead they have been going to serve the community of Sousa, Dominican Republic.

The trip is made possible with the help of New Missions, a nonprofit that establishes local churches and Christian schools in Haiti and the Dominican Republic to help provide children with education, food and medical care.

Buckles’ feeling about this year’s mission trip was spot on. 

During the trip, which took place March 7-12, students shared testimonies, hosted English classes and played sports with the local students, completed arts and crafts with the younger children, and helped with projects in the community, such as painting the exterior of a two-story school. 

On the mission trip, Foundation Academy students played sports and completed arts and crafts with the local children.
Photo courtesy of Foundation Academy

Senior Ty Cannon decided to go on the trip because he wanted to step out visibly in his faith and serve others in a way he never had done before. 

“My favorite part about the mission trip was speaking at one of the services,” he said. “I talked about the story of Noah and his immeasurable faith/being set apart from the rest of the world. It was surreal to see God use me as a vessel and save others through me.”

Buckles said this was one of the most miraculous moments of the trip, when Cannon preached his message to the community at a church gathering with the help of a translator.

During the gathering, seven individuals from the area accepted Christ into their lives for the first time through the message Cannon shared. The leaders of the church said they had never seen anything like that happen since they started the church.

Buckles said this also was one of his favorite memories from the trip, where he remembers a translator telling one of the FA students, “I want to be just like you.”

And the miracles just kept coming.

Buckles helped students who have accepted Christ but have never been baptized complete the ceremony. 

He baptized seven young women in the ocean following a church service. He then invited others who were watching in the community to come forward, and he baptized three men: one from Europe, one from South Africa and one from New York.

Seven young women from Foundation Academy were baptized in the ocean during the trip.
Photo courtesy of Foundation Academy

“I told the students that due to their obedience and following what Christ laid on their heart, they have literally touched the outermost parts of the world,” he said. “Because of their obedience, these men are going home and sharing the story of them being baptized.”

Senior Lily Sheridan was one of the students baptized. 

“My favorite part of the trip ... was getting baptized and seeing how much God was working in my life through that, because three random men had seen me and my friends getting baptized and asked if they also could be baptized,” she said. “Being in the Dominican Republic showed me you can have so many materialistic things but never fill the God-shaped void, because only He gives us joy and satisfaction.”


Buckles also enjoyed seeing students from different groups, who may have never interacted with one another if not for the trip, create friends for life.

“All too often, we think going on a mission trip is to help others, and it is,” he said. “But at the end of the day, going on a mission trip is really about you being obedient to the calling that Christ has on your life. It allows you to get out of your element, which allows you to meet God in a way you really never have had an opportunity to do before. It’s important to create this space where these students can experience that at a young age. … The trip isn’t always about what you can do for those, sometimes the trip is about what God can do in you.”

Cannon said the trip was life-changing. 

“To see the pure joy that the children and adults experienced in the Dominican Republic with so little was extremely humbling for me,” he said. “God showed me through this trip that my joy should not be a result of my possessions or even the things that happen throughout my life. Rather, I was given the perspective through this trip that, despite what is going on in my life, God is great, and that is something to be joyful about.”

Foundation Academy students and staff took their annual mission trip in March to the Dominican Republic.
Photo courtesy of Foundation Academy



Annabelle Sikes

News Editor Annabelle Sikes was born in Boca Raton and moved to Orlando in 2018 to attend the University of Central Florida. She graduated from UCF in May 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in sociology. Her past journalism experiences include serving as a web producer at the Orlando Sentinel, a reporter at The Community Paper, managing editor for NSM Today, digital manager at Centric Magazine and as an intern for the Orlando Weekly.

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