The first thing they noticed about Mississippi when they climbed out of the rental van on June 11, 2013, was the weather. “Man, it’s hot! and humid, too!” The Lindsay family, coming from the cool, dry air of San Jose, California, knew that adjusting to the temperature would probably be their biggest challenge on this trip. But they weren’t here to complain about the heat. Rather, they came to assist the staff at Mount Olive Ministries (MOM) in any way needed for four days. When asked why they chose to come to a rural town in Mississippi to give support to a ministry 2,200 miles away from home, Mark Lindsay, father of the family, answered, “I want to expose my children to others in our society who do not have the same opportunities as they do. It’s important for them to know how other people live, and to give them the chance to serve others who are less fortunate than themselves.”
Upon their arrival, the Lindsays learned more about MOM from Tony Duckworth, Sr., the founder and leader of the ministry. As Mr. Duckworth gave the family a guided tour of Mount Olive, he informed them about the history, growth, and future plans for the ministry. Fascinated by the enormous potential of MOM to help children experience and pursue a vision for their lives, the Lindsays were eager to jump in and help.
The Lindsay’s first assignment with MOM was to lend a hand to Shannon Duckworth, the Director of the Summer Program that the ministry offers during the month of June. “When I was first told that we would be asked to help ‘tutor’ children, I envisioned a one-on-one encounter with children,” said Barb Lindsay, mother of the clan. “But we quickly learned that our family would have the opportunity to exercise flexibility when we were given groups of 8, 10, and 12 children at a time.” Mrs. Lindsay has a Master of Science degree in Industrial Engineering from Stanford University, but has chosen to be a stay-at-home mother during the childhood of her four children because she under-stands the importance of building into the next generation and enabling them to be all that they can be. She, along with the youngest Lindsay, Camille (9), helped the littlest 4- and 5-year-olds in the MOM program to write their numbers and letters and also played learning games with them.
Mr. Lindsay, who has worked for 13 years as a special process engineer at Applied Materials, assisted Tony Duckworth, Jr. in the MOM Summer Program by teaching Algebra to the 6th and 7th graders, the oldest children in the program. Mr. Lindsay’s son, Derek (12), participated in the class.
Alison Lindsay, the oldest child (16), was handed a dozen 4th and 5th graders on her first day and asked to tutor them in several subjects. Over the course of the next three days, Alison grew to have an enormous amount of respect for public school teachers who manage to get anything done in their classrooms. She found it challenging to manage twelve 9-, 10-, and 11-year olds who have widely varying learning styles, personalities, and educational skill levels. Nevertheless, she gave it her best effort and taught them—hopefully with some degree of success —about pre-Algebra, parts of speech, negative numbers, and spelling words.
Lastly, Regan (14) eagerly taught a dozen second and third graders in basic math, history and reading. She enjoyed the opportunity to grade their math work, teach them about facts and people from history, and play with them on the playground after the morning tutoring session was over. “I loved the kids’ smiles and energy, and excitement to see me every day,” she said. “Overall, the tutoring experience, even though it wasn’t what we’d expected, was a lot of fun.”
In the afternoons Mr. Lindsay, Regan, Derek, and Camille played with the children outside, enjoying soccer, basketball, volley-ball and skipping rope. Mrs. Lindsay and Alison primarily worked inside on the other project they’d been asked to do.
The other primary service the Lindsay family rendered to Mount Olive Ministries was to organize the piles of boxes, books, craft supplies, and other miscellaneous donations in a storage room that had come to be a proverbial mountain. “We couldn’t even walk through the hallway to get to the closet at first,” said Alison. “My mother is a gifted organizer; by the time we left, the hallway, floor, and tables were completely clear, and all but the very top shelves were put into immaculate order.”
Although Mrs. Lindsay was the point guard, the whole family helped in this endeavor. Mr. Lindsay and younger siblings carried everything out so that Mrs. Lindsay could see what to organize; all the Lindsay children packed dozens and dozens—and dozens!—of textbooks, workbooks, reading books and all other kinds of books into cardboard boxes, labeling them by subject and publisher. Soon, another group coming to Mount Olive will build bookshelves for these books so they are more readily accessible to the MOM staff. Alison’s advice? “Build a solid metal bookshelf that can hold heavy weights, because those textbooks weigh a ton! I would know. I lifted at least half of them!”
Even though the Lindsay family worked at MOM for only three days, it was definitely a highlight for them. Alison summed up their experience nicely: “We loved working with the kids; we enjoyed putting our organizational skills to work; and really, the heat wasn’t that bad. But I think the thing we most took away from this trip was the incredible opportunities that we have living in the Silicon Valley. In San Jose alone, there are endless summer programs and activities and sports and clubs and stores and malls and rinks and parks and anything else you might want. In more rural communities such as Mount Olive, there’s much less. For example, my sister Regan and I are both involved in competitive speech, and I’m also in competitive debate. Those are activities that we likely wouldn’t have access to in Covington County. She and I especially realized how much we’ve been taking our opportunities for granted. We both—and all our family—are grateful to MOM and to those 40 plus children for playing with us and working with us, but also for showing us how to count our blessings.”