May 16, 2023 / Get to know the Jill-of-All-Trades at SonLight Power
“For my daughter to see first-hand the work her mom does to coordinate and lead trips like these that generate lasting impact…she realized I have a super-cool job. I remember thinking, ‘This is why we do it. This is why the work is so fulfilling.’”
– Jill Council, SonLight Power Mission Coordinator, on serving with her daughter on a SonLight Power trip
Above: Jill on roof of completed SonLight Power project at Good Shepherd Church in Campton, Kentucky.
Ever wonder how hundreds of solar panels arrive on time at a SonLight Power project in Mexico? Or how the dozens of mission travelers who volunteer with SonLight Power each year schedule their flights to arrive at the right place?
Simply put: It’s not easy.
If you’ve served on a SonLight Power solar project in the past three years, chances are, you’ve interacted with the amazing Jill Council. Before a new project is commissioned in places near and far, Jill has poured countless hours into making it possible.
Above: Jill and SonLight Power team commission off-grid system at church in Arecibo, Puerto Rico.
SonLight Power is blessed with dedicated team members like Jill who are passionate about the mission. Jill’s role extends well beyond her title of Mission Coordinator – she's more like a versatile Jill-of-all-trades, providing invaluable logistical, administrative, and donor support across SonLight Power.
That's not all. Jill’s commitments at home and church are just as varied. She integrates her home, church, and work life into one, often serving alongside her family on SonLight Power projects that are meaningful for everyone involved in Kingdom-building ways.
In this month of Mother’s Day preceding the active mission season ahead, we sat down with Jill to ask questions you might ask. We learned how working with a solar power nonprofit like SonLight Power has not only impacted others, but how the mission has changed her life too.
Above: Jill and daughter, Kathryn, enjoy special mother-daughter time on SonLight Power trip in Honduras.
Family On Mission
Jill and her husband, Brad, have four kids who are all active in sports, which keeps them busy.
“Having the opportunity to work from home, and have the flexibility, has made it possible for me to be the mom that I get to be,” says Jill. “I get to make sure they’re living their best life and pursuing their passions, and just determining the path that God’s going to take them on.”
Above: Jill and husband, Brad, capture a scenic moment while serving together in Honduras.
Jill and Brad also serve in their family’s church and in the children’s ministry. Serving and giving back through their church community at Crossroads Mason (Mason, Ohio) is high on their family’s list of priorities.
“We’ve always found that being part of a church where you have an opportunity to serve is so much more rewarding than just being a person in the seats,” says Jill. “You get a lot more out of it; there are incredible relationships that you build along the way. That’s something we’ve always pursued as a family. We want to be a family on a mission.”
Above: Jill rebuilding patio of hurricane-damaged home while on SonLight Power | CHCA trip in Puerto Rico.
Jill is also starting to get involved in the student ministry at her church. Her work with SonLight Power sparked an interest in youth ministry.
“It comes from my experience with the Puerto Rico trips we’ve done with students from Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy,” says Jill. “I just really enjoyed that and found out that I really have a passion for being around high schoolers. I mean, I love my own high schoolers, but I discovered that I love other teenagers too!”
This summer, Jill will help with logistics and planning for her kids’ youth group activities. She served as a chaperone for her daughter’s church group on a road trip this spring.
“We recently got back from Alabama where we took 150 students down to Montgomery and Selma,” says Jill. “We did a deep dive into African American history and what that really looked like, and the things that you don’t learn in school. Being with students and processing that trip both personally and alongside them, was an impactful experience.”
Above: Jill leads trip orientation with CHCA students prior to SonLight Power trip to Puerto Rico.
As for the CHCA students who have served on the past two SonLight Power Puerto Rico J-term (January-term) trips, Jill has led special sessions of SonLight Power Solar School to equip the students with hands-on training to prepare them for their trips.
Jill also meets with the students at CHCA prior to Solar School training and orientation. These cumulative meetings build the students’ confidence and increase their comfort levels prior to each trip. Once in Puerto Rico, they jump right in.
“Teenagers are just so fun, full of ideas and so passionate about their future, the world and the change they want to see,” says Jill. “Being around teenagers gives me so much hope for the future.”
Above: Jill makes a new friend while leading children’s ministry on SonLight Power trip in Honduras.
Toughest Job You’ll Ever Love
“After my first trip to Honduras with SonLight Power, I came back absolutely floored by the impact that this small-but-mighty mission from Cincinnati can have in the world,” says Jill. “And all through the grace of God and everything God has blessed the mission with.”
Upon her return from Honduras, Jill told anyone and everyone about her first solar power mission trip. Her daughter and oldest child, Kathryn, was paying attention.
“I was talking about my experience and my daughter, who was fifteen at the time, said, ‘I want to go!’” says Jill.
Not only did Kathryn join Jill on her next SonLight Power trip to Honduras, another family member also expressed interest: Jill’s father-in-law, Steve.
Above: Jill’s father-in-law (Steve), Jill, and Kathryn (left to right) all smiles before flight departs to Honduras.
“On this particular trip to Honduras, some extra space opened up, so Brad and I invited my father-in-law,” says Jill. “Steve spent years working in missions with his church. He was retiring the weekend before the trip to Honduras, so we surprised him with a spot on the trip.”
Serving in Honduras alongside both her father-in-law and daughter created powerful memories for Jill. It remains a cherished experience between mother and daughter.
“For my daughter to see first-hand the work her mom does to coordinate and lead trips like these that generate lasting impact…she realized I have a super-cool job,” says Jill. “I remember thinking, ‘This is why we do it. This is why the work is so fulfilling.’”
Above: Jill and Kathryn enjoy a moment with Honduran volunteer Juan Pablo Gale at a project site.
For some, traveling on mission with a father-in-law might seem a little awkward. Not in this case.
“Having my father-in-law there and watching him get back into the mission field, he was just delighted,” says Jill. “I’ve never seen him so emotional; it really struck him.”
The trip experience was so impactful for Steve that he asked to be baptized again in the waters of Honduras.
Above: Jill and trip co-leader, Gary Antonius (far right) baptize Steve (center) in Honduras.
“I came to Christ through my husband and my father-in-law,” Jill says. “I was the spiritual care leader on the trip, so I led morning devotions and prayer times. Watching me in that role was a full circle moment for Steve to see how much God has worked in my life.”
This summer, Jill’s daughter plans to join her again in Honduras with a SonLight Power team from Cobblestone Community Church (Oxford, Ohio) and our Honduran partners at Vida Abundante Church (Tegucigalpa, Honduras).
But what about her sons?
“I have three boys,” says Jill. “And they all want to know when they get to go on a SonLight Power mission trip.”
Hang tight boys. Your turn is coming.
Inspired by Jill’s experiences? Want to learn more about joining an upcoming SonLight Power trip? Check the SonLight Power Mission Calendar and connect with us at Info@SonLightPower.org for more info.
For more information: Blog story with video: Jill and the 2023 CHCA|SonLight Power trip to Puerto Rico