Compiled by Kassidy Weemhoff & Lauren Rink | Echo
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA:
Alyssa Henrikson, senior
Our team of 27 drove down to Daytona Beach, Florida, with the goal of bringing the love of Christ to a place that often feels dark and broken. Each day was different as we sought after what the Lord had for us. A typical day started with breakfast. After breakfast, the team would gather for morning worship and devotional time before departing for the day. From there, some of our team would head to a park where many homeless spend time, while the rest of our team would go straight to the beach. At lunch, those that spent time with the homeless would join everyone else at the beach for the remainder of the afternoon. Time at the beach was spent talking with random strangers, new and old friends from a group home across the street, and even some people whom members of our team had built relationships with in past years.
The week was full of the Lord reworking our expectations, tears, laughter, and reminders that the Lord is faithful even when we are not. Our team interacted with everyone from drug dealers to sweet kids building sand castles on the beach. More importantly, our team had the opportunity to love people the Lord loves a whole lot more.
Shelby DeLay, graduate student
Our Spring Break trip to Nicaragua was unique in that our team got to participate in strengths based ministry. Our team of 19 was split into different ministry sites including Health Care, Agriculture, Education, Social Work, Microfinance and Boy's Sports Club. Our team was able to use skills learned in classes here on campus to impact and partner with the ministry happening on site in Masaya, Nicaragua, with Students International. Everyone was able to be passionate about their ministry site and everyone was able to add to the work and the mission of Students International.
A big theme of the week we all brought back home with us is the idea of a "be" culture. Our conversations and ministry throughout the week focused less on all that we could do or accomplish and more on how we were able to be present, be a light and show Christ to the people of Nicaragua. The people we met in Nicaragua were less worried about how much they could do in a day, and more focused on how many relationships they could build or make stronger.
The long days, hot nights, worship filled mornings and laughter filled evenings made for great bonding experiences with both the team from Taylor and the full time staff. It was a neat opportunity to be a part of ministry that will continue on in full force even after we left.
Emily Waskom, freshman
When our team of seven got to Indianapolis on Saturday morning, we were met with 3 inches of snow and news that Shepherd Community Center (our host) was closed for the weekend due to the weather. On Monday, the weather was less than ideal - rainy and cold - but we were met with smiling faces who were ready to put us to work. Every morning, we would wake up around 8:30 a.m., eat breakfast and then be given our tasks for the morning. Some of these included installing a fence, moving 60 boxes of hams, filling a food pantry and doing demolition and construction on a house. Around 12 p.m. every day, we would go back to Shepherd, eat lunch, and then be given another project for the afternoon. Some of which were building a patio, organizing books, and delivering door gardens to members of the neighborhood. After we were done in the afternoon, we had poverty training. Staff from different parts of Shepherd talked to us about how they interact with the neighborhood and how they work with the east side of Indianapolis. Getting to participate in a variety of projects, meeting new people every day and having the privilege of helping out a great organization were some of the best parts of the trip. It was awesome to be able to see first-hand the work that God is doing in the hearts of people on the east side of Indy.
Caroline Poland, Director of the Counseling Center
The Mexico Spring Break team enjoyed partnering with Back2Back Ministries in two small communities in Cancun: Bonfil and Tres Reyes; our team primarily spent time in Bonfil. We ran a three day VBS for young kids and adolescents where we, led by the staff who daily pour into their lives, taught the story of God's love and faithfulness through the story of Jonah, feeding the 5000, and Jesus' death and resurrection. Through games, songs, snacks and crafts, kids were able to explore more about God, His relationship with us, and our relationships with one another. We were also able to complete several work projects at the site while we were there as well, such as sanding and staining picnic tables, hanging up hooks for backpacks, and leveling ground. One focus of Back2Back is their emphasis on Trauma Competent Care, which each team receives training in throughout the week. Understanding missions and healthy helping through the lens of trauma felt really impactful to so many of us on the team. We often found ourselves discussing ways to apply what we learned to the ministries we are involved in throughout the U.S, and are eager to continue to learn and grow within these contexts. It was a joy to get to work alongside of and learn from Back2Back as they serve the vulnerable children and families of Cancun.
Kelsey Snyder, graduate student
Jim & April Jurgensen and Spring Break Missions Graduate Assistant Kelsey Snyder co-led the Spring Break Missions trip to Russia through The Boaz Project. We served in the city of Vladimir, Russia. The team served with children in three different locations including a Christian foster home, an orphanage and a rehabilitation facility. Each of these places had their challenges and opportunities. The students collaborated with another team member and that is whom they served with all week. They worked through a vbs curriculum provided by the Boaz Project.
In addition, each student worked with an interpreter. Before our trip, we prayed for the relationship with our interpreters, that Jesus would put us with the right person, and this was very evident once we arrived in Russia. This trip would not be possible without the hard work and willingness of our interpreters and we owe so much to them. Even though we only had five days with our interpreters that was enough time for us to form a bond with them that will not be easily broken. In conclusion, this trip has left a lasting impact on our team through our interactions with the children, our interpreters and the Russian culture.
Hannah Perry, senior
When we jumped off the bus after a 26-ish hour drive from Upland, we still weren't sure what exactly we would be doing. Driving through Houston, any out-of-towner might assume that the city is back on its feet, or that Harvey didn't do more damage than other hurricanes, which are not uncommon in the southern bay city.
Our partnership with Fuller Center Disaster Rebuilders quickly diminished our brief doubts. Immediately after the flooding in August, affected homeowners were forced to throw away their damaged possessions and tear out the drywall to protect their homes from mold. With this organization, we had the opportunity to help reconstruct low-income and uninsured homes that otherwise would not have the means to rebuild.
Though most of us felt incompetent with our lack of construction experience, we were all willing to learn. Seeing our progress at the end of the week, we understood that our skills were not nearly as valuable as our time. We left Houston satisfied that we used our time over spring break for service, but also with the knowledge that our job was left unfinished and the need for volunteers still persists.
Katie Tupper, junior
Saying we are grateful for our time in Peru seems to minimize our experience. I cannot begin to express how impactful this trip was, for us as a team and for each of us individually. However, I can firmly say that we were blown away by all the ways God revealed more of Himself to us during our trip. We saw God working through the bright smiles of the children at the orphanage. We saw God through the love both given and received at the four learning centers we visited by both staff and students. We saw God through home visits where we were graciously greeted with deep hospitality by the families of the children at the learning centers. We saw God through the invitation into a powerful, Spirit-saturated worship service at a youth camp where six campers accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. We saw God through our team members, leaders, translators, and the VisionTrust staff as deep, rich relationships were formed. We were overwhelmed with great needs in Peru. But more significantly, we were overwhelmed by great love and peace that only comes from the Lord.