One week. Many changes.
FOR RELEASE: Tuesday, April 10, 2012In only one week, groups of Huntington University students discovered renewed desires to serve others and to share the significance of short-term missions trips with their peers.
"God tells us that we are to go into the world and help those less fortunate than ourselves," said Rebecca McIlwain, a sophomore psychology major and a student trip leader for spring break trip to Guatemala.
From March 12-16, over spring break, students traveled on Joe Mertz Center-sponsored trips to Philadelphia; Port-au-Prince, Haiti; and Zacapa, Guatemala. Two sports teams softball in Tucson, Ariz., and the women's soccer team in Haiti also made service a priority for the week.
"We try to do little things while traveling such as anonymously pay for an unsuspecting person's meal when we go out to eat," said softball head coach Doug Gower. "It could be an older couple or anyone really. We try to make it a team choice. We try to represent Huntington in all we do while out for an extended period."
Over spring break, the JMC student groups volunteered in area orphanages, clinics, schools and with local missionaries.
The Guatemala team partnered with His Hands International. The organization provided the team with opportunities to minister to the Guatemalan organization, Hope of Life. The team spent a majority of their time in small neighboring villages handing out clothes, shoes and other items and painting the faces and nails of local village children, distributing candy and playing games. They also assisted in the construction of a new hospital.
"Guatemala is one of the poorest countries in Central America. There is so much need there. I wanted to be the hands of Christ, and now, after the trip, I want to be that so much more," McIlwain said.
After a successful trip over J-term, Doris Walker, a junior entrepreneurial small business management and business management double major, led a group of students back to Philadelphia. The team volunteered at area homeless shelters and distributed lunches, provided assistance to students struggling with homework at the Honickman Learning Center and went around cleaning up the community.
"God broke my heart for Philly," Walker said. "Christ tells us to serve the least of men, and we will serve him by doing that. I am convinced of the truth of those words, and I felt the Spirit each time we reached out. To truly serve our Jesus is one of the most awesome experiences ever, and I hope to go into full-time ministry in the future."
A third team of students journeyed south of the border to minister to the people of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, where they worked with the organization, Mission of Hope.
The women's soccer team also ministered in Haiti where they volunteered at an orphanage called Giving Hope Rescue Mission. They also had the rare opportunity to provide a name to one of the abandoned, terminally-ill babies who at the time was nameless. The team agreed upon the name of "Hunter," referring to Huntington University.
"I always have loved missions. I feel that missions refocus your life," said Jessica Stearns, an HU graduate counseling student and assistant for the JMC who helped to lead the Guatemala trip. "I love working with people and getting to meet and interact with different cultures."