updated April 2015:
PUERTO RICO – “This trip expanded my idea of what church and Christians are. Christianity and church in the States look different than it does in Puerto Rico. It was so cool to see a more ‘global view’ of the church and hear people of a different language worshipping the same God. We may not have much in common, but they were our brothers and sisters in Christ. The swim clinic reaffirmed my love of children and reminded me that teachers have a huge impact on their students.” – Kimberly Gabriel, Senior, Palm Beach Gardens, FL
ENGLAND & FRANCE – “This trip has impacted my view of religion by giving me an amazing sense of the global community of faith. I have a new understanding and vision for the global church after having met Christians in other places and joined in worshipping with them in their churches. While there may be differences in our beliefs, Christians are united together by Christ in His blood. I think that my personal faith has been impacted by experiencing this because my vision of God has been expanded. I see Him more in terms of the whole world now and not just for myself and for my country and people.
The trip also changed my understanding of relationships in other cultures and the role that they play in their daily life. True, deep relationships are so much more important in both England and France. I think this is especially evident in their routines and customs. For example, the English have tea each afternoon as a custom that builds relationships and is a way of encouraging conversation. Having afternoon tea with other people also offers a good excuse for visiting and maintaining relationships. I think Americans have much to learn from these European customs, such as the French’s belief in building relationship over food. Meal times are a communal ritual. They create common ground among people and facilitate conversation over good food as people take their time dining.” – Rachel Dery, Senior, Pleasant Ridge, MI
HONDURAS – “I feel that I learned so many things while I was in Honduras. It is hard to articulate them all, but two very distinct lessons come to my mind. The first is how my perspective on missions has changed; I feel that I have come to the conclusion that I don’t want to be a missionary, at least in the way that a lot of people are ‘doing missions.’ This may sound harsh, which is not what I want it to sound like, because I think that so many amazing things have been done by thousands of missionaries all around the world for hundreds of years. But I don’t see myself doing missions in the way that I saw it being done this summer. I realized that I would much rather live and work overseas than have to travel back and forth to the States to raise support. I feel that I would be able to invest in the community I am in much better that way. I also feel that it is easier to build rapport and respect with the nationals when you are working alongside them making a living just like they are.
Another important lesson that I learned is that I can literally live anywhere. I know that sounds kind of strange to say, but oftentimes I feel that I am drawn to familiar places with people I know, and it is hard to see myself having a life in an unknown place. But this summer I realized that I can make friends all over the world, and unknown and strange places could become home. Most importantly, God is my true home, He is where I will build my life, and anywhere I go, He will go before me and make a place for me there.” – Shannon Daum, Senior, Fishers, IN
IRELAND – “The trip was a great experience for me. It showed me more about myself than I would have learned just sitting around at home. I grew to love the people I went with; we became a little family. The people I met there I will never forget. The cool thing is, I am still in contact with some of them. It’s amazing what God can do! I am so thankful that I was able to go on this trip!” – Sarah McDonald, Junior, Paris, KY
INDIA – “My time in India challenged me; I grew in many ways. Kolkata is a rough city, and I often found myself questioning if I could live there full time. The largest insight I had was that when it comes to calling, it is all about what God wants you to do. There were challenges and situations that were uncomfortable, and people who were very hard to show grace to. But God gave me strength to keep going when I felt that I could not. I strived to do His work and lived to be the hands and feet of Jesus. In those moments of discomfort or exhaustion, I would remind myself that living a sacrificial life is about surrendering my will in exchange for God’s will.” – Rachel Melcher, Senior, Wilmore, KY
BELIZE – “A special cultural encounter happened on the day we went to the river. I got to sketch some portraits of the ladies and children we had gotten to know. It was an amazing experience because as they sat so still and allowed me to really look at them, and they looked back at me, I felt like the barriers of our two different cultures dissolved. I felt consciously aware of the fact that I along with the Belizean people I had met, were creations of God. I could see the beauty of God’s people and delight in that beauty.
This was a week full of experiences that challenged me and allowed me to richly experience a different culture. I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to travel to Belize to live and build relationships with the people there. I will never be able to forget them or this incredible adventure I had.” – Lindsay Townsend, Junior, Dover, DE
Check back each month to view more inspiring words from our students!