updated December 2014:

GUATEMALA“When I hear the word impact in relation to my five weeks in Guatemala, I immediately think the word, ‘tremendous.’ I become filled with joy and excitement every time I reflect upon the amazing experience that it was.  The internship with PILAS Ministries broadened my mental scope of what is most important for me to invest my time and thoughts in.  I saw numerous families and children in heartbreaking financial, physical, and emotional situations, which convicted me deeply.  I am entirely convinced that a larger concern of mind needs to be how I can be helping children and families wherever I am to improve their situations—not worrying about my insignificant day-to-day concerns.

      Through being in a foreign country, living in an unfamiliar house, with new people, and without any family and friends from back home, a deeper trust and dwelling in the Lord became crucial.  My need for God’s guidance and strength was so much more apparent while I was in Guatemala.  Being back in the States, I long to keep that same closeness with the Lord.  Even though I have close friends and family to turn to more than I had in Guatemala, my prayer is that I will remember that God is who I can and need to turn to in every situation, no matter where I am.

      Only the Lord knows exactly where I am meant to be in the future, but I know that God has placed a passion in me for global missions, the Spanish language, education, and most importantly, people.  Through this internship, I experienced a taste of what it is like to be a missionary.  It is tiring, but the relationships make all of the work so worth it.  I can definitely see myself living and serving overseas in some capacity in the future.  I am not exactly sure where I will be called or what I will be doing, but I know that loving people, teaching children, and hopefully speaking Spanish will likely be a large part of what’s next in my life.” – Phoenix Skye, Senior, Louisville, KY

GERMANY, AUSTRIA, POLAND“On this trip, we went to Berlin, Krakow, Salzburg, and Munich to study the Holocaust and how it impacted the way humans view one another.  When we arrived in Berlin, I began to realize how much World War II impacted Germany and also Europe as a whole.  Everything there seemed to have some tie to either the Holocaust or the war.  I realized that the Holocaust is not something that is over and done with and has no impact today.  That history is still very relevant, and its footprints can still be clearly seen throughout Europe.  In the United States, it is easier to forget the importance of the World Wars to the history of the planet simply because it did not affect us as much.

      I also learned that traveling to Europe is a very good reminder of how young the United States is as a nation. There are centuries upon centuries of history that can be seen everywhere in Europe that the United States does not have.  The United States as we know it is extremely young. The old cathedrals, castles, and even old regions of cities are very obvious reminders of the rich history that Europe has.  It is sad that when we visit Germany, we so often forget that there are centuries of history that happened before the World Wars were even a thought.  It would be good to be able to look at this older history as well instead of just the more recent events that capture everyone’s attention.

      While in Poland, we went to Auschwitz.  Going to a place where thousands upon thousands suffered terribly and died in the span of only a few years is an experience that is hard to put into words.  I saw a glimpse of the cruelty and evil humans are capable of but also a glimpse of how resilient humans can be under pain and suffering.  Visiting suInternational Globech a place forces you to look at your life and what you are doing to prevent such evil and destruction from happening today.  I think that visiting Auschwitz is an experience everyone should have because it is a terrifying reminder of what could happen if we do not pay attention to what is happening in the world around us.” – Sarah Rankin, Senior, Rock Hill, SC

COSTA RICA“There were two huge things that I took away from this trip.  The first one is the fact that people will see Jesus in you more if you preach at them less.  When we were out on the streets talking to prostitutes, they didn’t want us to tell them the things they were doing wrong and tell them what they should be doing instead.  They would not have been open to us if that is the way that we approached them.  Instead we just came with loving hearts wanting to talk to them and just pray for them.  It will be more impactful for their lives to remember someone who loved what society sees as the unlovable.

      The other thing that I took away from this trip is the fact that cultural barriers do not matter.  Although diversity is a beautiful thing, when it comes to God’s kingdom, it is not an issue.  There were many cases when we were speaking to some of the prostitutes and transvestites that I was worried that we couldn’t get across to them that we just wanted to love them.  But they really just want to see someone who wants to talk to them about their lives and see how they’re doing, rather than just being concerned with what they have to offer.  Even when we weren’t working in the streets, seeing the people worship in their own way was so beautiful.  God’s kingdom doesn’t see color and race, just people praising the same God.” – Mariah Humphrey, Junior, Ashland, KY

ENGLAND & FRANCE“Upon arriving in France, I fell in love with the language.  Though it did cause some trouble due to the barrier, it was a beautiful language to be spoken and heard.  I wanted to learn French in order to understand everything and be more immersed with the culture. I feel as if some of the people would have been more comfortable if I knew how to speak French and communicate with them.  The accents in both London and Paris were very beautiful.

      I hope to return some day to these places and experience more, not only in a national sense, but a regional culture as well.  There are many more places to see and experience, and through this first experience and the reading of the books, I have become more culturally aware of the correct handling of experiencing cultures.” –John Scarboro, Senior, Albemarle, NC

BRAZIL “As anyone on this trip will say, the area of most importance would definitely be how we were able to grow in our hearts as a team, and of those who were impacted by Christ through us. Personally, God had been trying to show and teach me some things in my walk with Him even before we left for the trip. A verse that the Lord had revealed to me most was, ‘The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing’ (Psalm 23:1).  The Lord was really teaching me about being content in Him, through all things and how He provides no matter what. 

      The importance of community and its significant role in their culture brought me to realize how much Americans abandon this, in the church and in general.  Unity and community played a large role for us because we were strengthened as a team, the youth of the church became more unified, and we were able to feel the bond of Christ followers through the barriers of culture, distance, and language.  Coming back to the U.S., I definitely want to take the challenge to commit to having more unity and encouraging community with others regularly.” –Nicole Nystrom, Senior, Woodstock, IL

IRELAND “I felt that this was an incredible mission trip, and I believe we were able to further the kingdom of God in some way.  I believe this trip was definitely a God thing for it to go like it did.  Not only did I get to minister in music, which is a passion of mine, but I got to be among people I consider great friends and in a country that is filled with beauty and splendor.  I think God put all of us together in this group in a remarkable way.  Some of us knew each other prior to the trip and others knew of each other, but as a result of this trip we have all become great friends.  I would go anywhere with the great people I went to Ireland with.  I feel very blessed to have been a part of this mission team, and pray that I played a small role in advancing the kingdom of God.  I will always cherish the memories and experiences of this mission trip, and hopefully it will not be my last.” – Brandon MCGuire, Junior, Berea, KY

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