updated April 2013:
HAITI – “I didn’t even make it out of the truck when I had gained three little girls attached to my body. This was such a beautiful image of the desire we have in us to be loved. These kids didn’t even know us, but they knew we would love them. They just wanted to touch us, wanted us to hug them, wanted us to hold their hand. I think that we think when we go on mission trips that we believe we are going to help others and that we are the ones who are sharing our faith with others. I think we forget how much the people we want to help will help us and will share their faith with us. I would like to think that I made an impact in any of the children’s lives, but I know the impact they made in mine was far greater. They showed me what faith looks like. They showed me how to love like Jesus. As I continue to look back on my time with them, I see more and more how they loved me. They loved me unconditionally. They loved me from the start before they even knew me. My past didn’t matter to them. They wanted to love me just because they wanted to. Their love is such a beautiful image of Christ. These children are the ‘espwa pou Ayiti’ or hope for Haiti.
The church I went with on the trip was from Lee County, Virginia, the poorest county in Virginia. There were only six of us, but we were the first group from this church to ever go on an international mission trip. Many people see Lee County in the way I had originally viewed Haiti. It is a very poverty stricken area with many other social problems, like drug abuse. Many who live there have given up hope on Lee County. It was this same summer that I went to Haiti, that He gave me hope for Lee County. He put in my heart a passion for Lee County and its people. He gave me a passion to share Jesus there and love the people. Also, He gave me a passion to help transform the community. Many people think I’m crazy when I share my hope for Lee County with them. What I witnessed in Haiti that summer is that there is always hope. Just as there is ‘espwa pou Ayiti,’ there is hope for Lee County.” – Brittainy Martinez, Senior, Dryden, VA
CHINA – “Bill was the student who had bought a Bible and had asked [my friend, Barrett] about what is Majesty and who is Jesus. On our last few days Barrett began asking me questions about the Bible and how he should talk to Bill. I gave him what I thought would be the best thing to say, but in my heart I was sad. I had this idea in my head that I was going to be making a difference and that God had ordained me to present at the right time for one of my students to become ‘Christian.’ I was mortified that the trip was ending and that I had made no real influence, and then it hit me! God didn’t bring me here for a bunch of students. God brought me to China to influence Barrett who made a huge impact in the life of a young Chinese student named Bill. I was not called to receive any glory. In fact, I will never be because all of the glory belongs to God! I may have not been the direct influence for Bill or even be a part of Bill’s testimony, but I made a difference that summer!” – Job Canfield, Senior, Versailles, KY
IRELAND – “Starting out, I knew Ireland was once a troubled place. In some places it still is. The north and the south have fought for hundreds of years over independence from the United Kingdom—not to mention all the trouble between the Catholic and Protestant churches. I had never been in a country that had barbed wire and spiked fences around their churches. It is incredible to me to think about not feeling safe in my place of worship—no matter who is the opposition. I gained a lot of respect for people like Pastor Albert and Rhoda, who had to lead churches in a time when they didn’t feel safe. I think that one blessing of Asbury’s cross-cultural requirement is that we get too comfortable in America, the land of free religion, and we need to realize what it is like to be a soldier for our faith. It was humbling to see how lucky we are in the States and all the things that others in different cultures have to go through just to practice their faith.” – Jordyn Rhorer, Senior, Lexington, KY
CHILE & PERU – “I learned so much while I was in Chile, especially in Orsorno. I got perspective on the fact that the same God we serve here in America is the same God that they worship in Chile, and Peru, and Costa Rica, and all the other places I have since traveled to. So often I try to put God into a bubble and think that God is ‘American,’ but when I step out and see people who are so different from me, and don’t even speak the same language, and I watch them worship, I see the vastness and the infinitely huge God that we serve. I see that He can’t be reduced to a country, or a language or a social group, but that He is creator of all and that He understands and is Lord of all. This group of Chilean men and women travel miles and miles to hear the word of God preached every Wednesday night and learn Christian theology. The thing that struck me the most was how enthusiastic and eager these men and women were to come to church and learn. The building of the church was very small, had no heat, and needless to say it was freezing. After each break people would gather by the heat lamp to warm up their hands that they were so eagerly taking notes with. This still is an image in my mind that is one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen. Circumstances can be out of control, money can be non-existent, family situations can be rough and food can be scarce, but resting in Jesus and trusting him to fulfill and supply every need is when true Christ-like faith becomes real and true happiness can really be found.” – Charlotte Smith, Senior, Denver, CO
ITALY – “Getting to sing for the 5:30 Sunday mass in St. Peter’s was one of the most amazing experiences that I have ever had in my life. Not only is the cathedral absolutely amazing in its architecture, but the history of worship represented by the building is astounding to me. The music, the people, and the opportunity to visit so many beautiful cathedrals in Italy were the major highlights for me. Singing in Latin never meant much to me when I was in the States, but when I got to sing Latin for a Catholic mass, the power of the words had more meaning for me, and the significance of the language in the history of the church hit home a little bit better. The experiences I gained in being able to partake in such a major part of Christian history are something that I will hold dear for the rest of my life. God is God in Italy as much as in the United States, and He is God all across the world. We are a church of all nations, and it was a beautiful thing to start to see that and understand it firsthand.” -- Samantha Penwell, Senior, Clarendon, PA
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC –“We were told not to give any money to poor children who seemed to always be around begging for money. One little boy stood outside the gate to the restaurant we ate at and spoke the only English he knew, which was ‘You-money?’ I think this little boy broke all of our hearts. Despite our own hunger, we all gave up what was left of our meals and passed it out to the little boy who went and took it to his little brother. I saw God in that moment and though we may not have given the boy money, which was what he was asking for, you could tell they needed food over all else. The happiness that shone on the little boy’s face when he saw all the food we were handing to him was enough to fill all of us with joy in that moment.
Working with the children, even just painting their faces and seeing the joy in their eyes from something so simple as paint in the form of a heart on their cheek warmed my heart and was the beginning of my passion for working with children which I later found out led to my calling to be an elementary teacher. The trip left me with an overwhelming amount of warmth and compassion for helping children and for helping those less fortunate. Noticing those who are overlooked every single day became my goal once back here in the States. I look forward to my career of teaching children and making sure no child falls through the cracks or goes unnoticed.” -- Megan Lewellen, Senior, Wilmore, KY
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