updated August 2014:
AUSTRIA, GERMANY, POLAND – “This experience has really challenged the way I view people and the world. I literally never see a person who is not someone that God deeply loves and who is therefore valuable. This has really caused me to think about the way that I treat other people. It is so much easier to just care about the victim, the one who seems helpless. Yet those causing pain are just as valuable to God as the ones being hurt, and therefore, they should be just as significant to me.
My worldview has also been changed by hearing the stories of so many Jews who became heroes. They fought against all odds. When the situation was completely hopeless, they took a stand. The actions they made were not always glamourous or large; they were simply the step God put in front of them to take. For so many, taking one step of courage meant others kept their lives. I want to be the person who is always taking the right step that God places before me. We do not know the impact our steps may have on those around us, but it does not take any dramatic actions in order to make a change in our world. Doing something, however small, is always better than doing nothing.” – Nina Connolly, 05/14 Graduate, Lexington, KY
ECUADOR – “It was this relational, hurting culture that captured my heart. I learned to appreciate more deeply the time that I am given with people in my life, to focus on relationships as much as, if not more than, my personal list of things that need to be done or my goals for my life. I was able to see first-hand the joy that can be gained by giving of ourselves. At the beginning of the trip, we were challenged to choose joy through every circumstance that we faced along the way, and one of my personal challenges at the end of the trip was to continue to make a conscious effort to continue to choose joy, even when it’s hard. Also, about halfway through the trip, I realized that everything that I had left behind to come to Ecuador was something that I could live without: cell phones, hot water, and the modern distractions that my life had been dictated by up to this point. On top of a mountain above Quito on our last day in Ecuador I realized that my life didn’t have to be defined and dictated by those things anymore. I was as sure that my call lied in that area of South America on that day as I was that I was standing on two feet. I knew that I was coming back.” -- Rachel Winger, Sophomore, Ashland, OH
INDIA – “India was a culture shock for me. It was isolating at times for me because I did not know the language. This caused me to grow closer to God. He showed me that He was still present in my life. He was so good to me while I was in India. I have never felt such a deep connection with Him. Many times while I was in India I had no one else to turn to besides Him. God became very important to me. I knew that when I talked to Him, He would understand me, unlike my Indian friends who did not always understand me.
I knew that going to India would change my life, but I really did not know how much. I know I am going back to India one day. God also confirmed my calling to be a teacher. The trip was not easy for me, and I had never before felt such a need to depend on God. I am grateful for the experience and what God showed me. This trip will be one I will always remember, and India will always have a special place in my heart.” – Madeline Sites, Senior, Indianapolis, IN
HAITI – “Throughout the trip, I met some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. They made me realize that no problem I’ve ever had even comes close to what they face every day. They all have such positive attitudes that it made me question why I have ever complained about anything and how petty we as Americans can be. It was hard for me to understand why I was so blessed in my life and they weren’t; it didn’t seem fair. A teammate told us that we were blessed so that we could go help others and spread the word of God, and this really helped me to come to the realization that all I can do is help those and other people who are less fortunate than me. This is why someday I hope to go back to Haiti and provide more help to the wonderful Haitian people. They will always have a special place in my heart.” – Alisha Durbin, Sophomore, Hodgenville, KY
PAPAU NEW GUINEA – “The impact of this trip upon me was tremendous, but not in the way I had expected. It was not so much about additional knowledge or a deeper connection with the mission. While I was over there I began to start to understand how all of the gifts that God has given me fit together. God has been planning this for a long time. Random passions from computers to languages and even cooking are all important for going into full time missions in this direction. With such a relational environment, being able to win friends over good food is extremely useful. Through many of these details and passions I had begun to understand not only my giftedness, but also my love for them. But I had not seen how they all fit together.” -- Philip Lawrence, Senior, Lima, OH
SPAIN – “As I wrote this, I have become aware of the growth that occurred in my life and the challenges that I was able to overcome. I do not think that my personality changed while I was abroad, but I do feel like I matured. I was given more responsibility through the logistics of my travels as well as with money management. I was able to conquer my inability to speak Spanish, and although I am not fluent by any means, I am now much more equipped to survive in a Spanish speaking country. I have also developed an itch to see more places and further improve my Spanish fluency. Although I love the United States, I now find the possibility of working in some sort of international business environment very appealing and am excited at the opportunities that could one day present themselves.” -- Scott Layton, Senior, Wilmore, KY
Check back each month to view more inspiring words from our students!