Testimonies 2010-11

PUBLISHED – AUG 2010:

IRELAND“The biggest learning experiences for me were to experience the power of prayer, and flexibility.  We had our agendas, and almost every day God told us to scrap it and do what He needed us to do that day at that second. I learned how to show God’s love at all times, and if necessary, use words.” – Heather Connette, Boca Raton, FL

GUATEMALA - “Besides learning about sacrifice and faith, I also learned about gratefulness, teamwork, and God’s overwhelming love.  I enjoyed getting to know the kids at La Senda and having the chance to show them God’s love.  I also appreciated the opportunity to watch Steve and Pam [directors] as they fulfilled the roles to which God has called them.  I was truly blessed by this experience.”  -- Melissa Atkins, Imlay City, MI

ECUADOR - “I am so glad that Asbury has a new cross-cultural requirement because not only is it wonderful to see how God is working overseas, but it is also important to see the different societies and cultures that we may interact with in the future.  This trip was such a blessing to me, and I know that God is calling me overseas again eventually, and I just can’t wait to see what path He directs me on.”  -- Rebecca Coleman, Wilmore, KY

MEXICO - “During one week in Mexico, I gained unparalleled experiences, and I will cherish them for a lifetime.  My unique encounters with the hospitality, church service, and street evangelism blessed my heart in profound measure.  Above all other observations, the most precious was the special bond of the Holy Spirit.  I was amazed by the magnitude of love, harmony, and unity which was cultivated in our hearts despite cultural and language barriers.  I am comforted by God’s provision to accomplish His purposes.”  -- Elizabeth Jacoby, Lexington, KY

GUATEMALA – “I have changed and will stay changed for the rest of my life.  I will never forget what happened on this trip.  I wasn’t excited about going on it that much.  I just signed up for it because we need a cross-cultural experience in order to graduate.  Everyone told me that I’d really like going and just needed to change my attitude, but that was easier said than done.  Right when we got there and even more so throughout the week, my attitude changed.  I can’t imagine not having gone on the trip.  Obviously, God knew what I needed a whole lot more than I did.” – Whitney Mathisen, Daphne, AL

PUBLISHED – SEP 2010:

GUATEMALA – “I learned so much while I was there.  I realized that I really like kids a lot, which was a new discovery for me.  I didn’t know how fast love could grow, but by the end of that week, the love I felt for those kids and the love they showed to me, was unfathomable.  It was incredibly hard to leave, especially knowing that it would be straight to work for school when we got back.  …I’m so blessed to have been able to go, and I thank God for it.  We got to really see the kids in Guatemala as more than orphans or poor kids with bad home lives — we got to see them as real people, not so different from ourselves, who could have become our real friends if given more time.  This trip was a gift.  Thank you.”  - Melissa Siard, Knoxville, TN

MEXICO - “I didn’t want to go to Mexico.  Or any other place.  I was bitter about being obligated to accrue more debt in order to become ‘culturally aware’ and my initial reaction to the Cross-Cultural Requirement was to push back against it.  …God changed that mentality and satisfied my anger by his deep love….  As a result of the immense joy I experienced in speaking Spanish again, I decided to switch my major from accounting to Spanish.  After having been in Mexico, I realized sitting in my accounting class one day that I am not made for debits and credits.  I didn’t think I would say this, but God’s work through the Mexico trip changed my life.”  -- Lauren John, Waxhaw, NC (previously published 06/10)

IRELAND - “I never knew how life altering a mission trip could be for myself.  Not only did I learn the ways of the Irish culture, but also the ways of Jesus to use the simple things to make the greatest and life changing effects in His children.”  -- Kara Lawless, Jamestown, KY (previously published 06/10)

SPAIN - “The decision I made to go and spend a semester in Spain was the best decision I’ve ever made.  I gained a new perspective of viewing the world by living in a different culture and being in the minority along with an appreciation for everything that I have here in the United States.  That appreciation gave me new love of and joy in freedom that I think comes from living in Europe where anything goes and public transportation is amazing.  And finally, my knowledge of Spanish and my ability to speak it grew exponentially.  These three things are just a few of the ways that I grew and changed while I was in Sevilla.” – Jenelle McClean, Indianapolis, IN (previously published 06/10)

ECUADOR - “Even though I had been to Ecuador many times and experienced the culture, my heart was touched again, as it is every time I get the opportunity to serve the Lord.  I know I have a passion for South America, and I love the people of Ecuador.  God has not made it 100% clear to me that this is where he is calling me, but I know that there is such a joy in serving others and just seeing the smiles on people’s face when you wave at them or talk to a person on the bus.  This really changed my perspective on things.”  -- Rebecca Coleman, Wilmore, KY (previously published 06/10)

JORDAN – At one point in the middle of the day, the jeep stopped for a rest at the bottom of a giant sand dune.  Nora, oblivious to the others in the jeep, grabbed my hand again and pulled me up the side of the sand dune.  The sand filled my shoes and weighed me down, so I had trouble keeping up with this nimble child.  She laughed, pulled me harder with both hands and cried, ‘Yelah, yehlah!’ Or ‘Faster, faster!’  Though my laughter, I cried back, ‘Ishway, ishway!’  Or ‘Slow down, slow down!’  Eventually, we reached the top and collapsed in a giggling heap.  …I went to Jordan thinking that I was going to become a politician and save the world.   …Nora taught me in a matter of hours what countless politicians, ambassadors, and other high-end government officials had failed to teach me over an entire summer.  Through her simple innocence and childish interaction, I came to understand that to make a difference for Christ in this world, you don’t need to become a famous diplomat with endless political power; rather, you only need to follow God’s plan and will for your life.” – Sara Finehout, Creston, IA (previously published 06/10)

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – “Prior to this trip, I had never before considered missions.  I know that I have not been called to be a fulltime missionary.  However, I do feel that God has called me to the field of the Dominican Republic, or at least to the Hispanic Culture.  I cannot seem to get it out of my mind.  There are days that I wish I could teleport myself back to El Tablon.  If given the chance to go back, I would hop on a plane immediately and fly over.  I cannot wait for the day that I get to go back.  I might just move there one day.”  -- Christine Shafer, North East, PA (previously published 06/10)

PUBLISHED – OCT 2010:

GUATEMALA – “This experience taught me way more than I could ever have imagined, and it was seriously the time of my life.  I could not have asked for more.” – Abbey Smith, Belle Center, OH

THAILAND – “The Care Corner Orphanage operated by Ricky Tan is a Christian organization that takes the unwanted, sometimes dying, children and gives them food, shelter, schooling, care, and shares the hope and love that can be found in Christ.  The majority of [our] time was spent just loving on the kids.  They have faced the hurt that abandonment can cause and to simply have someone there just to love on and play with them brought so much joy to their faces.  They spoke Thai, we spoke English, but the language barrier had no affect on our communication with them.  I spent many days and nights running around with them, painting their nails, tossing them in the air, dancing, singing, playing, doing chores, listening to music, coloring, helping them do homework, etc.  What we were able to do was astounding, being that neither of us had the ability to communicate orally to each other; we simply used the love of Christ to show how much we cared.”  -- Kirsten Katz, Dallastown, PA 

SOUTH AFRICA – “Serving in South Africa changed my perspective of physical and spiritual reality.   I caught a glimpse of life and culture far different than that which I experience daily in the United States.  Each day, God taught me new lessons through a variety of people, places, and events; in the process of serving others, I found myself broken and created anew through the power of the Holy Spirit.” – Chelsea Gates, Hodges, SC

ANGEL HOUSE (Detroit, Michigan, Christian ministry to Muslim population) – “There was one handicapped Muslim boy that was on my [ball] team who was not very coordinated.  I had the ball, passed it to him, and he shot and made a goal.  When he looked over at me, he had the happiest expression on his face because he knew he was going to be congratulated.  Of course, we excitedly went up to him and congratulated him.  But his face was something I will never forget.  We learned that showing love for no particular reason would make Muslims confused.  They would wonder why we treated them so well and then ask questions.  This gives us the opportunity to share our faith with them.  It is a different way of showing your faith, but we were simply doing what God told us to do by loving others.”  -- Mike Rosecky, Oakland, MD

HAITI – “I had some really good conversations with people my age that were going to a university in Port Au Prince at the time of the earthquake.  One guy in particular was so intelligent and at the same time charismatic.  I just never wanted to stop talking to him.  He was giving me Creole lessons and was a really good teacher.  Another American that I was traveling with from the church group I joined also said she met an incredible Haitian boy.  He, too, was my age and had such an incredible vision and heart for Haiti.  He didn’t see Haiti as hopeless and was full of wisdom and leadership abilities.  We were all really excited to meet these people.  It gave us all hope to meet them.  We needed to see that just as much as these Haitians needed to see it.”  -- Maegan Rogers, Fairfield, OH

GUATEMALA – “This trip has definitely taught me a lot.  It’s taught me to trust and rely on God even when I may not want to.  It’s taught me to share my story so that I may be a blessing to others because this is what Christ has called me to do.  I have a great testimony to share, and God wants me to share it.  I have been forever changed by this trip and have fallen so much more in love with Christ because of it.  I will be forever grateful for the love Christ has for me, for this experience, and for the children in Guatemala who taught me more than I could ever teach them.” – Katie Walz, Pikeville, KY

PUBLISHED NOV 2010:

INDIA – “People in America don’t depend on God like they do in that orphanage.  I don’t depend on God like those children do in that orphanage.  Those children have so much more faith than I will ever have.  They are so much closer to God than I will ever be.  Sure, I have a warm place to sleep, plenty of food, and extra money to buy fun things.  But they have deeper faith than anyone else I know.  They have deep trust that even though their situation is bad, God is watching them and has them in His hand.  They believe and trust in God to take care of them.  Who then, is the rich one?”  -- Rebekah Wilson, Franklin, IN

EUROPE – “After praying for a few weeks, we felt at peace about the financial issues.  God was telling me to take a step of faith, that somehow He would bless me on this trip and that I need not worry about the finances.  Between summer 2009 and winter 2010, a seemingly miraculous goal was accomplished!  God had provided all the money I needed for the trip (over five thousand dollars), and then some!  My grandparents sent out letters to friends and family, letting them know what a prestigious trip I had been nominated for, and asking for their support.  At first I was skeptical, but God put it on the hearts of many to respond.  He proved Himself completely faithful despite my inability to earn that much money for myself.  In a way, one of the most important parts of the trip was how the finances to even go on the trip came about. It showed me how overwhelming the support of friends and family can be, and still reminds me of God’s goodness.” – Hannah Yates, Lexington, KY

ITALY – “The families that hosted us for dinner were the most hospitable people I have ever met.  Each meal would last for a few hours and would include a minimum of five courses, although a typical meal had seven.  Every piece of food that was on the table was straight from the family’s garden.  Between the amount of food and the time it took to prepare the meal, I felt so blessed to partake in each meal.  -- Emma DeVault, Reading, PA

HUNGARY – “After living with the Searls in Hungary for six weeks, my life will be forever changed.  I was challenged to bask in the richness of God’s love, plan, and purpose.  I was able to observe and interact with people who were truly lost and have no hope.  Simply being in the Searls’ home and observing their lives of total reliance on Him encouraged me and gave me a different look at what a relationship with the Lord can look like.  Interacting and observing closed off Hungarians challenged me to think in new ways about ministry.”  -- Kimberlee Tate, Albertville, AL

PERU – “Before going, I was a mediocre Spanish speaker.  I could understand, but it took me awhile to put together a sentence.  I am proud to say that on my last day in Chinca, I was able to fully translate for locals and people in my group.  I also became part of the culture by trying cow heart (which I would never ever ever do in any other circumstance).  On Monday, we were driven out to the bamboo structure that our group had built and were told this was actually a church, and we had a Monday night service in this bamboo church that we had built.  It was a very peaceful moment looking at the church then seeing all the village people coming out of their huts and sitting on the benches inside of the church.  We had built that church.  We had helped give a part of Chincha that may have never heard God’s word, the chance to experience Him in His house.  It was almost unbelievable, but the fact that God’s work had been done and will continue to be done in the bamboo church is something that I will never be able to let go of.”  - Sarah Reyes, Mount Airy, MD

PANAMA – “We had a tremendous opportunity to stay with one of the many rural tribes in the country for a night and two days.  This excursion during the trip happened to be one of my favorite parts.  And it is a part of the trip that I learned a great deal from.  We drove to a river where we got on a boat and floated to a remote island where an old Panama tribe lived.  For most of that day and the following morning, we helped them plant their crops and get their gardens ready for the growing season.  That night we partied with them and enjoyed their company and their food.  We also spoke with them about Christ.  What amazed me the most was that God had already been working in their lives.  These people had never been exposed to a Christian viewpoint, yet they had an understanding of what we were talking about with Jesus as a sacrifice and saving us from eternal death.  It blew my mind that God can work in people’s hearts who have never heard of Jesus.  The people of the tribe were a very tight-woven group and accepted us right into that fabric of love and acceptance.  I think that God was preparing them for this as well so that we would be comfortable to say what we needed to say.  More than half the tribe made decisions to follow Christ over those two days, and I will always remember the joy on the men and women’s faces that prayed the prayer for the first time and were given a Bible to read.  Here I experienced a change in perception.  God works in ways that we do not even fathom as possible.  I knew that God worked in mysterious ways, but I did not know He worked in such unthinkable ways.” – Christopher Hewett, Readfield, ME

PUBLISHED DEC 2010:

IRELAND – “One of my most touching moments with God during my entire trip was when I had my quiet time at Dundrum Castle.  Dundrum Castle was right up the road from the Crosspoint House, close enough to have my quiet times there in the evenings and watch the sunset over the beautiful landscape and bay of Dundrum.  One evening as I sat upon the wall of the castle, soaking up the rich exquisite beauty of the land, I suddenly opened my Bible to Palms 23.  Now beforehand, I was very familiar with that chapter, but during that very moment the Lord opened my eyes, and I was able to see through a completely different perspective.  However, after reading, ‘He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside still waters, He restores my soul,’ I immediately broke down because I felt as if God had wrapped His arms around me and said, ‘My daughter, I love you so much, I wanted to literally bring you to green pastures and still waters so I can restore you; rest in me, because I have big plans for you.’  I will never forget that moment because then and there the God of the universe not only comforted me but assured a calling and purpose on my life.”  - Megan Olson, Midland, NC

HAITI – “[Much of] my time in Haiti was spent sorting medicines at the medical clinic and doing construction work at a seminary.  Being able to help out with such menial and physical jobs really taught me something—you can serve God no matter what you do.  Most of the time, we think of missionaries as the people who are going into the jungle, preaching the gospel, or being the pastor of a church.  However, while I was in Haiti, I met people who are missionaries in a more non-traditional sense.  I met secretaries, treasurers, caretakers, mechanics, teachers, and builders, who are missionaries just as much as the person preaching at the pulpit.  These people were probably some of the strongest witnesses I have seen in my life.”  -- Micah Schmal, Raywick, KY

SOUTH AFRICA – “We undertook a face-painting ministry that allowed us to interact with the locals, witnessing to them while blessing them with free face-paint.  People were shocked to see a group of foreigners taking the time to face-paint and completely dumbfounded that we offered it as a free gift.  As we painted, many people begged to support us:  if we wouldn’t take money, they would go and buy paint to give to us.  When we started, we had one tray of face-paint and no funding to buy more.  After two weeks and over a thousand faces, we had the great blessing of giving four remaining boxes of paint to a local church, as well as over 400 rand (RSA currency) to a church family in need.  I got to witness God’s ability to take something small and multiply it.  It was like experiencing Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand.” – Chelsea Gates, Hodges, SC

PERU – “My favorite experience on the trip was also the hardest.  One day we went to the market and bought all different kinds of fruit.  After we had done that we drove to the edge of the city to the garbage dump.  As we were getting close we could see rundown shacks that did not even look livable.  We drove up into the garbage dump and handed out food to the people who were working there.  The people were looking through the garbage in order to find anything of any worth.  The smell of the garbage dump is something I can still recall to this day.  I don’t think I will ever lose that memory.  The smell was the most awful thing I have ever experienced, but that day it didn’t matter at all.  All that mattered was sharing a smile and some fresh fruit, playing soccer with little kids, and talking about faith with old men.           The thing that struck me the most was a conversation we had with one man.  He told us about how occasionally there would be groups of Americans who would come to the garbage dump.  Usually these groups would be from a college.  He told us how those college students wouldn’t even get out of the bus, but they just sat there and observed the Peruvians.  This man was shocked that we would get out and interact with them and hug their kids and give them something good to eat. This conversation broke my heart because it made me realize how arrogant Americans can be.  We can be so afraid to get our hands dirty that we miss out on incredible conversations with even more incredible people.” --  Jennifer Vandemark, Middleburg Heights, OH

SOUTH KOREA – “An experience on the trip that really moved me and meant a lot was when we went to the Lydia House.  It is a house for blind women who would otherwise be shunned by society.  There were about seven blind women who lived there, and we each got to go on a walk with one of them.  Prior to this experience, I was a little nervous because, generally, I do better with kids than elderly people.  But it was a great opportunity for me because it is not something I would have chosen to do, but it was truly enlightening.  Most of us did not speak a word of Korean, and several of the women did not speak any English.  But they still enjoyed the walk and were so happy and thankful.  I am always so amazed at how someone who is in such a difficult place in life can be so happy.  The women at the Lydia House really opened my eyes and touched my heart.  It was an incredible experience, and I still remember their laughing and smiling faces, even though we weren’t able to talk with them or understand them.  They enjoyed our presence and appreciated what little we did for them, and I will forever appreciate the everlasting feeling those women gave me.”  -- Kelly Cole, Lexington, KY

THAILAND – “I realized on this trip that there is much darkness and demonic presence in Thailand.  But what I learned is that when you are in God’s presence and ask that He come and shine down upon any situation, He does.  He will come and shower mercy and grace and love.  It’s unbelievable the extremes that I experienced on this trip.  I have felt and seen what complete darkness looks like.  I have also felt and seen what infinite light and beauty can look like.  God is unbelievable and works in unfamiliar and mysterious ways.”  -- Kirsten Katz, Dallastown, PA 

PUBLISHED JAN 2011:

CHILE – “In Chile, the Lord taught me the meaning of the verses in Psalm 139 about how the Lord’s presence and guidance are not limited to location.  My team and I quickly realized that the Lord is moving among the Chileans in amazing ways.  His Spirit is at work among them, giving them peace even as the threat of another earthquake looms over them.  The people pray like their lives depend on it, with the entire congregation agreeing with many a ‘Si, Señor’ or ‘Si, Padre.’  Their hearts seem ready to burst with hospitality, and they welcomed us with more love than we could have deserved.  The Lord’s presence is evident among them and would often bring us to tears as we sang the worship song ‘El Espiritu de Dios está en este lugal’ (‘The Spirit of God is in this place’). – Beracah Walters-Wulfing, Lebanon, TN

SOUTH KOREA “While I wasn’t able to understand any of the [worship] services because they were in Korean, I still felt so connected.  A connection that could only be explained by us all having the same love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  It was amazingly refreshing to spend time worshipping in another culture and in another language.” – Alexis Witman, Greencastle, PA

ANGEL HOUSE (Detroit, Michigan, Christian ministry to Muslim population) – “There was one handicapped Muslim boy that was on my [ball] team who was not very coordinated.  I had the ball, passed it to him, and he shot and made a goal.  When he looked over at me, he had the happiest expression on his face because he knew he was going to be congratulated.  Of course, we excitedly went up to him and congratulated him.  But his face was something I will never forget.  We learned that showing love for no particular reason would make Muslims confused.  They would wonder why we treated them so well and then ask questions.  This gives us the opportunity to share our faith with them.  It is a different way of showing your faith, but we were simply doing what God told us to do by loving others.”  -- Mike Rosecky, Oakland, MD

GUATEMALA – “The basic theme I found throughout the week was that God was continually showing me how to live a simple life that is focused on praising Him.  The people of Guatemala have no choice but to lead simple lives.  Their distractions are far more limited, their possessions far fewer, their schedules less packed, and their minds less filled with pop culture and the media’s ideas of what life should look like.  I want my life, in the midst of my American culture, to be less distracted, busy, and media dictated.  I want it to be full of Christ, His Word, His service, and His rest for my good, the good of the people I meet, and His glory.”  -- Lauren Anderson, Meadville, PA

HAITI -- “This was my fifth trip to Haiti but I had never been able to really love in my other trips.  Yes, I loved Haiti and my friends there meant the world to me, but this trip was different.  I didn’t just see people as friends, but I saw beauty.  Everyone is so beautiful there, and I have just fallen in love with them.  Some of my Haitian friends said that when I pulled up at the beginning of this trip and they saw me for the first time since the year before, they could see I was different and more beautiful.  They didn’t even now I had gotten saved!  God was just shooting out of my pores just like I had prayed for Him to do….  The fact is, life without Jesus is no life at all.  If there is no God, then there is no reason to live.  Everything would be pointless.  He pursued me and now I have seen him and long only to see Him more.  This trip to Haiti was one of many huge prayers that the Lord has answered for me, and I am so thankful.”  -- Maegan Rogers, Fairfield, OH

UGANDA “I taught jewelry-making classes to three overflowing classrooms of different secondary grade levels.  (My jewelry tools had been confiscated at the Belgian airport!)  One person I met on this trip that particularly stands out to me was a woman named Maureen.  She directed the projects at the organization I volunteered within southern Uganda.  She was a local, but had received her college education in England.  At first we didn’t really hit it off.  I got vibes that she didn’t like me, and I did not like her seemingly harsh ways.  However, things changed and it turned out that I understood most of her ways.  By the time I left, I realized Maureen was a good Christian woman who, like myself, had decided to devote her life to helping the oppressed and impoverished.  When I came over with all my Western ideas and plans, she quickly guided me on how to follow out specific tasks with a local and more effective perspective.  The main thing I learned from Maureen was that in order to maximize the positive effects of my efforts, I needed to focus less on handing out and more on teaching skills and therefore empowering.  Giving out food may help temporarily, but teaching students to make jewelry that they can then sell and use the profits to buy food, will sustain them much longer.  This was a somewhat harsh realization to me because I felt that I didn’t have many, if any, helpful skills to offer.”  -- Laura MacFarland, Lexington, KY

PUBLISHED FEB 2011:

INDIA – “People in America don’t depend on God like they do in that orphanage.  I don’t depend on God like those children do in that orphanage.  Those children have so much more faith than I will ever have.  They are so much closer to God than I will ever be.  Sure, I have a warm place to sleep, plenty of food, and extra money to buy fun things.  But they have deeper faith than anyone else I know.  They have deep trust that even though their situation is bad, God is watching them and has them in His hand.  They believe and trust in God to take care of them.  Who then, is the rich one?”  -- Rebekah Wilson, Franklin, IN

ITALY – “The families that hosted us for dinner were the most hospitable people I have ever met.  Each meal would last for a few hours and would include a minimum of five courses, although a typical meal had seven.  Every piece of food that was on the table was straight from the family’s garden.  Between the amount of food and the time it took to prepare the meal, I felt so blessed to partake in each meal.  -- Emma DeVault, Reading, PA

THAILAND – “I found a mission organization for teenagers and decided to go to Thailand.  It was a lot of money, so I started fundraising right away.  I did a yard sale and made twenty dollars.  I sold a lot of donuts with my sister who was traveling to Peru on a mission’s trip, and I sent out a lot of support letters.  By a few days before I was to leave, the website that was keeping track of all my donations said I had all of my money and more, plus some money people had given me to spend while I was there.  Raising all the money to go on a mission’s trip had been one of my biggest fears while I was deciding whether I would go or not.  God gave me more money than I needed.” – Allison Hubach, Montvale, VA

EUROPE – “I always knew that Europe was historically rich, but actually being in places that have been around for so long was awe-inspiring.  America is so young compared to the rich cultures and legacies of some of Europe’s oldest cities.  I want to travel to other parts of the world, too, and add even more angles to my world perspective.  Traveling has truly enriched my life and revolutionized the way I think about the culture of the world.  Though I’ve only seen a glimpse of life outside America, it is enough to make me believe that the country and culture in which I live are definitely not the most important.  I can’t wait to see what places God leads me to in the future.” – Hannah Yates, Lexington, KY

PANAMA – “We would do skits in the street followed by a time of discussion with the people in the street.  After one particular skit, a man approached me with very little English-speaking skills.  He said something to the effect of, ‘Can you talk to me?’  This was probably the extent of his English.  I said yes and began to try to speak to him in English.  He looked at me very confused and said something in Spanish which I gather to be along the lines of, ‘I don’t understand’ or ‘Can you rephrase that?’  As I looked around and saw that all the translators were busy, I became nervous and scared that this man would miss out on a chance to accept Christ.  I thought about asking him to wait for a translator, or even giving up, but God had other things in mind. 

I felt a huge urge to try speaking to him in what little Spanish I knew.  I thought to myself that I merely knew how to count to ten, how to say please and thank you, and a few scattered vocabulary words and verbs here and there.  What a ridiculous prompting for me to try such a thing!  Still God pushed me to do my best.  So I began speaking in ‘Spanish.’  The man’s eyes squinted as he followed along.  I could tell as I was talking that what I was saying wasn’t perfect, but it was getting the job done.  I did not remember even minutes after the conversation what I had said or how I said it; but at the end of the conversation, I showed him a symbolic picture of ‘us’ (stick people) on one side of a cliff trying to get to God on the other side of a cliff.  But sin makes a gap and eternal death is below.  I asked him in Spanish (which I did not know how to say) if he wanted to accept Christ into his life and follow him.  The man nodded his head and began to tear up and bowed his head.  I then spoke the salvation prayer in jumbled Spanish (with the man following along in more cohesive Spanish right behind me). 

Afterwards the man gave me a hug and took a Bible and was on his way.  I ran over to my group leaders and told them the incredible news of what had just happened.  I was just overwhelmed with God’s amazing power to do anything to save His children. I cried that day at my previous lack of faith, and my newfound vigor that we can do anything with God on our side.  I did not make the decision that day or that year, but that experience may have a large connection with why I have chosen my major to be Public Relations.  I have since considered myself to be a good communicator with people (which is all thanks to God and not to me).  I think that Public Relations is a good utilization of that gift and is my calling.  It may not have been the ultimate deciding factor, but that experience may have planted the seed for what I now feel to be my occupational calling in life.  It was one, among numerous others, that taught me about the immense power of God to change the way we think.” – Christopher Hewett, Readfield, ME

PUBLISHED MAR 2011:

ISRAEL – “These experiences have bled over into my biblical studies at Asbury.  Reading my books, I get a joy and an excitement when I can read the name of a place and picture the exact site in my head because I have been there.  Not only can I picture the places I learn about, now I have a greater understanding of the culture of Jesus’ day and how that influenced His life and ministry.  I can picture the Jews being wary of the Gentiles, and I can see all of their ritualistic practices being carried out each day.  I feel that I now understand Jesus as a Jew, not just as someone who has been adapted by Western Christians.  My study of the Bible has been forever changed by my experiences in Israel.”  -- Carolyn Draper, Puyallup, WA

ANGEL HOUSE (Detroit, Michigan, Christian ministry to Muslim population) – “This cross-cultural experience that I had over the summer was quite the learning experience.  The knowledge I gained has given me a solid foundation of the Muslim religion and has allowed me to be more competent in ministering to the people of that faith.  The practice of loving someone and expecting nothing in return is something we are all called to do and reaps eternal benefits with some people.  Who would have thought that just loving a Muslim can lead them to Christ?”  -- Mike Rosecky, Oakland, MD

SOUTH KOREA – “One of my favorite experiences in Korea was just walking the streets downtown in either Seoul or Busan.  At 5’10” and blonde, I did stick out in Korea.  Many times I would be walking down the street and a group of Korean students would run up to me and all start saying, ‘Hello, nice to meet you.  Hello, nice to meet you.’  I learned that the word for ‘hello’ in Korea really encompassed all of the English phrase, ‘hello, nice to meet you.’  Because this situation happened pretty often, I quickly learned the Korean phrase, ‘It is very nice to meet you as well.’  The look on the Korean kids’ faces when I would respond to them in Korean was priceless.  I loved it every single time.” – Alexis Witman, Greencastle, PA

HAITI – “My original purpose for going to Haiti had been to work in the medical clinic, but God had other ideas as to what I was going to do.  Another team came in during the second week, and I went with them one day to go to a hospital at a place called Milo.  As it ended up, we stopped at a small rehabilitation center along the way.  We were greeted by two nurses who were extremely hesitant to let us come in.  We had brought supplies and gifts, which they were willing to take, but besides that, they seemed to be ready for us to leave.  Then we volunteered to put together a small gym for the rehab center as well as pick up trash, and their perceptions of us changed.  As it turned out, we were the first team who had ever stopped there to actually help out.  All the others before us had been poverty tourists, wanting to take their pictures and leave.  When they saw we were actually there to help, they put us to work, and as we were about to leave, they told us that we had accomplished what would have taken them a couple of weeks to finish.  Personally, I found it a great comfort that we were able to help out those women who were such incredible servants.”  -- Micah Schmal, Raywick, KY

BRAZIL – “I have been out of the country before, but it was in a tourist setting, and I had very little true cultural experience. More importantly, though, I had never been in a Christ-centered foreign culture experience.  It was awesome for me to see other people who had grown up worlds apart from me in a different culture and spoke a language I barely understood, with God moving in and speaking through them.  I knew it was true, and always believed it, but it is different when you actually see it.  It means so much more, and makes my world much bigger than it used to be.” – Joel Noah, Martinsburg, WV

COSTA RICA – “My mom and I experienced the Costa Rican culture in a rare and unique way.  We served in the kitchen along with two ‘kitchen grandmas.’  The kitchen grandmas were two little old ladies from the church who helped us cook the Costa Rican way.  This was where we really got to see the culture.  Not only did we drive through the city every day just to get to the church, but we got to work with the locals.  Despite our language barriers, we got to serve Christ together.  Working with the kitchen grandmas was incredible.  We learned about their language, about the food, and about their love for others.  I love cooking, so it was great to learn about how they made their signature recipes such as beans and rice.” – Kylie Abegg, Conroe, TX

PUBLISHED APR 2011:

ISRAEL – “We learned a lot about current Israeli culture through simply being surrounded by it for the entire two weeks.  One specific cultural aspect that I remember was the distinct tension between Christians, Jews, and Muslims.  All three are present in Israel, each believing that it is their Holy Land and not having a relationship with the other two besides fighting over historical land.  It was astonishing to me, as a Christian, to be walking down the streets of Jerusalem, watching the Orthodox Jews praying and weeping at the Wailing Wall, while at the same time hearing the Islamic call to prayer blaring through loud speakers.  Also, before we could enter into the inner city of Jerusalem, we had to be escorted by guards through a security checkpoint, where they would not only take pocket knives, but Bibles as well.  Finally, some of my favorite aspects of culture, which is both current and biblical, were witnessing bar mitzvahs at the Wailing Wall.  I observed as mothers had to watch their sons become men over a wall that separates the men from women.  They would throw candy over the wall as their sons read from the Torah for the first time to symbolize that there is nothing sweeter than God’s word.”  - Savannah Montano, Wilmore, KY

ITALY – “The greatest lesson I learned is that God is the same God in Italia as in America.  We may serve and worship in different ways, and we may not speak the same tongue, but the Lord understands every language and wants to use each and every one of us for His kingdom’s cause.  If I allow myself to be open to the Holy Spirit like I was when I began my summer missions trip, then the Lord could really do a lot in me and through me.  The change must begin in me.  If I had to summarize my summer and put it in a title, I would call my summer “One God.”  When I am having a rough day emotionally and am missing Italia and all of the people I met and fell in love with, God reminds me that He is still the same God I loved and worshiped in Italia.  He meets me in that state of desperation, calms me, and reminds me of His faithfulness.”  -- Emma DeVault, Reading, PA

THAILAND – “Every time I was praying I could sense the spiritual battle being fought over the Thai people.  Those experiences gave me a more tangible idea of the power of prayer and the impact it can have on those for whom I am praying.  Prayer also got me through three weeks without friends or family and taught me how to rely on God more.”  – Allison Hubach, Montvale, VA

EUROPE – “When in London, my group attended an Evensong worship service at Westminster Abbey.  It was truly breathtaking and awe-inspiring to be part of a service in such a historic place.  The legacy of the location and the remarkable architecture both gave way to a beautiful choir’s amazing acoustics in the chapel.  It felt so good to be part of something so much bigger than myself, and I was reminded of the widespread draw of Christianity in this world, even in places I had never thought of before.” – Hannah Yates, Lexington, KY

UGANDA ­– “Our main project for this trip was constructing a home for a child-headed family we met the summer before.  This was very important to me because after seeing kids my age live in such horrible conditions, I couldn’t just accept that and walk away.  So before I even left Uganda the year before, I had a floor plan drawn up and reviewed by a local architect and friend.  I am very proud to say that the home is now completely constructed and furnished thanks to amazing Christian people who trusted and encouraged me throughout this project.” – Laura MacFarland, Lexington, KY

CZECH REPUBLIC --  “There are so many other stories that I wish I could tell, but the most important thing that I learned from going on this trip was that it was not about me and what I could do at all.  It was about how God’s love could be shown through me.  Nothing I could do or say would change the Czechs’ beliefs,.  I needed someone much more powerful than myself.  God worked in many amazing ways at the camp, and He is still working in that camp even now.  Someday, I hope to return to the Czech Republic, but if not, I hope to see each and every Czech student at that camp someday in Heaven.  Buh ti zehnej, God Bless.” – Rachel Halm, Ottawa, IL

PUBLISHED MAY 2011:

ISRAEL – “I think that God looks at all of the people in this area – Jews, Muslims, and Christians – and feels pain for the division and hostility between them.  And I have carried His broken heart home with me.  I never expected to feel so deeply for a region of the world like I now feel for Israel.  I still would not say that I love the people there – in fact, most of them still scare me – but a part of my heart has become infected with a burden for them.  I am so glad that I took this trip to Israel.  It has had a huge impact on my devotional life and my future plans, even if I’m not sure exactly how at this point.  I expect to return to the Middle East someday, though that time, I hope to truly encounter the people of those cultures, not just the other tourists.  My heart has been opened up by this tour in a way that I did not expect – a way that has allowed me to embrace the people of the world, whether past, present, Eastern, or Western.”  -- Carolyn Draper, Puyallup, WA

GUATEMALA“What I truly missed and will continue to miss are the children I had the blessing to meet.  I have never in my life met such beautiful, sacrificial, and caring people.  God’s presence is so evident in their lives.  The absolute joy they attain, even in the midst of seemingly negative circumstances is truly inspiring.  I went on this trip desiring to make a difference, but in the end, these children were the ones who taught me.  They have challenged me to reflect on my life personally, and where my priorities lie.  Because of coming in contact with these children, I have realized the beauty of fellowship, the beauty of selflessness, and the beauty of simplicity.” – Jessica Jacobs, Louisville, KY

SOUTH AFRICA – “Serving in South Africa changed my perspective of physical and spiritual reality, and I caught a glimpse of life and culture far different than that which I experience daily in the United States.  Each day, God taught me new lessons through a variety of people, places, and events; in the process of serving others, I found myself broken and created anew through the power of the Holy Spirit.” – Chelsea Gates, Hodges, SC

EL SALVADOR – “Many things that struck me as ‘different’ in San Salvador were due to the fact that we were working in a poverty-stricken area.  However, many aspects of the culture were different in a very good way.  I came to prefer many of the things about their culture over my own American culture.  I loved the slow pace of life and the way that their relaxed attitude about time nurtured long, conversational dinners and much relationship-building with only windows for air conditioning in the July heat of El Salvador.  Tears came to my eyes as I stood worshiping.  I see such passionate worshippers and followers of Christ much more rarely in the churches I have been to in the United States.  This is one thing I was impacted by during the week—I saw a people, a body of Christ loving their God with heart, soul, and mind as Jesus commanded.  I was also blessed to experience first-hand the international body of Christ.  We were immediately welcomed and loved and had a connection with the believers in El Salvador simply because we love and serve the same God.  The people’s sincere passion and commitment to God was evident, inspiring, and convicting.  I was encouraged throughout the week to be more purposeful about spending time daily with God, seeking His will, and serving others humbly.” – Rebecca Landry, Boone, NC

GRENADA  -- “The children at the children’s home were not the only ones drinking up the attention, but the children that lived at [their] homes also drank up the fact that we paid attention to them.  They would come hang out where we were staying for as long as they could.  At both places, the children were really sad when we had to leave and many children asked us when we would come back.  That was the hardest question ever to answer.  This child really needed the love of God that we were showing them, and it was so hard to tell them that it was impossible to say whether we would be back.  That is when I realized that I was just going somewhere for two weeks and then going back to my everyday life, but this was an everyday life for them.  Wanting someone to care about them and give them the time of day, so how could I possibly say I cared about them when I could not even tell them if I was going to come back.  That gave me something to think about, but hopefully we all conveyed that we did care for them even though we were only there for two weeks.  I hope that we got across that even though we were leavin, God would always be with them.   ” – Megan Casto, Leon, WV

PUBLISHED JUNE 2011:

UGANDA – “We visited several internally displaced persons camps in northern Uganda with the goal of learning more about the recovery taking place there.  We documented some stories and brought them back to the states and continue to educate people about one of Africa’s longest-running conflicts.  One of the main things I observed was the effects of over twenty years of rebel warfare on a rural population.  Towards the end of my trip, I traveled to Gulu district in northern Uganda and interviewed war survivors.  Northern Uganda had been ravaged by the Lord’s Resistance Army for over twenty years.  In 2006, peace talks started and the rebels moved out of Uganda.  However, peace talks failed and Uganda was just left with destroyed lives and property.  I got to observe this effect firsthand by interviewing a man who had been abducted by the rebels three times.  On the first day, this man was stabbed in the back repeatedly with a bayonet (we were shown the scars), then forced to carry the looted goods for four days.  When the rebels reached their destination, they told the man, ‘Now we will cut your lips off.’ And they did.  Through this man’s story, I was able to firsthand observe the effects rebel warfare has on innocent civilians.”  -- Laura MacFarland, Lexington, KY

CZECH REPUBLIC – “I try to keep in contact with the Czechs that I met at English Camp, especially Adela and Ondra.  I feel the Lord pushing me to continue my relationship with these two.  Already, Ondra has told me that he has accepted Christ, and I was so happy to share this news with my sister, Sarah.  She went back to the Czech Republic this summer as an intern once again, and she was able to talk with Ondra and discuss life and God with him.”  -- Rachel Halm, Ottawa, IL

SPAIN & ITALY – “I had been to some art museums before, but I had never really known anything about the artists when I was looking at their paintings or sculptures.  I did not understand the significance of their work.  When I walked into the Museo Reina Sofía, everything changed.  I had just completed a European history course my junior year of high school, and all the artist and movements were still fresh in my mind.  It was amazing to see and be close enough to touch the same pictures that were in my textbook.  The really groundbreaking moment, however, was when I saw Guernica.  Guernica is a famous Pablo Picasso painting that I had seen several times before in different books.  I knew the history of the bombings that inspired the painting.  I knew some of the imagery that was hidden in the painting.  But nothing could have prepared me for that experience.  None of the pictures give you a sense of the scale.  You can’t see the pain in the brush strokes in any textbook.  You can’t truly acknowledge the presence of the painting until you’re dwarfed by this mural that is almost 12 feet high and over 25 feet long.  It was completely remarkable.  It was the first time I’ve ever been able to genuinely appreciate and be influenced by visual art.” --- Robert DiMartino, Cincinnati, OH

NICARAGUA – “I did not directly receive a calling to move to Nicaragua and serve as a full-time missionary, but God did show me how I could help impact the world through my gifts.  He made clear to me that I will make frequent, short-term mission trips to other countries all around the world, making short documentaries for churches and organizations to spread the news and promote awareness to churches in the U.S.  – Joshua James, Waxhaw, NC

MEXICO – [Clown Ministry Team] “Midway through December I realized how completely crazy this seemed.  News reports of crime in Mexico were everywhere, and I was getting nervous about spending a week with a bunch of clowns I had never met.  On New Year’s Day my family started the drive to Atlanta where I would meet my team.  Once I got in the car I had a sudden peace about it.  I know that God is calling me to be a clown, and I knew that this trip was too perfect of a fit for me to be at all nervous about it.  When we passed questionable looking places, my natural instinct was to steer clear.  I didn’t think much of this until we passed a brothel with about eight girls outside.  My fellow clowns didn’t hesitate; they walked directly up to those girls and handed them balloons and stickers.  As I stayed back and hesitated I noticed something that caused a quick change in my worldview.  When you looked at those girls (and a lot of the children in this area), their eyes were filled with what I can only call sadness.  When those clowns walked up to them, those girls’ faces lit up (just like the kids), and they smiled.”  – Elinor Blankenship, Lawrenceburg, KY

EL SALVADOR “I loved getting to use my Spanish and being able to hear and understand conversations.  It also made me realize how much I didn’t know and how much I love the language and want to learn more!  God gave me answers to some things I had been praying about over the months prior to the trip.  God answered my prayers but in a way I was not expecting.  He used the week in El Salvador to instill in me a passion for Latin American culture and Spanish, and to direct me towards mission work in the future.  But more important to me was that He gave me peace, taught me that He is faithful, and that I must simply trust Him.  He gave me Himself and taught me that whether or not I am sure about the future, I can still have peace and confidence in Him.  It was a week that really defined where I want to go with my life.” – Rebecca Landry, Boone, NC