Testimonies 2013-14

PUBLISHED AUG 2013:

HONDURAS“At first I believed I was going on the mission trip to work with kids, but what I learned while there is I was on the trip to help the team communicate with the kids and vice versa.  In a way, I was like a mediator between those who talked English and those who spoke Spanish.  While at first it frustrated me because it took away from my time with the kids, I realized that what I was doing was what I need for my relationship with God.  I am in need of Christ to mediate between the one amazing God and sinful me.  I came to realize what a mediator did for me and God.  Without Christ I would not be able to communicate with God.  That may be frustrating at first but people stop trying after a while, like kids in Honduras illustrated. Upon realizing someone doesn’t speak the same language many times, after trying to get their point across for a little bit, they simply turned away and went to talk to someone else who spoke their language.  This happens to some Christians as they get frustrated if they can’t see or understand what God is doing and they turn away. It is truly amazing to realize how important a mediator is for my relationship with God. Thanks to the trip, I have become more thankful of Christ and my relationship with God.” – Charlotte Castro, Sophomore, Lexington, KY

SENEGAL – “One thing that God had placed on my heart before leaving for the summer was to reach out to those needy people who don’t get that much attention and love every day.  The beggars need God’s love just as much as anyone else, and I felt it was important for me to do my part in caring for them as much as possible.  I wasn’t too focused on the evangelism part of reaching out to them, but what I wanted to really focus on was making friendships and relationships with the people and showing God’s love to them that way.  I started a street ministry called ‘Walk and Talk.’  Students from Dakar Academy could meet up, buy food and water, and go out to the main streets by the school and just talk to the beggars that were around.  Little did I know that this street ministry would last all through the summer and the following school year.  ‘Walk and Talk’ grew throughout the school year and God continued to work in the beggars’ lives.  When I left after the summer, I would get updates every now and then about how the ministry was doing and every time I would hear about a new miracle happening in a Senegalese’s life.  I couldn’t help but be so overfilled with joy because God let this once small ministry grow to be so huge and so impacting. I never knew God would use me and my talents and passion for him to be able to reach out to this many people and start such a ministry.” – Kortnie Walters, Freshman, Arvada, CO

ITALY – “Overall this was a fantastic unforgettable experience. We were allowed the opportunity to grow as a choir and as a group of students.  I learned that it does not matter what culture or background you come from.  What matters is that you are able to create relationships with other Christians and children of God through the gifts God has given you.  I learned that the Asbury University Chorale is made of unique individuals that strive to share their gifts with others in hope of sharing God’s love to them.  I am so grateful to the university and Dr. Bell for allowing me to have this once in a lifetime opportunity.  I hope to use what I have learned about the Italian culture and the body of Christ to explain to others how vast God’s love is.  If it were not for this experience, I would not understand the power of music or the power of God in the same way.  I am extremely thankful for this experience, and for the impact that we may have had in Italy.” – Mary Stricklin, Junior, DeLand, FL

EL SALVADOR – “Have you ever had an experience that changed your view on the entire world?  I do not mean an experience that was memorable, or that you had a great time.  I mean an experience that once it is over, you will never be able to forget it because it opened your eyes to how narrow your view of the world around you was.  An experience that showed you how different other cultures and standards of living were compared to yours, and made you realize that your own language was not the only one in the world. This type of experience is strong enough to change your entire worldview, and for me it happened in the space of a week.”  -- Jeremy Hall, Freshman, Lancaster, OH

HAITI“Every person on the team was able to use his or her strengths and abilities. We had several students who could not lift a cinder block, but could hold and play with three kids at a time, or keep up in a game of soccer against the natives.  This was God’s way of telling me that love is one thing, but it can be displayed in so many different ways.  There is no such thing as saying, ‘Because I am working, I am loving more.’  We were all spreading the love of the kingdom by being present, having an attitude that reflects Christ, and keep on keeping on.

The one person that stands out to me the most when I remember Haiti is a small child named Edwo.  This little boy wanted to be held at all times.  Edwo longed for love, even though we couldn’t verbally communicate with him.  Edwo would hang on to people with an iron grip.  I could be digging holes, throwing buckets, or jumping rope, and I could never lose him because he’d be on my back.  Even though he didn’t know English, he repeated every word I said to him with quiet, but perfect pronunciation.  I saw Christ in him because I believe this is how I should act as a child of God.  Hang on to God even when times get hard.  Repeat what God says even if I don’t understand it at the time.”  -- Kiley Koeppe, Sophomore, Leo, IN

COSTA RICA – “I love seeing the beauty that God brings from pain.  Looking at some of the kids, you would never know what they had gone through.  Is it easy to hear their stories?  NO.  Is it easy to look into their innocent faces and know that they have been used and abused?  NO.  But now when I pray, I don’t see numbers and statistics, I see faces and names.  These kids are my little brothers and sisters, and I will fight for them. If it were Jenna or Briana (my younger sisters) on the streets, one would question my love if I did not do everything in my power to bring them freedom and redemption.  It is the same there. If I do not fight for them, do I truly love them?  The main phrases from this summer that God ingrained on my heart were:  never forget that God is faithful, never forget that God is good, never forget that God is BIG, and never forget that God loves you.”  -- Megan Kuhl, Junior, Wilmore, KY

PUBLISHED OCT 2013:

BELIZE – “God taught me amazing things on this trip.  I’ve been on missions trips before, but on this one, we were put into their lifestyles.  We got to experience what it was like to have basically nothing physically, but to be spiritually whole.  God showed me just how comfortable I was with my life, and changed that immensely.  He showed me about relying fully on Him and what He is going to provide and do for me, instead of depending on material possessions.” – Miranda Burdeshaw, Freshman, Dothan, AL

NICARAGUA – “Watching the children in Nicaragua made me think about the kids in America.  Children here in America, for the most part, are so use to getting new toys and new clothes every year for every holiday.  I was one of those kids, and I am still like that today.  I can’t wait until August because I know I am going to get new clothes for the new school year, and if I don’t get that much, I get upset. It’s not right, but it’s true.  I love new clothes.  But I went to Nicaragua and saw how these children dressed and acted.  They were dirty and wore rags most of the time, but they were always wearing a smile.  I might be dressed in nice clothes, but I am not always happy.  The new clothes make me happy for a week or two, but then the new clothes are old clothes.  But a smile can last forever.” – Elisabeth Cox, Junior, Versailles, KY

IRELAND – “What I learned from all these people was amazing. I learned that God is not an American.  Let it soak in for a minute.  God is not an American.  I learned that sometimes in our culture, we get so wrapped up in what we are doing with our country, that we forget the rest of the world. These people taught me that there are completely different ways of life outside of the American culture.  My vision was so narrowed from the culture I had always grown up in, but these people taught me to be more open-minded.” – Nick Grounds, Sophomore, Lexington, KY

EUROPE – “One of my first ‘wow’ moments was in London standing in front of Westminster Abby.  Being right where so many kings and queens have been was incredible.  Also, just how vital this place was in history was really neat.  The most fascinating thing for me though was the statues of the martyrs outside the church.  It’s always interesting to hear about people who stood for their faith in the face of death.  Some of their stories sent chills down my spine.  It challenged me to think about my own faith and my own love for God.  Would I stand up for God when threatened with death?  It’s easy to say, ‘Of course I would!  There is no doubt in my mind!’ But, it is a whole other thing to actually be faced with the situation.  I know the Lord would give me the strength to stand up for Him, but it is still a convicting thought.

My ‘wow’ moment in Rouen was seeing where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake.  She was a remarkable woman.  She heard God’s calling and followed it immediately.  She did not delay in her obedience to the Lord.  She trusted Him completely and was willing to die because she knew she was doing what God called her to do.  She is such a huge figure in French history, and seeing where she was burned was a remarkable experience.

After we went to Rouen, we went to Normandy, and I had one last ‘wow’ moment.  A hush fell over our group when we went to the American cemetery.  There were so many lives lost in the attacks on Normandy in World War II.  If I remember correctly, there were over 6,000 graves.  So many soldiers gave their lives fighting for their country, for our freedom.  These men showed intense loyalty and dedication to their country.  They were willing to become soldiers, leave their families and friends, and fight for America knowing that there was a great possibility that they would die.  Being there gave me a new respect for the men and women who fight for my freedoms.”  Fairynne Mathison, Sophomore, Weirton, WV

GUATEMALA – “Throughout this whole trip I felt so many different emotions, and God really moved through me and guided me to make decisions on what I really want to do with my life.  It had been on my heart before going on this trip that maybe my love for traveling, people, and Jesus meant that I am called to the mission field  But having no experience on mission trips, I wasn’t sure if I was really ready to make an educational decision to study missions at school.  With all that happened and how much I learned and grew and helped others grow, I really decided that missions is what I want to go into.  We are all called to do some form of missions, to tell the world of our Savior Jesus Christ, and going on this trip made it so clear that this is what God planned for me, that this is what God wants me to do with my life. I know it won’t always be an easy thing, but I know that it will be a worthy thing to go.  God really showed me what love was on this trip and what it’s like to be loved even by complete strangers from a foreign place.  His grace got me on this trip by providing for me financially, and I truly believe it’s because He wanted me to see what is going on in Guatemala and how badly they need Jesus and how badly I need Jesus.”  -- Jamie Baker, Sophomore, Lexington, KY

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – “My December trip to the Dominican Republic marked many firsts for me.  It was my first time out of the country, my first mission trip, and the first time I had really opened up my heart and allowed God to initiate a change in my life.  It was a truly wonderful and life-changing experience that really opened my eyes to what Christians are called to do in this life.  I didn’t know what exactly this trip had to offer me spiritually, but I knew that it would change me by the time I returned to the States. 

On the morning of our departure from this beautiful country we had all come to love, we held a sunrise baptism service.  It was there along the shores of the Caribbean Sea, surrounded by friends and teammates, that I and two of my brothers in Christ professed our love for and belief in the one true God and His Son Jesus who came to Earth to die on the cross to wash away our sins.” – Chad Warner, Senior, Lexington, KY

PUBLISHED NOV 2013:

BRAZIL – “Though I had many, my personal favorite love success story involved a nine-year-old boy named Willian.  Ever since we arrived, Willian had always been a loner.  He was overly aggressive and insecure because he walked with a limp from his abuse.  One day, I was walking down to the small livestock barn with a few of the orphans, and Willian came along.  We were going to feed the chickens and two baby calves. I got everything ready and gave the bottles of milk to two of the little boys.  As they fed the calves, I took pictures of everyone interacting with the animals.  Willian watched my camera with amazed interest for a while then cautiously came over.  He asked if he could try, and I handed him the camera.  He took a few pictures of me, and I did silly poses with his younger brother, Gabriel.  For the first time in the week I had been at the orphanage, Willian smiled and laughed.  We switched positions and I took pictures of Willian chasing chickens with a huge smile on his face.  As we walked back, I told him I had fun and asked if I could take a picture of the two of us.  At first he seemed hesitant, but then smiled and we took the picture.  I said thank you and he gave me a hug.  This was very out of character for Willian, because he had issues expressing emotions.  I hugged him back and then, with a smile, he gave me a little punch, which I also returned.  Even though this was a very small breakthrough for Willian, I knew I had planted a seed of God’s love in Willian’s heart.

Before this trip, I was planning to attend Asbury University as a Psychology major and Media Communications minor.  Through this trip, God showed me a drastically different plan for my life.  I wanted to help people who had been hurt.  People who had been through kinds of tragedy I could never imagine.  People who needed God’s love.  The least of these.  I changed my major to a double major in Biology and Psychology with a minor in Missions.  I am planning on attending medical school and traveling abroad to help people like the orphans with their physical and mental scars from abuse they have endured.  Brazil forever changed me, and I thank God every day for my experience there.”  -- Meredith Anderson, Sophomore, North Canton, OH

HAITI – “The most interesting person I met while I was [in Haiti] was a witch doctor who lived just outside the seminary.  He was very nice to our group which caught me by surprise.  After our meeting, I asked one of the missionaries why he did not hate us considering we were telling people they did not need witch doctors, instead they need Jesus to be their doctor.  The missionary told me that witch doctors believe that when you cast a curse, for it to work properly the person being cursed has to have the devil in their life.  As Christians, they know there is no room for the devil in our lives and if they cast a curse on a Christian, it is thought that the curse will bounce back onto them.  They are nice to us because they fear our God, because they know that God is more powerful than Satan and yet they still serve him, because it is their only source of income.  It is sad to see the devil’s hold on these wonderful people, but every day God is at work.

I could go on and on with hundreds of stories and things I experienced while I was there, but if I had to put it into just a few words, ‘It was the most amazing, life altering, and strengthening trip of my life.’ I have fallen in love with the people of Haiti.  I love their loving personalities, hospitality, friendliness, and fellowship.  They are truly a people on fire for God.  I simply cannot wait to return, and I hope to go back as soon as I can.  I would also like to explore areas of ministry there involving children and doing a Vacation Bible School with them.  I really feel God calling me back and I cannot wait to answer that call.  I often pray asking God what He wants me to do with my life, and I think I may have finally found something I can do well.  Something that uses my gifts and makes me feel fulfilled.” – Samantha Hulmes, Sophomore, Salem, NJ

GUATEMALA – “Besides digging pits for irrigation, some of my team and I got the special privilege of helping build a birthing center.  This was definitely the highlight of my trip.  The woman who was in charge of this clinic was originally from the States, but moved to Guatemala when her mother became a missionary.  Her mother was a doula, and when Anita finally turned thirteen, she delivered her first baby and followed in her mother’s footsteps.  It had always been her dream to build and open up her own clinic so that mothers who could not afford to go to the hospital could go to her clinic and have their babies in peace.  It would also give the mothers more time to rest up than they would have in the hospital.  So when my team came, we got to mix lots of concrete and pour some of the floors in the birthing center. It was such a blessing to be able to make such a difference in saving the lives of babies, as well as to make Anita’s ministry become a reality.  She cried when she saw all the work being put into the dream which God had placed in her heart.  It was a truly moving experience.  By the end of that summer, the birthing center was completely finished and Anita is still delivering babies in the name of Jesus to this very day.”   -- Amanda Waring, Junior, Carlisle, PA

MEXICO – “The man that was working with us was named Jose and at one point I stopped digging and asked him about his life.  His response blew me away.  He said he was a recovering heroin addict who had overdosed twice and spent some time in prison for stealing money and breaking into homes.  He had been there [Rancho de Cristo] one month and was now completely clean and proceeded to tell us that he didn’t have a penny to his name.  He stayed at the ranch free of charge, as all the men do, and has free meals.  His next comment was what really got me.  He said, ‘I have all I need.’  This coming from a man with no money, no house, no job, and few clothes, yet he has all he needed, because he had God.  Now coming from an American home with three televisions, four bedrooms, a kitchen, dining room, family room, living room, and three bathrooms for four people, not to mention all of the clothing, money, shoes, and my job, this surprised me.  I thought maybe this is one of the main things God wanted to teach me during this trip.” – Steven Trevor Smith, Sophomore, Columbiaville, MI

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – “The last day we were there we went to an extremely poor sugar cane village and gave them food and played with the kids.  It was our favorite part of the trip because these people had nothing, and they told us that they would be praying for us.  We asked why, thinking if anything we should be the ones doing the praying, and they answered us saying they knew we had a lot of stuff in America, and that gets in the way of our relationship with God.  They don’t have much, so they don’t have to worry about that, and they wanted us to be close to God just like they were.” -- Andrew Harris, Senior, Lexington, KY

PUBLISHED DEC 2013:

TRINIDAD – “I never had thought of mission work before in my life and honestly, probably would have never gone if it was not a requirement at Asbury.  I put off this requirement almost to the last minute, but I know this was the ideal time for me to go so God could call me to serve in another country more permanently.  If I would have gone on a trip even a year ago instead of now, I do not think I would have been okay with hearing that I have been called to serve as an occupational therapist in another country.”  -- Karli Lichtenberger, Graduated Senior ’13, Crystal Falls, MI

PANAMA – “The whole experience of being in Panama has completely changed the way I see myself, America, the world, and God.  Coming to the realization that my reality is not true for most of the world certainly did a work on my moral development in accepting that in this moment while I write this paper, there are children starving, people dying without knowing the glory of God, and there are those striving to be a servant of the Lord in hostile areas. 

Being able to experience what it will be like to one day eventually attempt to marry the world of psychology to Christianity on the mission field is an opportunity that I am excited to participate in.  One of the first things I became keenly aware of was the high rate of infidelity and marriage separation thus leading to child rebellion.  Having the chance to meet with an American missionary in Panama, Steven, I was able to better understand what it was like to be a counselor in Panama.  Marriage and family counseling was his specialty and the most common counseling subject was divorce.

What I did not understand before I spent six weeks in Panama was the fact that Panama does not need a young, educated, American female to come in and take over.  What they needed, and wanted, was to have a true, genuine relationship with someone that they trusted truly cared about their life, health, and spirit.

While I was in Panama, I did not need to fill my life with useless things that just fade away. Instead, I spent my time focusing on building relationships and spending more time with God.  I had a lot of time on my own and surprisingly enough, I never felt lonely.  I, for the first time in my walk with Christ, learned what it meant to have a relationship with Jesus.” – Jessica Stephens, Graduated Senior ’13, Athens, TN

PUERTO RICO – “This trip was nothing but a blessing.  Not only did we get to build our relationship amongst ourselves, but work together to serve for God’s glory.  Seeing each camper improve daily at the [volleyball] camps was such an awesome experience, especially the much younger players.  I loved every part of this trip, even though sleep was at the bottom of the list.  I can’t wait to see what else God has in store for us as a team and how else we will represent Christ.” – Catherine Starr, Sophomore, Lexington, KY

EUROPE – “One feels very small when comparing yourself to the mass of life going on in the world around you.   To really grasp the idea that you and every single person you have even known are less than one percent of the total population is very humbling.  Suddenly the troubles at my school or work seem very miniscule.  When I hear about the protests taking place in Egypt or Brazil, Libya or Syria, it’s no longer just a reporter or a statistic telling the story.  I am confronted with the overwhelming sense of meaning in knowing that those numbers are actual people with real feelings, stories, and experiences that lead them to that point. No matter where you live, it is overwhelming to learn how small you really are.  The intertwining of our lives is so intricate, it is unfathomable.” – Will McBride, Junior, Orange Beach, AL

SPAIN – “One of the most rewarding friendships I gained [while studying abroad] was with an Austrian student named Niki.  She was studying at the University of Sevilla, and we met through a Christian Bible study for international students and connected right away.   Niki knows a lot of English, but we primarily communicated in Spanish.  She was a great encouragement to my faith and a really wonderful person to know. I learned that there is so much in common between people who have very different cultures.  It also completely affirmed why I chose Spanish to study—without this language knowledge, I would never have been able to love and communicate with my friends Alejandro, Isabel, and Niki.  Looking back, I was so closed-minded to the idea of making international friends; I didn’t think I would care to know them or we wouldn’t have anything in common.  I am so glad the Lord put these people in my life and I was able to spend time with them and learn to love them for who they are.

I now have a greater desire to live abroad, but also a greater understanding of how different—and how rewarding—it can be.  I have seen how the blessing of the Lord is so much fuller than what I could have asked for, and how he is a generous God who gives good gifts to his children.  I am so grateful for the opportunity to have lived abroad, and the appreciation it has given me of the sweetness of new places and the pull of a home.”  -- Amber Parsons, Senior, Gilbert, AZ

SENEGAL – “I learned that God can use anyone to do his work.  Even if the person doesn’t know the local language very well or has no idea what they’re doing in the mission field.  If the person has a heart for God and wants to passionately show Christ’s love to those around them, God will use them, in simple or extravagant ways.  God is calling me to be a missionary in a village and I hope to start my own form of basic education schools for the local villagers so that they have access to the education they deserve to have.” – Kortnie Walters, Sophomore, Arvada, CO

PUBLISHED JAN 2014:

COLOMBIA – “The closest friendship I made during my time in Colombia was with our translator Elvis.  Elvis was so much fun, and the fact that he spoke English made him much easier to talk to than the other Colombians. One night I asked Elvis if he would share his story with me, and it is something I will never forget.  He began with a question:  ‘Have you ever wanted to die?’ As I sat there listening to Elvis’ story, I waited confidently for a happy ending. It never came. While I was grateful for the difference God has made in his life, I was stunned by the amount of pain that still remained. When Elvis was finished, he looked at me and asked, ‘Are you going to stop talking to me?’ His question caught me by surprise. I looked at my new friend in disbelief as I realized that he was expecting me to stop loving him because of the mistakes he has made. This was the moment that the pain of Colombia became so real to me.  What these people need is simply someone to love them regardless of their past, and now, instead of seeing the pain of a stranger, I was seeing it on the face of my new best friend.” – Taylor Diehl, Junior, Waynesburg, OH

TRINIDAD“It felt strange being home because when I was in Trinidad, I didn’t have my cell phone, I didn’t have social media, I didn’t have a lot of the things that occupy my daily life.  It felt great not having those little things because it gave me more time to truly appreciate being with the people on my team and truly enjoying just being in the presence of God without having all the distractions of being in America.

I definitely see myself doing missions in my future.  Before this trip I was scared of mission work and didn’t want to leave the comfort of the USA.  I am very ready to do more mission work and working potentially in sports ministry after Asbury.  I now see the huge significance of missions and ministry and how they can really change lives, because they changed mine.

I am now at peace with God. Before the trip I felt in a way at odds with God and didn’t give Him complete control of my life.  After the trip I saw how He worked in my life, and I let Him have complete control.  A second way the trip has changed my life is that it has shown me that God has a plan for my life, and each day I find out more of that plan and see more of how God is at work in my life, and that gives so much peace.  The third way this trip changed my life is by seeing the work that is still to be done in our fallen world.  I see now that as Christians we have a heart for the brokenness in our world, and we should have a desire to do God’s work in this world.” – Caleb Benge, Senior, Louisville, KY

ITALY“Seeing all the places and objects that I had studied about this year was incredible and made the history come alive to me. We spent most of our time at ancient historical places.  I ate gelato on the steps of the Pantheon, explored the Colosseum, had an impromptu departmental meeting in the Roman Forum, watched my friends race in the Circus Maximus, and picked flowers at the Baths of Caracalla and at the Palatine Hill.  I saw the Pope, a 2nd century Mithraic temple buried underneath a church, and the bronze Capitoline She-Wolf.  I saw the Seven Hills of Rome from the top of the Castello Sant Angelo and walked along the Tiber River.  I shopped by the Fontana di Trevi, ate at McDonalds by the Spanish Steps, and walked past Trajan’s Forum.  I caught a glimpse of Rome’s old glory when I stood on the steps of the Victor Emmanuel Monument, and I witnessed its faith at mass in St. Peter’s Square.  The city was so beautiful, the people so friendly, and the history so interesting that I decided to look into a semester of studying abroad in Rome.” – Emaleigh Robson, Junior, West Bridgewater, MA

HONDURAS“I cannot even begin to measure the personal growth I experienced during my time in Choluteca.  I was challenged, stretched, and convicted in almost every way, but I was also uplifted and enlightened. When our team visited the vocational school which Larry Overholt has helped to establish in Choluteca, I came to realize the value of opportunity and choice. Many of those students have only one chance to improve their lives and only one or two paths which they can take to do so. I, on the other hand, have been blessed with many opportunities to become the person that God made me to be, and I often have so many choices that I am overwhelmed and frustrated that I must decide.  My time in Choluteca helped me to appreciate the beauty of choice and the freedom of decision, both of which are beautiful gifts from God.” – Kelsey Adams, Senior, Brandenburg, KY

ENGLAND [Oxford Summer Programme] – “Emotionally, we were stretched. With sparse communication to home, we were forced to form relationships within our group. We were in the rare instance of all being at the same place: the start. It was a bit like the first day of preschool, except instead of the main question being about favorite colors, it was about the morality of imposing religious standards in a government of freedom. These dense topics, often ones that have caused countries to go to war, were uncomfortable. They tugged at issues deeply gouged into our human hearts. Spiritually, we encountered awe in pure form. We were required to take a course on the history of the English church. We learned the symbolism, the sweat, the faith that went into building cathedrals and walking opposite the current in times of reformation and turmoil. We drew metaphors in the stories of saints to our own mundane struggles and found hope. We found quiet to consider the character of God and question Him as we tilled the garden of our minds in the rich soil of free time. Mentally, quite obviously, we were stimulated. However, this comes last, not first, because it was started by the experience of all the others. The sensations of the physical, power of the emotional, and gravity of the spiritual demanded the explanation from the mental—or the lack of explanation. Overall, this experience can best be described as philosophical because that word deals with the infinite, the changing of self, the love to explore, and the necessity of being intimate with living.” – Katherine Oostman, Senior, Albuquerque, NM

GUATEMALA – “Even though they barely have a penny to their name, they don’t hesitate to help those who need it. I try to remember this in my daily life because I have everything I could ever need and sometimes don’t bother to offer assistance to someone who needs it…. By far my favorite part of Guatemala was playing and interacting with the kids at the school and church. The food that we served the kids at school was not the most appetizing meal for someone used to American food. A lot of the times, the food that the kids received would be their only hot meal for the day. That, in and of itself, was one of the most powerful images I saw. I’ve never had to worry about going hungry or not know when my next meal was going to be. I complain about school food and don’t eat some of the food my mom works hard to fix. But these kids don’t have that option. They get one small meal and that’s it. They don’t have a choice in the matter. They either eat it or go hungry. This experience has made me more aware and thankful for the food that I have access to. I don’t complain nearly as much about food now.

My experiences in Guatemala have truly changed me. I feel like the people of Guatemala gave me so much more than I could ever give to them. I admire them in more ways that I can name. I was able to give them a few material items and spend some time with them, but they taught me humility and faith. They showed me what really matters in life. Most of all, my time in Guatemala has lit a fire in my heart for missions. I don’t think I can truly be happy living my comfortable life here in America when most of the world is suffering. I now feel like it’s my responsibility and purpose, because I have the means to go out and serve ‘the least of these’.” – C. Blake Ingram, Sophomore, Mt. Sterling, KY