On a mission
This summer, Northwest Nazarene University sent out four teams to foreign countries in an effort to make a difference and exemplify what it means to serve. Groups of students traveled to Haiti, Colombia, Poland and Argentina.
In May, seven students and two leaders traveled to Port-au-Prince, Haiti on a trip that concluded a yearlong fundraising effort at NNU known as Rippleffect. Hope Home, an orphanage that provides care for severely mentally and physically disabled children, was finally able to install a new water pump and large cisterns thanks to the fundraising campaign led by NNU students.
Not only did the team install the new pump and cisterns and renovate the orphanage, they also built meaningful relationships with the people there. NNU Director of Community Life Grant Miller, one of the leaders on the team, offered his thoughts on the experience, saying, “One of the best parts of our time was the opportunity to sit down with the caretakers on our last day at Hope Home and to hear their stories.”
He continues, “It was a wonderful chance to reflect on the advantages we have here in the U.S. and to think about how important it is to not only care for orphans but also those who have committed their lives and careers to taking care of those children.”
“I praise and thank God that I had the opportunity to experience Christian relationships the way God intended them to be."Medellin, Colombia
Another team, made up of eight students and two leaders, was sent out to Medellin, Colombia. Their primary project was running a science camp for local Colombian students. Outside of the science camp, the team served with the Evangelical Seminary of Colombia by feeding the homeless and ministering to the community.
As important as feeding those who are hungry is, the team also made it a priority to show love to those they served. Despite the language barrier—none of the homeless people spoke English—the group from NNU was still able to impact the lives of many and exemplify Christian servanthood.
Pre-med student Lexi Johnson reflects on the connections she made while in Colombia, commenting, “I praise and thank God that I had the opportunity to experience Christian relationships the way God intended them to be. I now know how to have Christ-like relationships, and that is invaluable.”
For 15 days, nine students and two leaders represented NNU in Krakow and Poznań, Poland. This team spent much of their time serving the community through the Sweet Surrender Coffee Shop, which cooperates with the Poznań Church of the Nazarene. In addition to the coffee shop ministry, the team served in light construction projects and visited local schools in an effort to connect and build relationships with the students there.
While attending the weekly church service in Poznań, the group from NNU was welcomed with a warm reception. One of the leaders on the trip, NNU Director of Residential Life Karen Pearson noted the incredible atmosphere the team found at the church service, saying, “The congregation welcomed us and it was great to fellowship with new friends and believers.”
On a trip that lasted 20 days, nine students and two leaders traveled to Pilar, Argentina. This trip fulfilled the senior projects of four engineering students, who designed a community greenhouse here at NNU. While in Pilar, the team implemented that design and constructed a greenhouse for a neighborhood to use. When the team wasn’t working on the greenhouse, they could be found in community centers, schools, churches and homes. The team sought to make a difference in the community spiritually, relationally and physically.
This team had the opportunity of bringing an extra student along, Austin Thomas, who served as a videographer for the trip. From his unique fly-on-the-wall perspective, Austin offered his thoughts on the trip, saying, “I think the value of this trip is not that it changed me, or made me a different person. The value of this trip, and others like it, is that it reminded me of what it means to truly serve others.”