Instead of relaxing at home and enjoying their free time for spring break, the following students and faculty made the bold decision to travel to distant countries with limited resources, and serve using the God-given talents they’ve developed at Southern Adventist University.
The School of Nursing has been going on mission trips for more than 20 years but this is the first year students travel to Haiti, once for fall break last semester, and more recently for spring break.
About 20 people total including students and faculty revisited the orphanages from fall break last October. With this second trip of the school year, the School of Nursing is trying to establish an ongoing relationship with the people in Haiti.
The nursing students gave follow-up care to the children and took with them medicines like children’s vitamins, Tylenol, and Motrin. Medical tasks included assessments and wellness check-ups.
Even more impactful was the disaster relief training students conducted with ACTS World Relief at the Haitian Adventist University and another local church. One of the lessons was how to triage 200 people in 30 minutes in the case of another earthquake.
Beyond medical assistance, the trip also involved general interaction with the culture and the opportunity to share God’s love, said Dana Krause, associate professor in the School of Nursing.
Senior nursing major Maricel Zamoras said there was one point during the trip when the students began to cry after realizing how thankful they should be for everything they have.
“It took me out of my comfort zone; it was a very humbling experience,” Maricel said. “Also, culturally it really opened up my eyes.”
Under the direction of the History and Technology departments, seven students and four faculty went on a spring break mission trip to Haiti to assist in the establishment of an orphanage.
Mindi Rahn, instructor in the History Department, and John Youngberg, associate professor in the Technology Department, had visited Haiti in January to meet with the orphanage’s owners, and traveled there again to lead this most recent trip’s efforts.
The orphanage is located in the outskirts of the small town of Lascahobas. The decision to go to Haiti was made last September after Rahn’s father had prayerfully decided to support the project.
Also inspired to help, Youngberg rallied four of his students to work on the orphanage’s construction and build a roof for an elderly woman’s home. In order for his students to pay for the trip, they spent the school year working on a real estate project near campus.
Besides construction, students were also able to participate in Vacation Bible School activities for children and help physicians with a medical clinic.
“I received a large blessing and an increase in spiritual understanding and faith,” said Seth Hill, freshman construction management major.
Some students will return to Haiti this summer to finish the orphanage, Seth said.
Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE) developed a plan in 2010 to create a bakery in Uruguay that would employ the students of a local boarding academy. This spring break, Michael Daily, junior marketing major, and Laurence Chaij, adjunct in the School of Business and Management and project advisory board member, traveled to Progreso-Canelones, Uruguay to check the status of building renovations, conduct market research, and meet with possible student employees.
The bakery was created to help student workers earn up to 75 percent of their tuition, provide cash flow to the school, and produce multi-grain products not widely available in the country. In addition, the bakery was also designed to serve as a witness to the community of Progreso and make Adventist education more accessible.
One thing Michael said he noticed on the trip was some of the political issues that go into transferring equipment from Argentina to Uruguay.
“I definitely took away a better understanding of the culture and the market place there,” Michael said. “You need to be aware of the political risks of doing business in some of these countries. [The trip] made this real to me.”
In the past, groups of seven to 15 students have traveled to Uruguay to work on this project with the academy. Michael and Professor Chaij also visited Argentina to conduct market research and look into packaging and distribution for a future SIFE project that would provide another academy with sustainability.
“It’s an experience I’ll have for the rest of my life,” Michael said. “It will be good to say I got a degree when I get out of college, but it will also be good to say I was able to do this and help these people.”
Since 1971, Southern Adventist University students have been traveling on mission trips to Nicaragua. The Student Association developed a mission station on the east coast of the country and though political developments halted efforts after 1979, in recent years, Dale Walters, chair of the Technology Department, has been taking his students to help with vehicle maintenance every spring break.
This break was no different. Walters and Brent Learned, junior auto service major, spent 12 days in the small village of Francia Sirpi working on four cars and a four-wheeler for Tasba Raya Mission. These vehicles transport villagers around town, provide a means to get medical help, and carry equipment and supplies back to the mission.
“It give students a sense of what the Church is doing in other parts of the world,” Walters said. “We’re serving in a part of [Nicaragua] that has an extremely limited amount of resources.”
Brent said there are three benefits when construction majors go on mission trips like this: one, working with a limited amount of supplies makes you a better mechanic; two, you learn to rely more on God for guidance; and three, it helps you appreciate what you have.
“I see the need,” Brent said. “It makes me want to help out more longer term or sometime in the future.”