San Diego, CA Service/Learning Trip

Cost of trip: $1,000/student

My name is Christian Perdomo and I led a group of 6 students to San Diego.  During our time there we had the amazing opportunity to work with a variety of local organizations with the main focus of learning about immigration in the United States.

This is the fourth year in a row that Gordon has returned to stay at Iglesia Presbiteriana Emmanuel in San Diego.  This was my second year visiting the church and I loved seeing the growth they had experienced within the year and a half I was gone.  The church is made up of primarily undocumented immigrants and their families, so we were able to hear many first hand accounts of what it is like coming into the US and how they are treated by communities they live in.  We were able to have a panel discussion with members of the church which was facilitated by the pastor of the church, Pedro which involved a Q&A and some biblical readings which helped us gain a new perspective on the issue of immigration reform.

We were able to volunteer at an organization called Presbyterian Urban Ministries, PUM, for the first few days we were there.  The regular volunteers told us that they were very behind on sorting clothing donations and packing food bags which they hand out to people in San Diego who are in need.  We were able to talk to the people who came in and several of our team members were able to pray alongside them.  One man who came in was unemployed and while we were there he told us he had a job interview lined up so we prayed for him and by the end of the trip were were notified that he had gotten the job.

We spent one of the following days taking a tour of the border with Border Patrol officials and we listened to a presentation of what they believed the major concerns were.  It was important to get a different perspective and hear what actually goes into doing the job of the people who protect our borders.

We spent another day working with and learning from an organization called Border Angels.  This organization helps people who have and are currently crossing the border.  They do so by providing connections to attorneys and medical services as well as putting water stations in the desert to help people survive their journey.  By far one of the most sobering experiences was painting small wooden crosses which we were told would be placed on the graves of people who were found in the desert and buried in a certain place

Just before we left Pastor Pedro told us how much he appreciated having us come every year because the people have benefited from being able to tell their stories and that the youth group, with whom we spend a considerable amount of time, look up to us.  I could not express to him how much we appreciate the church’s continual hospitality and friendship as well as the lessons they have taught us on how to better love our neighbor.

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“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” Leviticus 19:33-34

USX Detroit Service Learning Trip-Spring Break 2015

Over Spring Break this year, a team of 9 Gordon students and a faculty advisory went to Detroit, Michigan to serve with MACC Church and gain a deeper understanding of poverty in Detroit and poverty on the global scale.

The overall cost of the trip was approximately $1,100, however many students did not have to pay the full amount because of scholarships awarded and a surplus in fundraising. We were all very grateful that the LORD provided monetarily for the trip in the same way that He provides for all things.

About half of our time was dedicated to work projects and home demolition for reconstruction. Many of the homes in Detroit have been torn apart or are run down from being scrapped for metal and wires from robbers. People still inhabit these homes, but the living conditions are brutal. The team solemnly helped in any way that it could and remained in good spirits in the same way that the families we spent time with were very thankful for what they had. Many of us learned of our privilege in living in a well to do part of the US and how much we have to be thankful for.

The other half of our time was spent learning about the injustices of poverty in the US. because of racism and class-ism for example. We learned about many of the lives of native Detroiters and how difficult life is for them for reasons like race or class. Many of these impoverished families had various instabilities in the family culture, education, etc. Unfortunately, many of these people are forgotten by the national and even state government. An important lesson we learned about the issue of poverty is that most people in poverty are impoverished because of circumstances outside their control or because it is generational poverty. They are not necessarily at fault for finding themselves in poverty. This system is broken in itself and the many flaws in it work against minority people groups in all aspects of their lives. It was an incredibly difficult reality to deal with given that most of us had never had to deal with such an issue such as poverty. Above all we learned that the most important thing for us to do is value the individual for who they are, an image-bearing human being created by God. In the LORD’s eyes we are all the same and inequalities on Earth do not transcend into Heaven.
– Philip Mansour10258590_10153087815821827_2404872382353175241_n

What Is A Christian Family For? – HAITI 2015

The Call:

“… I will bless you and make your name great, and I will make you a blessing to others… All the families of the earth will be blessed through you.”

(Genesis 12: 2-3)

When God gave this promise to Abraham, He did so with all the families of the earth in mind. This to mean that even our families, years and generations later, can be a part of the blessing that was promised to Abraham.
It is a spiritual inheritance.
Belonging to the Lord, we have not been blessed just to be blessed….
No! We have been blessed to be a blessing to others.
And this applies to our families. God wants us to have not only our own families in mind, but all the families of the world.
This is what a Christian family is for.
We, the ordinary people in a family, are saved to serve the extraordinary purposes of God.
We, the ordinary people in a family, must use whatever materials, substances, social standings, influences and honors God has given us for the good of others.
I, an ordinary member of this family, would like to share a story about how I met one of my sisters.

The skill… I mean the Gift:

I never took speaking Creole to be anything special. Sure, I could answer the phone at home even when a 509 number appeared on the caller ID. And yes, I could understand my father’s philosophical advisory speeches, which were too elaborate for him to express in English. And of course, it was convenient for camp counselors and teachers to have me in their sections when Haitian parents came around with questions, but had only a few English words in their vocabulary. And thankfully, I understood my mother’s stories of her childhood in Haiti.
… Seven years later, Career Services has me putting “Fluent in Haitian Creole” on my resume. A skill, but I’m getting used to calling it a Gift.
This gift allows me to communicate with some of the most inspiring people. It allows me to be friend: to share in a laugh, share a story, a prayer and much more. My gift of language allows space for comfort… a space for genuine human flourishing.

The work:

Whenever I get the chance to go down to Haiti with Gordon (this being my second time) to work with PID, I am always placed in their Medical Clinic. There, I translate for the American medical personnel volunteering, as well as cause trouble, the good kind, for the Haitians who work all year round.

(Proudest Achievement: Getting the firm, serious, somehow intimidating, professional, can’t be fooled by no one Dr. Paul to crack a smile that lasted till the day I was gone. Can you put that on a resume?)

This year I translated for Sarah and Emi, two ICU nurses from Mass General Hospital, my two mommies. #TheFam #3Musketeers #FightingSicknessAndRacialPrejudiceOnePatientAtATime.
(Pause: I often encountered people who did not want to be consulted by the White nurses… This hurts in such a confusing way. No further comments.)
#ForeverYourPetitChou #TheseWomenAreFabulous
The other Gordon Students spend their time doing construction with PID, building homes for Haitian families to live in. I wish I got the chance to do some work with them on the construction site, but then I wouldn’t have been available to meet my sister, who I am so excited to tell you about.

The Story:

Two years ago the man she loves left. They had planned to get married and to have a family together, to travel to Guadeloupe in search of a better life and opportunities. All was well, until they tried to start having children. She could never get pregnant. They tried over and over and over again… but nothing. So, he left.
(I’m not sure about other cultures, but it is pretty important in our culture for a woman to be able to give a man children. Adoption is not a very common option; I believe that is a Western thing.)
For two years after he left her, she questioned her self-worth, she cried, she tried traditional home remedies such as herbal teas and fruits, she prayed… She begged God for a child, telling him even if that child were to be disabled in some way she would still love him/her unconditionally… She would go to the orphanage that was near by, where the majority of the kids were disabled. She would ask to play with them, but she was never allowed access (they are very careful with the children). Instead she contended herself with playing and tickling their hands through the openings in the fence. My sister loves children and she so badly craved one of her own… Someone to pour her love into.

The Story:

Two years ago the man she loves left. They had planned to get married and to have a family together, to travel to Guadeloupe in search of a better life and opportunities. All was well, until they tried to start having children. She could never get pregnant. They tried over and over and over again… but nothing. So, he left. (I’m not sure about other cultures, but it is pretty important in our culture for a woman to be able to give a man children. Adoption is not a very common option; I believe that is a Western thing.)
For two years after he left her, she questioned her self-worth, she cried, she tried traditional home remedies such as herbal teas and fruits, she prayed… She begged God for a child, telling him even if that child were to be disabled in some way she would still love him/her unconditionally… She would go to the orphanage that was near by, where the majority of the kids were disabled. She would ask to play with them, but she was never allowed access (they are very careful with the children). Instead she contended herself with playing and tickling their hands through the openings in the fence. My sister loves children and she so badly craved one of her own… Someone to pour her love into.

The Designated Day:

The PID Clinic is a free medical clinic. On an ordinary day people come, they receive a number. They wait. When their number is called, they go through Triage. After Triage, they wait. Then they are consulted. They can either go to the lab for exams or straight to wound-care, if necessary. Some even receive sonograms. They are then given medication from the pharmacy … for free. Finally their information is entered into the database and they are sent out on their way.
One this day my sister’s sister was sick and she brought her to the PID Clinic to be consulted. They got a number. They went trough triage and they waited.

“Next person, please,” I said to the crowd sitting in the waiting area. People sat still, as if they hadn’t heard my request. I would look at them, and they would turn away. They are stubborn, but not my sister. She just looked at me. Staring. It was somehow uncomfortable, and I awkwardly asked, “Would you like to come in?” She just stared at me, her sister on her lap, seeming not to have heard me. “Enter, please. You can enter. Trust me, I’m here.”
She entered the room and sat down on the bed with her sister, still staring at me. (I’ve gotten used to people staring at me in Haiti. I am black, I speak creole with little to no American accent, I joke in their manner, I am serious in their manner, and yet I have a hint of white aura around me… and I seem oddly comfortable. I’m confusing.) … yup she is still staring, and I, smiling waiting to start.
Emi introduces herself and Sarah. I translate and our work begins. As they deliberate among themselves about a diagnosis and a proper course of treatment, I like to talk with our patients.
“Excuse me. Can I ask you something,” my sister says?
“Yes?” I said with an eager smile.
“Can you do me a favor?” I looked at her waiting for her to ask me for some vitamins for herself. Usually that’s what people will do.
Instead she wanted to be consulted. She didn’t get a number for herself, but she had a question that she needed an answer to… and she is convinced, yet still skeptical since I’m not a doctor, that I can help her.
“What are you concerned about? Are you sick too, I ask her?”
In the meantime, Sarah and Emi are still consulting her sister. Our conversation got interrupted here and there with their medical and, often times, cultural questions and my translating. I asked if she may also be consulted. They looked at her puzzled, as she seemed to be fine, and asked what was wrong with her.
“I have an infection, my sister says.”
“Why do you think you have an infection?”
“I can’t have babies” (Wow… that escalated)
Emi looked puzzled, sorry eyes, pensive, curious. Sarah too. They looked at each other wondering what they could do? (We have access to many things at PID, but we are still limited. Sometimes this forces us to refer people to an actual hospital.)
“Has she been trying to get pregnant?” Sarah asked as I translated.
She isn’t trying anymore… He’s already left… He left because she couldn’t have babies…
We all fell silent… (Oh no this man didn’t! Who is he? Where is he? Seriously?)
“Sometimes it is the man who is not able!” said Sarah encouragingly, yet obviously distraught, with a serious hint of sass in her tone.
My awesome mothers looked at one another, then at me, then at my sister and back at me…
“I’ll be back,” Sarah says as she pulled open the heavy metal door and disappeared into the waiting area.

Our Extraordinary Unity:

Emi continued with her younger sister. Sarah came back and started a triage sheet for my sister. They started to research what exams they could have her do to help them gain more insight. (To the person who prepared the big PID medical binder… on behalf of those who volunteer in the Haiti clinic: Thank you. And to the person who decided to create a medical app for our convenience… on behalf of people in medical settings across the globe: Thank you) I talked to my sister, listening, getting to know her story a little better.
“We are going to figure this out together,” they said to her.

Translating for Emi and Sarah can be a little intimidating. Dr. Paul and my mommies have the tendency to use these huge medical terms that nobody knows about. (Even google seemed to struggle to translate them into our Creole). I kept trying to get Maxime or Shorty, the other translators to work with them. There was a third nurse, Ilana, who was doing triage and wound care… it doesn’t get that complicated in there, so I thought it might be better for me to work with. But, Sarah and Emi actually preferred me (they had requested me)… not only was I their petit chou and awesome, but I was a woman. They explained how they actually requested that I be the one translating for them. Many of us may not realize this, I didn’t until my mothers so kindly educated me, that when we go to the doctors, women usually have female doctors caring for them and men have male doctors… and this is a luxury. In developing countries, the person who is available to see you often sees you.
“Look out into the waiting room… what do you see?”
“People?”
“What kind of people?”
“Uhm?”
“Mon petit chou, look… most of the people we see everyday are woman? Imagine how you would feel?”
I understood.
“Already uncomfortable because we are foreign, white, and they are sick … let’s give them comfort… we are women too.”

On this day, we women had to stick together.

United by the experience of a broken heart, the questioning of our worth and value in this world, and the strength and determination to reclaim our happiness.
We are more than mothers.

We are Doctors, Nurses, CEOs, Field Directors, Volunteers, Resident Directors, Friends, Sisters, Scholars, Ordinary members in a family, Persons made in the image of God.

The Results:

She returned the next day to take some exams, and the day after that to have a sonogram done.
She entered our room with her sheet and Emi and Sarah went through the list:

… Negative …
… Negative …
… Negative …
… Negative …

“According to the Exams we have available here at PID everything came back normal. You are healthy. You look healthy to us. No infections. Things are okay, from what we can tell … It could have been him.”

Yup, there were tears. (#Winning)
She left us with hugs and kisses, smiles, and many thank you’s.

The Weight (Got to Love a good Pun):

I realize this is getting long for a blog post… but there is a point, I promise. And well this is what happens when you get me started … there is no stopping me now. Hopefully you haven’t stopped reading. Never start something you don’t plan to finish. God doesn’t… so you shouldn’t either. Shall we…

She hung around the compound for the rest of the day.

During Lunch, she saw me sitting with my best friend, Maxime who was also translating, and said to me when I waved hello, “Why are you sitting here alone?” I couldn’t help but laugh, “I’m not alone. He is my friend. We work together.” No words. She walked away supervising from a distance… My big sister is protective. (He joked about how I seemed to be untouchable in Haiti and complimented my art of getting bodyguards to work for free.)

“It’s you that I’ve been waiting for…” she said to me later on in the workday as I stepped outside the clinic looking up at the sky. Maxime was translating for me, a young man was in there now. (They tend to get shy.)
“Oh really? Sorry, Did you have more questions for the nurses?”
“No, It’s you that I need… I’ve been waiting for you. Why did you take so long to come?”
“I’m sorry, I was still translating. If I knew you were here for me, I would have come out sooner. “
She held my hand, “it is you… really.”

She didn’t mean today. She meant long ago. She told me she’s been praying, waiting for the weight to be lifted, waiting for Him to answer. She thought He forgot about her, but she would wait for Him to remember. She saw me and she felt it… My heart, she said. When she entered the room a light glowed around me. That’s how she knew. (Confession: I thought she was just being nice…quite the compliment… I was flattered.)

“Ti zanj mwen,”

she whispered, staring at me, analyzing me from head to toe. I was giggling, nervously. (She is too kind… it means “my little angel.”)

“Gade… ou pa menm konnen non.”

(Look, you don’t even know.)

It was God that pushed her to come to PID she said. Her sister was feeling much better now, almost as though she wasn’t as sick as they thought. She asked me to thank the nurses.
She was staring again. She was smiling. She was happy. Not the woman I met before.
It was God that gave her the spirit to speak to me, she said. God showed me to her. She was surprised by how clear it was. She just felt it… I was the one she had been waiting for.
“Didn’t you see how I was looking at you? You are innocent. You are a good person. A good heart. He is using you. Pardon, if I touch you.”

She thanked me over and over again. For the next few days that I was there, she came to the Clinic, would kiss me hello, chat for a bit and then leave. She seemed more free, lighter. She seemed to dress nicer as well; everyday she wore a bright colored maxi dress. (My favorite was the blue one.) She was happy. She reclaimed her happiness. She prayed for God to give her joy, to speak to her, to give her confidence and the ability to love her self again. He gave her all that, and then some… a friend.

Where is her ex-boyfriend? He’s in Guadeloupe, engaged and in school.
My sister isn’t bitter though; she knows God will provide for her.

The Not So Ending End

No she is not my actual sister. I don’t have any sisters … not in the legal sense.

But she is my sister. She is your sister too.
She is my blessing. I am her’s. She’s is also your’s. I am your’s.

This is what a Christian Family is for… to be a blessing to one another… to allow God to use us for the good of one another … to love … to be loved … to share … to laugh … to suffer … to cry … to smile … to mourn … to rejoice … to serve…

Relationships.

Sarah, Emi and I #Selfies

Sarah, Emi and I #FriendshipSelfies

Our team served through Partners In Development, Inc. in Blanchard, Haiti for 10 days.

The Cost per Student was $1,563.30.

My name is Pharvyana Marcelin. I was a Co-leader of Team Haiti 2015 and a member of a beautiful Christian family. Thank you to those who helped get me to Haiti, financially, spiritually, and personally.

Trip to Glendora, MS

My name is Anne Deckert and I was one of the leaders for the trip that went to Glendora, MS. We worked with an organization called Partners in Development (PID), and the cost of our trip was $1,325/student.

During our week in Glendora, we had the opportunity to help run a children’s program under the supervision of the PID staff. Being the first program of its type that PID had done in Glendora, there was a lot of experimenting and learning happening throughout each day.

The structure of this program looked different each day, but for the most part included Math, ELA, and Spanish tutoring as well as crafts, games, and computer. Each day Jayme (my co-leader) and I would gather our groups of children at 9:00am and bring them around to each station for the remainder of the morning. While it was really great to get to know the kids personally, I also loved seeing my team interact and play with the kids too. As a leader, one of my biggest goals for the trip was for my team to feel equipped for the task they had to perform. In the end, not only did they do an amazing job of tutoring the children and helping run a program, but they also were eager to get to know the kids personally and help them learn in whatever areas they saw help was needed.

Another interesting aspect of our trip was being able to learn from members of the community a little about the history of Glendora. As most people know, the South has a history deeply rooted in racial tension – a history our team learned a lot about, especially during our visit to Emmett Till Museum. However, as a white Northerner, it was important for me to go on this trip and understand that Mississippi is so much more that that. Truly, I could never possibly begin to understand even a little bit of the pain that many people have experienced as the result of intolerance and racism. But shame on me if my only view of the South is a negative one.

Not all problems have been solved, that is for sure. Racism and intolerance still exist (probably because humans still exist and we’re all pretty terrible at times), but the people of Mississippi have already moved on from there. In fact, when a story about a recent act of racial prejudice was shared during the week, one of the members of the community seemed astonished, and with a sigh said, “You’d think we’d be past all that by now.”

Shouldn’t that be the reaction we all have when acts of injustice and intolerance occur in our own lives and in the lives of all our neighbors? I believe the world is very broken. I also believe that it wasn’t meant to be that way. While the world is not ours to save, I am convinced that God wants us to be be agents of reconciliation and restoration in this world, by his power, love, and authority. Any act of hatred or intolerance should make us sigh; it should also cause us to seek change – whether that change occurs in our own hearts or in the broken systems of our world.

God is at work restoring and reshaping many aspects of our world – and I think that’s a very exciting thing to be a part of.

 

Nicaragua Missions Trip 2015

By Teresa Rivera

Our missions trip went to Nicaragua and spent the majority of our time at CICRIN, a children’s home on the island of Ometepe.  The trip was for nine days and cost about $1800 per student.  While in Ometepe we worked on a couple of construction projects while working with another ministry there — The Adios Ministry from Maine and also had our annual Healing Hands even which exists to have fellowship with the hardworking women in the community.

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We certainly learned quite a bit about the construction projects through cementing, doing rebar, and making drainage systems, but the most valued lessons we learned came from our interactions with the children and staff of CICRIN.  With a heart for God and furthering His kingdom we learned a bit about what it means to love your neighbor and lay your needs aside to help your neighbor.  Further, we were taught each day to love more easily.  As seen through the children each day they came with unconditional love regardless of how they were feeling!  They loved as we have been called to love–unconditionally and without a mindset of one having to earn another’s love! bus  dancing

“And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 18:3

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nail night

 

Reading, Pennsylvania-Service/Learning Trip

Cost: $250/student

I’m Elizabeth Norcini, and this is was my third year returning to the incredible city of Reading, Pennsylvania with a wonderful team of Gordon College students and our incredible adviser Bruce. We partnered with Neighborhood Housing Services who connected us to a variety of opportunities to learn about the city and serve with many organizations that are doing some really great things there. God is doing lots of really great things in Reading and it was so exciting to hear about first hand. Through meeting new people and reconnecting with friends we have made in the past, I am so hopeful for the future of Reading and the people in it.

We have stayed at St. James Church the past three years, and it has been incredible to see this church grow and they have joined with Reading City Church in the past year or so, and there is just so much new energy there which is really awesome to see. Our team had the opportunity to meet and have dinner with a community group from the church, and hear about their plans for a outreach program in the city. This was really great to hear about how the church is really interested in being involved in things going on in the city and all their groups that are holding each other accountable to help out and be a part of programs in the city.

We helped pack food at the Greater Berks Food Bank one day, and this was a really good time to do a lot of physical work, and be content to know that even though we aren’t directly distributing this food, we are helping in a bigger system that will do a lot of good. The Greater Berks Food Bank is a warehouse that distributes food to smaller food closets and outreach organizations, and they also provide the schools with bags of fruits and vegetables for every student to take home over the weekend.

One of the major parts of our trip was spending time at two different elementary schools. There are thirteen public elementary schools in the city and these schools have to be very creative in handling problems. A lot of the students will move around a lot growing up in Reading, due to the fact that there aren’t many jobs, and this city is just a very transient area. This makes it hard on both the students and the teachers, because they are always getting new students in their classes and the kids aren’t having a consistent educational career. It is also hard for the schools to get substitutes, so when this happens the kids in the classrooms just end up getting split up and placed with other teachers, so there could be a bunch of extra kids in a classroom on any given day. We split our group up and all went to different classrooms to help the teachers who asked for our help that day. We helped out by doing some exercises with individuals or small groups of kids. We did things like vocabulary flash cards, reading skills, fractions, or whatever they needed help with. It was really great to be able to give the teacher some help and give the kids that attention that they were craving. Kelley, who works for Neighborhood Housing Services met us at the schools in the morning and one the first day that we went, she told us that “kids need is love and attention”, and that is something that was so simple but really stuck with us the whole week. We just wanted to show the people that we interacted with that we cared about them and that we love them.

Walking to City Light's Homeless Shelter

Walking to City Light’s Homeless Shelter

 

We also worked with City Light Ministries, who work with homeless people by having a hot meal and a place to sleep in the winter and at a separate building they run an after school program for kids to hang out and have a meal after school. City Light Ministries is another program that has been really blessed by the Lord and seen his provision in so many ways. In the past year many people have come forward and donated their time or money to help keep City Light open and safe. Our team went and sat down and talked and listened with people during dinner. This was a really growing time for me because I struggled with finding things to say sometimes, but I found that a lot of the time it is just good to listen and let people know that you are hearing them and care about what they have to say. On our final night in Reading we went back to City Light and hung out at their Bingo Night and at their Teen Night. They had community dinner where many of the homeless men and women that we met the day before came to and had dinner and played bingo, and then they also had a teen youth group night upstairs in a large room. I was upstairs at the youth group, and that was amazing. It was great to eat dinner, hang out, and worship with these teenagers. This was one of my favorite nights of the entire week, and I am so glad that I had the opportunity to participate in this great ministry.

We went up to the Pagoda one night after visiting City Light Ministries and got to just look at all the lights of the city with the sun setting.

We went up to the Pagoda one night after visiting City Light Ministries and got to just look at all the lights of the city with the sun setting.

All in all, my time in Reading was amazing and I am so blessed by the friendships and connections we have made in the city, and will continue to grow in the future. God is so good and faithful, and I was especially reminded of that in Reading.

 

 

 

Gordon College Belize Missions Trip 2015

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Cost of Trip: $1,700 /Student

Gordon College arrived in Belize where we partnered with an organization at LOL, A Home for Children, in Punta Gorda, Toledo. All 13 of us piled in for the first of many bumpy rides in our white van. We arrived to Toledo Christian Academy, which became our home for the next ten days.

While at the orphanage we played games, beaded bracelets, cooked dinner, refurnished a house, and much more.

We had the privilege of spending one day in a local village where we were able to get completely emerged in the culture of Belize. There we played with the children and taught them worship songs with sign language. We made crafts and bracelets, colored, and played games with the kids. We also had the privilege of eating homemade lunch with families in their huts. This was such a life changing experience!

We toured the Punta Gorda hospital. The facility only has 30 beds total and sends many patients to a larger hospital 2 hours away. Despite this, they are able to provide free services including prescription medication.

Later in the week we led children’s church for 70 kids. We sang songs, acted out Noah’s Ark, gave out prizes for answering questions and colored rainbows. I loved learning about each child’s story, as well as listening to their laughter and hanging out.

I think my biggest take away from this incredible week was to step completely out of the boat with both feet. I learned to walk upon the water and not let anything hold me back for my dreams. Loving on each child brought me more joy than anything I have ever experienced. I loved every minute I got to spend with the kids and went to bed every night with a full heart. The mission of LOL is so beautiful! God has done an amazing work amongst my team and myself!

-Jen McGrady

Tim Jordan’s Blog Post: Portland Missions Trip 2015

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Location of the mission trip: Portland, Maine

Organization partnered with: The Root Cellar

Cost of the trip per student: $350

This past spring break I was able to help serve the community in Portland and work alongside the volunteers at the organization: The Root Cellar. At my time there, I was able to experience first-hand some of the activities that the Root Cellar carries out in its facility to work with the community of Portland.

The Root Cellar is a Christian community center that holds after-school programs for the kids in the area. The after school program happens from 3:30 to 5:00 pm and activities vary from day to day. One of the days we went to a basketball court in a nearby church, and another day we hung out in the teen room and memorized Bible verses while playing pool or ping-pong. One of the days our team led the afterschool program and we set up a tournament and series of games for the kids to play. In interacting with some of the kids, we hoped to make them feel loved as well as leave a positive impact on them.

The Root Cellar is also used for a variety of different events, from clothing drives to weekly breakfasts and dinners for members of the community. Our team was able to participate in some of these weekly activities as well as assist in construction and organization projects in the facility. We were able to help change lights and ceiling tiles, repair and paint walls, and organize the basement. In doing all of these things we hoped come alongside the workers at the Root Cellar and help to alleviate some of their busyness.

Being able to work with the kids in the Portland community as well as help serve in work projects in the Root Cellar led to enriching and encouraging experience this spring break. I was able to learn a lot as well as have the opportunity to serve and work alongside fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. It was a powerful and worthwhile experience and I will not soon forget it. Thank you so much again for support and believing in our team and our mission.

Tim Jordan

Lamp Unto Our Feet – Glendora, Mississippi – Spring Break Trip

Introduction

My name is Jayme Conti and I co-lead the Gordon College service-learning trip to Glendora, Mississippi this past March. We worked with Partners in Development. The total cost per student was about $1,325.

Glendora, MS Spring 2015

Glendora, MS Spring 2015

Beginning and Meeting Amazing People

                 The first two people we met were the field director (Patrick) and the founder and leader of Partners in Development (Gale) who had just gotten off a plane from Guatemala and would be helping us get started planning the kids program for the week. They were so welcoming and we were excited to work with them; we would soon learn how amazing Gale’s story behind PID was and the surprising ways God uses His children.

After a couple hour drive to the town of Glendora, excited gasps could be heard from our team as we saw the luxury of grass and green plants that dotted the sides of the roads. Despite the warmer-looking environment, when we arrived at the old Mayor’s house (where we would be staying) we had to watch our step because of the ice that covered the ground and we were surprised to be able to see our breath inside our new temporary home. As a leader of the trip, I breathed a visible sigh of relief that we had made it to Mississippi after months of planning and praying.

Glendora, MS Spring 2015

Glendora, MS Spring 2015

Glendora, MS Spring 2015

Glendora, MS Spring 2015

Glendora, MS Spring 2015

Glendora, MS Spring 2015

More Amazing People and Hopeful Life Lessons:

                 – We had a wonderful woman who cooked meals for the program and for our team, her name is Lady. She was so kind and so humble as she would gratefully accept compliments and graciously scrub dishes. I often got to help with dishes or preparing lunches and thus had the privilege of hearing about her life in the Mississippi Delta. Our team became close with her and tears were shed from both of us when it came time to part at the end of the trip.

– A teen from across the street became our friend as well – his name is Dre and he is a senior in high school. He became a part of our team and we went to his church on Sunday and he helped lead the program with us every day (we still keep in contact with him).

Glendora, MS Spring 2015

Glendora, MS Spring 2015

– We had an Australian woman named Jillian working with us for the educational programming. Her dreams for these kids were as vast as the stars – and seemingly just as attainable – but even though some of the sky-high goals weren’t met during our week there, where we ended up with the kids was so much farther than expected and I learned the benefits of dreaming big.

– The last person I’ll mention is named Pintorus. He had an amazing life story and was using his rough past and experience in jail to help the kids of Glendora stay on the right path. He was quiet but very well respected by every single kid there and I could tell he loved these kids like his own and wanted the very best for them. It was inspiring working with someone who loves the Lord so much and who let God take his rough past and create something beautiful.

We worked with many other absolutely inspiring and amazing individuals (including having dinner with the mayor and hearing his stories!). Even though Glendora is tiny (population of less than 200 people) and impoverished with little opportunities for jobs or education, those people have an amazing community and together have a heart from which many financially wealthy cities should learn.

Glendora, MS Spring 2015

Glendora, MS Spring 2015

Glendora, MS Spring 2015

Glendora, MS Spring 2015

Our Work

                 In short, we spent each day running a kids program (they were on spring break) and about 40 kids would come per day. Some would arrive hours early and stay for hours after the program ended. Our “typical” (I use quotes there because each day felt like anything but typical) day consisted of starting off with morning prayer and devotional time and then everyone came together for breakfast which Lady prepared on most days. After breakfast we made preparations and reviewed educational programming for the day and started preparing our stations which included Math, Language Arts, Spanish, Reading, Crafts, and everyone came together at the end for games. Each person on our team helped to create and run a station for this program (the program we created was the pilot for PID in Mississippi, so we had a lot of freedom in planning which was a blessing and a huge challenge at the same time). My co-leader and I would take the kids from station to station and it was such a blessing to learn each kid’s personality and watch them grow throughout the week of tutoring and fun.

Glendora, MS Spring 2015

Glendora, MS Spring 2015

After the program, we would spend a few hours playing with kids from the neighborhood. When it was time for dinner, we would come together and pray and review the day and start preparing for the next one. Each day ended with a lesson/devotion prepared by different team members and singing worship songs in the attic/loft of the house.

Other Adventures:

We had the privilege of visiting the Emmett Till memorial museum in the town which was very sobering and explained some of the dark history and baggage of Glendora. It is said that the kidnapping and brutal murder of Emmett Till sparked the civil rights movement, so though it was poignant to be in place where such a tragic crime occurred, it was inspiring to also be in the place where the spark of hope for equality and justice started a raging fire for human rights.

My Favorite Lesson:

                I many learned remarkable lessons from this trip, but the biggest lesson for me was that God can use people who have no idea what they are doing to change the world and further His kingdom. Learning the backstory of PID showed me that I don’t need to know everything in order to follow God – all we have to do is be willing to try. Faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains (Matt 17:20). Additionally, in planning this trip there were many times where we had to just accept that we did not know how certain things were going to work out and many times where we had to roll with big changes. However, in the end, people were loved and cared for and that is what matters – love and community is what His kingdom is all about, after all.

Glendora, MS Spring 2015

Glendora, MS Spring 2015

Glendora, MS Spring 2015

Glendora, MS Spring 2015

Glendora, MS Spring 2015

Glendora, MS Spring 2015

His word is a lamp unto our feet – do you know how much a little lamp can light? Not that much. I always catch myself asking God for floodlights to see the path set before me, but that is not what He promises. He promises a lamp – just enough light to keep us safely moving one step at a time.

P.S. To the generous people of The Mulberry Foundation: thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for giving me the opportunity

to go to Glendora, MS. It is an experience I will carry with me for the rest of my life, and hopefully the people we worked with will too. Thank you so much.

Glendora, MS Spring 2015

Glendora, MS Spring 2015

Belize Missions Trip – January 2015

Gordon College partnered with Laugh Out Loud Orphanage in Punta Gorda, Belize for an incredible short-term missions trip. The total cost of the trip for each student was $1700.00. Being a college student, I knew that this was something that would be near impossible to raise alone. Leading a missions trip to Belize was an amazing journey that I would not trade for anything in the world.

IMG_0772 IMG_0531 IMG_0584 IMG_0588 IMG_0765 IMG_0764

My relationship with God was clarified with constant prayer and devotions. There really isn’t anything similar to traveling out of one’s comfort zone and completely relying on God to protect and take care of all worries. This trip was a Godsend, and I am so thankful. I want to commit to a life that is closer along God’s teachings.

I am so grateful for everyone who prayed, donated, and supported our trip! Thank you so much for your support, and everyone that had a hand in making this a very successful missions trip!

– Aaron Horton