Junior psychology major Erica Jenkins found herself, along with Caleb Lasater a sophomore from Texas A&M, rushing to catch their connecting flight. The pair, along with eight other students, went to Nicaragua during Christmas break through Go Now Missions.
Jenkins said, “I never thought I’d be like one of those people running through the airport, but we were.”
After a warm four-hour plane ride, the group of students arrived.
Being a “pastor’s kid,” Jenkins grew up talking about missions.
She said she used to say, “‘I love other countries (and) other cultures. I have a heart for missions,’ but I’d never done anything about it.”
But she decided to put actions to her words after being encouraged by her
roommate, junior Stacy Davidson.
Once in Nicaragua, the team’s mission was to leave the masses to go to the few.
After eight hours of driving and nearly 10 hours of hiking, the team reached a village where they passed out copies of the Gospel of Luke and invited people to watch the Jesus film.
After the movie, the children wouldn’t leave. So the team taught the children a song in Spanish.
Jenkins said that was the moment she knew why she came.
“I just said, ‘OK, this was completely worth it. I just hiked through mud and cow poop. (I’m) sweating because it’s humid, and it rained on us.’ We had to go through a river, and bathe in it. There were leeches in it,” Jenkins said. “I got chiggers the first day.
“Despite all of that, … this is completely worth every meal of beans and rice, all three meals every day.”
The team didn’t get to see the fruit of their labor, but hope they planted seeds in the hearts of the Nicaraguans.
Jenkins said the trip “was more like seeing God work in me.”
She realized no matter what God has called her to, “there’s nothing more satisfying,” and encourages other students to pursue mission opportunities.
Jenkins said, “I definitely learned life lessons I couldn’t have learned if I would have stayed in the United States.”
UMHB freshman Ben Baeker also went to Nicaragua.
From the moment the team arrived in Managua, he said he knew “this is going to be good.”
Baecker returned with stories of sleeping in hammocks on porches, listening to the sounds of dogs barking “like crazy” and monkeys chattering high in the trees.
The trip wasn’t exactly what he expected.
Baeker said, “I was hoping to really minister… but God’s plans were totally different. He wanted me to take in the trip and use it for my life here.”
From the international experience, he learned ways he needed to change his life and how to better minister to people in the United States.
Baeker said, “God has given you abilities. So use them.”
Last fall, as freshman Michael Singleton sat in Freshmen Ministry, a weekly meeting held on campus, he heard of the opportunity to go on Christmas missions. He had been on trips before and plans to be in ministry after
Singleton said, “I really have a heart for missions, and I feel like God is calling me to be a missionary.”
The realization of this gives Singleton the desire to serve overseas while still in college.
“I want to go on short term mission trips to find out where God is calling me specifically,” he said.
Singleton, along with two other college students, traveled to eastern Europe with 8 other adults from Texas and Virginia. There, the team stayed in Transnistria, a region between the Republic of Moldova and the Ukraine.
The team’s mission was to place boots on the feet of orphans through the help of Child Emergency Relief International based in Kingwood.
“It was cold,” Singleton said.
But the below-freezing temperatures and over 18 inches of snow only intensified the team’s resolve to help the children in need.
Singleton said, “When I was working with the boots … sometimes we ran into some difficult moments when we didn’t have the (right) size, but we never ran out of boots.”
He recognized God’s provision as the team sought to meet physical needs.
He said the fact that they “were always able to give a new pair of boots to each orphan … was definitely a cool thing.”