Break given to serve
Spring break is a time for relaxation, restoration and simply getting away from the pressures of school and work. For most students, the vacation this year brought numerous opportunities to travel to countries, states and islands.
The trips either benefited the community as a mission trip, provided insight for the student’s major, or provided much needed recreation.
One annual trip taken over break, called Beach Reach, involved 40 students from UMHB, among 28 other collegiate ministries, going to South Padre Island to simply serve people.
Led by Baptist Student Ministry Director Shawn Shannon and Assistant Director Jena Coulson, the group split into four teams and gave away free pancakes, cleaned up trash on the beach, created a sand sculpture and gave free rides to those unable to drive.
Although the students and chaperones received little sleep, they enjoyed every minute of it.
Freshman social work major Chelsea Owens loved the trip.
“We did get to see one guy come to know Christ while giving him a ride. It was absolutely amazing. He literally fell into our van. He was so drunk that when we were dropping another group off, he fell into the van, and we gave him a ride. He didn’t want to get off, so he just kept riding with us,” she said.
As the ride progressed, so did the man’s desire to have a meaningful talk.
“The conversation turned to Christ, and by the end of the night he had asked Jesus into his heart. To watch someone go from being broken and feeling worthless to having tears of hope and redemption stream down his face was priceless. The last thing he said to us was, ‘You know you guys really changed my life,’” she said.
Many students grew on the trip spiritually and mentally.
“I … want to do it next year and would definitely encourage others to go too. I learned a lot,” Sophomore biblical studies and theology/philosophy double major Will Summers said. “(Like) how even when you have no voice, energy, sleep, food, and are completely weak, you depend on God for strength.”
Other students traveled on the Hope for the Hungry mission trip to Haiti. Ten students along with Assistant Director of Campus Activities Jeff Sutton and his wife Jen went on this construction-focused trip.
They worked on a mission center, roofed houses and repaired/finished the Boys’ Home in Guibert. Students also laid scripture plaques with the verse Revelation 3:20 on the Hope for the Hungry houses.
The team worked on construction throughout the week, and on the last day were able to visit with the orphan boys.
“They’ll definitely amaze you,” sophomore math major Evan Mullins said. “The two boys I connected most with were named Evan too. We played tic-tac-toe and made videos on my phone, they loved seeing themselves. Seeing them and their country changed my perspective. I learned the little things really don’t matter considering how lucky we are.”
A group of 13 business students led by the Chair of accounting Dr. Paul Stock, Assistant Professor Danny Taylor, and his wife Yvonne traveled to “Urban Canada” which included Toronto, Ottawa, Niagara Falls and Montreal. The purpose of the trip was to study the monetary policy within NAFTA and visit with bankers and executives.
Junior international business major Stacy Hillin said, “Educational-wise, we visited the Mexican embassy, Royal Bank of Canada, the Bank of Canada, and talked to executives of the Ottawa Senators. Fun-wise we did lots of shopping, visited Niagara Falls and climbed a mountain in Montreal called Mount Royale. My favorite part of the whole trip, however, was the friendships that were formed. Traveling with a bunch of strangers to a different country can really bring you together. I definitely learned a lot, became close with people I never thought I could, and am now open to doing more things in my life.”
Traveling to Destin, Fla., by car was a group of 29 students from the UMHB organization Young Life led by leader Matt Lambro. Lambro’s goal was to refresh the lives of the hard-working leaders with fun and relaxation.
Sophomore nursing major Jill Parson said, “Coming back to school, I feel refreshed and rejuvenated. I came back with an open mind and was more dependent on God this week than I have been in a long time. The trip was a great change of scenery.”
The group went shopping, played sports, went parasailing, dug holes and saw dolphins throughout the week.
“Going parasailing was the best part,” Parson said. “The view was absolutely gorgeous; you really got to appreciate our awesome God. The sand was white, and the water was clear and perfect, no seaweed.”
Many of the leaders bonded quickly over the trip and are still finding time to hang out.
“We laughed the whole week. It was definitely an experience I’ll never forget,” sophomore nursing major Whitney Almond said.
All of the spring break trips seem to incorporate the development of long-lasting friendships, a change in perspective, and spiritual growth with God.
“I learned so much about prayer and God’s power and his timing,” Owens said. “He did so much and blew my expectations out of the water.”