Ah, spring break. A time to kick back, relax, go to the beach, and…. do mission work? Rather than catching up on Netflix or sleep, many MVNU students shared in an annual MVNU tradition — using their spring break to minister to others.
Once again, MVNU students traveled far and wide this spring break — from our own backyard in Cincinnati all the way to Mexico and Belize. Other trips were to Tennessee, Florida and Kansas.
The 34 students who traveled to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, helped Fort Lauderdale First Church of the Nazarene prepare for an upcoming 100th year celebration service.
Students cut down trees, tore down a shed and cleaned the grounds of the church to make room for basketball and volleyball courts. Others laid carpeting and organized and rearranged children’s classrooms. They interacted with the community by going door-to-door and handing out flyers for upcoming Easter services.
Junior Megan Kirkendall said she was grateful to be able to “serve God in such a wonderful place!”
On this year’s cycling trip, 20 bikers rode toward Nashville, Tennessee, to raise money for the Belize Clean Water Coalition (BCWC). They biked through Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee, taking in the Fort Ancient Indian burial mound, Mammoth Caves, some historical monasteries and the city of Nashville.
The group also sought to build lasting relationships through the shared challenge of riding 500 miles in a week. Junior Brandon Cooper said, “it was fun to be put in a difficult and challenging trip with an awesome group of individuals. By the end, everyone felt like family.”
Senior John Kohlhepp explained that the incredible sights were a plus to the trip, but one of the most important parts is the relationships that form “in the long, potentially painful hours in the saddle.”
The nine students who went to Belize with Dr. Dean Goon continued to build relationships with Victorious Nazarene School in San Jose Succotz, where MVNU students have served in the past. Students on the trip spent time doing projects around the school and campgrounds like installing a fence, building a rabbit hutch and prepping a garden.
They also spent time in the schools. Junior Kayla Curtis said she “graded homework assignments, helped with in-class assignments and just made sure they were paying attention!”
MVNU students also took a field trip with the children to Lamanai to climb Mayan ruins.
Students also spent a lot of time helping to prepare food for the groups. Junior Rachel Dick said her favorite part of the trip was getting to know the cook, Jose, and his family.
“It was very humbling to talk with him,” Dick said. “He shared relationship tips and so many other random things!”
Another team, led by Anna Griffith and Jordan McNulty, partnered with Back 2 Back Ministries and visited children at Imperio de Amor Children’s Home in Monterrey, Mexico.
Photo by Paige Peterson: Scott Nishimura
Team members spent their week playing with the kids, serving lunch and “playing a lot of soccer.” They also helped with construction for the children’s home, which is in the middle of adding a church and a library.
Despite some difficulty communicating with the children in Spanish, the team had many meaningful interactions.
Rachel Dixon, a sophomore social work major, said she was especially touched — but also heartbroken — by one little boy who “would grab our hands and then put them together under his little chin and just look up and smile. Although it was cute to us, it was also heartbreaking.”
At the end of the trip, Griffith encouraged each student to make scrapbooks filled with pictures and encouraging letters for the children.
Senior Morgan Parsons said she was moved by the children’s reaction.
“They don’t have any belongings, nothing that is their own, so this was really meaningful to them,” she said.
A group of 17 students went with Matt Price and Tim Radcliffe on a whilrwind trip to Indianapolis, Chicago and Kansas City. The group visited Nazarene Theological Seminary, the Nazarene Global Ministry Center and got a taste of a lot of different churches. The goal of the trip was to learn how different churches reach out to members and adapt to the congregational needs.
Junior Sarah Dundar said she didn’t think there was “any way [she] could experience another culture in Kansas City,” but her experience with the geographically and socioeconomically diverse churches there proved otherwise. The trip took her from a huge Methodist church in an affluent area to a small downtown church in Kansas City that caters to the LGBT community to a church with a predominantly
The students also volunteered at a food bank packing bags of food for elementary school children who do not have food available to them on the weekends while they are home.
Ten students on the Mandate Cincinnati trip worked as a team to fix up a house for Cincinnati Urban Promise to refurbish a house so a low-income family could move into their first home.
The team repainted rooms, installed a drop ceiling, put up paneling, did electrical work — and even held the family’s baby, which was “definitely not something I’m used to,” team leader Anthony DeMarco said.
The team “had to constantly be thinking on its toes to accomplish projects at the house” due to lack of tools or knowledge on how to complete some of the tasks, DeMarco said.
But despite the frustrations, it turned out to be a more fulfilling trip than he had anticipated, DeMarco said.
Breonna Ivy agreed that although the trip was stressful at times, “it taught me to appreciate the little things in life.”
Photos by Erin Whalen, Paige Peterson and Breonna Ivy.