For just a few hours tomorrow afternoon we’ll have only two SPRINT students outside the United States, marking today as a mid-point in SPRINT’s summer. (For a full list of this summer’s trips, visit the SPRINT webpage).
I know you’re primarily interested in reports from teams’ trips, so I’ll keep this post brief. Quickly, though, I wanted to offer some background information on the SPRINT program and our goals for all of this international travel, learning and service you’ll read about on these pages.
University-sponsored short-term missions at Seattle Pacific University date back to the early 1960s; participants in Operation Outreach, later renamed Seattle Pacific Reachout INTernational, have volunteered in countries around the world for many years. Serving in teams alongside in-country local leadership, the objective of SPRINT trips has always been to provide needed help, a witness to the Gospel and important learning opportunities for college students.
Today SPRINT is advised and supported by SPU’s John Perkins Center for Reconciliation, Leadership Training and Community Development. Perkins Center staff (that’s me) and student leaders partner to recruit, train and send the SPRINT teams you’re reading about this summer.
It’s important for us to connect students with effective, sustainable, community-developing work that promotes long-term transformation rather than the negative, dependency-creating outcomes sometimes associated with short-term missions. To that end, our pre-trip training and host-partner selection focus on a set of values outlined by the Christian Community Development Association, emphasizing local leadership development, empowerment and reconciliation that bridges both social and spiritual gaps. Our hope is that students will learn from effective community engagement models and apply these lessons to their future work, wherever God leads them.
Another key aspect of the SPRINT process is our emphasis on post-trip reflection and application. Neat experiences, great photos and fun stories about new foods do not equal life transformation. However, when students are intentional in reflecting on their experiences, learning take-aways and challenges of the trip they’re more likely to discover God at work throughout the trip experience and beyond.
To encourage the reflection process we’ll send each student a copy of the Global Citizen Journal, published by the Krista Foundation for Global Service as he or she returns home. The journal highlights the importance of incorporating service and mission experiences into one’s life through reflection and application. You might find this sample article interesting: In “Staying for Tea” Aaron Ausland reflects on the importance of long-term commitment and listening to community in order to find one’s place of effectiveness as an outsider coming in.
Thanks again for your support of students as they participate in SPRINT this summer. If you’d like more information on the program, ways to give or ways to be involved, please contact me at (206) 281-2932 or email@example.com.
I just received a text from the Seattle portion of the team – they’re home! Thanks for your support of this team.
After three weeks in Thailand, the team will return to the States tomorrow. As you prepare to receive them, here are some things I hope you’ll think about to help the team make the most of this trip.
For those of you meeting students at the airport, here’s flight information:
- Amanda, Diana, Hilary and Alison return to SeaTac at 9:15 AM, July 3 on Delta #156.
- Abby returns to Los Angeles at 9:40 AM, July 3 on Delta #284
- After a layover in Seoul for martial arts training Simmi returns to Seattle at 12:25 PM, July 5 on Korean Air #19
As the group returns, they’ll continue to think through this experience and its implications for their lives. It’s likely that this mental processing will involve at least some of these elements:
- Relief upon returning to familiar surroundings,
- Frustration with aspects of home culture that appear less desirable than the cultural values experienced during the SPRINT experience,
- Sadness and joy over relationships and memories developed during the trip,
- And hopefully, Resolve to incorporate the learning from this trip into daily life as life moves on.
It’s our hope that SPRINT participants will return to “life as usual” with expanded worldviews and a clearer sense of God’s work in their lives. The learning process continues after the trip experience; students will participate in a debriefing gathering in October, and will be encouraged to continue meeting with their SPRINT team to share the story of their host’s work and encourage future generations of SPRINT participants to serve.
I encourage you to give your student time to catch up on sleep, then set aside an extended period of time to share pictures and stories. Don’t expect completely-formed opinions immediately; the reflection process takes time. We remind returning SPRINTers that not everyone will have time to hear the whole story, but that they should find a few people with whom to share the longer, more in-depth account.
I’ve mailed team members some discussion questions and a copy of the Global Citizen Journal, published by the Krista Foundation for Global Citizenship (www.kristafoundation.org), to help them think through their experience as they move forward. If you’ve got time, I’d encourage you to talk though some of these materials with your student.
Thanks for your support of students on this team! Please let me know if you have questions.
Tomorrow night we begin the journey stateside. :(
Thus, today was our last day of ministry…and it was a great way to close the trip!
We spent today with the Lighthouse Children’s Home (Terra and Teep + 11 kids). First we went to church with them (again, worshipping in Thai and English is awesome). [Ask us later about the church service; really neat set up of English and Thai.] Afterwards we grabbed some lunch at an food stall on the walk home before we headed up to their home in Mae Jo.
It was sort of rainy and really muggy out today, so we spent the afternoon playing games (chess/Uno/Jenga), doing puzzles, doing art, and playing Ping Pong. It was so great to see the kids again and just get to hang out with them. It’s been neat being able to develop relationships with them over the course of the trip; from the 3 work days during week 1 to Horizon Village resort/summer camp to today, we’ve been able to spend a lot of time building relationships with them. It was hard to say goodbye. :’)
One of the highlights of today was cooking a “Thai-style” American dinner for the kids! Chefs Alison and Abby cooked up a SPICY [and bomb.com] pork spaghetti and Simmi, Marie, and Amanda tossed a delicious fruit salad! :) The kids loved it! We even had them going for seconds: SUCCESS! After dinner Terra had the kids teach us a worship song in Thai… It was hilarious trying to watch some falongs sing in Thai. Hahaha! It was hard to say goodbye. We all just kept on saying “See you later!” and “God bless you!” I think it’s safe to say we all are coming home with more 5 more brothers and 6 more sisters. :)
Saturday we spent with New Life Center Foundation near Chiang Mai University. Our connection to this organization is through Wandee, a longtime friend and partner with DOI. The ministry of New Life Center is education, vocational training, and empowerment of hilltribe women. Due to their circumstances (distance, language barriers, family poverty, etc), their education is oftentimes cut off, which significantly raises their vulnerability for trafficking and exploitation. NLCF also operates a safe house for women rescued out of trafficking/abuse/exploitation situations.
So that’s a bit about who we were working with. Basically we spent Saturday having a fun “girl’s” day! It was a blast to simply hang out, have fun, and worship with the 36 women (ages 13-25) who live at NLCF and the small staff (about 5 joined us). Simmi and Hilary helped in the kitchen preparing delicious Thai desserts, Abby and Marie led arts/crafts/fun free time, Diana facilitated nail painting, and Alison and I (Amanda) became masseuses! :) The girls were very keen to practice their English with us and we had fun talking, giggling, and hanging out. We also spent some time worshipping together–an element of our trip that is one of my favorite aspects–and exchanging testimonies. :)
After lunch (pizza, if you can believe it! Although there was a shrimp pizza….), we packed into a few sung taos and a van and headed to a waterfall hike! We walked a short trail (<1.5 miles round trip) to the top of a waterfall where we enjoyed the refreshing water and beautiful view! Afterwards we drove to another nearby fall at the Doi Suthep National Park (at the base of where the temple was) and enjoyed the tasty desserts Simmi and Hilary had helped make. SO GOOD. I’m convinced coconut is the best thing to add to just about anything. :)
Well, the past few days have been some of the hardest and best days of our trip! We are finally back in Chiang Mai where we will be until Monday when we start to travel home. So here’s a bit of the promised recap about the past several days. As we mentioned we traveled to Mae Ai in Northern Thailand near the Thaton River to visit Faith Village. David and Paula and their 2 boys help run this childrens home/orphanage/village. Their ministry started by rescuing Shan boy soldiers from Burma and providing a home and care for them. Out of this ministry has grown a much larger mission that now has a school, dorms, farming, youth ministry, and the preservation of the Shan culture. Faith Village is a beautiful piece of property right underneath the hills of Northern Thailand, so close to Burma you can almost see into it. We were able to bless the village by fertilizing corn fields, providing some car and electrical maintenance, sharing songs and testimonies, and gifting the children with some care bags. We also were able to love on the 30+ children by using all our different strengths and talents. After playing soccer at Faith Village the first night, some of our team members were invited to join in and play a “friendly match” against the local high school team. Our team had a rocky start but ended up pulling out with a tie 5-5 at the end. The rest of the non-soccer players watched the game with the rest of the kids
. This was a fun bonding experience where we taught them how to make bracelets, chased them around, and laughed a lot. It was an amazing experience to interact with this small village and by the end of three days I think that we can all say we felt like family.
After saying goodbye to Faith village and the beautiful countryside of the North, the sad goodbyes continued as we said farewell to the Northwest team–literally singing to them as they walked through security; we were lucky to form some really amazing relationships with the girls from NU and are so grateful for the time and memories we were able to make with them. The last two days have been pretty easy going with a visit to an International school that services missionary kids and then had a blast at some missionary friend’s property–riding horses, and living Alison’s dream by getting up close and personal in a cage with some monkeys…Oh and then Amanda experimented with what it would feel like to eat three mangoes fresh off the tree in less than 45 minutes…..it was a success…sweet and sticky!
Today we visited Wat Doi Suthep: a famous temple overlooking Chiang Mai. It was an interesting experience to see Buddhism “in action”, if you will. For me (Amanda), looking over the city was the best part. It was good to pray over the city. Greater things have yet to be done here. I think we all had different reactions to our visit, but it has sparked some good conversation and our heart for this place. :) Lastly, we went shopping at Big C for ingredients to prepare an American dinner for Lighthouse Children’s Home. We are excited to see the kids again and cook spicy spaghetti for them! (Everything in Thailand is a little/lot spicier!)
Until next time…
Sorry we haven’t been able to update very much (as in no posts for the past 8 days…). We’ve had long days and sketchy internet. But as you saw from Owen’s post, the Northwest University team also has a blog that Joyce has been able to update more regularly. You should check it out to catch up a bit from the past week.
A short summary, though, from our time since our last post:
We finished up at Lighthouse Children’s Home on Wednesday (6/20) and said our goodbyes (but not forever). The boy and girls’ rooms look great and Hilary had fun designing stencils and decorating the outside of the buildings.
Thursday was our fun, touristy day. We rode an elephant at the Mae Sa Elephant Camp (video will be posted once we are back in Chiang Mai!!) and also visited some neat artisan shops in the area. (Baan Celadon pottery/ceramics, traditional silver workshop, and Thai silk workshop.) It was really good, really necessary, to take time to rest and relax. It was also a great day of team bonding. A few highlights from the day include Hilary playing darts against an elephant [and losing ;)] and the first real rainstorm [which we obviously danced in].
Friday and Saturday we spent at Horizon Village: a resort outside of Chiang Mai. 26 children who live in two different children’s homes (Lighthouse Children’s Home and those who live with missionaries Joey and Narlan) joined us for a mini-summer camp! None of the children (who are all hilltribe) had never stayed at a hotel or swam in a pool before. It was SUCH a blessing to be able to spend so much time playing and fellowshipping with the kids and the caretakers. We really had a chance to go deep: we were able to learn ALL their names, build friendships, teach each other jokes/game… We each have so many stories of particular kids that we connected with. One of the highlights of the weekend was a resort-wide scavenger hunt! It was so fun to watch each team (headed up by a few team members and flanked by five enthusiastic kids) create their team cheer and race around the resort (which was like a nature park) on bicycles. Abby’s team, “Bunnies”, won “best cheer”, and Alison’s team, “Lions”, won overall–by a 6 point lead! It was a really sad goodbye after we had church together Sunday morning. Lots of tears and smiles. :’)
Sunday we traveled to Mae Ai to visit Faith Village. We’ve spent the past few days getting to know the kids and the children’s home. We were able to sit and listen to the story of David and Paula (leaders of Faith Village). It was quite an incredible story (you would not believe how incredible this couple/family is!) and set the stage for our visit with the kids. When we get back to Chiang Mai, we will recap more. :)
Thanks for your continued prayers! Please keep praying for health (a lot of us are under the weather) and continual strength. Please also keep praying for the homes/friends we’ve been visiting: pray for provision, for protection, for continual wisdom and joy as they raise these kids. :)