December 12, 2013
Mission trips expand students’ understanding of God’s world, including the people and places of His creation.
March 2-9, 2013, seven Grace Christian University students traveled to Puerto Rico for spring break. While students from other Colleges travel to Puerto Rico, and other sunny destinations, for fun in the sun, Grace’s students traveled for work and ministry. The students partnered with Campamento del Caribe, a youth camp and retreat center on the south side of Puerto Rico. The students worked on several facility improvement projects at the camp in preparation for the summer camp ministry. The students accomplished several projects including installing security lighting, painting the newly expanded kitchen, and painting wood preservative on the fire-pit cabana.
In addition to service projects, the students had multiple opportunities to minister to people in Puerto Rico. They participated in Awana, youth group and Sunday morning worship services. On the last day of the trip, a local elementary school visited the camp for a field trip. Grace students paired up with small groups of the kids and hosted them at the camp. Here’s what one student said about helping with Awana in Puerto Rico:
One thing I learned was the importance to me of reaching out to children who are unreached. One of the highlights of the trip for me was helping out at the Awana program. Those children’s smiling faces will forever be glued in my mind.
While fun in the sun was not the primary purpose of the trip, the students did take advantage of the beauty of Puerto Rico. On a whirl wind tour of the island, the students went snorkeling, visited a mountain cave with a 1000 foot lookout and walked on old lava flows on the north side of the island.
Students also experienced Puerto Rican culture. They worshipped in Spanish at two local churches and spent an evening in the Ponce town square. When local fishermen dropped their nets just off the camp beach, the students were invited to grab the line and pull in the catch. This was fun for the students but they also realized it is a lot of work to make a living this way.
Puerto Rico 2013 will have lasting effect on the students who participated. Sami Argutto wrote this about her experience:
One thing that I really valued during our time there was having the opportunity to witness God’ amazing creation. The first day there, when we hiked up the mountain, it was a struggle getting out of bed only hours after traveling all night. Then actually getting up the mountain was a struggle. I tripped many times and fell into a cactus. Going through all of that was worth it though when we got to the top of the mountain. The view was one of the most beautiful things I have seen in my life. This whole thing reminded me that in life we go through struggles but God is there through it all and he has a plan for it all. When that plan starts to pan out it’s so worth going through all those struggles because when you get to the top of that mountain the view is incredible.