This summer, Northwest Nazarene University sent out teams to three foreign countries in an effort to make a difference, exemplify what it means to serve, and facilitate cultural experiences for students. Groups traveled to Liberia, Poland and Haiti.
Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering Dr. Stutz and three engineering students utilized their skills to serve a community in Sinoe County, Liberia. “I chose to go on this trip because I saw it as a mission trip that had potential to help the target area as well as an opportunity to apply what I have learned in the engineering program,” remarked Levi Sligar, senior mechanical engineering major.
In collaboration with the University of Liberia, this team and Liberian engineering students created two gasifiers—machines that convert wood, garbage and other organic materials into a burnable gas. The gas is then used to run gasoline generators. Levi adds, “Now I’ll always have this experience in the back of my mind when I work on other projects as an engineer; I’ll keep an eye out for processes and technologies that can be applied to other communities in need.”
In Poland, ten students led by Mark and Susan Wheeler spent the majority of their time helping middle and high school students with their English as well as serving the community through the Sweet Surrender Coffee Shop, which cooperates with the Poznań Church of the Nazarene. In addition to assisting students with their English, this team helped organize and run a multi-school field day, and were able to experience some of the historical sights of the country.
Reflecting on her time in Poland, senior Christian ministry major Caitlin Hunt said, “The most valuable parts of my experience were the relationships I built with the people I met throughout the trip as well as the team members I traveled with. We all grew closer to each other and closer to God.”
Also impacted by an NNU on a Mission trip this summer was Nicole Bach, a senior secondary math and art education major who traveled to Haiti.
“My trip to Haiti absolutely changed my life,” said Nicole. “Being in a new culture is humbling and powerful, and teaches you so many different things about life and how to do life. The children taught me about selfless love, immeasurable trust, and uncontainable joy. I could make an endless list of things I learned, but I came away with a few goals: to care for our environment more, to love people, and to continue to learn more about other cultures.”
Led by Chaplains Dustin and Olivia Metcalf, a team of nine students worked with local ministries and built relationships in Haiti. Their first project was sanding and painting the new women's dorm in the Nazarene Seminary, which is run by Work & Witness. Here they also assisted with children’s ministries activities for Agape Reeducation and a local church.
The second half of their time was spent working at Village Espoir (Rainbow of Love and Hope Home orphanages) and at PeaceCYCLE, a ministry that provides Haitians with jobs by recycling water bags into reusable tote bags that are then sold.
“I would say that the way I encountered God through the people was the most valuable part of my experience,” added Nicole. “I was beyond amazed by their innovation, creativity, love, community life, and joy. One of my favorite moments was as I was surrounded by children who wanted their face painted, paint covering my hands, arms, and probably my face (HA!), some of the girls went and found a wet rag and scrubbed my hands and arms clean. All I could think about in that moment, was Jesus washing the disciples feet. It was one of those God moments. The entire trip was amazing and valuable to me and will continue to be!”
Photos courtesy of Dustin and Olivia Metcalf.