2014 Spring Service Projects Report
For college students, spring break means road trips to big cities and balmy beaches. Northwestern students do that too, but some of them pack a hammer. Northwestern College annually sends more than 200 students, faculty and staff in teams to places like Nicaragua and the Netherlands, to California, New York, Mississippi and Florida. They repair homes, visit prisons, tutor youth, serve in soup kitchens, live alongside residents in homeless shelters and more.
spring service projects March 1–10, 2014 ... as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people. Galatians 6:10a (NIV) Haiti by Eryn Schlote ’14 and Taylor Studer ’14 United Christians International • www.facebook.com/UCIHAITI For the 3rd year, Northwestern students worked alongside missionaries Kristie (De Boer ’95) and JeanJean Mompremier to paint and help lay cement floors in Haitian homes. They also taught English to elementary students, attended youth group events, and hosted vacation Bible school in two villages. Riches in Christ The Haitian people the Mompremiers serve are very poor. A lot of the children didn’t have shoes, and they always welcomed a snack if we had one to offer. They walk miles to school from rundown homes. Their financial and physical needs are great, but we cannot explain the richness of the lives they lead in surrender to Christ. Undoing voodoo Haiti is a nation spellbound by voodoo and intimidated by witchdoctors. Yet hope is spreading as more and more witchdoctors renounce their practices and turn to Jesus. Our team traveled with UCI church leaders to a small home on a hill to pray over a lady who wanted to burn her voodoo fetishes and accept the saving love of Christ. Witchdoctors are possessed by the spirits they serve, so as a powerful witchdoctor, this woman was possessed by many spirits. As the church leaders cast out the demons taking a destructive hold on her life and called upon the Holy Spirit to fill her soul with overflowing grace, we witnessed the power of Jesus’ name and felt the intense presence of the Lord. Planting seeds A common discussion for short-term mission teams arises when members wonder whether their 10 days of work leave any lasting positive effects. The Caiman community we served hosts roughly 20 teams each year. This was the third time a Northwestern team traveled there, and we were able to see projects we’d started had been completed by other teams. It enabled us to see the bigger picture of our ministry to that community. 1 The Netherlands by Kelsey Doornenbal ’15 Shelter Youth Hostels • www.shelter.nl For 16 years, Northwestern students have spent spring break alongside staff and volunteers at Shelter City and Shelter Jordan in Amsterdam. The hostels seek to demonstrate hospitality and Christian love by providing clean, affordable and welcoming accommodations for young travelers. Team members worked in the hostels’ cafés and spring-cleaned the rooms. They also led evening activities and Bible discussions for guests. Red Light District The Shelter City is near Amsterdam’s infamous Red Light District. We walked through the area, and even in the midst of so much darkness and sin, we felt the Lord’s presence and protection. Christ’s victory is more powerful than the sin and hurt we saw around us. Service with a smile Serving with joy isn’t always easy—cleaning and cooking aren’t always that fun—but we were consistently reminded that any activity, when done with the joy of the Lord, is mission work and can help spread God’s kingdom. We overheard a guest say, “I wouldn’t normally stay somewhere Christian, but this place is just different.” The difference is the commitment of the hostel staff to further Christ’s kingdom through smiles and service. Everyday faith The hostels are an intentional community of believers who hold each other accountable and are committed to serving Christ every day in any way. Everything at the hostels is bathed in prayer and God’s word—and our team talked about incorporating that constant seeking after the Lord into our daily lives back on Northwestern’s campus. Nicaragua by Hannah Shie ’15 The Moravian Church For the 12th time, a team returned to Bluefields, Nicaragua, to minister to the community served by Reformed Church in America missionaries Rev. Adrian Bobb and Dr. Bernardeth Kelly-Bent (www.rca.org/mission). The students arrived with more than 100 pairs of shoes for Bluefields children, enabling kids without shoes to have a pair so they can attend school. Team members also hosted a vacation Bible school, dug a water runoff ditch, and painted at the Comedor, which serves daily meals to kids. Sole support One little boy told us about the significance of shoes. Bluefields children have to wear shoes to school, and as he and his brother have just one pair between them, they must take turns going to school. Because one of the pairs we brought with us fit him, now he and his brother can attend school together every day. Family first Family is a high priority in the Bluefields community. Kids who came to the Comedor would often bring their younger siblings. One boy, Eduardo, showed up every day with his two-year-old sister, who he was responsible for. Rather than playing with the other kids—even though it was obvious he wanted to—he just stayed by his sister’s side. As he grew to trust us, we convinced him to let us take care of his sister so he could have a break and play awhile. Turning guilt into gumption It’s hard to visit a place like Bluefields and not feel guilty about being born into such a wealthy and privileged society. As we talked and processed our feelings, one of the things we concluded is that rather than spending time feeling guilty, we should spend more time understanding and pursuing ways we can use our wealth and privilege to serve communities like Bluefields. 2 Jonesboro, Arkansas by Erin Van Horn ’15 and Hannah Wittenberg ’17 CityYouth Ministries • www.cityyouthmin.com CityYouth Ministries is an after-school ministry that provides a “safe haven” for kids where they can play games and get homework help and a free, nutritious meal before being transported home. This year a snowstorm in Jonesboro meant schools were closed all week and after-school programs were canceled. As a result, NWC students spent their week making a lot of progress on CYM cleaning and maintenance projects. This was the 14th Northwestern SSP team to serve at CityYouth Ministries. by Andrew Hulstein ’15 Compton, California Emmanuel Reformed Church | www.erc.la Alongside Kurt Korver ’12, members of Northwestern’s football team worked for Emmanuel Reformed Church’s Compton Initiative, helping beautify the property of Faith Community Church. They scraped, primed and painted a fence around the property as well as the church, parsonage and fellowship hall. They also served at the Salvation Army and cleared the trash and debris from an elderly woman’s backyard. This is the 3rd year Northwestern students have served in Compton. Refreshing Even in a place like Compton, which has a reputation for gangs and other community dysfunction, there are good people who genuinely appreciate the help of outsiders. It was great to see how much joy we brought to the community members through our work. On our final Sunday, we worshipped at Faith Community Church. During the course of a three-hour service, we were called to the front of the church to be thanked individually and acknowledged and appreciated in many other ways. Kickoff The most fulfilling part of our trip was listening to Faith Community Church’s Pastor Tim share his vision for the church—how it will be a beacon in the community and how our menial work, scraping and painting, was the important first step toward achieving that goal. Sometimes one of the hardest parts of a ministry is getting it started, but when a big group like ours comes and accomplishes a lot in a week, it’s just the jumpstart that’s needed for the people who will stay to continue the work. Snowstorms and stolen goods Some of our biggest challenges turned out to be our biggest blessings. When a snowstorm disrupted the main goal of our ministry, it was hard at first for us to adjust to the fact we wouldn’t be working with the kids. But we were able to be an encouragement to the CYM staff and volunteers through our willingness to be flexible and simply do whatever they asked of us. In addition, during a day-off trip to St. Louis, our vans were broken into and our things stolen. The experience bonded our team and deepened our relationships. Staying strong The CYM staff and volunteers were so inspiring. They serve selflessly every day, and the stories of how they are changing kids’ lives are incredible. Pray with us that they will continue to have stamina for their ministry with these needy, sometimes neglected kids. STANDARDS OF EXCELLENCE in short-term mission Northwestern College Campus Ministry is committed to Standards of Excellence (SOE) in Short-Term Mission. The SOE criteria were developed by representatives from many U.S. mission agencies, schools and churches who send short-term missionaries. The common set of standards helps ensure that individuals or teams sent by U.S. organizations are excellent. Training, resources, peer input, data collection and accountability are all components of SOE membership. As a member, Northwestern is serious about doing short-term mission well—from preparation through follow-up. 3 Denver, Colorado by Elle Helmkamp ’15 and Madison Raska ’15 Mile High Ministries • www.milehighmin.org For the first time, Northwestern students partnered with Mile High Ministries. The college already has a connection with MHM, which is the host for the Denver Urban Semester, an off-campus academic program. Students served at various Denver ministries for people who are homeless, hungry, or in need of other restoration or reconciliation. Real poverty Nearly all the people we met were homeless or were impoverished in some similar way. Yet the overwhelming impression we were left with was how joyful they were. They seemed more thankful than us for much less. They have joy in Christ alone, where we have joy in the material things we think God has blessed us with. We saw more genuine life among people who had literally nothing than in some people who have everything money can buy. We learned that sometimes the fewer material things you possess, the easier it is to be closer to God. Equally precious Our eyes were opened to the value and dignity God sees in everyone, even the person cast off and living by the side of the road. We tried to see what Christ sees: a person with feelings and hopes just like anyone else. We’re equally worthy of respect and should treat each other accordingly. The person on the street is God’s child and our brother or sister. Home missions Since returning home, we realize how often we miss what’s happening—and who needs a hand up—right where we live. Our team is committed to making our community here aware of the fact that while mission trips are valuable, you don’t need to travel to make a difference. New Orleans, Louisiana by Olivia Oleson ’17 Urban Impact • www.urbanimpact.org For the 18th time, a team of Northwestern students traveled to New Orleans to serve at Urban Impact and Castle Rock Church. They scraped, painted and worked inside a house the church plans to sell; the money will enable them to finish rebuilding their sanctuary. Northwestern students also played basketball with kids from the community during the church’s Friday night open court event. Rebuilding community Although Hurricane Katrina happened almost 10 years ago, many New Orleans communities like the ones where Urban Impact and Castle Rock Church serve continue to face rebuilding challenges. The people we met have withstood a lot of loss and hardship. Yet they are a tight-knit community in which neighbors really love and care for each other. Hope for New Orleans Our hearts were burdened for the youth of New Orleans. We’re praying they will be safe from violence. We’re praying for the single-parent families and the families who are still struggling because of the destruction they experienced from Hurricane Katrina. We’re praying the people of New Orleans find hope in Jesus Christ. 4 Opelousas, Louisiana by Emma Westerholm ’14 Hope for Opelousas • www.hopeforopelousas.org Northwestern was the first college to send a service team to Opelousas in 2008, and teams have returned every year since. In addition to tutoring in Opelousas schools, students also painted a house in the neighborhood and cleaned at a women’s shelter. Team members also hosted an all-night lock-in for 4th through 8th graders that included food, games, a movie and worship. Hard lessons Most challenging for us was seeing the poverty many of the kids live in and the marginal schools they attend. The schools are poorly funded and the curriculum is geared toward standardized testing since the schools’ scores affect future funding, including teacher salaries. Class sizes are large and many of the teachers seemed overworked and understandably apathetic. Especially for the education majors on our team—who are learning to be caring, invested teachers—it was hard to see the situation within which these kids need to try to learn. Love wins We were most inspired by the people at Hope for Opelousas—staff and volunteers who invest every part of themselves into their work. With after-school tutoring, counseling services, retreats, summer camps, and organizing part-time jobs for their students, staff members are never truly off the clock. Their love for their city and the kids in their city is evident, even in the face of violence, crime, poverty and sadness. They firmly believe in the power of prayer and the hope that Christ’s love brings. They inspired us all to a greater trust and awe in our incredible God. Grand Portage, Minnesota by Kaitlin Floerchinger ’15 and Isaac Veurink ’16 Mount Rose Community Church Northwestern SSP teams have been traveling to Grand Portage since 2009 to serve the Mount Rose Community Church on the Ojibwe Reservation. This year’s team cleaned and hosted a game night for reservation youth; Vallen Cook ’13 is the church’s youth leader and a tribal member. Students also spent time studying the Ojibwe culture and learning about the ways in which Native Americans have been marginalized. Peace Spending time on the reservation and eating meals with the tribal elders, we learned there is great value in silence and not being in such a rush all the time. First Nations people are never rushed or overly loud, and our team tried to practice that patience and stillness throughout the week. Relationships and family are also very important to First Nations people, and sacrificing for them is paramount. In addition, the elders and the youth have an important relationship as the elders try to preserve and pass along a culture that is increasingly under attack. Warmth We felt the warmth of the Ojibwe community in ways that are different from the community we experience at Northwestern and in Orange City. The remoteness of the location—coupled with the people’s willingness to sacrifice precious time and resources to be with us and feed us was a direct example of God’s love. On Sunday we worshiped with fewer than 30 people in a simple, genuine way that enabled us to experience the congregation’s passion for Christ. 5 Minneapolis, Minnesota by Christa Curl ’14 Somali Adult Literacy Training • www.worldreliefmn.org/salt For the 6th year, students served as tutors at SALT, an organization with a mission to serve Somali refugees in Minneapolis by teaching English to adults, helping Somali kids with their homework, and showing hospitality and God’s love. Language learning Each week day we visited different places to tutor English. One day we went to an adult day care and helped some Vietnamese people as well as a man from Egypt with English. The rest of the week we traveled to apartment complexes to work with Somali and Ethiopian women, ages 20 to 60. Some were just learning their ABCs, and others were studying for college courses or to become U.S. citizens. We tutored one-to-one or one-to-two. Sometimes a few of us would take care of children so their mothers or other caregivers could focus on studying. Everywhere we went, our “students” were so thankful for extra teachers who were willing to spend time helping them improve their English. Interfaith dialogue In addition to tutoring, our team learned more about Islam and prayed for the beautiful Muslim people we met throughout the week. We learned what Muslims think of Christians, our Bible and Jesus. On Friday we visited a mosque and prayed that Jesus would come there with us. The SALT staff member who accompanied us was able to give a Somali Bible to a man who promised he would read it. Minneapolis, Minnesota by Charlotte Richards ’13 Urban Ventures • www.urbanventures.org This was the first year a Northwestern team volunteered at Urban Ventures, an organization that seeks to heal community and family brokenness in south Minneapolis. The students tutored at UV’s after-school center, the Learning Lab, and cooked meals for a YoungLife group and men living at a homeless shelter. Risky business Our first morning in Minneapolis, we attended an inner-city, charismatic church connected with Urban Ventures. The pastor was a red-lipstick-wearing, cheetah-printskirt-twirling, constantly-laughing young African-American woman. “Faith is spelled R-I-S-K!” she told us over and over. Her church is in a poor, rough neighborhood, but her message gave courage to her congregation and us for the week ahead. Dad class We were invited to observe a parenting class at Urban Ventures’ Center for Fathering. The class of around 50, mainly African-American males was taught by a loud, loving older man who would describe difficult parenting situations and then invite the men to shout out how they would respond. If the idea offered was a bad one, the teacher would say so. Rather than seeming offended, the student would then throw out another idea. Some of the fathers were ex-gang members or ex-drug dealers. Some lived with or had custody of their children; some didn’t. All of them, though, seemed committed to being better fathers and offering better lives to their kids. To learn more about Northwestern College Campus Ministry and to watch a video about this year’s SSP teams, visit: www.nwciowa.edu/faith. 6 Cary, Mississippi by Karlee Stubbe ’14 Cary Christian Center • www.carychristiancenter.org Cary community members apply to the Cary Christian Center (CCC) for specific help and then negotiate a reasonable financial or in-kind payment for services. As volunteers for the multi-faceted ministry of CCC, Northwestern students worked at a thrift store, sorted donations, and assisted with CCC’s after-school programs. Nursing and pre-med students also conducted a prenatal health class. This is the 5th year an SSP team has served in Cary. Backward thinking The experience was life-changing for many of us. For some of us, we saw poverty up close for the first time in our lives. Yet we were struck by the strong trust in Jesus among many of the people we met. It made us realize both how fortunate we are and how much we take our good fortune for granted. Those of us with lives of abundance and privilege don’t always appreciate all we have, while those living in poverty seem to credit God more and are thankful for everything they receive. It felt backwards. Same time next year At times short-term missions can seem futile—how can anything big be accomplished in such a short amount of time? We were just beginning to form the relationships that would enable us to really understand the lives of our new friends when it was time to leave. Yet through the experience of several team members who were on their second or third trip to Cary, we saw it’s possible to build lasting relationships even if you just see each other for 10 days each spring. Lindale, Texas by Marissa Hill ’17 Calvary Commission • www.calvarycommission.org Calvary Commission (CC) is a ranch-like residence and educational center for ex-convicts who are born again and desire to spend time growing closer to God after they are paroled. For the 19th year, a Northwestern SSP team traveled to Calvary Commission to help with yard work and maintenance, a garage sale and children’s ministry. Team members also led a worship service at a Lindale prison. Boundless love Love for God just radiates from the people living and working at Calvary Commission. They view their possessions as God’s and help each other raise funds so they can participate in mission trips themselves. The CC residents taught us that the only love we really need is God’s love and that we don’t need to search for it; he’ll find us. Freed by grace We really felt God’s presence while leading worship in a prison. Some team members gave testimonies about God’s grace that were met with openness and eagerness by our inmate audience. Equally redeemed The world we live in is a beautiful place, but it’s full of sin. While some people spend time in prison for their sins, in God’s eyes, no one sin is worse than another. God loves us unconditionally and equally, no matter what. 7 Non-Profit Org. U.S. Postage PAID Northwestern College 101 7th Street SW Orange City, IA 51041 Change Service Requested SPRING SERVICE PROJECT teams Haiti Melinda Fjeld Valor Gorans Kari Hilbrands Michael Mabee* Kristina McGivern Sherry Nelson Jake Nessa* Sara Nessa* Lauren Rensink Eryn Schlote Taylor Studer Gretchen Sutherland* Scott Van Ravenswaay Maria Vander Plaats Sara Kooistra Emily Kubbe Breanna Mars Claire Roesner Hannah Shie Natasha Slater Jonesboro, Arkansas Savannah Clapper Caitlin Hagerty Justine Jackovich* Jennifer Koehn Trenton Korver Claire McKamy Samantha Nelson* Amber Pater Tasha Pierce Caitlin Porter Josh Potter Jordan Samuelson Regina Steffen Sam Thomson Erin Van Horn Deidra Vander Woude Natalie Wheeler* Nathan Wheeler Hannah Wittenberg Tara Woodward* Andrew Hulstein* Paul Hutson* Tate Kellenberger Tyler Knobloch* Micah Lassen Levi Letsche Ben Loftis Richard Maris Matt McCarty* Brett Nelson Sam Rall Timothy Spykstra Sam Van Ginkel Marcus Van Zee Joe Vander Stelt Jake Zylstra Melinda Raak Henry Richardson Tyler Robyn Jessica Sawatzky* Ben Schmidt Nicole Staples Taylor Stephens James Teutschmann Brody Van Roekel Ashley Van Wyhe David Runia Isaac Veurink* Sean Wallenburg Anna Zeutenhorst Minneapolis, Minnesota (SALT) Jenna Beeson Christa Curl Shuen-En Ho Michelle Holthaus* Rachael Nysetvold* Michael Simmelink* Karlee Stubbe Sarah Teske Courtney Tucker Joel Vree Jerrica Wallinga Lindale, Texas Ben Boice Denise Cowherd Emily Culver Laura Ecklund* Lucas Fratzke Ben Guhl Mark Haselhoff* Joseph Hendershott* Marissa Hill Erin Holle* Whitney Jorgensen Candra Penning Joslynn Roth Sophie Sandin Brady Timmer Megan Timmer Caroline Trewet Mikayla Vos *Student, staff and alumni team leaders Opelousas, Louisiana Julie Andersen* Kyle Cleveringa Brittany Elms Angela Gornik Jennifer Guthmiller* Mckenna Halter Aimee Harmelink Skyler Hillnorby Dana Kleinjan Mackenzie Larin Hannah McBride* Emily Molko Allison Reisma Jessie Riley Isaiah Twitty* Taniya Weldon Emma Westerholm Cassie Westpful Katilyn Zomer Minneapolis, Minnesota (Urban Ventures) Kelly Burds Daniel Cabrera Ian Card Jake Gilleland Klint Kuntson Charlotte Richards* Yutaka Rodriguez Amelia Thies Jessica White* The Netherlands Derek Brower* Barb Dewald* Kelsey Doornenbal Sarah Edwardson Jonathan Eveland* Caleb Hawks Josh Horstman Na Heai Kim* Jessica Locker Lauren McDonald Callie Nordahl Evan Stoesz Kelley Thurman Sarah Wittenberg Denver, Colorado Megan Cole Karissa Fuerniss* Aaron Haach Elle Helmkamp Mindy Holstad Dakotah Jordan Andy Powell Madison Raska Harlan Van Oort* Cary, Mississippi Lindsey Broek Adrianne Burk Callie Bushe Sarah Christopher Micah Czirr Ethan Degroot Cody Hughes Kevin McMahan* Lynne McMahan* Mattie Ostrowski Carly Rozeboom* Kelcie Scarlett Kristin Schmidt Zach Schornack Compton, California Kyle Achterhoff* Miguel Alvarado Craig Bruinsma Brice Byker Jay Elsberry Collin Fast Ross Fernstrum* Brad Gaudy Joe Gray Ben Green Isaac Heard* New Orleans, Louisiana Angela Adney Mark Aldeman* Michaela Ayers Jackie Davis* Shay Davis* Miles Fletcher Tim Henriksen Josh Kester Russell Klienveldt Olivia Oleson Naoko Oura Nicaragua Rick Clark* Erica Davis* Jaclyn Dykstra Stephen Dykstra Brooke Folkers Haley Ginger Olivia Holt* Patrick Hummel* Grand Portage, Minnesota Ryan Anderson* Fineas Colta Kaitlin Floerchinger* Mariko Komatsu Ashley Maloney Alyssum Roe*