During the week before Christmas 2007, more than 330 young adults, including 27 from the North Pacific Union, departed from Tampa, Florida, for the first annual Cruise With a Mission. They boarded a Holland America ship, anticipating a seven-day combination spiritual retreat, mission trip and vacation.
Cruise With a Mission was organized by the Center for Youth Evangelism, which is part of the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan. The goal of the trip was to connect Adventist young adults from around the world to experience ministry training, spiritual growth, community, fun, and service.
During excursions to Belize and Guatemala, volunteers conducted medical and dental clinics, led Vacation Bible Schools, and helped renovate several parks and schools.
Aubrey and Chris Nelson from Portland, Oregon, their friend Alicia Geigle, also from Portland, and her brother Andrew, from Walla Walla University, were assigned to spend their time in Belize working in an orphanage. The group's plans were changed because the mayor of Belize City was putting on a program for the children. Aubrey remembers, "On the ferry from our ship to Belize, the couple sitting across from us asked what we were doing. We told them about our mission trip. I saw them again the next day on the ship, and they asked how things were going. I replied that our day in Belize hadn't gone entirely as we had planned, but God was working it out for His good. They said, ‘Just know there are other Christians on this ship, and we're praying for your group.' That was so incredible."
In Guatemala the Nelsons' group went to an Adventist church where they put on a one-day Vacation Bible School program. They taught memory verses, helped with crafts, sang and played with the children. The day's highlight came when they passed out boxes of gifts, clothing, toys, school supplies, and hygiene aids to more than 150 children.
Alicia and Chris both say the highlight for their group happened when, with their original plans altered by a rainstorm, they were able to go into a hospital, pray with the nurses and sing Christmas carols with patients.
Jeani Renfro from Monroe, Washington, particularly benefited from time with other young adults. "I enjoyed the fellowship with people from all different areas," she says. "The fellowship of the small groups and the mission excursions meant a lot. And the worship services were an awesome way to start the day."
The second annual Cruise With a Mission is scheduled for December 14–21, 2008, and will depart from Tampa, Florida. The Cruise With a Mission team is putting together an exciting group of speakers, musicians, worship leaders, event planners and programming experts. For more information, visit www.cruisewithamission.org.