UCA Students Take Spring Break Mission Trip
Nearly 90 Upper Columbia Academy students spent spring break serving the Lord on overseas mission trips. Through the tremendous donations from 1,000 people totaling $82,000, 59 students went on school-sponsored trips to Belize.
Thirty-six students, six faculty/staff sponsors and two medical personnel served in the swamp district of Belize City where people live in shacks built over swamps. Various street ministries and medical clinics supplemented the main evangelistic focus of the trip.
During the day, witnessing bands went house-to-house, singing for the people and playing instruments such as guitars and saxophones. They also conducted a “Loaves and Fishes” ministry, distributing rice, beans, potatoes, onions, and cooking oil to homes surrounding the crusade tent. As students made friends with the people, they shared literature, prayed with many, and invited them to the meetings. Many came to the meetings and have started Bible studies. Students also took care packages to an orphanage/halfway-house for abused and abandoned children.
Using the New Beginnings DVD sermons and visuals, eight students presented the evening sermons. Other students presented special music, led song services, provided intercessory prayer, and gave testimonies for evening meetings as well as Sabbath school and church services.
During the meetings, students held vacation Bible school for as many as 90 children with singing, Bible videos, stories, skits, crafts, and other goodies.
Because the evangelistic crusade was sponsored and arranged by The Quiet Hour, part of the money raised by UCA students hired two local Bible workers who had worked in the area since January. Their meetings were still in progress when the UCA group left.
“The people there could not carry a tune!” reported the students when they returned. “And they would sing so loud that it was painful! But they were so excited to praise God, and that made their singing beautiful.”
Students were convinced that the devil was trying to prevent them from preaching the gospel when they encountered a number of difficulties, such as the power going out just before a meeting and the bus breaking down. But they found that as they took these situations to God in prayer, He was faithful in making it possible for His Word to be proclaimed.
“One of the most inspiring things about the trip for me,” reported one student, “was getting up early in the morning and seeing so many of my fellow students up and praying or having their devotions. It was a really faith-building experience for many of us.”
UCA students assisted John Schilt, dentist and parent to UCA students, to provide a dental clinic in the church’s preschool. They even made a few house calls. John Moore, nurse and UCA parent, also provided medical services to needy families.
A team of 23 students, four faculty/staff sponsors, four physicians, and eight others served in Colorzal, Belize. The group, along with others from Okanagan Academy in British Columbia, took on several construction projects, conducted evangelism and operated medical clinics.
One of two primary projects added three college classrooms to an existing building. This involved intensive physical labor just to get building materials from the ground to the second-story work site. Because daytime temperatures approached 100 degrees with nearly 100 percent humidity, the group started at 5 a.m. and took an extended midday break. When the nearby elementary school let out for recess, the team had an additional 40 pairs of helping hands.
A second project created a house for the principal from a 16-year-old unfinished bakery. After a day clearing four inches of topsoil that had collected inside, the group put in plumbing, poured the floor and built the trusses. Students also scraped two buildings and painted one.
A number of students were able to assist teachers in the elementary classrooms. They were amazed at how little there was in each classroom and yet how happy and eager to learn the children were.
Students assisted the team’s doctors in eye screenings and surgeries for approximately 450 patients and gave out more than 200 pairs of glasses. “I can see! I can see!” cried one delighted woman through translator Melissa Wickenberg, a UCA senior. Students also helped dentists fill cavities and pull teeth.
Because of the serious nature of the condition of six children he saw, Romeo Pavlic, cardiologist and UCA parent, arranged for them to go to Spokane for heart surgery. He also negotiated with the government of Belize for land on which to build a clinic so he can return a couple of times a year to provide medical assistance.
In the evenings, UCA students Cheryl Williams, Michelle Jahn and Kathilee Davidson, as well as Canadian students and local youth, held evangelistic meetings. Joedy Melashenko from The Quiet Hour helped coordinate the meetings and other projects.
While the adults met, children enjoyed Vacation Bible School where attendance climbed from 130 the first night to 300 at the end. The children loved the singing, Bible stories, skits, and crafts. Having children’s meetings during evangelistic meetings was new to the local people.
On the first Sabbath, the UCA group divided into smaller groups to provide special music and give talks in eight of 11 local churches. In the afternoon, they distributed clothing and toys to the neediest families.
Because The Quiet Hour sponsored the evangelistic meetings, some of the student-raised trip funds paid eight local Bible workers for three months prior to the meetings. As a result, a number of people were already studying the Bible and 16 people have been baptized. Two UCA students were rebaptized.
To see additional photos from these mission trips, check UCA’s web site at www.ucaa.org. •