While campus was closed for winter break, most of the York College community was enjoying the time away from responsibilities of work and school by opening gifts, eating holiday fare, and spending time with family.
That cozy picture is in stark contrast to the vacation enjoyed by the 19 YC faculty and staff members, students, and alumni who traveled to Haiti and Ecuador for mission trips during winter break. Their vacations were filled with grime, sweat, and physical labor. It was also blessed with innumerable gifts of the Spirit.
YC junior Kelsey Buglewicz was one of the key organizers of the trip to Haiti. It was Buglewicz’s third time to the country, which is still rebuilding from the devastating earthquake of January 2010.
One of the highlights of the trip was the Christmas meal the team provided for the children at the orphanage—the standard beans and rice, with the added luxuries of chicken and a cup of milk. Each child received a gift, as well—art supplies, small toys, candy. These gifts were collected on campus before the trip so that the entire YC family could be involved in the Christmas blessing.
For Renee Wubbenhorst, a freshman elementary education major from Kansas City, Missouri, the visit to Haiti was her first mission trip. She was moved by the experience and is now considering full time overseas missions after she graduates. “The main thing that I got out of [the trip] was that God can use me whenever I don’t feel like I can be used,” she says. “God is more powerful than my sin. That was a life changing thing for me to learn.”
Others on the trip included Lane Salsbury, Mike Miller, Josh and Breanna Stewart, Chasta Bonifas, Ally Weaver, Sydney Roseke and Shelby Pariset.
The team that traveled to Ecuador had a similar experience, as they worked with local missionaries on maintenance of a church camp facility in Tabacundo and construction of a new church building in Pisuli.
The church building was a simple structure for a small congregation in a “squatter village” near Quito, says York College assistant professor of communication Shannon Leinen, who was on the team.
“We dug holes a meter and a half deep for footings, built rebar braces by hand, and leveled and set a floor of cement before Sunday—the planned dedication and first service for the Pisuli church. Louis, the future preacher, was a construction worker by trade and was very grateful for our help,” she says. The church had about 10 regular members who had been working on the building little by little in their free time, so adding the York team for four days was very helpful.
“On Sunday we were blessed with the opportunity to worship at the first service the church held within its unfinished building,” says Leinen. “What a turnout! There were about 100 people there…The service was about five hours long.”
Vice President of Finance Todd Sheldon had a role in the inaugural church service as he spoke, baptized two new believers, and cut the ribbon for the new building.
Others on the Ecuador team included Leinen’s husband Jared and Carol Rowedder, both of whom work in IT at York College; YC students Leslie Galindo, Troy Rowen, Mayra Urrutia, and Jordan Kinney; YC alumni Michele Tandy and Josh Rinard; and John Dollen, a friend from the Council Bluffs (Iowa) Church of Christ.
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