Students Serve in Guatemala and Haiti

March 5, 2013
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This Christmas, MNU students did more than take a break from classes – many used their holiday to serve underprivileged communities across the globe.

First, 12 senior nursing majors traveled to Guatemala’s Western Highlands to perform pediatric health assessments and treat malnutrition through Nazarene Compassionate Ministries’ Widows and Orphans Program. The group traveled from village to village handing out vitamins, medicine, toiletries, and toys to needy children. They also set up makeshift clinics in each village’s church, where they offered eye exams, ear cleanings, pharmaceutical consultations, and full physicals.

Senior nursing major Becky Wieczorek said it was clear that their ministry made an impact in the communities they served.  

“In the span of five days, we saw approximately 500 primarily underprivileged infants, children, and teens who were orphaned or had one living parent,” said Wieczorek. “This was likely the one time a year they received medical attention because of lack of access to health care or insufficient financial means.”

Wieczorek said that ultimately, the opportunity to build relationships with the orphans was unforgettable.

“Their giggles, hugs, and gratitude humbled me,” said Wieczorek. “During our lunch break and their siesta time, we would often play with the children—blowing bubbles or playing games like pato, pato, ganso (duck, duck, goose). Those are cherished moments that I will hold in my heart forever.”

When the Guatemala team shared their stories at a recent MNU chapel service, they recounted one of the major challenges they faced during the trip: after handing out medicine and toiletries to a group of needy children, they learned that the children had been robbed at gunpoint as they traveled back to their village.

Senior nursing major Breanna Brenneman said that though their team was upset when they learned of the assault, God used the trial to unite them and increase their faith.

“The next night our team stayed up to pack extra supplies that we had brought down,” said Brenneman. “Every child and mother got their vitamins, prescriptions, and a treat bag! Nobody from the village was hurt and they all made it home safely. What an incredible way to watch God provide for the orphans in Guatemala!”

While the senior nursing majors were in Guatemala, another group of MNU students traveled to Port au Prince, Haiti, with Heart to Heart International, a medical nongovernmental organization with a special focus in Haiti. The 10 MNU students who participated in the trip hosted a medical clinic in the community of Cascade Pichon while working with Heart to Heart’s medical and orphan programs.

Sophomore ministry major Terrin Garber said throughout their trip, he was grateful for the opportunity to share and apply his faith in Christ.

“There’s no greater feeling in the world than helping those in need,” said Garber. “I felt like I was actually living out Christianity. It will make you come alive!”

Junior music education major Katie Wiskus agreed that the opportunity to serve helped their team as much as it helped the community in Cascade Pichon.

“I learned a lot about perspective and how incredibly blessed we really are,” said Wiskus. “When you step into the shoes of someone who literally doesn’t even have shoes, you see the world through different eyes. [The people there] feel incredibly blessed by every single thing in their lives. Their country was beautiful, but the people were even more incredible.”

In addition to these trips, MNU’s Passion to Serve Project is a yearlong partnership with Alliance for Children Everywhere’s Milk and Medicine Program, which provides medical and nutritional aid to children of mothers HIV/AIDS.

For a glimpse into the adventures of the Guatemala and Haiti mission teams, check out their photo album on MNU’s Facebook page.

Want to learn more about MNU’s Passion to Serve? Check out our upcoming mission trips.