by Maddy Hanley

While spring break is generally seen as a time to take a break and relax, some students choose to dedicate the time to serving others on one of the missions trips offered through the University of Northwestern – St. Paul. This year, the two UNW trips brought students to San Diego, California, and Miami, Florida. Each trip had a different focus and a unique team, but participants from both described a close, family-like bond within the teams.

Mitch Geiken, a junior ministry major, described the trip to San Diego as “very educational in learning about making bridges to Jesus with every culture.”

The San Diego team focused heavily on cultural exploration through interactions with people in ethnic markets and authentic restaurants. They also put on a kids’ camp in a Hispanic community, built a fence, volunteered in an ESL class and led prayer walks in the diverse communities that make up San Diego. Sierra Frankamp, a sophomore on the San Diego team, described the experience as “very eye-opening.”

“I learned how important it is to immerse yourself in other cultures and know the world around you,” Frankamp said. “You can learn so much by learning from refugees and other cultures and religions.”

“It isn’t until you get out of your comfort zone that you really start to see all the ways God can work,” Geiken added.

The Miami trip took an unexpected turn when itineraries would not print, giving the schedule a moment-by-moment approach.

“We went wherever the Spirit told us to go,” said junior Rachel Monson.

Whether or not it was originally planned, the Miami team worked with a Haitian church’s after-school program, organized a Special Olympics, performed physical labor to repair a low-income community and helped wash vans at a children’s home among other things.

“I think it was just cool to see how God was working through everything,” said student Sarah Trapp. “He shows up and works in awesome ways.”

“He was orchestrating and speaking to our team the entire time,” added Monson.

Many participants agreed that going on a spring break missions trip is a great option due to the affordability and the relationships that can grow out of the teams.

“It’s an adventure that is worth taking,” Monson said.

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