Friendship Mission Trip
Spring Break Friendship Mission Trips
Alice Millar Chapel and University Christian Ministry co-sponsor spring break service trips abroad each year. These “friendship missions” are undertaken to increase global awareness, to provide an opportunity immersion in a different culture, and to building relationships with brothers and sisters in other countries. In previous years, groups have travelled to Russia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, and Cuba.
The destination for the spring break trip is announced below. Students are responsible for the cost of the trip. Every effort is made to keep costs to a minimum.
For more information, contact University Christian Ministry (847-864-2320) or Alice Millar Chapel (847-491-7256).
HAITI FRIENDSHIP MISSION SPRING BREAK 2011
Sponsored by Alice Millar Chapel and University Christian Ministry
FRIENDSHIP MISSION GOALS
The goals of this trip are: (1) To help team members learn about the political, social, economic, and religious aspects of life in Haiti. (2) To build bridges of friendship and understanding between ourselves and our Haitian brothers and sisters. (3) To provide resources for and participate in rebuilding following the earthquake. (4) To deliver medicines and supplies to Methodist churches in Haiti.
LEADERS AND GROUP SIZE
Rev. Julie Windsor Mitchell, Campus Minister at University Christian Ministry, and Rev. Timothy Stevens, Northwestern University Chaplain, will lead the group. The rest of the team will be limited to 8 students.
Our visit will be hosted by the Eglise Methodiste de Haiti. We hope to deepen relationships with church and community leaders by sharing worship and Bible study with members of the congregation. We will visit mission projects of the Methodist church. Approximately one month in advance of departure, the group will be assigned a specific rebuilding/construction project, according to the priorities of the Eglise Methodiste de Haiti. We will meet people who are living out their faith in a social, cultural and economic setting very different from our own.
We will travel from Chicago to Port-au-Prince on Saturday, March 19 and return on Saturday March 27, 2010.
Obtained on arrival.
Preliminary estimate is $1500. This figure is all inclusive: air fares, food, housing, and travel within Haiti.
The group will be hosted in the church guest house at the beginning and end of our trip, providing dormitory-style sleeping arrangements. While working on the project, the group may be housed in the guest house or live on-site in very basic accommodations which may or may not include modern conveniences.
The church will provide a cook who is familiar with preparing meals for Westerners, taking all necessary sanitary precautions.
French language ability may be helpful, but not required. The primary spoken language is Creole and a translator will be provided.
Student participants must be willing to share in a series of orientation discussions prior to the trip. These sessions will involve gaining information and group building.
Students must also be willing, as opportunity is presented, to share impressions of Haiti on their return with university, church, and community groups. The group will make a formal presentation on campus following the trip. A Student Organized Seminar is also being considered for trip participants in connection with the One Book, One Northwestern selection for this year, Mountains Beyond Mountains. Students may also individually work out academic assignments and credit with professors in related areas of study.
Monday November 29: Complete an application form available at Alice Millar Chapel or UCM, and make an $800 deposit. (Make checks to: “University Christian Ministry.”)
Download the application and bring to the Chapel Office: Friendship_mission_2011 (.pdf)
Monday December 6: Group participants will be notified of their acceptance into the program. Individuals not offered a space on the trip will be refunded their full deposit.
Monday January 3: Second payment of $700 due.
University Christian Ministry,1834 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, IL 60201
Telephone: 847. 864.2320
Friendship Mission Trip - Cuba Spring 2010
Article by Dana Behnke
I was one of fifteen people who went on the Friendship mission from Alice Millar Chapel and University Christian Ministry over Spring break. We spent a week in Havana, Cuba hosted by First Presbyterian Church of Havana and their pastor Hector Mendez. I was asked to share a bible passage and some of my thoughts on the experience. I wanted to thank all of you for your continued support of this trip and for giving me the opportunity.
Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
About a week and a half after we got back to Cuba, I met with Julie and a women from a local church. We were trying to renew our relationship with this particular congregation and hopefully get some financial support from them. There was, of course, the requisite schmoozing. Julie talked about our ministry and I tried to offer a student’s perspective. The conversation went smoothly, flowed easily. We ended up talking about Cuba and she essentially asked me if I had found the experience to be life-changing.
I didn’t know how to respond. Certainly, I felt impacted by the trip, but I also didn’t have some Pentecostal revelation. I had no idea what this woman wanted or expected me to say. I became acutely aware that I was essentially selling something, marketing our ministry. I gave the cope out answer. I said that we all encountered the trip to Cuba differently and that each of us were affected by it to varying degrees. It was a true statement, but it wasn’t the best answer I could have given. Perhaps my uneasiness was not with the question she asked. Did the trip change you? That response should have been easy. Sure, I learned new things; I met people who generously shared their lives with me. I would see the world just the slightest bit differently because I was able to have this experience. But the question that’s truly terrifying is the one that must logically follow the initial one—how did it change you?
For me, I think going to Cuba was about reaffirmation of this scripture from Romans. Hope, it doesn’t disappoint us. That’s one of the few Bible passages that I’ve carried with me for a long time and yet I still have a tendency to carelessly forget it. I remember being struck by the hopefulness of the people we met. I shouldn’t have been. My surprise was a little naïve; it was a bit condescending; and I don’t know maybe it was partly the result of a college lifestyle filled with complaints of stress and trivialities.
So I went to Cuba and I carried Paul with me. I saw hope in the way the Cuban-Americans clapped as the plane took off from Miami. And I saw that same hope in the eager expressions of Cubans waiting for loved ones just beyond the airport exit. Pastor Mendez spoke of his deep if irrational faith when he preached a sermon about religious tolerance and a church filled with people to the sole woman who had showed up to worship during a period of religious discrimination. One of the Spanish speakers on our trip experienced the humorous but painful optimism of an aunt who wanted to introduce her nephew to all the young American women of our group. All week our group encountered the excitement of a city whose baseball team, the Industriales, was competing in the World Series. We heard the prayers of a congregation that cared deeply about one another and their concern for a man whose brother had recently died in a hunger strike. Some of the church youth, our friends, had the endearing belief that we might be able to teach them an American dance. And I’m pretty sure it was only bright-eyed hope that permitted one of the guys in our group to get six strikes at the baseball game. The thing is…these aspirations aren’t really all that unique to Cuba—they are mostly entirely ordinary. It took two planes and hard-to-obtain religious visas to remind me that hope and God’s grace is ubiquitous.
But Paul isn’t talking just about hope for the earthly future. He’s talking about anticipation of the afterlife, and to be entirely honest, that’s always made me a bit uncomfortable. Since we are justified by faith…we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. Well what about everyone else? It sounds a little exclusive—a club house that only the cool kids can hang out it. And so I’ve always had a tendency to ignore the first part. Let’s skip it and just talk about how suffering produces hope. But the beginning of Romans five is important and my understanding of it has changed. I don’t think Paul is trying to exclude anyone from God’s grace. He points to a community that shares suffering, that shares hope. And I think that’s what this trip to Cuba was about. I think it’s what Julie and Tim Stevens, the congregation at Alice Millar, and all the other supporters of this trip have in mind when they encourage these friendship missions. I was reminded of what Leinad, one of our hosts, said to another guest of the church as he reassured her that she could take more food. He said, “We are family” and he turned to Julie, “Family. Right?” That’s what Paul is conveying—the idea of a huge, awesome family.
I am hopeful. I hope for improved health, more plentiful housing, universal freedoms, wiser leadership, more courageous government, more generous church, more laughter and more baseball, a larger and more loving family. I hope for a better Cuba, a better United States. And I hope all these things with Paul’s confidence that hope will not disappoint us.