Join us at Discover SPRINT for a night of stories and video from Summer, 2013 SPRINT trips! Sunday night, November 3, 7:00 PM in Demaray Hall 150 on the SPU campus.
With today’s return of the Vietnam SPRINT team and the departure of the Brazil team, we’re pretty close to SPRINT’s halfway point this summer. (For a full list of this summer’s trips, visit the SPRINT webpage).
I know you’re primarily interested in reports from teams’ trips, so I’ll keep this post brief. Quickly, though, I wanted to offer some background information on the SPRINT program and our goals for all of this international travel, learning and service you’ll read about on these pages.
University-sponsored short-term missions at Seattle Pacific University date back to the early 1960s; participants in Operation Outreach, later renamed Seattle Pacific Reachout INTernational, have volunteered in countries around the world for many years. Serving in teams alongside in-country local leadership, the objective of SPRINT trips has always been to provide needed help, a witness to the Gospel and important learning opportunities for college students.
Today SPRINT is advised and supported by SPU’s John Perkins Center for Reconciliation, Leadership Training and Community Development. Perkins Center staff (that’s me) and student leaders partner to recruit, train and send the SPRINT teams you’re reading about this summer.
It’s important for us to engage students with effective, sustainable, community-developing work that promotes long-term transformation rather than the negative, dependency-creating outcomes sometimes associated with short-term missions. To that end, our pre-trip training and host-partner selection focus on a set of values outlined by the Christian Community Development Association, emphasizing local leadership development, empowerment and reconciliation that bridges both social and spiritual gaps. Our hope is that students will learn from effective community engagement models and apply these lessons to their future work, wherever God leads them.
Another key aspect of the SPRINT process is our emphasis on post-trip reflection and application. Neat experiences, great photos and fun stories about new foods do not equal life transformation. However, when students are intentional in reflecting on their experiences, learning take-aways and challenges of the trip they’re more likely to discover God at work throughout the trip experience and beyond.
To encourage the reflection process we’ll send each student a copy of the Global Citizen Journal, published by the Krista Foundation for Global Service as he or she returns home. The journal highlights the importance of incorporating service and mission experiences into one’s life through reflection and application. You might find this sample article interesting: In “Staying for Tea” Aaron Ausland reflects on the importance of long-term commitment and listening to community in order to find one’s place of effectiveness as an outsider coming in.
Thanks again for your support of students as they participate in SPRINT this summer. If you’d like more information on the program, ways to give or ways to be involved, please contact me at (206) 281-2932 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
After three weeks in Rwanda, the team will return to the States on Tuesday the 16th. As you prepare to receive them, here are some things I hope you’ll think about to help the team make the most of this trip.
For those of you meeting students at the airport, here’s flight information:
• Haley and Hayley return to SeaTac on July 16 at 5:43 PM on United #1287.
• Erin returns to Chicago on July 16 at 12:50 PM on United #973.
• Summer returns to Denver on July 16 at 5:58 PM on United #1024
As the group returns, they’ll continue to think through this experience and its implications for their lives. It’s likely that this mental processing will involve at least some of these elements:
• Relief upon returning to familiar surroundings,
• Frustration with aspects of home culture that appear less desirable than the cultural values experienced during the SPRINT experience,
• Sadness and joy over relationships and memories developed during the trip,
• And hopefully, Resolve to incorporate the learning from this trip into daily life as life moves on.
It’s our hope that SPRINT participants will return to “life as usual” with expanded worldviews and a clearer sense of God’s work in their lives. The learning process continues after the trip experience; students will participate in a debriefing gathering in October, and will be encouraged to continue meeting with their SPRINT team to share the story of their host’s work and encourage future generations of SPRINT participants to serve.
I encourage you to give your student time to catch up on sleep, then set aside an extended period of time to share pictures and stories. Don’t expect completely-formed opinions immediately; the reflection process takes time. We remind returning SPRINTers that not everyone will have time to hear the whole story, but that they should find a few people with whom to share the longer, more in-depth account.
I’ve mailed team members some discussion questions and a copy of the Global Citizen Journal, published by the Krista Foundation for Global Citizenship (www.kristafoundation.org), to help them think through their experience as they move forward. If you’ve got time, I’d encourage you to talk though some of these materials with your student.
Thanks for your support of students on this team! Please let me know if you have questions.
We’ve had a very busy week! We started the week on Tuesday and were planning on going back to the catchup school and spending most of the week there with the kids. However, there was another group that had come from the UK, who had been preparing a curriculum for the students for a year. We felt very good that their program was exactly what the kids needed, and we didn’t want to be a distraction to what they were doing.
Even with the change of plans, the week was great! We went to a couple museums and a couple genocide memorial sites.
On Wednesday we did a teaching on spiritual gifts and community development, based around the story of Joseph. We taught it to two co-ops that sew bags with Rwanda Partners. The sewers are all orphan head-of-households. They are young and so full of joy. We had such a blast getting to know them, hearing their stories and doing a lot of dancing and singing with them 🙂
July 4th (Thursday) was Rwanda’s liberation day, marking the end of the 100 days of genocide 19 years ago. On that day, we visited a memorial sight at a church where 7,000 people were killed during the genocide. We also visited the home of four women who were widowed in the genocide. It was an emotionally charged day, but hearing the women’s testimonies and seeing their strength and faith was inspiring.
On Friday we did our teaching again, but this time to a co-op of basket weavers. They were another fun group to work with–women who are so wise and were so welcoming to us (and they make beautiful baskets). When we got back to Kigali we walked around our neighborhood, meeting people (which mostly consisted of children, who always seem to find us–we don’t mind). 🙂
Saturday we drove to Kigeme refugee camp, where 18,000 displaced Congolese live. We met with the committee of the camp and got a tour, visiting the new co-ops that they are starting, and ended by hearing some people’s testimonies. It was another inspiring visit.
On Sunday we went to an Anglican Church in Kigali with one of the Rwanda Partners staff and were (as always) very welcomed. The rest of the day we road on motos and went to markets and roamed around Kigali a bit.
Today is the third and last day of a Reconciliation Workshop put on by Rwanda Partners. We have spent the last two days with a group of about 30 people, and we are all learning about forgiveness, Christ’s love, and the sacrifice Christ made for our suffering. It is a difficult and emotional process, but one that is so necessary in a country that is still wounded from the genocide.
We’ve been learning and loving and have felt so welcomed into this country. Rwanda and Rwandese people are amazing!
Where to begin? We have been incredibly busy and having an amazing experience in Rwanda. We spent all last week at a catch-up school mostly for street children who weren’t able to begin school at the normal time. The kids are incredible and they appreciate us being there so much, which makes everything worth it. We began the week actually teaching subjects like English, math and social studies, and on Friday did an art project and got to dance and sing with the kids a lot. We’ve been learning a lot of Kinyarwanda songs from our hosts.
This weekend we made the long trip to Cyangugu, which is right on the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is SUCH a beautiful place. The drive took us about 10 hours in all, but the trip was through the beautiful hills and rainforest. In Cyangugu we spent time with the most amazing kids, and went to an Anglican Church where we worshipped enthusiastically, and even led the congregation in four Kinyarwanda songs!
Today, we returned to Kigali and have been relaxing for about the first time since we arrived.
We are just wrapping up our second day in Rwanda and are having the most amazing time. Yesterday (Wednesday) we met with the Rwanda Partners staff in the morning–they are the greatest. Then we spent the rest of the day at Theoneste’s catch up school, where we met all of the students and teachers. We had planned on teaching art to the kids, but the teachers wanted us in the classrooms with them, so today we each taught a different subject to the students.
We’ve been so blessed by the staff we’re working with, and have had a great time getting to know the students! This country is beautiful and we are so excited to see what else is in store in the remaining weeks!
Imama aguhye umugisha (God bless you), Team Rwanda
I just received an email from Allie with Rwanda Partners. The team’s luggage has reached them now. Fun times ahead!
Here’s an email I received from the team this morning. They’ve reached Kigali safely, and are settling in with their hosts.
This is Hayley! We made it to Kigali safe and sound and we just met with everyone at the office! We’re having a great time! 8 of our 9 bags didn’t arrive with us but we should get them by Thursday night! We are LOVING it here so far! We’ll keep you updated 🙂