The trip, under the direction of student coordinator Katie Matthuis ’12 of Mokena, Illinois, brought 20 Trinity students to a section of rural Virginia to make small repairs on homes whose occupants could not afford the extra costs. Some students said they were grateful to be carrying out a mission they felt was God-inspired, lifting financial burdens from those less fortunate.
“It’s nice to see how thankful these people are,” said Mandy Reddish ’11 of Joliet, Illinois. “We’re leaving a lasting impact on their lives. It might just be cleaning up or straightening up their bathrooms or fixing up something that’s broken in their house.” But Reddish said she was glad to experience the joy and relief felt by the lower-income senior citizens she assisted.
When they weren’t working, some students were busy getting to know their fellow classmates on a deeper, more personal level. One participant reflected on how he knew only three people coming in but was able to establish friendships with most of the 16 students he hardly knew.
Attendees were also encouraged by nightly Bible studies centered on the theme posed by the devotional “The Five Rooms of Your Heart,” which challenged students to think more deeply about their walks with God.
“The students on this trip were challenged through evening Bible studies to view their hearts as a literal home for Jesus,” said Matthuis. “We were asked to go through each ‘room’ with the Lord and let him clean out all the garbage and dirt that has collected there.”
A whitewater-rafting excursion gave a few students the opportunity to show their determination publicly.
“Our river guides were asking us questions, and we were telling them about God and how we were on a mission trip,” said sophomore Josh Pegman of Woodridge, Illinois. “They were shocked that we were on spring break and on a mission trip when we could be in Florida. So maybe we got them thinking.”
Why Virginia? Matthuis said she had been in conversation with a representative of the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and she and Matthuis had been creating a list of 20 possible places on the CRWRC radar as points where student aid would be appreciated.
“Certain places didnt have openings for our select week of spring break, while other locations weren’t as appealing as Virginia,” Matthuis said. “I don’t believe that Service Committee has been to Virginia yet, and after talking to Travis, the executive director at the Dungannon Development Commission’s PROJECT HELP, it seemed like a perfect fit for our group of students.”
Matthuis summarizes the general pulse of the whole week. Not only did we transform the homes of the people living in the area, but we were changed by the homeowners too. There were a lot of little lessons to be learned from these people’s stories and situations.”