Summer always finds a collection of PUC students scattered around the world for mission projects. This year was no exception, with students working at a day camp in Thailand and a moving summer camp in Micronesia, teaching English in Korea, and preaching in Mexico.
PUC junior Elben Capule, who was in the heart of Bangkok, Thailand, for two months, found his experience of the culture very positive. “It's very respectful and kind. I like it so much and have gotten quite used to it.” In addition to his main tasks of teaching English, music, and tennis in the summer day camp and specialty camps, Elben helped start a youth ministry. The student missionaries invited high school students—many of whom have never been to church—to “Thursday Night Live,” where the students spent time playing games, eating, and having topic discussions with the student missionaries. “Just the fact that the students were weekly was fulfilling for me,” says Elben. “We’re hoping this program will last all year round.”
Student Jonathan Fox wasn’t planning on going on a summer mission trip, but made a last-minute decision to join the group in Micronesia—and, he says, it “ended up to be exactly where I was supposed to be.” The camp was about much more than games. “In addition to archery, crafts, a small ropes course, sports, etc. we were addressing problems that people in Micronesia face every day: promiscuity, drugs (specifically alcohol, marijuana, and beetlenut), suicide, and planning for a future,” Fox recounts. “We were putting on a summer camp, but I could feel that we were doing so much more than just playing with kids.”
Andy Riffel, a PUC junior and member of the camp team, describes what an impact a single week could have. “The most rewarding aspect of the trip was the relationships we made with the campers,” he says. “They didn't want us to leave and they'd horde to the airport to see us off. Some kids would grab onto us to stop us from leaving and cry when we'd go. We truly felt loved and appreciated.”
Student missionaries typically return with their own stories of change and learning. “Personally I grew so much this summer,” Fox says, “and it really helped drive home the desire to serve God and others and to be exactly where He wants me to be. I don't know where life will lead me, but I know that as long as I follow God's leading my life will always have meaning.”