Relaymedia

Summer Mission Trips to Africa Taught Student Life-long Lessons

( [email protected] ) Jun 03, 2004 09:53 PM EDT

Through summer mission and outreach trips through Christian organizations this summer, many students will be able to learn many lessons sometimes not taught in the classroom. For some, one or two summer spent ministering to the needy and poor have translated into a lifetime-long change of heart.

Hannah Lee graduated from Sentinel High School this year and plans to go to the University of Montana in the fall to major in international relations. However, she has probably more experience with the world than most students.

Lee has spent over six summers volunteering in children orphanages, hospitals, and churches in Africa. Even though she first visited Africa with a fear of AIDS, her faith has grown from her visits.

"The idea is to learn about other cultures and also recognize how blessed we are here," she said.

Her first trip was when she was 12 years old, with students through InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, an evangelical campus mission that serves more than 35,000 students and faculty on more than 560 college and university campuses nationwide. Her parents Brian and Debbie Lee were co-leaders of InterVarsity global projects.

"It was hard for me to be there at first, seeing the suffering," she said, but she has fallen in love with Kenya and has returned there for five consecutive summers.

During one of her visits, Lee helped distribute shoeboxes filled with presents to about 4,000 elementary school-age children in Cape Town as part of a project organized by Samaritan's Purse, a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization.

She also lived with Kenyan pastor or other minister helped to strengthen their church.

Part of the project's purpose is also to introduce students to basic cross-cultural ministry skills and serve Kenyan churches, hospitals and university students.

During one of her visits, Lee helped distribute shoeboxes filled with presents to about 4,000 elementary school-age children in Cape Town as part of a project organized by Samaritan's Purse, a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization.

Her second mission trip to Africa changed her even more when she volunteered for an underfunded orphanage run by Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity. Lee was 16.

"They find babies outside their gates or in the garbage crying. Every child is taken in," her mother Debbie Lee said. "Hannah worked and cared for sick and dying babies there."

Growing attached to the babies in the orphanage, especially one named Isabella, Lee and her parents took three of the sickest babies to a Nairobi Children’s Hospital to have them treated. The three babies were in risk of dying but now are alive and a few have even been adopted.

That particular mission trip definitely had an impact on Lee.

"When we talk about Kenya and the six years of going there, we talk about those babies. It was our finest hour as a family ... to be able to do this together and have that memory. It will last a lifetime," she said.

Lee’s mother is impressed by the change she has seen in her daughter.

"She loves to serve. She's not happy unless she is," the mother said.