By Kaitlyn Czajkowski
Patrick Henry College
PUEBLA, Mexico -- Hot, dry Mexico welcomed eleven members of the Patrick Henry College community early this summer for a short-term mission trip to Puebla, where the group donated $300 to the Living Hope orphanage.
The group included Patrick Henry College's physics professor, Dr. Michael Kucks, his wife, Mrs. Mary Kucks, and PHC students and alumni Jeffrey Weinmeister, Aubrey Waters, Audrey Flowers, Jeremy Smith, Dan Burns, Taylor Smith, Rachel Smith, and Lucas Pillman, with his sister, Jessica Pillman.
The trip was organized by PHC student Taylor Smith, co-founder and second president of Sans Frontières, a student-run group that seeks to impact both the local community and the world.
“When we first started Sans Frontières in 2005, we were excited about the prospect of a missions trip, but we thought it was many years down the road,” Smith said. “It was very gratifying to have a bunch of willing students work hard to get a trip off the ground, almost like accomplishing a club dream.”
Sans Frontières means “without borders,” and attracts PHC students interested in foreign countries and languages who want to enlarge their cultural worldview on an international scale while impacting those cultures for Christ.
The mission trip was funded on a shoestring budget. Each person raised the necessary $600, most of which was used to purchase their plane tickets, by asking for support from their home churches.
Dr. Kucks observed that the trip was very efficient. "The cost was minimal and the impact was substantial," he said. PHC alumnus, Dan Burns, who organized the financial aspect of the trip, "deserves an awful lot of credit for that," Kucks added.
The group stayed at a Bible camp run by Jeremy Smith’s parents. Jeremy's grandparents started the camp 35 years ago, and Jeremy's parents have been running the camp for the past nine years.
The team's “projects” included tearing down a concrete wading pool so it could be converted into a fire pit, and helping to build kayaks for another Christian camp. The group also visited an orphanage, evangelized on the street, and sat through an eight-hour church service in Spanish—a language many of them barely understood.
On a trip where many people did not know the language, and did not know what to expect, it would have been easy for frustrations and irritability to arise, but according to Dr. Kucks , “One of the most pleasant aspects for my wife and I was how well everyone worked together.”
“I think we were all affected by the trip more than the people we sought to affect,” noted Smith. “The team was blessed to see part of God’s global plan. What an eye-opening experience!”
For one rising junior at Patrick Henry College, Jeffrey Weinmeister, it was a privilege simply to have the opportunity to serve. “God is good and He is great, and I’m honored if we can be servants,” he said. “If Christ was a servant, then we also ought to serve.”
Aubrey Waters, a rising senior at PHC, especially enjoyed the group’s visit to Living Hope, a local orphanage. She met Lalo, age four, a young boy who loved putting stickers on his face and playing with her camera. “He didn’t want to let go of me,” she said. “It was really hard leaving him.”
Waters added, “It was a huge blessing to be with other believers and not speak the same language and know you are going to see those people in heaven someday.”
Will the group return to Puebla? They hope so, Weinmeister said. There is enough interest in taking another trip, either to Mexico, or to another country. The only question is when.