|PBA students Stephanie Plateroti (second from right) and Rebecca Smith (right) teach hand games to children in Albania.|
The crude house with an interior wall made of cardboard is an image that remains with Palm Beach Atlantic University ministry student Robby Elliot from his trip to Albania this summer.
“That hit me,” said Eliot, a junior who was part of a PBA mission team whose three-week pilgrimage also took them south to neighboring Greece.
The travelers were among about 80 PBA students who participated in global projects this summer. In addition to Albania and Greece, students went to Asia, Malta, South Asia, Sweden and the Turks and Caicos.
One group of five students spent 11 weeks on the Africa Trek, a journey across six countries: South Africa, Mozambique, Swaziland, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Zambia.
The teams will share their experiences at 7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 8, in the DeSantis Family Chapel. The event is open="open" to the PBA community.
On each trip, students worked closely with partner organizations to serve local residents and build relationships with them. In Albania and Greece, the team helped to put on family-oriented festivals to draw the communities together, the students said.
They also helped with church services, went on prayer walks and participated in vacation Bible school and sports activities for children.
|Students work on a construction project in the Turks and Caicos Islands.|
The partnering organization in Albania also helped to repair dilapidated homes like the one that Elliot and his group visited in an area populated by Romani people, who historically have been described as gypsies. However, there were many homes in need of repair but only limited resources, the students said.
But they came away with lessons in loving others, being patient and “having faith that you are being transformed every day,” Eliot said.
Extreme poverty and broken souls also confronted the team that visited South Asia, where students met those on the fringes of society who are considered “talking animals” instead of humans. “I was humbled every day to walk side-by-side with them,” said April Weatherspoon, a junior majoring in ministry.
The South Asia team visited slum areas and participated in various types of relationship-building activities.
The experience was one that was difficult to put into words, Weatherspoon said. “However, the story is one that I hope to never stop sharing,” she said. “I hope that the lessons are never to be forgotten. South Asia has definitely wrecked not only my worldview but my heart.”
Catherine Wiersma, a sophomore majoring in biology, also came back from South Asia with a changed perspective.
“I’ve never been so broken by poverty or so overwhelmed with joy. I'll never forget it. I would go back in a heartbeat,” Wiersma said.
Hundreds of miles to the northeast, a team visiting Asia interacted with local college students, traveled to an orphanage and spent time at a prestigious preparatory school.
As one student wrote afterward, “we simply lived life with the people of Asia, praying for them and letting Christ shine through us through our actions more than our words.”
For information about the 2013-14 global projects, visit Study Abroad.