Forgoing a typical spring break at the beach, nearly 75 students will fan out across the Americas and the Caribbean to serve the poor, refugees and indigenous people this week.
Students of various majors will travel to El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Guyana, Panama, Costa Rica, Brazil and Jamaica to serve with local churches and ministry partners. For the first time, nursing students will also go to Clarkston, Georgia. The small city in the Atlanta metro area is home to a large population of refugees. Students raise their own financial support to participate in missions during spring break.
Also new this year, a team in Costa Rica is partnering with Ride Nature, a Southwest Florida-based action sports ministry that uses skateboarding to reach children with the Gospel, said Mark Kaprive, Palm Beach Atlantic University’s director of campus ministries.
In Jamaica, a team will work with a church in the hills that’s building a youth-focused community center. Students will help with youth ministry, visit a home for disabled children and do street outreach in Montego Bay. Mike Olive, pastor of Common Ground Church in Lake Worth, will lead students.
In Brazil, a team working with IsleGO Missions will live on a boat conducting medical clinics with a doctor and dentist on a tributary of the Amazon River.
“Sometimes, they’re able to bring a homebound person to the clinic,” Kaprive said. “They may be the only medical visit those villages get in one or two years.”
On previous visits, PBA teams have done children’s outreach programs and organized sports for youth. Teams typically visit homes and pray for families. They sometimes paint homes for termite protection.
In Panama, a team will be working with PBA alumni John and Aimee Gordon ’04 of Sport X Change International. The team’s assignments vary by year, but they always point people to Christ, Kaprive said. Teams have helped with worship services for youth and used basketball and dance to build relationships. Last year, they showed the “Jesus” film in a tribal language. The film tells the story of the Gospel and has been translated into 1,600 languages.
“It was the first time people on the island had seen the film in their heart language,” Kaprive said.
In Guyana, a team with Love Missions will work with a local church’s ministry to children and youth and visit a home for mentally-challenged children. Students will pray over the patients and give them a sense of hope in Christ.
“It’s very powerful,” Kaprive said.
Previous PBA teams have given educational programs related to drugs, alcohol, sex, sex trafficking and suicide. They are also helping build a safe house for girls who have been rescued from trafficking.
Students will again travel to Antigua, Guatemala, to serve with BuildinGUATE, said Danielle Hawk ‘17, coordinator of The David and Leighan Rinker Center for Experiential Learning. Students will work on BuildinGUATE’s property, The Land of Hope, which provides housing, a nutrition center, classes, a medical clinic and a soup kitchen to people who would otherwise live on top of or near a municipal landfill in Escuintla.
The trip was designed as an introduction for students who are first-time international travelers. The staff assembled a team of experienced travelers who can mentor younger participants, Hawk said. The team includes some Spanish speakers who can translate.
Nursing students are returning to El Salvador to do medical missions, Kaprive said.
Pharmacy and nursing students will return to Siguatepeque, Honduras, to offer medical clinics in coordination with a local pastor. They will dispense medication, take blood sugar and blood pressure readings and treat common ailments, said Dr. Dana Brown, associate dean of academics for the Lloyd L. Gregory School of Pharmacy and acting director of the Gregory Center for Medical Missions. Two alumni, Dr. Chris Schiel ’14, and Dr. Lindsey Drescher ’15, are leading that team.
In Clarkston, Georgia, a team of nursing students led by Dr. Jessica Lendoiro, assistant director of experiential programs for the Gregory School of Pharmacy, will partner with a team from Cedarville University to offer health screenings to the refugee population, Brown said. They will visit mosques and temples to learn about other cultures, Brown said. Students will also eat Ethiopian food, for example, rather than American cuisine.
“This is very much going to provide medical and spiritual care for patients, but it’s also allowing them (students) to have an immersion experience here in country,” Brown said.