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Valley Christian sent 52 students and 11 chaperones to different parts of the world over Spring Break as part of our ENGAGE Program. The students and staff served and ministered to local communities in various capacities in Costa Rica, Curacao, and Romania.

Costa Rica

Last week we sent thirteen students and three chaperones to San Jose, Costa Rica for a week full of service, competition, and fun. Our group had the opportunity to stay with HPS Costa Rica and serve a local orphanage and a local widow’s ministry. We also planned and hosted a sports clinic for over 130 kids in the Santo Domingo district and were able to compete in basketball and volleyball games against a local high school! Our students also experienced their fair share of fun and culture, as we attended a local Spanish speaking church, walked the city center, hiked in the hills of the area, and were able to head to the Pacuare River for rafting and the Manuel Antonio National Park to spend time at the beaches. The trip can be explained best in the words of our students:

“This was an amazing and humbling experience…God made me recognize my insignificance alone in this giant world.” – Jalen Collins ’20

“I’m so grateful for this amazing opportunity and this once in a lifetime experience.” – Julianna Gay ’18

“Through interacting and playing with the kids we saw God’s love, peace, and joy radiating from each and every one of them. Personally, this experience gave me not only humility, but an appreciation for the most basic blessings in life.” – Gage Galloway ’19

The group’s translator and guide had this to say about their trip: “It’s hard to find the words to describe the feeling this group of amazing people gave me…this team has something different, something that has really got me thinking. I learned a lot from all of them as individuals, and as much as I didn’t want them to leave, when they did I got a feeling of satisfaction and pride, but mostly great joy in my heart waiting for the moment I get to see them again. All of the teams we host make a great impact in Costa Rica, but teams like this also make a big impact in my life and my family’s. Valley Christian, thank you for such an amazing week. Costa Rica will be waiting for you to visit again. All of the people we encountered in this adventure are beyond thankful for what you’ve done, and so am I for giving me one of the best weeks of my life. Love you guys!” – Ronald Perez Chaverri

Curacao

Thirteen students and three chaperones traveled to the Caribbean island of Curacao. Curacao is a former Dutch colony that is now a semi-autonomous nation in the Kingdom of the Netherlands and is located about 35 miles north of Venezuela. This was a trip designed as an educational/cultural engagement trip so students visited history and maritime museums, took daily Dutch and Papamiento (local creole that is a mixture of Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, English and African dialects) lessons, interacted with a local youth group, visited national parks and beaches, cleaned the home of a dear missionary family, and spent a day serving a local church (Iglesia Bida Nobo) by clearing heavy rubbish in preparation for the building of a wood shop for an apprentice program.

Our trip was also highlighted by engaging the unique art and architecture of the island, helping with a sports night for local kids and leading a youth group service for the local church. Students were very much exposed to the local rich cuisine as well as cuisine from the Netherlands and other Dutch colonies such as Suriname.

Most impacting for the students was the relationship-building aspect of the trip. They were tasked with trying to enter the world of local youth of Curacao. This also resulted in students growing very close to local youth as well as our direct contacts (the Dutch missionary family), Lucas and Esther van Twillert. Students started each day and ended each day in the Scriptures and prayer, seeking to grow in faith while trying to learn about another culture understanding that the two are deeply intertwined. All in all, this trip challenged the students intellectually, socially, and spiritually and we pray that we will see the fruit of students who now have broader horizons and see greater opportunities to serve the Lord both at home and abroad!

Romania

Twenty-six students and five chaperones headed to the southern part of Romania over Spring Break. What a trip! Along with an abundance of cultural ‘wows’ including: The Parliament, Bran Castle, University of Craiova, cobblestone streets, and horse/wagon transportation, the team was inundated with ministry opportunities.

We partnered with Hope Church in Draganesti, as we’ve done for the past three years, and aided them with local and regional ministry. Sunday was consumed with our team preaching and leading worship at four different churches. What an experience to sing and preach with translators! Throughout the week various student teams went out in Draganesti and Craiova and followed God’s leading. Highlights included: visiting widows who are truly without, loving on dozens of children, engaging on worldview topics with college students, sharing Christ’s love with prisoners, leading a youth worship service, handing out New Testaments to hundreds of homes, and spending valuable time praying for the people of Romania.

We loved our down time in London and Bucharest but our true joy came from participating in the Great Commission!