Huntington students build houses in Jamaica

(on the house, left to right) Dr. Norris Friesen, Amanda Meyers and Bubba, a Jamaican; (facing the house) Merlin Pratt, Christian Service International Ministries staff; Meyers is a sophomore exercise science major from Franklin, Ind.
Huntington, Ind.—While most college students are vacationing to destinations like Florida during their spring break, 16 Huntington University students, two faculty and an administrator spent March 17-21 serving the people of Jamaica.

Dr. Norris Friesen, dean and vice president of the university; Matthew Ruiz, assistant professor of exercise science, and Dr. Wayne Priest, professor of psychology, led the mission trip. The group worked with Christian Service International Ministries building houses for Jamaican families in Highgate, Jamaica.

The team included Michelle Antus, Jackie Bashop, Allison Budd, Matthew Cable, Emily Clendenen, Leah Cressman, Brittany Crook, Bethany Goodwin, Erica Harris, Samuel Key, Nora Majors, Amanda Meyers, Kyle Miller, Alyssa Mobley, Norah Springer and Samantha Sutorius.

Matthew Ruiz, assistant professor of exercise science
The students prepared for the trip by meeting beforehand and praying for each other and their time in Jamaica. They also worked together at the Huntington Boys and Girls Club to develop unity as a team. When they arrived in Jamaica, they were divided into two teams, and each team built a house. They also attended a church, dedicated the houses they built, and a few team members visited a girls’ home in the area.

The trip had an impact on the students. Matthew Cable, a sophomore youth ministry and missions major from North Manchester, Ind., explained how the rain one afternoon led to a meaningful conversation with the leader of his worksite, a pastor from the area named Arthur.

Allison Budd, a junior psychology major from Winamac, Ind.
“As we talked a little bit, I had the realization that seems pretty simple but it was profound at the time,” he said. “The God that we get to know here in the States is the same God that they follow down there. It made me understand although we are from different countries, have different skin tones and different accents, we are all one in God and through Christ.”

The Jamaica trip team and others
Jackie Bashop, a freshman youth ministry and missions major from Roanoke, Ind., felt that the trip reconfirmed her calling to the mission field.

“We could probably send the money, and it might benefit them more,” she said. “But a check can’t last with them, and a check can’t say that, ‘This is the God that we serve, and this is the same God that loves you unconditionally.’”

Adam Shoemaker, a senior from Westfield, Ind., is a not-for-profit management major and was also the trip leader. He has been to Jamaica before and has been on other spring break mission trips.

“Mission trips are always very humbling in different ways,” he said. “You see how much you have compared to other people. You are humbled that you can only do so much to help them. It changes your perspective on what’s important and what you need really in your life.”

The Huntington University students who went on the trip impressed Ruiz, a faculty leader on the trip. “Spring break for most people is a time to fulfill their own needs,” he said. “They go to Florida to get a tan or rest or whatever it is that most people to do on spring break. These students gave that up in order to fill someone else’s needs. I just thought that was absolutely amazing.”

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Huntington University is a comprehensive Christian college of the liberal arts offering graduate and undergraduate programs in more than 70 academic concentrations. U.S.News & World Report ranks Huntington among the best colleges in the Midwest. Founded in 1897 by the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, Huntington University is located on a contemporary, lakeside campus in northeast Indiana. The University is a member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU).  


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