Hearts of Service: PUC’s Summer 2017 Mission Trip to Kenya

PUC Student Association President Megan Weems spent her summer a little differently than the average college student: she embarked on a nearly 30 hour trek to Maasai Mara, Kenya with others from the PUC family for several days to serve the community there. We asked her to talk about her inspiring experience learning about a new culture and giving back to those less fortunate in our world. Here is Megan’s story.

Our team was comprised of 15 people. We had two doctors, one nurse, one professor, and 11 other people, all who had hearts for service. We left on a Monday afternoon to embark on a long journey from small town Angwin, Calif., to the middle of the Maasai Mara in Kenya. It took one 15 and half hour flight to Dubai, a six hour flight to Nairobi, and then an eight hour safari car ride from Nairobi to the Maasai Mara, our final destination.

We arrived on a Friday, the next day we went to a Maasai Adventist church. On Sabbath afternoon and Sunday we went on a safari around the Maasai Mara, with beautiful views and plethora of animals. After resting up for the few days on the Mara and shaking off the jetlag, the team was in preparation mode for the week to come. We were separated into bush clinic teams, a Vacation Bible School team, and a painting/construction crew. Our group was small but all very driven and excited to be doing our part to help the Maasai community.

We set up five bush clinics while during our time in Maasai Mara. The bush clinics consisted of a team of doctors; Dr. Jonathan Wheeler and his wife, Dr. Julie Perry Wheeler; nurse Francis Aho; and recent PUC nursing graduate Elizabeth Shown. Each day they packed their lunches, put on their scrubs, piled into a safari truck, and drove to a surrounding village in need of medical attention. They offered basic medical checkups,eye checkups, a pharmacy, triage station, and lots of prayer for each Maasai native seen. On a typical day the bush clinic team would see as many as 70 people.

Upon arrival our VBS team first met with the headmaster of the Olosonin Primary school. We discovered the school had over 700 students enrolled and only eight teachers overseeing them. Each morning began with song service led by recent PUC grad Kelly Siegel and myself. Following song service, Dr. Peterson, adjunct professor of music at PUC, would give a Bible story complete with puppets and various instruments. Each day closed with an arts and crafts section which allowed each child the opportunity to create something they could take home. Towards the end of the week the children were excitingly awaiting our arrival at the beginning of each day. At the end of our weeklong program, the children showed their thanks by treating us to a traditional Maasai tribal dance, grabbing our hands and making us join in.

After spending the mornings with the children, we began painting the staff quarters of the first all girls high school in Maasai. Each afternoon we teamed up with a Maasai native, our very own Fabio Maia, the service and missions coordinator at the college, along with five other PUC students. Our crew scraped, primed, and paint the walls. Once school let out, the students would come and dance, sing, and play along as we worked. A great memory for me will always be the Maasai children teaching us Swahili songs, as we taught them English.

Our group was extremely fortunate to have amazing American native hosts. The Aho family are the owners of Mara West (accommodation) and African Missions Services. They run their own community clinic and led our bush clinics. We were blessed to be able to serve the community in the capacity we did and then come back to safe and comfortable accommodations. The Maasai Mara area is blessed to have them and we are blessed to know them.

This trip is something each of us will never forget, and it will stay with us throughout our lives. The PUC missions office strives to create lasting relationships around the world and hopes to return to Maasai Mara soon. The PUC family is expanding from Angwin to all over the world, from Brazil to Fiji and beyond. Now we have just added more beautiful souls, the people of the Maasai Mara.

The group was fortunate enough to go on a safari in the Maasai Mara. We were able to experience and see firsthand the animals of Kenya in their natural habitat. (Picture by JJ Reynolds)

Each day a part of the team went out to the primary school to lead a Vacation Bible School program. The team would sing songs, pray, put on puppet Bible stories, and make arts and crafts with and for the kids. It was a great way to really get the children involved with the members of our missions group to learn and swap stories about faith, love, and life. (Picture by JJ Reynolds)

While distributing donated water filters to community schools on the Maasai Mara, students would charge the truck to see what was happening. Each filter will provide 70,000 gallons of clean water. (Picture by JJ Reynolds)

Dr. Peterson putting a performance to the children during church service. The children were amazed and bewildered at the violin and the sounds that came from it. (Picture by Dylan Turner)

Dr. Wheeler with a patient at one of the clinics hosted with African Missions Services. Dr. Wheeler did general patient checkups while his wife Dr. Julie Perry, an ophthalmologist, did eye checkups. Praying with the patients was one thing Dr. Wheeler made sure to do. There was a translator present for every checkup. (Picture by JJ Reynolds)

Every day at the Olisonoon Primary School, all 705 students eat the same thing for lunch, a corn-based porridge. They stand in line with a cup ready to receive their daily portion. (Picture by JJ Reynolds)

This is the crew that helped in the construction site. Each day this group would prime, paint, and work hand in hand with the local construction workers to finish the new faculty housing for the only all girls high school in the area. (Picture by Esau Gonzalez)

Returning missionaries Kelly (Brazil, nine months), Cristina (Brazil, nine months), and Megan (Fiji, nine months) were the leaders of VBS. This was the end of the first day of VBS with the kids. (Picture by Dylan Turner)

Berkeley Homeless Ministry: An Opportunity for PUC Students to Get Involved

By Andrew Mahinay

Pacific Union College holds countless opportunities for students to serve others on or off campus, including building homes for individuals who lost their homes during the Valley Fire in nearby Pope Valley, food drives, and feeding the homeless in the cities of Berkeley and Clearlake. The long list of service opportunities continues.

I am currently a senior, majoring in English, and will be graduating in 2017. As a freshman, I made it my goal to get involved with campus ministries. Being a part of service opportunities on campus is not a requirement, but it is a great way to strengthen your network and connect with other students on campus, while at the same time bettering yourself as a person.

It was three years ago–during my freshman year–that I chose to attend my first outreach ministry in the city of Berkeley. The service program requires all students who want to attend this ministry meet at 9:00 a.m. Saturday morning. After having a long tedious week of schoolwork, I struggled with waking up at this time. All I wanted to do was catch up on my sleep. However, I am glad I chose to get out of bed because Berkeley Homeless Ministry became a defining aspect of my life that helped shape me into the responsible, social, and patient person I am today.

Berkeley Homeless Ministry is a simple program which has such a profound effect on the lives of the homeless. A group of PUC students drive to People’s Park, located two minutes away from the University of Berkeley. Once there, students begin organizing the food that will be served. As soon as the homeless begin to see students setting up food, they begin to fall in line. A blessing is said over the food, and the students begin to serve the food, and sing and converse with the homeless. The goal of Berkeley Homeless Ministry is to share the love of Christ through fellowship and the distributing of food. “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.” (Matthew 25:35)

My first time serving the homeless of People’s Park was quite intimidating. I was comfortable with socializing with fellow friends, classmates, and acquaintances, but interacting with homeless people was quite different. We did not have any similar interests in common nor did we have similar experiences to converse about. Nonetheless, as I continued to attend the Berkeley Homeless Ministry, I learned having similar interests and experiences were not a big deal. Throughout my time fellowshipping with the homeless, I learned the most important trait to have is a patient heart and a willingness to listen.

It is the hope of Berkeley Homeless Ministry to continue making a loving impact on the lives of the homeless. A man by the name of John came up to the group of students one Saturday, and said, “Thank you for all you do, you guys are amazing, God bless you.”

Photo courtesy of Andrew Mahinay

Photo courtesy of Andrew Mahinay

My Spring Break in Brazil

By Michael Lawrence

For the past five years, Pacific Union College’s Office of Service, Justice, and Missions has sent students to Brazil’s Amazonas to do mission work over the course of their spring break. The trip has since grown and now incorporates students taking Tropical Biology as well as Portuguese for school credit. The purpose of this year’s 10 day trip was to rebuild the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) home in which future student missionaries will stay.

For me, this trip was the lab portion of the Tropical Biology course I took during the previous quarter. My name is Michael Lawrence and I am a third year finance student. Although I was here for a class, the trip was the perfect blend of school, work, and play.

Photo credit: Dr. Floyd Hayes

Photo credit: Dr. Floyd Hayes

Here are some of the highlights of our trip:

Day 2: After a long day of traveling from PUC to Manaus, it was time for the trip to begin. Students were anxious to begin their trip on the Amazon River. What we did not realize was that from Manaus to our final destination was another day of traveling. The day-long boat ride from Manaus to Umari, the village where we held a clinic, was the perfect opportunity for students to bond with one another and get to know people they otherwise would only walk by on campus. I cannot describe the day without mentioning cabin fever. A full day sputtering along on a boat was not the most glamorous of accommodations, however in retrospect, this time spent with the group was key in the building of relationships within the group.

Photo credit: Dr. Floyd Hayes

Photo credit: Dr. Floyd Hayes

Day 3: Our first day on land was spent hosting a clinic put on by a group called Ação dos Estudantes Solidários Adventistas de Manaus (AESAM). The members of AESAM who joined us were medical, dental, and nursing students from various universities in Brazil. The “club” began in 2011 where members would visit villages putting on health clinics like the one held today. Students from PUC had the opportunity to work alongside AESAM in the clinic providing health screenings to members of the village. The club currently has over 80 healthcare students and professionals providing mission work across the Amazon.

Photo credit: Dr. Floyd Hayes

Photo credit: Dr. Floyd Hayes

Day 6: The final day of work was very bittersweet. After three days of back-breaking work, everyone was looking forward to coming home and the relaxation that followed. There were also friendships made at the village, and it was going to be hard to say goodbye. Nonetheless, the time had come for us to begin the long journey home. Over the course of our time at the village Rosa de Saron, we demolished what was left of the old house, dug the foundation for the new home, and just about everything else required in the house building process. Each night, we would participate in the church’s Vacation Bible School. Here, students ran the program from Bible stories to arts and crafts. It was the perfect way to unwind after a long day of hard work and also the time where we connected with the villagers.

Photo credit: Dr. Floyd Hayes

Photo credit: Dr. Floyd Hayes

Day 7: The highlight of the trip in my opinion was witnessing Kelly Siegal give her life to Jesus. Kelly was a PUC student who went on this same trip just one year prior. After her experience on that trip she decided to become a student missionary instead of returning to school for her senior year and has been a part of that village ever since. We all woke up early in the morning and saw Kelly get baptized with the support of the entire village. It was a heartwarming and emotional event and the perfect way to wrap up our time spent at the village.

Photo credit: Dr. Floyd Hayes

Photo credit: Dr. Floyd Hayes

Service and Missions Coordinator Fabio Maia sees the value in creating relationships through mission work. The way Maia operates, he discovers a need somewhere and will continue to return to that location until the need has been fulfilled. The Amazon mission trip has been happening for five years, each year in the same place, and will continue indefinitely. To find out how you can participate in one of the many mission trip opportunities stop by the Office of Service, Justice, and Missions or email worldmissions@puc.edu.

Getting Involved with Service and Missions at PUC

By Ben Speegle
Office of Service, Justice, and Missions

What is the most important investment you can make during your time in college? Some will speak in hushed, revered tones of a quesadilla maker that not only properly cooks a quesadilla for you on both the top and the bottom simultaneously, but at the very same time also slices the grilled masterpiece, saving your hands from certain peril. Others will insist your best investment during college is a subscription to Netflix or Hulu Plus, or a similar platform for viewing television shows and movies, as this almost certainly gives you an excuse to not study.

However, I would like to propose the most important investment you can make during your time as a student of higher learning is an investment in experience. Pacific Union College is one of the highest rated colleges in its class; it has been described as the most beautiful college campus in the United States; its students report a substantial ROI. I find that PUC’s true beauty, though, lies in the opportunities it offers to its students. Among the legion of opportunities available, the opportunity to experience life and to experience God through service of others may be the most valuable.

Without a question, the best experience I had during my college years was the time I spent in Thailand teaching English as a student missionary. PUC was able to organize a ten-month trip to Bangkok, where I taught at the Seventh-day Adventist Language School. I had the opportunity to become fully immersed in a culture, to teach English, and to serve. During my stay, I learned the value of being able to accept that by myself, I am unable to do many things; however, the God I serve is able to do all things and is faithful to use me to the benefit of others.

Ben 1

Ben Speegle while in Thailand. Elephant names unknown.

From tutoring adults and teaching kindergarten classes to doing dental work at a prison and providing aid to refugee camps, I saw God working in incredible ways, despite my own shortcomings. All that was required of me was to embrace God’s leading and to echo Isaiah’s response of, “Here am I. Send me.”

Since returning from my mission trip, I graduated from PUC on a hot summer morning in June and was hired to work full-time in the Office of Service, Justice, and Missions with some of the most inspiring individuals with whom I have ever crossed paths. My mission trip had a profound effect on my character as well as my career path. Now my job is to invite other students to make the easiest decision of their college careers.

When you get to PUC, you have an incredible opportunity to become part of the changing culture developing here; a culture of service, where people see that the solution to problems isn’t complaining or sitting idly by, but rather taking an active stand. As such, I want to invite each of you to really make a difference, on three levels, while attending Pacific Union College.

PUC students participate in Rebuilding Calistoga, a ministry where students help senior citizens with home repairs and other needs.

PUC students participate in Rebuilding Calistoga, a ministry where students help senior citizens with home repairs and other needs.

1. Make a difference in the local community. Join us on Saturdays as we go to Clearlake and Berkeley or Calistoga to work in homeless and low-income communities near our campus. Are you wondering why I didn’t include a specific date you should join us? That’s because we go to these communities every Saturday. During Christmas time? Yes. Over spring break? Of course. During the summer? You betcha! Literally every weekend of the year, you have an opportunity to make an actual difference in the lives of those who desperately need to feel loved.

This past spring, PUC students went to Manaus, Brazil to to build a health clinic, provide water filters and water education, and teach English classes.

This past spring, PUC students went to Manaus, Brazil to to build a health clinic, provide water filters and water education, and teach English classes.

2. Make a difference through a short-term mission trip. Every school year, we send groups to different parts of the world, including a Navajo reservation in Arizona, the Amazon River in Brazil, a clinic in Nicaragua, and a school in Fiji. These trips usually last 10 days and are an incredible place to find the love of service that is naturally in every person.

3. Make a difference through a long-term mission trip. Fully Experience a new culture while serving internationally or become a task force worker within the United States. Round out your education with the real-life experience of being a blessing in a community and improving the quality of life in a location God has called you to serve.

That is my challenge to all PUC students, new and returning. You have opportunities here that may never come your way again. On graduation day, when you look back at your time at PUC, I hope you can say you received the fullest experience possible from our college on the hill, and you received far more than simply an education during your time in Angwin.

(Editor’s Note: PUC students are going on two short-term mission trips this summer! You can follow the students on their journey on the PUC Missions Facebook page.)

Kristen’s Advice – Get Involved!

Hi! I’m Kristen Beall and I have a few thoughts I wanted to share with you.

Kristen Beall

I am just about to wrap up my Pacific Union College career in just a few short weeks. I could not be more excited to start this next step in life but that means leaving behind my beloved school. Over the past four years I have fallen in love with not only our beautiful campus but the beautiful people as well. When I say “beautiful” I am not talking about outward appearances, but inward. PUC has attracted some of the most genuine and loving people I have ever met. As one of the student chaplains on campus I have come into contact with multiple students/faculty from all different
backgrounds and I have learned something from each one of them. PUC has provided me with a lot of opportunities to get involved such as being a student chaplain, student ambassador, desk worker, tutor at the TLC tutor, and as a Life Group leader. All of these “jobs” have been such a blessing to me. I was able to help students with their homework, life problems, and even their decision on coming to PUC.

If you are reading this then you must be either planning on joining the PUC family or
at least interested in what this school has to offer; I hope I can help reassure you
that PUC is where you need to be. You see I was not planning on coming to PUC. In
fact, I was enrolled at a community college for five weeks before deciding 5 days
before school started to make PUC my home. It took some adjusting, as any
relocation would, but after settling in I fell in love with the school. There are so
many opportunities to get involved and if you take advantage of these then I
guarantee your experience will be just as amazing as mine was. If you like sports
you can join a collegiate team or intramurals for some friendly competition. If sports
are not your cup of tea we have multiple music opportunities such as wind
ensemble, orchestra, gospel choir, and many other groups to join including a jazz
band! PUC also has many clubs on campus such as the Mabuhay Club, Math Club,
Chess Club, and more.

There are so many opportunities PUC has to offer but the last one I’d like to focus on
is campus ministries. Getting involved with the campus ministries team was the
best decision I have made at PUC. The group that I have worked with is an amazing
group and I couldn’t be more proud of the spiritual leaders they have become.
Whatever your passion is, whatever you enjoy doing, we will help you make it into a
ministry. Yes, there are specific jobs that need to be filled but more importantly we
want to accommodate to you and the needs of the campus. There are multiple
chaplains around campus that are always willing to talk and help in any way they
can. There are no prerequisites, just stop in the office and we’ll get you plugged in!

If you would like more information about campus ministries and other ways you can get involved at PUC, take a look at the Campus Culture page on our Admissions site. You can also check out the Student Association Facebook page for upcoming events such as banquets, vespers speakers, and more.