Eleven countries in 11 months — this is the reality for one Baylor student this fall.
Chicago sophomore Marissa Hyland is taking a year off from Baylor to go on an 11 month mission trip. She will spend her would-be junior year participating in the World Race, a program under the organization Adventures in Missions.
Adventures in Missions is an inter-denominational organization, established in 1989, that focuses on discipleship and emphasizes prayer and relationships with the poor, according to Adventure.org.
Starting in September, Hyland will fly to South America to live a month in Guatemala, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. From there she will fly to East Asia and live a month in Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, India and Nepal.
She will end her trip in Africa and live a month in Mozambique, Swaziland and South Africa. During her trip, she will post weekly blog posts about her journey on a blog hosted at the World Race website. Visitors can also find a donation link on her blog.
The cost for the World Race is $15,500. Hyland is currently working on fundraising for the trip. Her first goal is $3,500 by June 29. She has raised about $700 so far.
“What I’m really excited for is the Spanish speaking countries and there are three Spanish speaking countries on the route,” Hyland said. “I grew up knowing Spanish fairly well. But if you don’t use it you lose it. And so, I would just love to be in conversation in Spanish for three months. I want to be able to really get that skill back and be able to use that for the kingdom of God and talk to people about Jesus.”
Hyland said part of the reason why she is interested in the World Race is because of her interest in outdoor recreation. Throughout the entire trip, she will be living out of a single 60 to 70 liter backpack made specifically for backpacking. Hyland said her love for the outdoors grew when she was at Maine South High School. Her high school had an adventure education class and adventure club. After a wilderness trip that she took with her youth group sophomore year, she knew what she wanted to do with her life.
“People have asked me what the passion behind that is. I just say that I love to do outdoor recreation and have a Christian element in it,” Hyland said. “It’s not a requirement for me but that would be awesome. That would be a dream of mine.”
Hyland believes that when people go out into the wilderness, it opens a connection to God’s creation. She currently works at Baylor Outdoor Adventures on the campus rock and challenge course at Eastland Lakes Complex. She also helps with the guiding of weekend trips like taking student groups paddling.
“I think it’s so cool that when you take people out of the city, out of society and you take them to the wilderness, it just opens a connection for God’s creation,” Hyland said. “Because I didn’t build that tree. I didn’t make that tree. God put that there.”
However, her passion for missions did not fully develop until her first international mission trip to Bangalore, India last summer with Antioch Missions International. Abilene junior Kim Proctor, her mentor at Antioch Community Church in Waco, said she witnessed Hyland’s growth in India.
“I already knew Marissa had a heart for nations. She’s someone who really wants to make a difference in the world,” Proctor said. “And something unique about the India trip was just that we had a lot of diverse roles there. I think that’s cool because it comes to loving people like God whether it’s through evangelism or service or just loving people who are on their deathbed. So, I think it’s cool that in the world race Marissa is going to be able to do a lot of different things, serve in a lot of different cultures in a lot of different ways.”
The object of the mission was to live in an area that the church hadn’t gone to yet to see how responsive the Bangalore people were to Christianity, Proctor said.
The group also split in two and volunteered at two places, an orphanage and Home of Hope. Hyland volunteered at Home of Hope during her time there.
“Home of Hope is really powerful in that it is basically a center where it started with this guy just picking people who were literally on their deathbed on the street,” Hyland said. “He would pick them up and just give them—It is kind of known as a respectable place to die. So instead of letting people die on the street, he brings them in and feeds them and tries to make them better. But a lot of times they are just at the end of their rope.”
Hyland said this was where her desire to do the World Race really took root. During the trip, she encountered a very frail woman who was taking shade from the sun under a car. The woman could not speak English but Hyland approached her and began to talk to her.
“I was just like ‘Hi, how are you.’ And she opened her eyes and a smile just crept on her face,” Hyland said. “That was incredible. And I kept talking to her and she came out from underneath and each minute that I kept talking to her, she kept trying to get herself to sit up.”
Eventually, the woman was able to sit up. This for Hyland was a fulfilling moment.
“People need to come out and do this. It was easy to help this person,” Hyland said. “All I had to do is talk and smile and show her that I cared about her. It stirred something in my heart. That was so simple. It’s not simple to solve all the problems in the world. But I am like ‘hey, if I could do that and that was just me talking, I am able do a lot more than just talk to people.’ I am an able bodied person. I just think that I can be used for so much better in the world.”