By Corrie Coleman | Reporter
This spring break, Baylor Missions sent students and faculty to seven different countries: Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Mexico and United States. Each team’s mission project was discipline-specific, allowing students to use skills they are developing in their classes to serve in other cultures.
Lubbock senior Chloe Bell traveled to Panajachel, Guatemala, to serve with nutrition majors and faculty in rural villages. Guatemala is in the midst of a nutrition crisis. This means that, although food is usually available, it often lacks the nutrients necessary for growth and brain development.
Through an organization called Mission Guatemala, the team helped lead feeding programs for children and mothers, teaching nutrition and healthy cooking skills. The meals the team helped cook involved “Nutriplenty,” a rice blend enriched with vitamins and minerals.
“In the mornings we would go to elementary schools and help the moms prepare whatever meals they were going to serve the kids that day,” Bell said. “In the afternoons we would go to a rural middle school … and do cooking demonstrations with them. We talked to them about what carbohydrates are and proteins and vitamins are … Then we would spend a couple hours cooking and preparing a meal with them.”
Bell believes her experiences teaching nutrition in another culture will benefit her future. She said her time spent in Guatemala will impact her decisions about her career as well as give her a unique asset in the eyes of employers.
“As I’m transitioning out of college, this an experience that’s super important and as people interview me, it’ll stand out,” Bell said. “They’ll see that I have experience working in other cultures.”
Brian Thomas, Baylor senior lecturer in engineering, led a missions team to Haiti over spring break. The team of STEM students worked to install solar panels on a hospital.
“There’s a new hospital that was built and it’s out in a place where there’s no access to electricity so they use a generator … but it’s costing them a fortune,” Thomas said. “So we put in some solar panels in the hospital to help offset their energy expenses.”
Thomas explained that the team hired a local welder to finish building the solar panel frames.
“Not only did we built some [frames] but we hired a Haitian man … who’s going to continue the work and build the remaining units that we need,” Thomas said. “We want to avoid being paternalistic and doing things that they can do just as well or better than us. So whenever possible, we want to hire Haitian people to do those kind of tasks.”
Thomas said although the team had translators, he encouraged students to try to learn the language.
“We learned a lot of their language, Haitian Creole. We work on it very intentionally,” Thomas said. “We have translators that can help us but we want to learn the language as an illustration of our attempt to try to engage with their culture.”
Thomas hopes students return home from mission trips with a greater awareness of global poverty and a deeper understanding of their faith.
“We’re not just coming in to do our thing and then go out. We want to get to know them, we want to learn their language, we want to ask them questions about their lives,” Thomas said. “Everyone has inherent value because they’re made by the same God. We’re all made in God’s image and different cultures are just different expressions of that.”