The ministry partners in Ethiopia told Rachel Edgren, junior nursing major, and her GO Trip team that the kids there would scatter at any sudden movement made by an adult. In Ethiopian culture, children were used to being hit with sticks for merely making eye contact or getting in the way.
Edgren, for as long as she could remember, felt a strong call on her life to share Jesus’s love with children, and she made it her personal mission to do just that during her two-week-long trip in Africa last summer.
On one occasion, while laughing and playing with the kids, Edgren said she noticed a shy little boy in the corner of the tent who seemed to be moving closer and closer in her direction. She greeted him warmly with a pat on the back and smile that transcended the language barrier.
“Oh my goodness, he just lit completely up and just grabbed my hand, and he did not let go for the rest of the day,” Edgren said. “We were just buddies from then on.”
Edgren missed the GO Trip application deadline her freshman year, so last year she was less concerned about where she went and more concerned with simply being able to participate. She wasn’t sure which one would be the best fit for her until someone called her over to the Ethiopia booth at that year’s GO Trip Expo. She brought the colorful slips of information-packed paper back to her dorm, hung them on her wall, and began praying over them every day.
Not only did she end up having the unique opportunity to minister through her gifting, but she also had the chance to apply what she had been studying at Union to teach 12 one-and-a-half hour health classes to adults and children.
This year’s Expo played the same important role for students as it did for Edgren the year she attended. Consisting of booths that represented the various trips, the Expo occupied the hallway of the SUB on Sept. 14, with former GO Trippers standing by the booths between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m to answer questions. Throughout the years, this event has proven to be helpful for students who are interested in mission work but aren’t sure how or where God is calling them to serve.
“One of the things we realize is that people respond more to a personal invitation,” said Julie Bradford, director of student mobilization. “It’s one thing to give someone a paper with information, but we [also] want students to be able to talk to people who have been there before.”
There will be another Go Trip this year to Ethiopia, was well as trips to Tampa, Connecticut, East Asia, Southeast Asia and several others. The early application deadline is September 23, and the final deadline is September 30. A complete list of trips and more information can be found on the Univerity Ministries’ website here:https://www.uu.edu/oum/missions/go-trips.cfm