By Darian Eswine
Imagine experiencing life in a third world country: living there for five days, playing with the children and being immersed in the culture. Three Franklin College students had this opportunity over Winter Term.
Assistant football coach Andy Hape had been to both Russia and Jamaica on short-term missions with churches. When his own church, Stones Crossing Church, planned a trip to Haiti, he offered the opportunity to the football players at their Bible study.
“I just came in one night and asked if anybody was wanting to go, here was the information,” Hape said. “I wanted them to understand that this was not a required thing, not an FC trip, strictly an opportunity if they felt like they wanted to.”
Three students ended up participating in the trip: sophomores Jake David and Dylan Jenney and freshman Nate Bryan. David, Jenney, Bryan and Hape, along with the church members, made a team of 12. The trip took place at the end of January.
“I’d always wanted to go on a mission trip, and I just decided the timing was right,” David said. “I had decided not to go to Turkey, and I had no classes, so I had nothing else planned.”
Jenney said he went for similar reasons and decided to go because he had never done anything like it before.
“I felt God telling me to go,” Jenney said. “I wanted to experience a foreign country like that.”
In the mornings after breakfast, they would go to the community they worked in and spend the first part of the day until lunch working on building a road. The road will eventually be used to get materials down to build a school.
After working, they would break for lunch or a snack and play with the children the rest of the afternoon.
David said playing with the kids was his favorite part, but that it could be overwhelming because of the language barrier.
“Playing with the kids during the activities we did with them…I really enjoyed that a lot,” David said. “Because there were so many of them, and I couldn’t understand a lot of what they said, it was hard sometimes.”
Jenney said the trip opened his eyes to the cultural differences between other countries and America.
“I had never experienced anything like that before. I learned a lot about how much better we have it compared to some of these countries,” Jenney said. “We really take some things for granted.”
Hape said one of the most interesting parts of the trip was the reaction the four of them received because of their size.
“Anytime you take football guys, we’re very large,” Hape said. “It was interesting to see the reaction of the people, not just the one time, but almost every time you went out into the community.”
Still, his favorite part of the trip was watching the three students grow through their experiences, he said.
“I spend so much time with these men through our football program—It was cool to see them get outside their comfort zone…It was neat to see them grow,” he said.
Hape said he would hopefully be going through some leadership training to be able to lead trips instead of just participating. He also said he would like to offer the trip again next year, but that it is not a definite plan.
“I’m being led to Haiti,” he said. “It has given me the opportunity to walk by faith and to follow what God is calling me to do.”
Jenney said he would recommend this trip to anyone because there’s a lot to learn from it and it allows growth as a person.
“I feel like it’s a great way to serve others. It goes with our values here at Franklin,” David said. “For me, it adds perspective to life about what really matters.”