Written by Brandi Clement
Brittany Quiring- Brittany Quiring spent six weeks in Lisbon, Portugal, serving with Apex Missions. The ultimate goal of Apex Missions is to have students come alongside missionaries to see and participate in how they do missions and life in general while abroad. Brittany stated, “Every week and day looked different while I was in Portugal. Most of the time I would get up early and get a run in. Then, I would do morning devotions with my team and serve in whatever activity was planned for the day. For example, one week we cleaned and cooked for a Bible college graduation, another week we helped out at a Vacation Bible School, and another week we would focus on building relationships and doing Bible studies with students our age.”
Not only did Brittany have the opportunity to serve in the Lisbon community, but she also worked in a place called Casa de Sou Bento. “Casa de Sou Bento is a program for youth that come from unstable and poor families,” explained Brittany. “During the school year, they are able to come and do their homework, then have fun playing or doing other activities.” Brittany’s team was able to help prepare for the end of the year open house by hanging up projects students made throughout the year and gave students the appreciation they otherwise wouldn’t get at home. “While working at Casa de Sou Bento, we were able to participate in the summer program. We took the kids to a park or beach for the afternoons and were able to teach them lots of fun games. There was a little boy named Kawal that grew super attached to me. Every day I came, he would immediately cling on me and never leave my side,” said Brittany.
One of the most impactful things Brittany witnessed while in Portugal was when they went to Fatima, a Catholic pilgrimage site. Brittany explained, “Seeing people crawling on their knees with book bags filled with rocks to a statue of Mary in order to suffer for their sins or for a promise they made to the Lord really broke my heart. Jesus already suffered for their sins, so they didn’t have to do that.” As for what Brittany learned on her trip was what the true reality of what missions looks like. “Before the trip, I thought missionaries were these absolutely amazing Christian superheroes that were saving people left and right,” said Brittany. “The fact that missionaries leave their home and comfortable lifestyle in America to share the gospel is absolutely incredible. What I found out is that those missionaries are just ordinary people being servants of the Lord by simply obeying and putting their trust in Him.” Brittany also mentioned that there isn’t always miracle happening or people being saved. “Some days, the only thing missionaries will accomplish is getting groceries and doing laundry. Other days they may lead three people to the Lord. The missionaries I worked with have been planting a church in their community for the past five years and have had not had a success yet. But, they keep putting their trust and faith in the God and know it’s important to keep trying for His kingdom.”
Paige and Elizabeth Mestl – Sisters, Paige and Elizabeth Mestl spent 19 days in Benin, Africa, with Mennonite Mission Network-Youth Venture. While in Africa, Paige and Elizabeth spent a lot of their time teaching English to various students. In a recent interview about what a common day looked like in Africa, Paige stated, “The day began with devotions with all the staff and children who lived in La Casa Grande. We then taught English for a summer camp. The afternoons were filled with playing outdoor games with the children. After supper, we would play card and board games until it was time for bed.”
Not only were Paige and Elizabeth able to participate in classroom and outdoor activities with the students, but they were also able to teach the students skills within the kitchen. Elizabeth stated, “My favorite part of the trip was baking with all the kids that lived in Africa.” There is a difference in African culture compared to American culture within the kitchen and within the church. “The church services were also the most impactful thing I witnessed,” said Elizabeth, “there was a lot of dancing and singings. It was great to watch and to join in.”
One of the most important aspects Elizabeth learned on her mission trip in Africa was how privileged individuals are in America. “I learned how much access we have to a lot of things that we take for granted,” explained Elizabeth. In America, it’s very easy to take for granted common items, such as access to water, clean clothes, and other items. As for what Paige ultimately learned was, “I learned how easy it was to communicate with children and become friends, even when we spoke different languages,” described Paige. “Everyone was so patient and caring. They [the African community] had a great way to showing love and making sure we felt at home.”
Brittany, Paige, and Elizabeth’s willingness to serve over the course of the summer has shown throughout their personality. They have each had the opportunity to impact those around them while abroad. There is no doubt they will continue to show love toward those they encounter back in the states.
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