Monday Musings: Announcing our March 2013 Mission Trip!

Do me a solid.  Click on the “Newman Center Theme 2012-2013” link above.  I’ll wait for you to come back, go ahead.

Okay, got it?  Good.

Before I started here at the Newman Center, I prayed about finding a direction in which to lead the Newman Center and its young adults this year, and this verse came to mind.  So many times, when we think about Christianity we think about words, and I don’t mean the idea of Christ as logos.  We think about sidewalk preachers telling people they’re going to Hell, and hypocrites whose words don’t begin to match their actions.  We think about awkward conversations with people who have no idea what they’re saying and that terrible feeling of inadequacy we sometimes get when people ask us about our faith and we can’t explain it well enough.  Words.  But what about actions?  What about living as Christ-like as possible, about loving the marginalized and the unwanted, about speaking the truth and love of God, about being the salt and light of the earth?  That’s what we’re focusing on this year at the Newman Center.  As St. Francis said, “Always preach the Gospel.  If necessary, use words.”

I’ve tried to put several programs into place this year that encourage the young adults of Keene to put their faith into action in a way that makes our actions inform the words we use.  We have Small Groups, ministry opportunities, liturgical ministry and service opportunities.  Maybe if we’re acting out our faith, that will spurn contemplation, and that contemplation will spurn better words when we need to use them, and those words will bring the love of Christ to all we encounter.  Today, I’m announcing another very huge opportunity to act out our faith:

This upcoming March, the Newman Center will be sending a group of short-term missionaries to act as Christ to the needy at the Damien House in Guyaquil, Ecuador.  

The Damien House is named after St. Damien of Molokai, the priest who ministered to the lepers of Hawaii and who ultimately contracted the disease himself.  Today, this ancient disease is called Hansen’s Disease and is completely treatable.  Many lepers are still marginalized from society, however, and it is these children of God that are served at the Damien House.  Here are the details of our trip:

Who: YOU!  Any young adult in the greater Keene area is welcome to join in our mission!

When:  March 9-16.  This coincides with Spring Break for both Keene State College and Antioch University.

Where: We will be traveling to Guyaquil, Ecuador to the Damien House, a residential hospital for over 60 Hansen’s patients that also treats a roster of around 700 outpatients. Quality medical care is provided seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day. With the help of donations to the US-based Damien House organization, the staff is also able to provide patients with dental care, physical therapy, sanitary services, medication, and three well-balanced hot meals every day.  Additionally, Damien House has a community outreach program that helps those who have been treated and cured to secure a home, find work, and participate in community activities so that they may return to living full lives.

The work of Damien House extends far beyond the hospital’s walls. The staff makes regular visits within Guayaquil and
in remote villages, providing public education about the cause and curability of Hansen’s Disease and spreading optimism for its eventual elimination.

For more information on this ministry, check out their website.

Why:  To be salt and light to these beloved children of God, to encourage Sister Annie in her ministry, and to deepen our individual faith through action.

Duties:  Missionaries will be fulfilling any and all help that workers at the Damien House require, as well as ministering to the patients through love and fellowship.  I know this description is incredibly vague, but that is the nature of mission work in general, and South American mission work in particular; South American culture is relationship-based and can therefore seem unstructured to our productivity-focused North American minds.

Cost: $1175.00/person (not including vaccinations or passport fees).  DON’T WORRY, WE’LL BE DOING FUND RAISING!!!!!  I’ve done quite a bit of missionary fund raising in my day and I promise you that we will work together as a group and I will work with each individual to make sure that the cost is minimal for each person.  If you feel that God is leading you to participate in this trip, He will provide a way to make it happen!   Speak to me before counting yourself out for financial reasons!

Additional Information:  Participants will receive pre- and post-trip training through the Newman Center and will be responsible for securing all necessary documents (including a U.S. passport, although a Visa is not necessary).  The Newman Center will help participants in each aspect of preparation, so never fear!  Since we will be traveling during the wet season, the following vaccinations are mandatory:  Hepatitis A and B, Malaria, Yellow Fever, Typhoid, MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella), dTap, and Tetanus.  Many of these are already required for Americans and the Newman Center will provide each participant with vaccination information and resources.

Deadline to Apply: November 28th.  Click here to fill out an application.  Please note that the application process is a tool to determine if each participant is physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually ready to undertake a mission trip and make sure that we have good team dynamics.  Filling out an application does NOT mean you are committing to going on the trip, it just means that you’d like to be considered!

Please prayerfully consider joining us in this mission!  If you have any questions, please contact Campus Minister Cindy Cheshire at or by dropping by the Newman Center Office!


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