This semester has been one that has stretched, challenged, and made me grow in a way that is indescribable. I have begun to learn how to balance my spiritual, emotional, and physical health. I have built relationships that I hope will last a lifetime, and have finally started to make future career plans that I am excited and happy to begin.

- Minda

It is hard to believe that the 1st semester has come to a close! Our teams have headed home for some much needed rest and time with family before we start our next adventure in January. As we approach the New Year, we often reflect upon the year that is behind us. For PackYourBags, that means taking time to reflect on all that has happened in our lives the past months so we can look, in even greater anticipation, for what is to come!

"There has been so much change in my life and I certainly have been impacted by so much of it. My classes have influenced me, my relationships have made me confident, and my relationship with God has made me pursue Him for the better. In only one semester I have changed and I am okay with that." - Sheraiah

Every year in PackYourBags there is something new and different. This has been the first year having two teams (Team Bialik & Team Crowe). We still do things all together as a big team (Team A), but have done the first two trips in our smaller teams as you have probably read in our previous blogs and posts. One of the most beautiful things about having the two teams is the opportunity it has given us to reach even more people. From the Pine Ridge and Standing Rock Reservations, to both trips to the inner cities of Chicago & Milwaukee; we have had numerous chances to learn and reach out. Our efforts have been doubled and we are thankful for the chance to help out even more ministries than have been able to before. 

Here is a short video recapping all of our trips this semester! 

This team of 23 has proven to have big hearts of compassion and ready hands to serve. Whether they have come from a church background or only been saved for a few years, they each have grown in their walk with the Lord and their ability to serve Him. 

"One thing I really got out of this was making sure to put God above all else. If I don't put God first in my life, nothing else will work." - Sabrina


And through it all we have had ups, downs, and many, many laughs! I still enjoy reminiscing about the bonfire we had during our team building weekend where we all sat together late into the evening telling funny stories and laughing till our sides hurt. And that was only the beginning, for now we have added many more memories to the pages of our PYB story. Whether it was learning in the class room about missions and theology to getting to put their faith in action on our trips to learning various life skills by putting their hands to work with manual labor (fencing, painting, etc.) to learning and practicing spiritual disciplines. All while learning to work and minister together in our teams. 

"As iron sharpens iron, I would come out of this year a dull blade without people around me. Trinity is an interwoven tight knit group of believers that are held together by their love for Jesus. A chain of hearts, each sparking on the next."  - Ethan

Even though it is sad how fast the time is going, it is exciting to know that we still have another whole semester in which to continue the adventure and growth in our lives. In only a few short weeks we will ALL be packing our bags and traveling to the beautiful nation of South Africa for 6 weeks! Please keep us in your prayers. Pray that over this break we will prepare our hearts for what God desires to do in and through us. Once the team returns to campus we will kick into gear with ministry prep and team building and we would appreciate a prayer covering from our friends and family! Thank you for continuing to follow the journey of our 2017-18 team. 

Team A at our Christmas Party!

We pray each of you have a blessed Christmas season celebrating the gift & birth of our Savior, as well as a wonderful New Year! Your growth and the growth of our students doesn't have to wait for a new years resolution. What a blessing that our God gives us each new year, new morning, and each moment to make the change to wholeheartedly follow Him! 

"Don't wait till the end of the semester to want to change, ask God right at the start to do what is impossible in your life and He will change you."Seth

Stay tuned for more adventures & stories in 2018!

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