Where has the time gone?! Wasn't it only yesterday that the students walked onto campus to begin their PackYourBags journey? This diverse group of 22 has been through one of the best and most challenging years of their lives. From the Pine Ridge Reservation to the inner cities of Chicago and Milwaukee, the vibrant South Africa and even the fascinating Holy Land of Israel; we have experienced the world in a whole new way.
We want to share with you a recap of our year together:
The team began the year facing their fears, especially the fear of heights! Heading to Lake Metigoshe we had a team building weekend, climbing various high ropes, facing an impossible bells course in the rain, and an incredibly powerful worship/prayer night. And it was only the beginning!
The Pine Ridge Reservation was our first ministry trip of the year. Traveling to South Dakota we entered the small community of Wanblee where we would be spending the week helping in whatever capacity we could. Pastor Gus quickly put us to work and we spent our days doing service projects: cementing, fencing, and preparing for the Harvest Festival the church puts on for the community every year. We also ran various Kidz Clubs in the evenings where we enjoyed our time immensely with the energetic children.
Our next trip was to the inner cities of Chicago and Milwaukee. Our view of poverty was challenged as we were able to help with ministries that specifically ministered to those in need in their community. Whether we were passing out blessings bags to the homeless on the Magnificent Mile or helping with a free Health Clinic in the heart of Milwaukee, each of our lives were deeply challenged and changed.
Second semester held a new level of adventure for us all. Not long after returning to campus we traveled to the breath-taking nation of South Africa. Six weeks of ministry to young and old alike, the team shared their testimonies, preached sermons, played with kids until they were exhausted, prayed over the sick, and served in various other capacities. Seeing each of them grow in their faith and boldness was one of the best parts of this trip! We saw God move in the big and little things, showing His faithfulness throughout.
Last but definitely not least was our final trip; a tour of the Holy Land. Walking where Jesus walked and encountering such ancient and fascinating historical sites made this trip so memorable. It was filled with many nights simply exploring the streets of Jerusalem or sitting on the beach of the Sea of Galilee watching the waves hit the shore. It is vastly different from any of our other trips, yet we still learned so much with each day we spent there.
It didn't seem long after our return from Israel that we were preparing for graduation. And on April 29th, our team completed their PackYourBags Journey.
We truly want to thank every one of our students for choosing to be a part of this experience. PackYourBags is so much more than traveling the world. The year is spent learning in the class room, being a part of not only the community of Trinity Bible College but our own little family of PYB, and being daily challenged spiritually, mentally, and physically. Though we had so many wonderful memories throughout the 8 months, it doesn't mean that it is always fun or easy, but it is always worth it as each student grows in their walk with the Lord. And we are just so thankful that they took the risk and jumped into this crazy adventure with us. So though we have had to say goodbye (which is never easy), we look towards each of their bright futures as they move onto what is next. Our prayer for this team is that as they walked in the physical places in which Jesus did, we pray that they continue to walk in the ways of Jesus throughout their lives. Walking in His footsteps as they look to what the future may hold with Him directing their steps.
To conclude, here is one of our recent PYB graduates sharing about their year:
"This year has been amazing. PackYourBags took me places literally and metaphorically. I grew so much with every trip we took, every class I sat in, and every relationship I made. I am so thankful for everyone that loved me through the process of this crazy year. God used PackYourBags to challenge me in ways I could have never experienced otherwise. God taught me how HUGE He loves and how great His plans are for my life. Thankful for this incredible year. I am officially a PackYourBags graduate!" - Jenna
Congratulations to the 2016-17 team for completing the PackYourBags Experience!