ISU January 2013 exportForgoing the standard practice of using Winter Break as a time to recover from finals, a group of Iowa State students instead spent their time-off serving in Haiti.

David Samson had already been to Haiti in April 2012, so when Rick and Cheryl Nikkel encouraged him to take a group of fellow Iowa State students, it was an easy decision. But on this trip, Samson had a personal connection, to MH4H county coordinator and Iowa State alum, Silentor Esthil-Henderson led, who was excited to welcome friends to Gonaives.

“ The fact that Silentor helped build a school, a church and started all these programs; soccer, sewing among other things… it was amazing to see,” said Samson.

The group spent their time helping with Vacation Bible School, teaching English and playing with the children. The students were able to experience a true Haitian lifestyle while staying with Silentor’s family, trips to the market, and rides in the tap tap taxis.

Dispelling his preconceived notions, Colt Freese found it was just a great place to be. “Everyone is so happy. There is love, joy and excitement, especially in their singing and dancing.”

Allison Myers noticed how thankful each child was for their school meal, even though it was the same each day: rice and beans. “That would definitely draw some complaints back in the U.S. They were just excited for the opportunity of a meal. ”

Myers experienced shock when she returned home and was able to take hot shower, a mere necessity in the 15-degree Chicago weather that greeted her. It was quite the change from carrying five-gallon buckets upstairs in order to wash and flush the toilet at Silentor’s house. “I didn’t know we wouldn’t have running water, but it actually ended up being funny. We would put our swimsuits on, go outside and wash off with a cup and a bucket.”

At night, Myers also got to experience what she couldn’t back home in Chicago: stars and mountains. “We would climb up on Silentor’s roof to hang out. Without lights, we could clearly see the stars around the mountain next to his house. It was beautiful”

Since her return home, Myers encouraged her own family to sponsor a child after seeing how much it can impact the children she was able to meet.

“I didn’t know that they would affect me more than I would have helped them,” said Freese, a first time missionary.

For less than a dollar a day, sponsors can provide a child a school scholarship. Scholarships include a meal, water, uniforms, a Bible, materials, and teaching staff.  For more information about sponsoring a child, click  here.