Mission trips, the staple of Wesleyan spring breaks, are quickly approaching. With these trips coming up, mission retreats are put in place to allow teams to really get to know each other before their trip. This year, Wesleyan is sending out ten different mission teams: nine during spring break and one, South Africa, during the summer.
Before they depart on their trips, the teams get to know each other better and bond as a team with a retreat. The purpose of the mission retreats is to “allow the teams to get away from the hustle and bustle of Wesleyan, from sports, from home and have a focused 24 hour period of time together to grow into a team,” said Amelia Davis, Dean of Student Ministries.
Faculty Fellow Ann Barnett, a leader of the Guatemala Co-ed team, said, “We went to Lake Lanier to Lauren Bell’s lake house, which was awesome!”
“This trip is very relational and focuses on medical missions. I am very excited to see how students think differently about mission work,” said Barnett. “This trip will take a different approach on serving by not just playing with kids or building a playground, but will incorporate different types of serving.”
Though there are many different mission trips, the same principles and beliefs apply for each trip. Sophomore Annie Cowart is going on the summer mission trip to South Africa. That team went on their retreat to the Salyers’ lake house on Lake Lanier.
Cowart explained her reason for going on a mission trip. “[It is] a beautiful way to serve. I [have] lived in Georgia my whole life and been out of the country twice – to go stay in hotels. I am privileged. I [would not] miss an opportunity to go serve people who [do not] have the same things I do. I want to see firsthand what it is like on the opposite side of the world,” said Cowart.
Junior Cassie Henning is going on the Jamaica mission trip and said, “Our [weekend] retreat went really well and I feel like our team got a lot more comfortable around each other.” Henning’s retreat achieved the over-arching goal of strengthening relationships.
“This is the first time the group is together for an extended period of time. In a lot of ways [it is] a great way to bond and laugh together, but the main focus of the trip is to tell stories and share our faith journeys,” said Davis.
Telling the story of one’s faith journey is what mission trip retreats are known for. “In hearing people’s faith journeys, you get to hear a lot about the background of what students are dealing with,” said Davis, “When peers hear each other’s stories, they realize there is so much more to this person than [they] ever knew. You get to have deeper conversations that you wouldn’t normally hear in English class or the cafeteria. It is a great way to deepen friendships and bond as a team.”
The missions program is important to Wesleyan faculty, students and families. Because of this, teams are given opportunities to grow together to make their trips run smoothly. This is exactly why mission retreats are so important.
“We want individuals to become a team because the more friendships and trust that individuals have for each other, the better team they are,” said Davis.
Mission retreats allow teams to grow closer to God as well as with each other which will make for an all-around better and more successful spring break or summer trip.