Waterfalls. Kayaking. Rainstorms. Snorkeling. For the handful of students spending a semester abroad in the Pacific Rim, dreaded Indiana winters have been replaced with the year-round summer climate of New Zealand, the first long term stop on the trip’s 14 week course.
The team is finishing up its extended stay in Auckland, the capital city of New Zealand, where they have been studying at a local university. Over the past several weeks the students have had the opportunity to do more than just bungee jump and go to the beach—they have built friendships and worshipped God with believers from all over the world.
"One of the best things so far on the trip has been the Parachute Festival, where we got to have an evening of worship with Hillsong United," said senior Laura Miller. "It was amazing, even in the pouring rain. It was a great atmosphere to worship God."
For Miller, the best experience has been the time she has shared with her fellow classmates.
"The most impacting part has been seeing God work through the group so far," said Miller. "We have gotten along so well and have had alot of fun together. I am excited to see the things he is going to do in and through this group in the other places we travel."
The allurement of the warm climate and scenic landscape has not escaped the attention of sophomore Josh Winningham, who admits that his favorite activity so far has been "watching the amazing New Zealand sunsets on the beach while playing football in the waves."
Up next the students will have a short stay in Australia in which Miller said they will be "going to the Sydney zoo, walk around the opera house\harbor and go to Hillsong Church on Sunday night."
They will do this before heading to Fiji. While in Fiji the team will participate in various ministry opportunities as well as tour the island and experience the native culture.
"Everything is not completely set yet about what all we are doing, but [we] are trusting that God will provide," said Miller.
There is a lot of action and travel set for the following three weeks as the students make their way through Fiji, back to Hawaii and eventually home to Bethel.
"[The schedule] is very intense and we are doing so much, but the group is very anxious and excited to go," said Miller. "We have our eyes open and are excited about what God is going to do!"