Campus News

Matthew’s effects reach Bethel students

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matthew-storm-a7c91b63240762b94d2d182934eb945b16ffe3bb-s900-c85 Bethel College is not in hurricane country; however, its students aren't necessarily exempt from the devastation hurricanes can cause. Many students and faculty have friends and family in the southeastern United States, right in the path of Hurricane Matthew.  This was a devastating category 5 hurricane that swept through the southeastern United States as well as several islands right off the coast such as Haiti, Cuba and the Dominican Republic. Senior sociology major Megan Elbin actually has family in Florida. We asked her what she knew of her family during the storm. “The hurricane was supposed to hit our hometown originally,” said Elbin, “and so my family boarded up the whole house, and at first it seemed like it would be okay for them to stay, and then the day the hurricane was supposed to hit they were basically saying that there was a chance that all the houses in that area would be destroyed.” Elbin’s family evacuated when they heard this news, and Elbin said she was very concerned due to the fact that it was, at the time, a category 4 storm. Matthew was also predicted to make landfall in Jupiter, Fla., Elbin’s hometown. Thankfully, the storm continued to move more northwest than originally predicted, and Elbin’s town was hit with the side of the storm, getting a lot of wind and rain rather than Matthew's full brunt. Elbin also told us a bit about what her family came back to after evacuation. “My family came back about two days later, and we had some shingles from off the roof, so we’ll have to have that fixed,” she said. “And we have some tree limbs down and things like that, but other than that we had no major damage, so I’m really thankful for that, and it’s nothing that we can’t handle and no one’s lives were endangered.” But Hurricane Matthew was much larger than just the southeastern United States. As mentioned earlier, the tiny island of Haiti felt many truly catastrophic events. But before Matthew devastated the island, one Bethel student had plans to go there for a bit of a different reason. Junior Trisha Cousino was planning on visiting Haiti with an organization (she was unable to give the name due to the private nature of the program,) in order to study the organization of missions. Plans for the trip included learning how a large organization approaches evangelism and discipleship, as well as learning administrative skills such as accounting and budgeting that students going into missions need to know. Cousino described Haiti as “a place where you can see God’s heart for the brokenness.” But when Matthew hit, it became tragically clear that Haiti needed a different kind of help. The island was unprepared for such a storm, and many families didn’t have proper structures to protect them from the storm. According to Cousino, the death toll is currently over 900. “The way it affected me (is) trivial compared to how it affected people around the world,” said Cousino. Cousino said that the organization has adjusted its plans now from an administration internship to emergency community relief in Haiti. Cousino said that while Haiti is in need of organization for missions, that’s not this organization’s focus after Matthew. “When you look at the ‘good, better, best’ situation…there’s a lot of good things that need to happen, but there’s a lot of better things that need to happen,” said Cousino, referencing a common principle this organization has used. However, Cousino made it clear that this is more than a simple “come, help, leave” mission. She said that the organization is working to build communities in Haiti who will be self-sustaining. They are helping the Haitian people learn to build their own communities. “(The Haitians) don’t need the white man to come in and do everything for them,” said Cousino. Following Matthew’s sweep through Haiti, the interns who had applied for the trip were sent an email stating that the trip’s focus had changed.  Any interns who were still interested in going were welcome to keep their name in the running for being selected to go. Cousino elected to not go on the trip, saying that while this is a wonderful thing for the organization to do, it’s not what she feels she’s called to right now. “I think it’s really awesome that they’re willing to put their agenda on the background to take care of the needs of the Haitian people,” said Cousino. She went on, “As much as (the original trip) was something that I was really excited about, I’m really excited about what they’re going to be able to do here.” Cousino also expressed sorrow that the poverty-stricken island has to experience this tragedy after suffering so much. The organization is also still sending out short-term missions trips even though many of their long-term programs have been postponed. Finally, Cousino simply said that she feels we need to pray not only for the victims of Matthew, but also for those providing aid. “What happens when the people who are providing the aid and providing the need need to take a break?” she asked. She went on, “I think that definitely we are super blessed up in Indiana where we don’t have to worry about hurricanes.” She said that we should continue to pray for Florida and the people providing the support to those affected “because that’s their home, too.” And pray we should. The Bethel Beacon staff offers their sincere condolences and prayers to those who were affected as well as those who have friends and family who are feeling the effects of this terrible storm.

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