Over this last spring break, some students, rather than head for the beach, instead stayed back on Bethel’s campus and served the community around the Mishawaka area as part of the “Stay, Love, Serve” week. It was a week filled with service, laughter and learning. The team bonded and grew together as the worked alongside the citizens of the greater area around Bethel as well as on campus.
The goal for the week was twofold: to serve in different capacities in our own community, and to also learn about ways that God is working through programs and organizations in South Bend and Mishawaka,” said Denise Penrod.Part of the week was designated to serving on Bethel’s campus, helping out the housekeeping and maintenance crews. They also had an opportunity to visit the folks over at St. Paul’s retirement community, as well as work with Hope Ministries and the homeless. They also were able to work with animals over at Pet Refuge and helped out in various capacities onsite. “We raked leaves, lots and lots of leaves helping out maintenance… it was a lot about getting variety about different types of service,” said Kenny Tate. It was a different way to spend a spring break but according to those who went, it was a lot of fun. “We focused on imitating Christ’s attitude that he modeled for us, and discerning how God calls us to serve, both corporately and individually,” Penrod explained. The week brought about teaching as well. As Tate put it, “I’m not making the impact happen. That even though I may not be able to see the transformation happen I can still see the outcome.” Senior ministry major Kaylyn Fannon commented on what she learned. “To lay aside what my assumptions were of certain people, or certain work,” she said. “Even if I don’t think that it’s as important as what I do. A reminder to come in with a position with an attitude of humility. That not coming in as a ‘savior type,’ but a servant.” The team bonded quickly and worked together well. Not only was it just work, it was fun as well. Tate spoke particularly about the Pet Refuge project. “We were moving things out of the cat area, and all of the cats were just watching us,” said Tate. “We started to name them, and there was one that hissed at us every time that we came in… there was this one point where we didn’t know where he went and got scared he was going to jump out at us.” Fannon also enjoyed Pet Refuge as well. “There was just a great team effort and if you saw someone working alone you would just join them,” she said. “It was a great environment to work in.” She appreciated that the team was willing to do whatever was needed to help each other out as well as the people they served. Tate mentioned that the team even took their own spin on the “Pitch Perfect” movies, singing while raking. When asked what they would tell students as they approach the next service opportunity, the students responded in a positive manner. “I think when people hear the word service, [they think] ‘well okay I’m doing work,’” said Tate. “I think sometimes that people forget that a lot of the good memories are not going to a specific spot but the people that you’re with.” As Fannon puts it, “Be willing. Have an availability and a willingness for God to use you. If you can, do it. If you’re willing to sacrifice the ‘me time,’ do it.” Those who stayed encourage those who are considering attending the next service opportunity to go. It is a great opportunity to learn, grow and serve with those who are on Bethel’s campus, working in the community that we live in during this period of our lives. (Photo by William Felker on Unsplash)