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Mission team reaches into new culture

As the semester came to a close last spring, one group of Eastern students spent the last two weeks of May in Cochabamba, Bolivia. They helped build homes, worked for a school and supported girls in a clinic for the sexually abused. The school and clinic were started by 2007 alumna, Brisa DeAngulo.

Sexual abuse is a problem that has been ignored in Bolivia. “[At the clinic] they have a place away from home, where they can feel safe,” sophomore Emily Martin said. It is a place where the children can be helped by a psychologist and a lawyer.

Caroline Carr, a 2007 alumna, went to the clinic and met one of the girls there. “Because we shared a common love for dance, she taught me many things, and I taught her some as well,” Carr said in an email. They were able to share from one another’s life experiences and Carr was also able to share the love of Christ with the girl. “All these children need is love,” she said.

The appreciation that the team received from the Bolivian people was more than they could have asked for. Jonathan Turner, a junior, said that one woman that they had been building an adobe house for hiked all the way down the mountains, into the town and bought a Coke for them. The Coke was a really expensive purchase for her, but she was so thankful. “It meant so much to me,” Turner said. “When you start to build a house with someone, you build a bond.”

When the laborious workday was done, many students would play soccer with the children. Turner spoke about his relationship with one boy, Juan, and how even though there was a language barrier, it couldn’t keep them from loving one another. Turner gave the boy a sweatshirt and he wore it for the next three days.

The trip to Bolivia opened many of the team members’ eyes to a new way of living and a new philosophy on life. Senior Michael Fleming said, “I see it as very important for Christians to see the faith that they hold to through the lens of another culture.”

“Although many of these people have nothing, many turn to God, no matter how broken down they are,” Carr said.

Even though Carr at first commented on the fact that she felt so small in comparison to the corruption of the world, she later said, “We can all do a little something, and hopefully make a small impact on other people’s lives.”

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