Five women rode in a car on their way back from Taj Mahal, an Indian restaurant in Fort Wayne where they discussed some of the worries they had concerning the upcoming trip to India they had signed up for. A song came on the radio, “One Thing Remains,” and suddenly their worries seemed unfounded.
“I just started crying [and thinking] why are we even doubting?” sophomore Kaitlyn Troyer, one of the women in the car that night, said “It was really powerful, the five of us started belting out this song in the car and it just felt like God was saying ‘Hey, just relax.’”
Love India 2013 is a team of 14 students who will be traveling to Chennai, India to serve at an all girls’ home called Home of Love. Home of Love’s mission, according to their website, is to provide a home for disinherited girls, provide them with a private Christian education and train them in basic vocational skills. The purpose of the trip is meant to be two-fold, transforming both the students on the trip and the girls in India.
Junior Kyle Schwerdtfeger decided he wanted to be a part of the Love India 2013 team after hearing the chapel presentation from the team that went last year.
“To be honest it was conviction from the Holy Spirit,” Schwerdtfeger said. “I was sitting there in chapel and God was telling me, ‘Hey, you have to do this.’”
The faculty leader of the trip, David Alexander, Ph.D., assistant professor of philosophy, compared this trip, and other short-term mission trip to movie trailers. In the same way trailers are made in hopes of gettinggetting people to go watch the whole movie, short-term missions are designed in hopes of getting people involved in missions long term in one way or another.
“We hope that it will transform student lives; that maybe some of them will find a love, a calling, to invest in this culture, these lives,” Alexander said.
“I’m expecting to be changed, but I don’t know what that change is yet,” Schwerdtfeger said.
The project emphasis of the India team is to spend time with the girls at the Home of Love. One way of doing this is through a Vacation Bible School program. This program will consist of four sections: drama, games, crafts and music/dance.
“Apparently these girls love music and love to dance, you know just dance wild and crazy, so that pretty much steals the show,” Alexander said.
Troyer said she expects her interactions with the girls at Home of Love to be similar to those she had with children she met on a previous mission trip to Guatemala.
“They don’t really care if you speak their language, these girls have gone through so much already that they just want love and attention,” Troyer said. “A smile is so universal so I’m not too worried about language barriers.”
While the girls are at school, the team will work on other projects including painting, landscaping and building a new dormitory building. The funds for the dormitory, a total of approximately $25,000, were raised by the Love India 2012 team.
Alexander shared that the university would like to see the India trip become an annual trip of service. He also said he plans to meet with representatives from Christian universities in India to investigate the possibility of a student exchange program.
Alexander hopes someday a program might even allow the girls from Home of Love to attend college at HU.
“We want this to happen every year, people from Huntington University at the Home of Love every year where these girls are seeing that we’re dedicated, Alexander said. “We want to be involved in their lives forever.”
Off-campus January courses provide opportunities that students would not have on campus. Other J-Term trips offered this year include PHAT Camp: Developing Motivation & Discipline for the Complete Person, The Florida Everglades (Environmental History), Outdoor Environmental Education (Outdoor Education for Children) and The Church’s Response to Modern Day Poverty. They will take place in DeSoto, Mo.; Homestead, Fla.; Hillsdale, Mich.; and Philadelphia respectively.