OC revives Brazil Mission Summer trip gives students new opportunities
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Oklahoma Christian University students had the opportunity to explore Brazil and connect with missionary families throughout the country as a part of the university’s summer campaign.
Almost 20 years since the last campaign, Associate Dean of Academics Lee Anne Paris and Missionary in Residence Mel Latorre are bringing the trip back.
“I think it’s neat that [the trip has] this rich heritage; one of the trips that was the longest standing with OC students,” junior Ross Wagnon said.
The trip, lasting from April 29 to May 28, will take students throughout the country to the cities of Campinas, Bauru, Curitiba and Rio de Janeiro.
Paris and Latorre both grew up in missionary families in Brazil and were members of the churches that hosted the campaign during their childhoods.
“I remember as a kid being so excited when campaign time was around and having college students come from OC – and they seemed so cool,” Latorre said. “I remember the church being excited to host them, and then once they would leave there was still a big buzz about it.”
Their memories and excitement about the campaign are what inspired Latorre and Paris to revive the trip this summer.
“Mel and I got together and we said, 'you know, we think it would be really neat to revive that tradition,' so that’s what we’re doing,” Paris said. “And, we’re going to go some of the same places that that group used to go to in the 1980s and 1990s.”
Sophomore Kristen Wheeler said she is looking forward to traveling with sponsors who are connected to both Oklahoma Christian and Brazil.
“It’s really cool to me,” Wheeler said. “It’s going to be great to travel with them in their culture where they speak the language, and we really get to know the country through them.”
Wagnon said this will be his first time to do international missions, and he looks forward to sharing the gospel with the people of Brazil.
“We’re going into already established congregations to travel around and sing,” Wagnon said. “I love the idea of going around as a traveling singing group, working with churches and doing that kind of stuff that will be really productive for the people. But, at the same time, it’s going to be really fun.”
The total price for the trip is $3,200 and the Center for Global Missions is facilitating all of the participants’ fundraising efforts.
“That [price] really includes everything except little knick-knacks that you want to buy,” Latorre said. “It includes the food while you’re there, a little sightseeing, where we’re staying.”
Wagnon said the help from the Center for Global Missions has made the fundraising process smooth and manageable.
“It’s super easy, they’ve got it so systematically put together,” Wagnon said. “[The Center for Global Missions comes] in and helps you with everything.”
As the group travels from city to city, visiting churches, Wheeler said he hopes they can have a strong spiritual impact on the people they encounter as well as grow themselves.
“I hope that we can be a blessing to the people there and that we can fulfill their needs as much as possible,” Wheeler said. “But also, we all just hope to grow closer to God…through meeting new people and experiencing more of God’s creation.”
Latorre said the relational aspect of the Brazil Campaign is what sets it apart from other mission experiences.
“Unlike other campaigns that are very service-oriented, you go build a house or dig a well, this campaign will have some service things, but it’s very relational,” Latorre said. “People are very excited that there’s an American group of college students and they’ll try their English with our group, they’ll exchange their email, become Facebook friends.”
Paris said the campaign is a good opportunity to be exposed to missions and how it works.
“I think you can see God working in the things that you’re doing and I think it gives you a firsthand knowledge of missions that you might not have if you weren’t able to do that,” Paris said.
Latorre said the group will have meetings throughout the semester to prepare students.
“We’ll be meeting several times between now and when we go,” Latorre said. “We’ll help them learn some Portuguese sayings and the cultural differences.”
Wagnon said he hopes other students will take advantage of the opportunity to grow and impact people in another country.
“This will be an opportunity, especially during this time while you’re in college, to challenge yourself, to step outside of your normal boundaries, really encourage your faith - a growing opportunity,” Wagnon said.
Registration for the campaign is still open. For more information, contact Mel Latorre at firstname.lastname@example.org.