Can one week serving in an international mission really make a difference, either for those served or team members?  One week can be more than impactful, say team members, actually life-changing.

Mike Alford recalls his first trip with the Hyde Park United Methodist team, 2007:

“At that time I was skeptical about my value to the construction team as I was a corporate lawyer with no construction skills or experience whatsoever. Vicki (Walker, minister of mission and outreach) assured me I was in the right place and encouraged me to continue to listen to the ‘still small voice’ that was calling me to service in the name of the Lord. Her words of love and encouragement settled somewhere deep inside of me as I eagerly anticipated my first international mission trip.”

“Needless to say the trip exceeded all my expectations as I worked alongside my fellow missioners and our Nicaraguan brothers and sisters on the construction team. I learned quickly that sharing the love of Jesus and building relationships with the people of Nicaragua (as well as my fellow missioners) was more important than building walls,” he recalls.
After that first trip, Mike was committed. He returned nine more times to serve in Nicaragua, his children participating, too, in family trips.

“On a personal level, my experience in Nicaragua led me to the conclusion that I needed to make a career change and begin to live more authentically. So last year I decided to leave the world of corporate law and resigned from Raymond James, my employer of 23 years, to take a full-time job with Habitat for Humanity. As you may know, Habitat’s mission is to share the love of Jesus Christ by providing safe and secure housing to those in need both in the US and around the world. Sound familiar? … I thank God I am blessed to be a part of this mission and I can’t help but think it may have all started back on that bus,” he said.

Hyde Park member Ken Cowles served on Hyde Park’s first Nicaragua team in 2006 and has returned five more times to serve and lead.

“What really happens is not that we might build a home for a family in need, or that a young lady will learn about prenatal care for her and the baby, or that someone will receive medical care from a visiting doctor. What really happens is that people choosing to go on mission are changed. We experience people and a country that is alive and beautiful, filled with potential and also burdened with many, many needs. We learn how people live and thrive in conditions that are very foreign to us.”

“People on mission change, learning that they can make a difference, even though ever so small, a difference,” he said.

Stephanie Johnson, a 2017 team member, commented:

“People who have so little – are so gracious and kind and loving and proud – they invite you into their homes and offer you everything they have – which may only be a small corner of their dirt floor – they want to introduce you to their family, show you their pictures, tell their stories and pray for YOU – Nicaragua helped me step back and remember to BE in the moment, BE kind, BE gracious, BE thankful and know how BE-lessed (blessed) you are.”

Come and See: Courtyard Table Feb.  25, Presentation 12:15 p.m. Mar. 4

Come and see photos and hear stories from members of a 2017 Hyde Park team at 12:15 p.m. March 4 in Knox Hall room 150, at Hyde Park United Methodist, 500 W. Platt St., Tampa.
Be inspired by God’s love made real in and through the Nicaragua mission, how lives are forever changed, and relationships formed in just one powerful week. The presentation will include brief testimony by team members, information about the Nov. 3-10, 2018 trip, and opportunities to ask questions.

Hyde Park has sent teams of short-term missioners to Nicaragua since 2006, serving the people of Nicaragua in partnership with our mission partner El Ayudante ( ). Team members are housed at the El Ayudante mission and serve surrounding communities daily in construction, medical, education and other projects.

Former team members also will be in the Courtyard at the Hyde Park campus on Sunday morning Feb. 25 to answer questions and share their experiences with anyone interested in the trip. For more information, email Vicki Walker, minister of missions and outreach, or email Glenn Simpson, 2017 Nicaragua mission team leader.

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