All around the world

This past summer, the majority of teens were out chasing Pokémon or binge watching Netflix., but, a few of our Spartans ventured out into the world, impacting the lives of others as well as changing their own.

James Busby (12) and Foster Hudsmith (12) traveled to China with their church, Christ Methodist, to Shepherd’s Field Children’s Village in Tianjin, China. Their mission was to form bonds with the children and assist the village as much as they could.

According to the mission statement on Shepherd’s Field’s  website, “Shepherd’s Field is a safe haven for at-risk, special needs orphans who have been abandoned because they were considered broken.”

Shepherd’s field has provided more than 3,000 surgeries and medical procedures and has cared for more than 4,000 orphaned children. Busby and Hudsmith got the chance to interact with the kids and create memories that will last a lifetime. The two formed a special bond with the children, Busby especially when he met a little girl named Georgie.

James Busby holding a child from the Shepherd's Field Children’s Village.
Used with permission/James Busby
James Busby holding a child from the Shepherd’s Field Children’s Village.

“[Georgie is] the toughest little girl I’ve ever met,” Busby said. “She wanted my hat and got my heart.”

Busby and Hudsmith also went to another orphanage, Agape Family Life House, in Langfang, China. It is home to 29 children who mainly suffer from Brittle Bone disease, but some have other kinds of physical needs. They range in age from 1 1/2 to 26 years of age. In addition to the orphanage, there is also a bakery called Bread of Life Bakery, where the older children can learn life skills.

Along with enjoying the company of the children, the two took part in helping with yard work, building a greenhouse and painting. The children helped them stay motivated to get the work done because it would better their lives in the long run.  

“The children made the experience because, without them, it’s like another trip you just go on. But with them, it’s something you’ll always remember,” Hudsmith said. “It holds a special place in your heart to know that you made an impact in their lives.”

Foster Hudsmith with a child from Shepherd's Field Children’s Village.
Foster Hudsmith with a child from Shepherd’s Field Children’s Village.

While Busby and Hudsmith spent time in China, another Spartan visited the Czech Republic on a mission trip with her father and church.

Kirsten Todd (12) spent part of her summer in the Czech Republic assisting with a Family English Camp, where Czech families come together to learn English. Her church, Grace Evangelical Church, partners with the Majak Church in the Czech Republic to either facilitate English camps or sports camps.

“So basically my dad was like, ‘Hey you’re going to go to the Czech Republic with me,’ and I said ‘Ok,” Todd said.

During the day they would teach the families English, and in the afternoons they would go hiking, play softball and play volleyball. Every night they would sing a few worship songs, and a few Czechs became Christians during the trip.

Kirsten Todd (right center) with children from her church and Czech Republic.
Kirsten Todd (right center) with children from her church and Czech Republic.

Todd got the chance to immerse herself in the Czech culture by spending lots time with the children learning some of the language and getting to know the children better. Some of the kids taught her “Mám borová šiška” which translates to “I have a pinecone.”

“They taught me a lot of things, but the main thing I remembered was pinecone, and it was a joke for the rest of the week. ‘Siška girl’,” Todd said.

One of the kids, in particular, Maja, clicked with Kirsten the most.

“She’s 15, she spoke better English than I did, and she’s just so good at everything,” Todd said.

Maja used to be a gymnast and loved to play volleyball, so Todd would practice and play volleyball with her. The two are still close now, emailing back and forth and messaging on Facebook.

Todd also got to enjoy the culture of trying some of their everyday food like large servings of bread or potato dumplings, or a sub sandwich with the meat and cheese on top for breakfast.

“I found that you can go to all the places you want, but it’s not the same unless you meet the people from the country,” Todd said. “They change the whole aspect of the country. We didn’t get that culture experience until we went out and met natives, talked to them, learned some of their language and tried the food.”

Another Spartan traveler over the summer was Katlyn Hurst (12). She went to Cordoba, Argentina for a medical assistance program. Hurst was inspired to make a bigger impact and learn more after her visit to Georgetown University the previous summer.

“After my being at Georgetown, I thought, ‘Wow I want to do something bigger,’” Hurst said.

Hurst got to stay with a host family and not only immerse herself in the Argentinian culture but also Argentina’s medical field. The program allowed for her to shadow several different doctors including cardiovascular surgeons, neurosurgeons, ER doctors, and dietitians. The program also gave Hurst a chance to study and learn Spanish.

There were about nine other students in the program, some staying with different host families. Every morning they went to the hospital from seven to 12. After the hospital, they had lunch then went to Spanish class for two hours.

While shadowing the doctors, Hurst witnessed a brain surgery and a little boy receiving stitches on his head which was split open. She also saw a little girl give her surgeon a gift for performing surgery on her.

Outside of the hospital, the students we able to go out in the community and put their skills to the test.

“Sometimes we had special clinics,” Hurst said. “One time we got to do a diabetes clinic, where we tested everyone in the community for diabetes.”

Hurst and the rest of the students got to visit a morgue and practice their surgeries on the cadavers. They also visited museums to learn more about the culture. Hurst learned about the community there, taking note that everyone was really friendly and close to one another. She also learned that the medical field there is filled mainly with young women, while ours is filled with older men. Overall, Hurst was grateful for her time spent in Cordoba and gained a lot a new knowledge that will benefit her in future medical adventures.

“I am so lucky to have been on this adventure,” Hurst said. “I have met some amazing people and have seen so many crazy things.”

While traveling to a foreign country can seem a little daunting, there are other educational ways students can spend their summer.  There are government schools, college enrichment programs and mission trips that anyone who is willing can participate in.

Katlyn Hurst (far left) in Sierras de Argentina.
Katlyn Hurst (far left) in Sierras de Argentina.