Hannibal-LaGrange students travel to Europe
By Brandy Campbell
HLG Public Relations
October 4, 2005
Hannibal– Switzerland is a country of crystal clear lakes, snow-capped mountains, and quaint villages. Nestled in the green countryside sits Grindelwald, a resort town that offers breathtaking views of the Alps and some of the world’s best skiing. However, the twenty students and leaders from Hannibal-LaGrange College (HLG) didn’t bring their ski gear on their recent trip to Grindelwald. They weren’t there for recreation – they were there to serve.
For the seventh consecutive year, HLG partnered with the International Baptist Convention to present EuroVenture, a youth camp for European Baptist Churches. More than 300 students from 19 European countries are involved in the camp. Participants in EuroVenture include U.S. military kids, International Mission Board (IMB) missionary kids, youth of overseas corporate companies, youth of international diplomats, church youth groups, and their friends.
“It doesn’t take long for a person to realize that the students that attend EuroVenture are unlike American kids,” said Amanda Mae Dobson, a senior music education major. “The first thing I noticed was the servant’s heart of the majority of them. They weren’t jaded. EuroVenture wasn’t just another summer camp – it was the summer camp, and they came ready.” Dobson served as one of the leaders for a group of middle school girls. HLG students also served as drama and music leaders, Bible study teachers and track leaders.
HLG students took seriously their roles as leaders and mentors as they served students who often have little contact with Christian peers.
“We were there to listen to these students’ pains and heartaches,” said Megan Swaringim. “As the students left for home at the end of the week there was no mistaking that they were renewed and ready to depend on God and take on future changes. We counselors were there to listen, pray, remind, and watch God change their hearts.”
Brad Kerr, a senior church music major who had gone to EuroVenture previously, served as one of the music leaders for the week. He said one of the things he was most impressed with was the team dynamics.
“The amazing thing about being a part of the music team was the fact that five college students from Missouri can join together with a music pastor from Louisiana in Europe and lead praises to God through music in both English and French,” explained Kerr. “God’s presence was in that sanctuary, and that experience will be on my mind anytime I prepare to worship the Lord with music.”
Ashlee Purpura, a sophomore Christian theatre major, lived overseas with her parents until coming to Hannibal-LaGrange. She learned about HLG while a camper at EuroVenture, and was excited to “go home again.”
“It was hard for me to make that transition from camper to leader,” admitted Purpura. “God taught me so much about leadership, and I had such a blast!”
After spending a week in Switzerland, the team traveled to Paris, France. There, they worked with Emmanuel International Church (EIC).
“The pastor (Brian Kirby) and the members at EIC were so warm and welcoming. What really impacted me the most was not shampooing a carpet for the first time or learning how to take down wallpaper…it was watching Brian connect with his congregation. I will never forget him and the impact he is making in Paris.”
Despite all of their hard work, students spoke extensively about the blessings their received in Europe.
“This trip completely touched my life,” concluded Dobson. “I cannot truly express how amazing it was to teach, pray, and grow with Christian brothers and sisters from around the world. I will take these memories with me throughout the rest of my life.”
This summer over 100 HLG students participated in mission endeavors. New destinations for this summer included: the Philippines with Christian Life Foundation; Ireland with Judson Memorial Baptist; and Belgium with Sports Quest. Students also teamed up with Awe Star Missions to travel to Peru and Thailand. In addition, HLG students will team with local churches, Sports Crusaders, World Changers and the IMB. For more information on the missions program at Hannibal-LaGrange College, contact Tom Hufty at 573-221-3675, ext. 150.