July 21, 2021 : By Jacob Couch - Office of Communications & Public Engagement
Through Liberty University’s Spanish Institute (LUSI) in partnership with LU Send, 49 students spent eight weeks in Ecuador this summer where they interned at various churches and organizations while sharing the love of Christ and experiencing the culture of the South American country.
Typically spent in Guatemala, LUSI’s annual summer trip was moved to Ecuador for the first time due to Guatemala’s COVID-19 restrictions. While there, each student was assigned to host homes.
While the trip affords students the opportunity to see new sights and experience a new culture, Director of the LU Spanish Institute Jared Barber said that faith is always the primary focus.
“We tell them to expect a transformative encounter with God but then through their internship and then in their host home they can spread the love of Christ and the Gospel,” Barber said.
“Although the sightseeing and vacation stuff is all fun, this is really a mission trip where students are going to be stretched. This trip is about doing what we’re called to do, being Champions for Christ.”
“This goes back to our Christian roots of who Christ called us to be,” added senior communications student and Spanish minor Micah Mirly. “Liberty provides us with the tools to pursue Christ. Although we’re all able to do that on our own, to be a part of an organization that pursues the Lord as we’ve been called to do is extremely encouraging. I feel like I’ve been supported, and I’ve learned incredible things that I’ll be able to take into life after Liberty.”
Mirly interned with Restore 17, a Christian organization that works with government orphanages to help families in Ecuador. He said the group of Liberty students he served with all cherished the time spent with the children.
Mirly and senior Spanish major Amanda Bosico both credited Liberty’s preparation as one of the primary reasons they were able to make strong connections with Ecuadorian locals.
“In the training that LU Send gave us, a huge section of it was about how to live out your faith in another country. That was cool to learn,” Bosico said. “I don’t think many schools would teach you that.”
Bosico said that every weekday morning after waking up and eating breakfast with her host family, she interned at a local church where she would help with summer children’s activities, including crafts, Bible studies, tutoring, and English lessons.
“Liberty is a very community-based kind of school,” she added. “So even while here in Ecuador they placed us in homes where they thought that we might get along well with the people they placed us with. It was a very community-based trip, and we had a lot of time that we got to spend together. They also encouraged us to spend a lot of time with our host families and get to know them and be a light to them as well as to the communities that our internships are in.”
Through the two-month trip, students have the opportunity to fulfill their Christian Community Service (CSER) hours and Spanish credit hours. For those interested in going on next year’s trip with LUSI, email firstname.lastname@example.org.