Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Incredible Travels: LSM Spring Mission Trips

“Lost people matter to God, so they must matter to us”  - Missionary Keith Wright

LeTourneau Student Ministries (LSM) recently unveiled new mission trip opportunities for Spring 2014. LSM: Deploy has organized 10 different trips, ranging from Alaska to Mexico and all over the United States.

Spring and Winter Missions Coordinator and sophomore Mechanical Engineering major Lynnette Donkor described a few enhancements LSM has made this year: “We asked ourselves what we could do to revamp the trips and take them to the next level—thought about what would make even more people passionate to go.”

LeTourneau University’s vision states: LeTourneau University graduates are professionals of ingenuity and Christ-like character who see life's work as a holy calling with eternal impact.
Spring missions are a tangible demonstration of this vision becoming a reality as students use their chosen vocational skills to spread the gospel. Aviation students will serve as pilots. Computer Science majors will aid mission organizations with their technological systems. Education students will spend the entire week working with children.
While the methods are varied, the basic premise of the trips are loving and serving people while creating relationships that allow for sharing the gospel.

Donkor, having attended last year’s Beach Reach, described LSM’s success with a summary of simple, meaningful service: “We gave bus rides to people to wherever they needed to go free of charge, gave them pancakes and just talked to them. If they had questions about the gospel, we answered them.”

She said they were able to start many conversations with non-believers because it was clear they were there to love them without condition.

Donkor described several of the upcoming trips, which will all take place during Spring Break 2014:

“The Dillingham, Alaska, trip involves working with youth. That team will serve by loving on the kids and sharing the Bible with them. They take the concept of God’s love and his judgment and relate it to kids in a way they can understand. Just because Alaska’s so far and kind of hard to get to shouldn’t stop us from serving there.”

Meanwhile, students attending the Mexico trip will be participating in construction, evangelism, and working with kids. Another provides students the opportunity to partner with Tri Grace Ministries in Ephraim, Utah.

“Working with Tri Grace is a really good opportunity for evangelism and apologetics,” Donkor said. “Students help with ministry, but in a way that’s careful not to step on people’s toes—to love on them, but to, at the same time, defend your faith.”

Other LSM: Deploy trips are scheduled to join organizations including: Buckner, where students will spend the week doing construction for churches; Missionary Maintenance Services (MMS), specifically for aviation students, who will perform maintenance on missions aircraft; and JAARS, open to all majors, who will work with translators and mission aviators.

Student pilots, through LSM, minister using 
vocational skills.
In addition to ministering to those in need, LSM is also working to build relationships with mission organizations to increase effective ways LETU can aid in their efforts to reach the world for Christ.

“We realize that an important part of missions is the organization as a whole,” Donkor said. “We want to serve the unreached, but we want to serve the organization that helps the unreached, too.”

For those not quite ready to go on a full-fledged trip to a distant locale, LSM
is also planning local mission projects in Longview.

Whatever the activity or location, LSM’s goal is the same. Donkor said it well: “We want to serve wholeheartedly and represent Christ with a spirit of excellence—not mediocrity. That’s something we’re passionate about.”

If you are interested in joining a spring mission trip, you can register here. We ask that alumni, family members, and other friends of LeTourneau University pray for these students as they spend spring break reaching the unreached. Contact with any questions or comments.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Incredible Conversations: MercyMe Meet and Greet

It’s not every day one gets to sit down with a double-platinum musician, but that’s exactly what LeTourneau University’s Worship Arts students were able to do this past weekend with Christian rock band MercyMe.

Photo by Emily Rogers
The group, formed in 1994, has won numerous awards for their work in the music industry, but more importantly, led countless people in worship over the past two decades.

LETU offers both a major and a minor in Worship Arts. The program is in its third year since establishment.

Students and MercyMe met Saturday afternoon before the band’s show, round table style, and conversed with students about leading worship, the formation of MercyMe, and life as a touring musician.

MercyMe gave insight on how the band members put their family first, even though they’re on the road most of the year. They also spoke about how to handle leading worship on difficult days.

Lead singer, Bart Millard, encouraged the students to serve to the best of their ability in their current positions – “Don’t look at your current position in life as a stepping stone. God has chosen you and no one else for that job.”

Senior Worship Arts major Ashley Bonilla said, “It was refreshing to hear that we shouldn’t be living life as each place is a stepping stone to something greater. Bart told us: live as if you were made for this moment and not expect to get 'promoted' to something great…As young worship leaders that’s important to hear, but as Christians it is even more important…It helps bring perspective on why we do what we do.”

Students expressed how helpful the meeting was for their pursuit of a degree in Worship Arts.

Allison Loggins said: “We were so incredibly blessed to meet with MercyMe. It was a great opportunity for us to get to know and learn from them. They had wonderful advice for each of us, and great stories to tell. I was very pleased to have had the chance to meet such an influential and talented band who uses their gifts to bring glory and praise to God.”

Photo by Emily Rogers


Friday, November 15, 2013

Incredible Students: Raylene Gould

I love people, therefore, I love my job. I have full permission to stop folks in their tracks and ask them to tell me about their lives - an extrovert’s dream.

So when I spotted Raylene Gould standing outside MSC, I asked if she would mind telling me about herself. She was very gracious and volunteered her time then and there.

Raylene Gould, #7 for LETU Women's Soccer
Raylene is a freshman from Fremont, CA. She came to LeTourneau after being recruited for Women’s Soccer. I asked her how Longview stacked up to her hometown.

“I’m really liking Texas. The people are so much nicer to be around.”

In addition to being a Californian and soccer player, Raylene is a Biology major and aspires to be a large and small animal veterinarian.

“I’ve just always wanted to be one since I was little. My dream job would be to work with exotic animals. I interned with my uncle who’s a vet…he actually worked on a white tiger. That was really cool.”

One of the things I liked the most about speaking with Raylene was hearing her describe the relationships she’s made so far at LETU between peers, professors, and coaches: “I really like the community of LeTourneau. I love my soccer team. Everyone has worked so hard and my coaches are wonderful. They really want to see the best in me. My advisor is constantly encouraging me.”

She spoke fondly of her dorm, South Hall East, but said she spends a lot of time hanging out in Davis as well.

Curious, I asked her if there were any aspects about college life she didn’t expect coming in – either positive or negative.

“I prepared myself for there to be a lot of work – well, I do have a lot, but it wasn’t as horrific as I thought it was going to be.”

“You’re happy with the balance between school and a social life?” I asked.

“Yeah. Being on the soccer team and working on schoolwork wasn’t so overwhelming that I had to pick one.”

Make no mistake, Raylene expressed her workload wasn’t easy, but I did happen to catch her during a rare break.

Being a recent college graduate, I know free time as a student is precious. I wrapped the interview up with a typical question for freshmen: “Has it been hard for you to be so far away from home?”

Her atypical answer left me with an even greater admiration for LETU’s student community: “No. I just feel so welcome…like I belong here.”

Jenna Pace is LeTourneau University’s Social Media Coordinator and Writer. She spends her days getting to know the LETU community. You can contact her at

Friday, November 8, 2013

Incredible Motion: Frontier Wheelchairs

“Integration of business and a love for God.” The framed quote hangs prominently in the workshop, and is lived out even more pointedly through the work of the students who fill the room.

A typical day in the Frontier Wheelchairs workshop.
Frontier Wheelchairs is a senior design course held every year at LeTourneau University. Its purpose: to develop customized wheelchair equipment for special-needs children in Guatemala.

The team travels every spring break to the developing nation to assist non-profit organization Hope Haven International, which regularly distributes pediatric wheelchairs to children in need.

In a country where regular meals can be considered a luxury, disability accommodations are slim. Children who suffer from diseases such as cerebral palsy require customized wheelchairs that are often not readily available. Hope Haven International and LeTourneau student innovation are a remedy.

The students of Frontier Wheelchairs spend the academic year using mechanical and civil engineering skills to develop optimum designs for wheelchair functionality. This year they are designing a new, larger size wheelchair for older children. The goal is to provide a rugged design that can be built in-country for less than $300. 

"The students will have a great opportunity to take their prototype to Guatemala to see how it functions in those conditions and get advice from the manufacturers." Faculty Advisor Norman Reese said.

Hope Haven is grateful for the added help. During last year’s trip, wheelchair technician Gustavo Rodas expressed his appreciation: “We are thankful because all this help serves to enrich our work…We’re thankful as for them and their character. They’ve left so much to inspire us to serve many others.”

It is expected that hundreds of children will receive greater mobility because of Frontier Wheelchairs’ dedication to excellent engineering and passion for showing Biblical kindness – a true integration of business and love for God.