Students and faculty arrive for Geneva Study Abroad

DunlapSmall2Study Abroad in Geneva, Switzerland
from Dr. Ruby Dunlap, Professor of Nursing

Seventeen Belmont students and 3 faculty members traveled to Geneva, Switzerland on Monday for the University’s fourth Geneva Study Abroad.

photo by Haley Flickinger Arriving in Switzerland.

photo by Haley Flickinger
Arriving in Switzerland.

We have done similar study abroad trips to Geneva in 2012, 2013, and 2014. We will be there three weeks, having all sorts of adventures, and visiting Geneva centers of culture, history, global organizations, and science. Our community health nursing course will focus on global health and health systems. The humanities course will focus on Jean Calvin, Rousseau, poets Shelley and Byron, and Frankenstein. The writing course will hone our writing skills, using our experiences in Geneva as material for different kinds of writing.

Here are the places we plan to visit this coming week: Geneva Museum of Art and History. While this museum has lots of exhibits, the one we are going to focus on is down in the basement. There are exhibits of Geneva’s prehistorical inhabitants including the skeleton of an individual who had been sacrificed.

Following that, we plan to visit the archeological dig underneath St. Pierre’s cathedral where the multiple layers of buildings on that site are explained.

Thursday is Ascension Day, an official holiday in Switzerland. Lots of shops and businesses will be closed that day.

Friday the nursing students will visit the International Council of Nurses (ICN) headquarters and hear about what is happening in the profession of nursing around the world.

Saturday is an all-day excursion to Chamonix and the Mer de Glace, the largest glacier in the French Alps. We hope this page will be a place we can share pics and comments about our adventures and give our family and friends a place to comment, too!

You can also follow the Geneva Study Abroad through their Facebook page.

Mission to Africa: The J Conference

KelseyMaguire4Community Health Abroad 2013
from Kelsey Maguire

MaguireJ10

With Pastor Grace (center)

I have been looking forward to the Jitambue Conference for about two years now. I’ve shared with you that the Jitambue club is a group that meets monthly in 14 different schools of the Kibera slums to discuss issues of purity, self-worth, and positive reproductive health. This ministry, hosted by Swahiba Youth Networks (SYN), also aids the girls by giving each of them enough pads for their menses from month to month and providing them with school uniforms or fees in special circumstances. Jitambue also hosts two conferences a year and, after bestowing Belmont Nurses Christian Fellowship’s gift of 5,330 pads (wow) to the SYN staff, I was more than excited to meet the girls who would be benefitting from NCF’s generosity and hard work.

This conference truly could rival any Christian conference I’ve seen in the states. 635 of the 730 participating Kibera girls attended, each in their school uniforms, ready to participate in the day’s activities. There were local DJ’s, comedians, dance crews, and television celebrities present to entertain and engage the girls.  The performances really were great and it was amazing to watch the quiet girls that I had found in the hot, oppressive slum laughing, and dancing with their friends- all in the name of Jesus Christ and positive self esteem! SYN and Passion Partners also fed the girls a hearty lunch, provided two keynote speakers, and time for small-group discussions with SYN female staff members and volunteers. Continue reading

Mission to Africa: On Chapati, Street Boys, and Cow Hoof Soup

KelseyMaguire4Community Health Abroad 2013
from Kelsey Maguire

On Thursday afternoon, we arrived in Nairobi, Kenya, trading our warm Ugandan calm for the speed and chill of the urban, densely populated city of Nairobi. The winter that had apparently been neglected in Uganda was in full force in Nairobi and that wasn’t the only change. Our partners greeted us in trendy hairstyles, shoes, and stylish leather jackets. Modernity had clearly made its way to Nairobi and waiting for us in the parking lot was a big, lime green bus. We celebrated this upgrade in mode of transportation and began our journey through Nairobi.

We spent our first morning in meetings with the Passion Partners’ Kenyan staff – Swahiba Youth Networks (SYN). SYN is a remarkable ministry which provides outreach to the youth of Nairobi through mentorship programs, school-based programs such as Jitambue and First Priority, children’s ministries, youth camps, and shoe donation projects. Continue reading

Mission to Africa: Stumbling Upon God’s Beauty

KelseyMaguire4Community Health Abroad 2013
from Kelsey Maguire

In Africa, everything is effortlessly beautiful. The landscape, unmanicured and untamed, breathes more wonder than any garden I have ever seen at home. And the people, their faces devoid of makeup and often rest, shine with a fresh, unsullied glow. I catch myself frequently gasping in awe of how gorgeous everything is. When we arrived at the Mission House Training Center on Tuesday, we stumbled upon a gem of true, organic beauty.

MaguireJ02The Mission House Training Center is a place for teenage mothers to go with their children and learn vocational skills such as sewing and hair-dressing. Local women from the community volunteer their time and knowledge to teach the girls, that they may have a profitable skill by which they can support their families. When we walked into the sewing room of the training center, we all gasped. I think I was expecting a couple of sewing machines in a dark, dingey room. The arrangement of paper sack patterns nailed along the walls of the small room was absolutely breath-taking. The girls had made at least a hundred dresses out of bags since the facility’s opening in May because they lacked the cloth to make real dresses. It was an unschooled, untainted, pure, and restoring beauty. We all began reeling at innumerous notions of all the wonderful things that could be done with such talent. Continue reading

Mission to Africa: Bearing Our Brothers’ Burdens

KelseyMaguire4Community Health Abroad 2013
from Kelsey Maguire

There are some emotions for which no human language has words. Each of us encounters a moment of such ethereal depth only so many times in our lives. In wordless moments such as these, we are reaching a sort of climax, a peak of human emotion. I believe that these moments allow us to bypass the limits of our world and lightly brush at the feet of the rich well of sentiment that awaits us in heaven. On Monday, I experienced such a moment, a moment beyond words. The things that Family Spirit school and orphanage made me feel in Masindi are difficult for me to express. They came on slowly and quietly, but as soon as they fell upon my shoulders, they hit with a heavy weight that both freed and enveloped  me with its wholeness. The whole experience was a lot like scuba diving and unexpectedly surfacing under a cave rather than the open sky. What I mean by this is that I had no idea what I had come upon until I was shoulder-deep and totally awe-struck, wading in new waters. Continue reading

Mission to Africa – Finding True Wealth: The Richness of Restoration

KelseyMaguire4Community Health Abroad 2013
from Kelsey Maguire

After twenty hours of flying and landing in four different countries, we have finally made it to Africa! I have truly fallen in love. This city, this country, the fullness of its air, and the richness of its flavors; they have all captivated me and brought me to a place far away from the speed and fog of life in the States.  We have spent the past two days in Kampala visiting Passion Partners’ Restoration Home in Wakiso. This home, comprised of an outdoor and indoor kitchen, living area with television, 7 bedrooms, and 4 bathrooms, hosts 42 girls. It is a huge blessing as it towers in comparison to the small, one bedroom building down the hill which once housed the original 17 Restoration Home girls.

Maguire01The building is attached to a church and under 24/7 security surveillance as it is in the middle of a run-down area within the busy, urban capital. We first met the restoration girls around 5:00pm on Thursday when they came pouring in from school in their uniform haircuts and cornflower blue school dresses. They embraced us with their warm, vibrant smiles and genuine laughter. I had the opportunity to hug and (slowly) exchange names with each one of the girls as they came home from school and stopped in for their afternoon tea. It didn’t take long for our meeting between strangers to become conversation between sisters, and before I knew it, my teammates and I were cornered  by a pack of giggling girls asking all sorts of questions about our thoughts on Africa, the United States, and, of course, our hair. I sat on the steps as at least seven laughing girls formed an entourage of braiders in my hair and the other girls worked relentlessly to teach us Ugandan phrases. Talking with the girls has certainly been my favorite past-time thus far. Our conversations reflect the sort of genuine love in interaction, which I so deeply desire for my life. Continue reading

Mission to Africa: Tutaonana! (See you later)

KelseyMaguire4Community Health Abroad 2013
from Kelsey Maguire

While I may not be prepared to pronounce my Swahili just yet, I am as ready as I will ever be for my trip. After much anticipation, the time is finally here!

The timing is right and I couldn’t have asked for a more fitting team to be travelling with. It truly is sweet to be walking in the divine path of my Father all the way to Africa. Thank you, Candice and Margaret, for so thoughtfully orchestrating such a purposeful time of learning and loving. All the good works performed on this trip will be because of the goodness of Her Passion Ministries and their global missions team, Passion Partners. (Please check them out) www.passionpartners.com

Continue reading

Mission to Africa: 20 days away from this crazy adventure

Community Health Abroad 2013
from Kelsey Maguire

I am just twenty days away from this crazy adventure and I thought that now would be a good time to really explain the details of what I’m doing and what has brought me here.

Two years ago, Nurses Christian Fellowship began its first year of work on Belmont’s campus. In search of a service project for the spring, we somehow landed upon the remarkable story of Candice Ashburn and Her Passion Ministries. Candice Ashburn is a wonderful speaker, leader, teacher, philanthropist, and woman of God in the community of Nashville. When her husband passed away in a tragic plane crash while on route to perform an emergency organ donation, Candice chose that moment to begin listening to God’s call to apply her heart, her means, and her entire world to service. Continue reading

I’m going to Africa.

Community Health Abroad 2013
from Kelsey Maguire

“While Jesus was still speaking, some people came
from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader.

“Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?”
 Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him,
“Don’t be afraid; just believe.”
… He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!”
(which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). 

Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around
(she was twelve years old).

At this they were completely astonished.”

“Talitha koum.” In two words, Jesus mended the gap between life and death. He impregnated the still heart of a young girl with the electricity to beat again. He spoke the air into her lungs and the pulse throughout her stagnant corpse, to restore life. I can’t seem to read this verse without hearing a certain familiarity, a tender voice I know has spoken into my life since before I was born. “Little girl”, The Father says, “wake up.” Despite all doubt and delusion of defeat, The Father urges us to leap into his loving sovereignty, designed for the good of the world and the pleasure of my own, unique heart alike, letting life begin.

This verse has been heavy on my heart lately. I feel that this is partly due to the great awakening that has occurred in me over the past year as my relationship with Christ has blossomed and strengthened, and partly due to the huge leap of faith that this story requires; a leap that I am now being challenged to take. When all hope was dead and the onlookers suggested, “Why bother?”

Jesus called out, “Do not be afraid; just believe”.

Just believe- two simple words that are much easier said than done. The other night I was falling asleep while writing in my journal and I began to list the fears about my trip that were in my heart at the moment:

“-I’m afraid of imagining it all wrong, of writing it wrongly before it even happens, of building up hopes and realizing I knew nothing.
-I’m afraid of nothing happening at all.
-I’m afraid of getting there and feeling useless, displaced, and confused instead of all the profound, life-altering things I’m supposed to feel.
-I’m honestly a little afraid of the money coming in. I’ve held so much faith in the provision of this need but the thought of falling short after so much generosity has been shared worries me.”

I had been allowing the logic of our broken world to extrapolate for me where my plans were going. But you see, with a God who rebukes death, who defies logic and reverses the finite in two simple words, the logic doesn’t matter and my worry is fruitless. Jesus commands only one thing of me in this journey; to believe.

The other day I received an email from the founder of the ministry with whom I am traveling. A little background- many of my friends are traveling on a school-sponsored mission trip this summer. They’ve been studying books, holding meetings, turning in deposits, getting shots, and discussing bug sprays and malaria medications- real substantial stuff. Meanwhile, I, who am traveling independently, have been raising money and wondering what kind of skirts I should wear. Needless to say, I feel a little ill-prepared. And, while I am fully enjoying my new-found courage and cool in the face of this large decision, this new lackadaisical approach feels a little bit like the first time on a bike without training wheels- out of control and impendingly painful.

So when I received this email from the ministry that I am traveling with and the content said. “Are you still planning to join us in June? :)” I had to laugh. Am I joining you? Are we talking about Dairy Queen or Africa here? I think I’m coming! But you know what? I loved it, because that’s how God works! He functions in a way that going to Africa means simply saying so and opening your heart for His way there. It means that every now and then grand things are going to come together, completely independent of any worry or work on my part. It means that by the undeserved blessings of good family and friends, of sheer, unwarranted divinity, I’ll get there. And I needn’t doubt, or lose hope, or have fear, whether the funds are low or the plans appear hazy. Because I’ve already done all the work required. I asked the question and I know where I will go.

I am going to Africa.